Follow up for several ongoing experiments

I’ve stuck to the new food rules and avoided sweets entirely, with the exception of a teaspoon of honey each day (in some yogurt and orange spice tea). Weight is going down, if I can trust the scale after only two days.

The schedule is working well. Sort of. I worked all day yesterday during my work time and during some make up time for the day before. HOWEVER, almost none of that time was writing. What time I did spend writing was spent editing a few bits of the story that weren’t going right and all I did was lose words.

Today I need to prioritize writing over other work.

I did come to a decision on one of my series book cover redesigns. I’ve been unable to make a commitment to a style for the typography—every time I do, I second guess myself. This has taught me one thing: writing isn’t the only place where I let perfectionism hold me back. So yesterday, after an entire day of trying changes that just didn’t work, I decided to stick with what I have and move forward with it.

Because of that decision, I now have two covers complete, one almost complete, and a draft version of two more. I’m going to load the covers as soon as possible, to stop myself from more of this waffling.

Until the covers and files are done and loaded everywhere, I’m making this my focus for the “after writing” time I’m hoping to have soon.

Anyway, I started writing this post with a 15 minute timer running and I’m down to less than two minutes. Time to get writing some fiction. :)

The experiment begins: rules of adjustment

So today I’ve already had to make an adjustment to the schedule (but only for today) because I rose late and I’m not getting started at 7 am.

The first thing I decided was that I’m going to have to have some rules for adjustments. :)

Rules for adjustments to the schedule

  1. Lost time should be made up in the same day.
  2. Lost time should be added to the end of the 1–3 time block.
  3. The 11 am to 1 pm break should stay the same no matter what time I get started.
  4. Assume there’s an “if possible” tacked on to the end of every rule above. :)

Benefits of the rules

  1. Sticking to the planned number of hours of work gives me plenty of time to meet my writing goals: 3,233 words a day, 98,333 words a month, 1,180,000 words a year. If it’s ever going to happen, I’ve got to guard the time I need for it.
  2. Even if I skip my entire morning, I’ll still only have to work until 7 pm to make it up! Meaning I don’t even have to take a break for supper because although I don’t like eating late, 7 pm isn’t too late. ;)
  3. A simple, recurring lunch schedule throughout the summer means my children can plan to have lunch with me if they want without having to wait to see what kind of work day I’m having. At their ages, they don’t always want, but sometimes they do.
  4. Having some leeway in the application of the rules always makes me feel better.

I’m feeling hopeful about this schedule. I’m also not feeling pressured the way I usually feel, even though I’ve already messed up with today’s late start, so I’m hoping that’s a sign of good things to come from this experiment!

Experimenting with a schedule again

I know it’s crazy. I know I’ve done this before. I know it didn’t work. I kind of don’t care. I need something to get me out of this black hole my writing productivity has fallen into and I’m thinking a schedule might be what I need.

It’s a move born of desperation, I promise. My last resort, if you will.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to a 40 hour a week schedule (okay, technically 42, but I like working with whole numbers and I want to write 7 days a week). This plan came about because of an article I read today called “The Unexpected Freedom of an Eight-Hour Workday.” It touched a nerve.

So I’m giving it another shot. Anything to save me from myself.

I’m planning to work for 6 hours each day. I’ll write until I reach my 3,233 words a day goal (hopefully in 4–5 hours) and fill the rest of my time with publishing work.

The schedule for almost all days: 7–11 & 1–3.

So that’s it, the sum total of my plan.

Failed experiment: site blocking software to fight distractions

Maybe I should give it more time, but I’m not going to. I’m calling this experiment done. Here are a few of the reasons I think this one failed.

  1. I spent a lot of time trying to tweak the block sets, but nothing I came up with fit my work patterns
  2. It pushed me toward browsing the internet and reading the blocked sites on my phone (and I definitely don’t want to develop that habit!)
  3. The out of sight, out of mind approach tends to work best for me and realized this was doing exactly the opposite of that

Time to try something else, and I’ve already got something in mind. But I’ll leave that post for later. :D

Distracted today by an anti-distraction add-on for my browser

This morning I installed Leechblock, an anti-distraction, anti-procrastination site blocker add-on for my web browser. So far, I really like it, even though I lost edits to this post TWICE because I couldn’t stick to the time limits I set for myself and got blocked before I saved my edits. Totally my fault, because I turned on the menu item in the browser that tells me exactly how much time I have left on a site and I knew I was letting myself get too close to the limits each time it happened. :o

I set up some fairly complex blocks and delays, and I’ve spent a lot more time on it than I’d planned. I’m a little unsure if it’s going to turn out to be worth the time I’ve spent, but I’m hopeful. Unfortunately, there are still some tweaks to be made, but I think I’ve mostly got it how I want it.

[removed for edits and pasted below with changes]

Well, that’s it. I gotta go or I’m going to find myself blocked! :D.


That lasted about 30 minutes. And it’s obvious I’m going to be doing most of my work outside my ideal time span, so the time blocks I set up aren’t going to work to help me at all.

Time to do a little rethinking on this. I’ll update when I settle on something.

All right. I’ve made some tweaks.

I’ve set up 5 block sets.

  1. Distractions – blocked outright from 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm), with a 20 minute limit for the rest of the day
  2. Sales reports – blocked after 15 minutes between 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm) – on publishing days, I’ll deactivate the add-on because I’ll need unfettered internet access, and there’s no easy way to account for that
  3. Internet limits – limited everything except and Google calendar between 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm) to 60 minutes total – if I’m spending that long browsing websites, I’m probably just procrastinating, which can wait until after 2pm :)
  4. Strict limits  blocked outright from 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm), with a 10 minute limit for the rest of the day
  5. Blogging – blocked after 30 minutes between 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm) – this is me trying to make Parkinson’s Law work in my favor – I don’t want to cut off my blogging on days when I need the accountability, but I also don’t want to spend too much of my writing time updating a blog post

What this comes to each day is that in total I’ll spend no more than 60 minutes of my day between 7am and 2pm doing things in my browser. There’s still email, since I don’t use my browser to check, but I really am hoping this will cut down on how much time I spend online distracting myself from writing. :)

It’s a bit late now and I want to get up before noon tomorrow, so I’m going to go. But I’m excited to see how this works tomorrow. First goal: not to override the add-on and see how it works. It’ll be a fun experiment!

Oh, and yeah, I can totally get online with my phone or a tablet, but I believe there’s still benefit to this: I can try to break some bad habits; morning time is my best writing time and I’ve been spending lots of it jumping around online on the computer.

Multiple stories at once: eighth week

Thursday—Wednesday, May 26–June 1


Total: 8,300 words

I wrote fewer words than I wanted this week, by far (goal is 27,533) but I still ended May in a much better place than usual, so I can’t complain much. Nothing I can do about it anyway so I might as well enjoy the small win.

Probably the biggest reason for the fail is the fact that I still only wrote on one story this week, despite my decision last week not to get stuck in that frame of mind again.

My pace this week was also again much slower than I’d hoped. I averaged 516 wph over the week, and that’s in line with my old average, but much slower than I’ve been tracking since I started with the multiple stories experiment.

I’m just really at a point where I want to finish this book so I can let go of the stress that’s interfering with my ability to let myself work freely on multiple stories. I’m really feeling the pressure to finish this book, and it’s not helping me at all to push it, and yet, I keep pushing it.

Here’s hoping next week will turn out better, but I can already say based on the fact that today is Saturday, that the ninth week isn’t off to a great start.

Honestly, considering the fact that I’m obviously not working on multiple stories right now, and I know it, I’m not even sure these weeks should count.

Failure in May wasn’t as bad as it feels

I didn’t write but 1/3 of what I wanted to write in May, but in the end, when I looked harder at the numbers, I discovered it wasn’t as bad a failure as it feels. May’s word count comes in at 35,296.

Only 7 months out of 46 have been higher. May was my 47th month of publishing, and that makes June my 4 year anniversary as a self-publisher. :D How absolutely amazing!

Between April and May, I’ve had my best two month word count, ever, by 1,470 words.

February–March 2013 = 91,075 words
April–May 2016 = 92,545 words

My next best two month period was November–December 2015 when I wrote 73,377 words.

Gotta say, I’m happier than I was after looking at these numbers. I’m still showing improvement, and I’m excited by my progress. :D Here’s hoping June is a great month for word counts. :)

Multiple stories at once: seventh week & summary to date

I thought I’d list this week’s progress and then list out how I’ve been tracking from the beginning and maybe even compare it to this time last year and a few of my more productive 7 week periods from the past just to see if there’s anything there to learn.

Thursday—Wednesday, May 19–May 25


Total: 6,590 words.

My pace was down significantly this week too, the average coming in around 356 wph.

I worked only on the book I was trying to finish this week. Not even one word for another book.

As I said in another post, this week has been the second week I’ve had to get through that is completely out of my routine because of the end of the school year for my kids. I did better than last week, but not by much.

I don’t honestly know how much of that to blame on the messed up routine and how much to blame on trying to work on only one story. I’ve decided the latter is just not going to work, not even with me knowing I need to get this book I’ve been trying to finish finished. As soon as I started telling myself I needed to work on one book and one book only, my word counts plummeted.

So, I’m backing off the deadline. It was a personal deadline anyway, and it’s not the end of the world. It feels like a big deal, but I’ll just have to let that go in favor of getting more words so I end up with more books, faster.

Now, for the summary.

Week 1: 21,873
Week 2: 10,959
Week 3: 16,927
Week 4: 11,948
Week 5: 11,282
Week 6: 4,296
Week 7: 6,590

Total: 83,875 words

To compare previous 7 week periods:

  • Last year: 7 weeks ended 5/26/15: 40,035 words
  • My highest word count from any 7 week period since I started keeping records ended 3/24/13: 89,587 words
  • The highest I’ve made it during any other 7 week period is in the low 60,000s.

I believe the downward trend in my word counts isn’t something problematic so much as it’s a result of my shifting routine with the end of the school year.

The next couple of weeks should provide evidence of that, or to the contrary if it turns out I’m wrong. Still, I’m convinced this method is exactly what I needed to increase the number of words I write every month and that it has serious long-term potential for me. :)

Multiple stories at once: sixth week

Thursday—Wednesday, May 12–May 18

306 2 stories
3,618 2 stories
372 2 stories

Total: 4,296 words

Ouch. This was a terrible week when it came to writing. Honestly, it wasn’t much better for anything else either. It’s the end of the school year and my routine is completely out of order and I’m just trying to keep writing and make it through one more week of this. Plus, heating/A/C unit is still down, awaiting repair, and last night was graduation.


Multiple stories at once: fifth week

Thursday—Wednesday, May 5–May 11

701 1 story
1,656 1 story
747 2 stories
256 1 story
1,613 1 story
3,728 2 stories
2,581 1 story

Total = 11,282 words

I didn’t feel like I was writing multiple stories this week, probably because I’ve been panicking a bit about a book I’m trying to finish (which is something I hope will be over soon, but there are 2 books that I just really need to get caught up on).

I worked on 2 distinct stories this week. The only day I really broke out on, I spent most of my writing time on that second story. That was what helped me realize something was wrong with the other one, because I could still write faster and easier when I was working on something else. (And this is a great example of why the multiple stories method is really working for me to increase my word counts.)

Overall, it was another week that was much lower in word count than I’d hoped since I’m aiming for 27,533 for a full writing week, but I still did much better than my average.

I’ve now had 5 weeks in a row where I’ve written more than 10,000 words each week.

My current total words written since I started this experiment is 72,989 words. Not the 98,333 words a month I want to reach eventually, but a damn sight closer than I’ve ever been in the past. :D I’m pleased.

This experiment continues to be a raging success.

Multiple stories at once: fourth week

Thursday—Wednesday, April 28–May 4

2,260 2 stories
3,228 2 stories
1,439 1 story
1,009 2 stories
595 2 stories
2,330 3 stories
1,087 2 stories

Total: 11,948

Definitely under where I’d like to be, but it still works out to a daily average of 1,707 words which is considerably better than my 2016 daily average of 779, or my 2015 daily average of 685.

So, still a ways to get where I want to be: 3,933 words on writing days, or approx 3,233 daily average, for 98,333 words a month, but much closer than I’ve been in the past (as a whole, not my recent past—I did much better last week and the first week).

Since I started this experiment, my daily average has increased dramatically, more than doubling to 2,033 words a day. :D I call that success.

I worked on 5 distinct stories this week.

Multiple stories at once: third week

Thursday—Wednesday, April 21–27

245 (4 stories) (was not a writing day, just inputting error corrections after a read through)
2,245 (1 story)
2,863 (1 story)
149 (3 stories)
2,831 (2 stories)
4,858 (1 story)
3,736 (2 stories)

Total: 16,927 words.

It was a good week—really good, in all honesty, but I didn’t really come close to my goal of 27,533 for a full week of writing.

Still, I cannot deny that something has changed. I’m giving all credit to the things I mentioned in two posts I’ve written since I started this latest experiment (key to success, multiple stories first week).

I worked on 5 distinct stories this week.

Multiple stories at once: second week

Another week has gone by—already—and I have another week of data to support my growing belief that writing on multiple stories in the particular way I’m doing it now is the best thing I’ve done for my writing in a long while.

Thursday—Wednesday, April 14–20
4,185 (3 stories)
4,798 (3 stories)
1,752 (3 stories)
242 (2 stories)

Total: 10,959 words

Despite my five days off writing, I’ve still managed to make this a great week, relatively speaking. Two of those days will end up affecting the next week’s numbers, but I have to say, I’m really pleased with what I accomplished this week. I wrote 10,959 words, and that’s a good number for me based on my historical performance.

As long as I let myself write what I want, I still feel the excitement to get going. I had a moment today where I slipped and was making myself write something, and I finally noticed how it was affecting me. I felt a great deal of resistance. But once I realized what was going on, I opened a different book, read a bit of it, and then ended up writing on the one that had been bothering me at the outset anyway, just because I wanted to.

That’s where the real power of this method has shown itself.

Get rid of the need, and I’m left with want. And want is powerful.

Multiple stories at once: first week

I have 8 days worth of words to count now, so my first week writing on multiple stories is done, and I feel like I have something to say about this method: it really works for me.

Thursday—Wednesday, April 7–13
3,003 (4 stories)
1,009 (2 stories)
1,347 (2 stories)
3,557 (4 stories)
3,983 (2 stories)
5,391 (4 stories)
3,583 (3 stories)

Total: 21,873

What’s different about this attempt and any others where I worked on multiple stories regularly?

I can’t say 100% that this is an accurate list, but I do believe it’s close to the truth.

  1. Now: I’m writing in 1 hour blocks, but am free to switch if another story calls strongly to me. Then: my 50 word challenge.
  2. There is no most important story. See the 50 word challenge post again. I write what I’m most interested in writing. :D

That’s really it, the big differences that I think are leading me to write more and stay at it longer. And what it all boils down to is interest in what I’m writing, excitement, and fun.

When I’ve got those, writing is not hard.

How I’m building my new pen name: Four months in

You might want to read the first post about the pen name book before you read this one because I’m not going to rehash what I’ve already said, just talk about what’s happened since the two week mark.

I haven’t gotten the next book out yet. Fact is, if you read this blog you’ll already know my production is not where I want it. I’m hopeful I’ll get the next book out in December, but it means I need to be successful in getting my word count up!

If I don’t improve my speed to publication for this series, this experiment isn’t going to teach me anything I haven’t already learned from my main pen name books. That’s because I’ve ended up not experimenting with price like I had originally intended.

I did a Kindle Countdown deal with the pen name book in mid-September and that led to a few more sales, but at reduced prices. I had it priced $ .99 for one day only and set to go up in $1 increments until it was full price again.

I’ve had some additional sales at full price too (full price being $6.99). I was getting a few reads here and there but it had really tapered off, and then for some reason on the 15th of this month, the book started to get very regular reads.

What I’m hoping this means is that this series could do well if I got more books out. I don’t know though. My experience to date with my main pen name has been that if a book doesn’t sell well right off, it won’t take off just because I’m releasing more books. They sell more, don’t get me wrong, but none of the series that didn’t start off strong suddenly sell great just because I’ve published more books in those series.

I’d love to have this series with the new pen name behave differently. :D The other view is a bit disheartening when it comes to series I love but feel I shouldn’t spend much time on because it won’t pay off in the long run.

2015 07 68.71 14.79 6.96
2015 08 30.50 3.28  277.61
2015 09 61.71 1.29
Total Earnings 160.92  19.37 6.96  277.61
2015 07 11 2 1 14
2015 08 1 1 2
2015 09 28 28
Total Sales 40 2 1 1 44
KENP Reads
2015 07 4,681 2,301 6,982
2015 08 4,988 984 5,972
2015 09 6,733 386 7,119
Total Reads 16,402 3,671     20,073

So far in October, I’ve had 2 full price sales and about 7,000 pages read. There’s been absolutely nothing except for that unadvertised Kindle Countdown deal to keep the momentum for this book going, so I guess I’ve been very lucky that it hasn’t dropped to 0 all around. :D

I’ll save the next update for after I get the second book in the series out. Currently the plan is still to go three books at least before I make any judgments about this series.

How I’m building my new pen name: Two weeks in

Here I’m going to lay out my plan for building my second pen name without doing any kind of active promotion. Active promotion generally means most of the kinds of promotional activities you’ve heard of.

This post is the first I’m going to do for the new pen name. It’s part of my plan to build an empire, so that’s where these posts will go. (Yay! I’ve finally figured out something to put in that category.)

The truth is, I feel like a beginner still, but I’ve been publishing my books since July 2012, three years now. I’ve been a writer since I was a young teenager—a very young teenager. Maybe it’s impostor syndrome or just that I know there’s so much I don’t know (that I might never know) about this business, but it’s hard for me to talk to other writers without feeling like the one standing on the outside of success and looking in.

This post is an exercise in getting past all that.

I’ve learned a few things in the last three years and accomplished a lot, and I think I can make a success out of this new pen name even though it’s getting off to a slow start.

So here goes. I’m not planning to give away my new pen name for this experiment. Seriously. If you figure it out, please do not tell me you’ve figured it out. If I didn’t want to be anonymous, I would have chosen to reveal my pen name(s) right from the get go. I would never out you and I would appreciate it if you didn’t out me. ;)

Thank you in advance for being understanding about that! :D

I first published the new book a few days into July. I published at $3.99 because I had heard from a lot of other authors that that was the best price at the moment, and because experimenting with different prices was the entire reason I wanted to do a new pen name. I looked into the market and saw that this was a popular price point in the genre the new book fits into. I’m not used to pricing this low. It felt really weird.

I sold 8 copies at 3.99 in 3 days, then 0 copies for 2 days. I posted the book on my author site, but since there’s never been any activity there because, hey, no books, I don’t consider my pen name to have any kind of a platform. No twitter, no facebook, no G+ profile. I plan to keep it that way for as long as possible. I have a website for the pen name and a mailing list that readers can sign up to. That’s it.

After the 2 days of no sales, I raised the price up to 6.99. I mean, if I’m not going to get lucky with an unexpected hit right off and sales are going to be slow until the second book is done, then I might as well, right? When I use the countdown deal before my 90 days in KDP Select is over, at least the discount will look better.

I sold 3 books at 6.99 in the next 3 days and then back to 0.

At about the one week mark, I put the book into KDP Select and moved on.

It’s a 328 page book as far as KENPC goes, and there’ve been 3006 pages read as of today.

So somebody’s reading it.

Now the wait is on until I get a second book written and published.

I’ll post first month results when they’re available, but the fact is, I don’t expect much. New pen name, no promo, high price, etc. There’s just no real chance that anything of note will happen until the next book comes out.

My goal is to put out the next book in the series for the new pen name within 90 days. I’d go for 60, but a lot of stuff is going to have to fall into place to make that happen, including me cracking through to a higher level of daily word count. I’m working on it, but I’m certainly not ready to count on it. :)

The Thing About Experiments

Sometimes experiments fail. And sometimes, it just doesn’t turn out to be the right time to start an experiment. This is one of those times. Either, or.

I’m calling this experiment done. I had one successful day. That was all I could get out of this one. Day two I completely lost my focus after about a thousand words, and by day three I was already toying with quitting this one. Day four sealed the deal. I knew this was a failure before I even started the day yesterday. So last night, I came up with a different plan.

One I’m not going to talk about. :D

Nope, not joking! I had to clean out 7 draft posts I’d started over the last couple of days and I don’t want to have to do that again for a while. I can’t decide half the time what I even want to say in these posts, even though I obviously want to say something or I wouldn’t find myself typing these things up every time I turn around.

Writing things down is second best to talking them out for me but it works to gather my thoughts in a way I can’t do otherwise. But I don’t like littering up my blog with unposted drafts so to save us all some time, I’ll just wait until I see what’s going to happen. :)


Just Another Routine Experiment

I’ve created a new routine for myself to start tomorrow. It’s a schedule—but I’m calling it a routine. For reasons.

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with fatigue, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not as active as I should be or because of other reasons, but the new routine adds in some time for me to exercise daily. I’m going to do it, because if I don’t, I’m going to keep feeling too old for my age, and who wants that?

I’ve been mulling over the quote I found so inspiring the other day and a few other things besides, and I’ve managed to come up with what looks to be a nice little routine. It addresses my entire day, gives me plenty of time for family, reading, exercise, eating, writing, and publishing. It’s probably not going to get me to one million words, unless I miraculously start writing 1,000 WPH, but it’s a nice, livable routine that will make every day a joy to live and work. I can’t ask for more than that.

It’s an experiment, and failure’s always an option, so none of that neener neener crap if I crash and burn, okay? ;)

The routine

I’m highlighting writing related items, mentioning when I expect to exercise, and leaving the rest out.

8 to 12 : writing
2 to 4 : publishing (or extra writing time) (or extra reading time)
4 to 6 : reading

When I’m racing a deadline, I can convert both the publishing and reading time to writing time. But my real goal? To become so enmeshed in my daily routine that I never need to do that.

Four hours of writing every day will get me a book a month at the length I’m most fond of and at my current average 552 words per hour. Also, the more into the routine I get, my hope is that my hourly average will increase—more words, same amount of time.