The Reaching of an Elusive Goal; Cue Disaster Music

Clarification: After putting a new post up where I talk about writing Novel #6, I skimmed my posts and came across this. This IS Novel #6, but that’s if you count one of the titles that I specifically exclude from the count in the newer post. So, to make this easier, let’s just say this is really Novel #5.

I’m thinking about writing up a series of posts about my books. Since I can’t give away anything about the book itself because it might lead to questions about my pseudonyms or genres I write in (which might also give away my pseudonyms) I’m just going to number the books and stories with a simple numbering system. If you look to the sidebar, you’ll see I have “Accomplishments” listed and I have the numbers of published books and stories I’ve done to date. (This is on the Progress page now.)

I’m currently writing novel #6. Now, the problem is that I got all the way to the end and then just hit a wall. I love the book. But I’m tired of the book. I want it to be done. I have a couple of thousand words left on it, tops, and I have spent the last week and a half working insanely hard to avoid writing those couple thousand words. (DONE! Yea, yea, yea!)

Novel 6 is a good story. I have a little tiny bit of fear related to the story that might be part of the problem but I find it hard to believe that’s the real issue because I’ve had that fear before. I still published my other books.

I’ve also realized perfectionism is messing with my head, but not about the things you might think. No book is ever going to be perfect, and I know that, but I don’t care. Me, writing on a perfect schedule, every day, hitting the goals I set for myself? That’s the problem. I keep searching for answers, and as a friend told me, I seem to be hoping to find someone who can tell me what the perfect system is, the perfect schedule. I’m looking for the best, most efficient way to work, and that search is doing me a whole lot more harm than good.

How that all relates to the writing of novel 6?

I reached my ideal of 1000 words an hour writing 2 days before I hit the wall. I hated it, hated the pressure and the rush, and the absolute certainty that I could do it but that I didn’t want to do it. So now I know that I write at about 600 words an hour because I want to, not because I can’t write faster.

I realized the next day I didn’t want to write. The thought of putting myself into a chair and trying to write 1000 an hour was too much work, felt too hard, too intense. I don’t like that kind of intensity. So now, even though I’ve given myself permission to forego that push for 1000 words an hour for the time being, I still don’t want to write. I stole all my joy and made myself think of writing as work, and I haven’t yet been able to let that thought go.

When I do, I’m sure I’ll be back at it, writing the couple thousand words I need to finish novel 6.

Until then, I’m going to make lunch and trim my fingernails. It’s a ritual. As long as my nails touch the keyboard, I can’t concentrate on anything else. Since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about my nails since I started typing, I know it’s time. :)

More than 1,000 words an hour? Longed for, reached, hated it

So, I spent a lot of time getting myself to the point of writing 1,000 words an hour. I longed for the days when I could easily associate 1 hour of writing time to 1,000 words. It makes math super easy when I’m trying to figure out how much longer I have on a book. I can guarantee 15–30 minutes downtime for every 1 hour I spend writing … so calculations are easy.

The problem is, the writing for those days read the same as my long-running 600 words an hour average, but the joy I got from writing the words decreased significantly. I felt an unaccountable level of pressure as I typed out every word, forcing myself to keep typing when I would have taken a break and let my fingers rest on the keys. I think the writing was the same, but the process was completely unnatural for me.

I write in bursts: I sit, think, my mind wanders, and then I type, type, type, and then I do the same thing all over again. Catch my wind, so to speak.

Was I just experiencing the natural phase of fatigue and pain as my metaphorical writing muscles stretch and burn before they strengthen? I have no idea. I’m not sure I want to find out. I actually found myself avoiding writing in the days following those 1,000 words an hour days, because I didn’t want to have to work that hard again.

Sigh. I think I need to push through though. I think of my family and friends working at their jobs and I imagine they’re not going to be that sympathetic to me not being able to keep my fingers moving at a rate of 16.6 words per minute. In fact, they might laugh at me.*

My typing speed is around 66–78 words a minute so if I were typing up a dictated report in a different kind of job, the 16.6 words per minute rate implies I’d be spending 13 minutes at my normal typing speed to write those 1000 words and do that 1 hour’s worth of work. Then I’d sit in the break room or surf the internet the other 47 minutes.

I definitely have to strengthen those muscles. It’s idiocy to settle for 600 words an hour. I just need more practice getting to 1,000 so it becomes as easy as the 600 has.**

*I’d laugh at me.

**Update: Failure with this goal has plagued me for most of the year! I wonder if I have what it takes to ever write more than 500–600 words an hour. :(

You are my Writing Mastermind group

Didn’t know that? Oops. :)

I don’t hang with writers, or readers, these days. I hang all alone in my little house (a house that’s far too big when it comes chore time) and I write as much as I can.

I have been aiming for 5,000 words a day for almost 6 months now, but I’ve yet to achieve it on more than a couple of occasions. My usual output is more in the range of 2,000 a day.

Since January (a s.l.o.w. month) I have written 68,614 new words and rewritten in some fashion or another countless more. February on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as slow and of those 68,614 words, 51,396 belonged only to February. I feel like I have hit my stride.

Here’s what it looks like in my spreadsheet.

Fri, 2/1/13 17,218
Sat, 2/2/13 17,230 12
Sun, 2/3/13 17,540 310
Mon, 2/4/13 19,973 2,433
Tue, 2/5/13 22,301 2,328
Wed, 2/6/13 24,317 2,016
Thu, 2/7/13 26,803 2,486
Fri, 2/8/13 29,161 2,358
Sat, 2/9/13 31,180 2,019
Sun, 2/10/13 33,225 2,045
Mon, 2/11/13 35,567 2,342
Tue, 2/12/13 37,944 2,377
Wed, 2/13/13 40,790 2,846
Thu, 2/14/13 43,394 2,604
Fri, 2/15/13 44,892 1,498
Sat, 2/16/13 46,040 1,148
Sun, 2/17/13 47,106 1,066
Mon, 2/18/13 48,613 1,507
Tue, 2/19/13 50,098 1,485
Wed, 2/20/13 51,329 1,231
Thu, 2/21/13 53,891 2,562
Fri, 2/22/13 55,008 1,117
Sat, 2/23/13 57,454 2,446
Sun, 2/24/13 59,045 1,591
Mon, 2/25/13 61,244 2,199
Tue, 2/26/13 62,787 1,543
Wed, 2/27/13 66,064 3,277
Thu, 2/28/13 68,614 2,550

Now, why does this matter? Because it’s the most consistent production I’ve had since I started keeping track back in August of 2012. (Not the only time in my life I’ve tracked my daily writing numbers, but the other sheets were YEARS old and out of date.)

Consistency is something I’ve needed to work on for a long time. Finally getting there has been amazing. My experience also says that the more you write, the more you’ll want to write, and the faster and better you’ll get at reaching those daily goals.

I do daily goals because I’m a natural procrastinator. If I set weekly goals, I wouldn’t reach them because the goals are so large that I couldn’t accomplish them in one day. And yes, I already know I would put them off until the last day.

Know thyself: the only way to stomp destructive habits into the ground.

So, Random Person, welcome to my writing mastermind group, whoever you are. :)

Undoing Mistakes

So, I’ve spent a little time undoing a few mistakes I made. Not that the mistakes were huge or anything. (They really were. I really just don’t want to admit that, even though I now find myself admitting it anyway.)

What have I learned from this?

Static sites are great.

But I still love WordPress.

Getting over mental hurdles is a lot (LOT) harder than it ought to be and therefore I shouldn’t have wasted so much time trying to do so when the alternative was less work.

SO many things I think I’m going to do, I never do.

Writing blog posts is currently more fun than writing fiction. Even though I have a deadline of Friday and today is Wednesday night and I have another 10,000 words to write. Guess I’ll have to cut that ending short. :-o

Crap.

 

 

Gateway Issues

So, when you have router, modem, and ‘gateway’ issues, and you lose your internet for days on end, the downtime gives you plenty of thinking time. :) I’m not so sure I’m into all this cloud computing any longer, when the only things I could work on were my local copies. Don’t get me wrong, I do have local copies of almost everything. However, it just made me wonder at the value added by the cloud. For me? Personally?

Not as much as I’d thought.

I have my email set up as IMAP, and of course, when I create a draft it is supposed to save a copy to the server. Didn’t happen on more than one occasion as my ‘gateway’ issue cropped up in the middle of composing. So, lost emails. When I realized what was happening, I was able to save a local copy through cut-and-paste, but by then I’d already had to back out of the compose window on another, and when it happened again, invariably, I gave up on the email because it didn’t seem worth the effort.

I ‘ve already figured out alternatives for what I could have done, but honestly, I think I’m just going to go back to keeping more stuff on my computer and my backup hard-drives and less elsewhere.

I’m a bit of a privacy enthusiast, if you want to call it that, in that I prefer to keep as much of my life and the information about my life in my control, rather than in the control of others. Email, documents, etc., seem like the least I can control, because unfortunately unless you just never EVER visit a doctor or dentist or professional something you’ll end up with a heck of a lot of data on yourself completely out of your control.

One Project at a Time Might Be a Bad Idea

So, at and be. Just wondering which is appropriate to capitalize in a heading and which isn’t….

Didn’t really come up with an answer so time to move on.

Well, I decided to focus in on one thing, as I was reminded was a good way to finish things you want finished. The problem is the thing I want to finish is a bigger project and one from which I’m not going to make money.

So there’s an inherent problem in that this one project at a time thing is going to make me poor. So I’m rethinking how I want to apply this concept.

Maybe one project per area of life? This would seem to be the normal solution but normal doesn’t exactly fit the way my brain works.

The thing is this is really hard for me because when I focus in on something it becomes almost impossible for me to focus on anything else. I also lose enthusiasm for what I was working on when I switch my focus and often have a very hard time getting that enthusiasm back.

So, do I make a plan to see how long this should take and try to stay on track? Or if it looks like it’s going to take longer than it needs to, try to decide if I really need to be doing this in the first place?

Honestly, I need to find a way to focus on things in chunks and not have the whole switching back and forth issue to begin with, but that’s not worked yet. And I need to find a way to make my non-paying, desperately want to do anyway projects make me some money. :-o That would be the best solution.

Self Sabotage

This little video below is full of great advice. Although I am on a self-improvement book reading and video watching hiatus, I watched this anyway. Because, you know, I self-sabotage. A lot. :)

The only thing I disagreed with was the advice to proclaim your goal publicly. I read something a while back about how sometimes we get a dose of real satisfaction from broadcasting our goals that substitutes for the actual accomplishment of those goals. I saw myself in that and since then, I’ve been trying quite valiantly to keep my goals to myself.

The thing I most agreed with was the comment about change and suffering. I’ve always believed that epiphanies aren’t enough. Without real suffering of some kind, change is almost impossible. So the trick has been to try to find whatever it is that it’s going to take to change myself so I can stop repeating my mistakes.

Listening to (against my will): Good Luck Charlie

Disqus for Static Site Commenting

Although I personally hate(d) Disqus, as a user, I’m testing it on a website that I turned static.

The reason I hate hated it? Login/sign up requirements.

Why I want it anyway? Because some of my sites are just begging me to have some interaction on them, and the static HTML that I moved to doesn’t really let me do that easily. The sites would be so much more fun to run with other people commenting occasionally! I thought about setting up a comment form on each page I want comments enabled on and have visitors email me their comments. Since I moderate everything anyway, no one will notice. But what if things take off and I don’t want to moderate? Or I decide discussion is being stifled by not having more real-time comments?

I’ve since discovered that site owners set the requirement to login to Disqus or not, so maybe I don’t hate it as much as I just hate the site owners who make it so that only people who want to actually sign up with Disqus can comment. Oh yeah.

I don’t like having everything I do online being all linked up. It creates the creepy feeling of being followed around and spied upon and I already have enough of that paranoia, thank you very much!

The requirement for an email address is still there, and I had that with WordPress anyway, so that’s no biggie. I hadn’t realized though, that I could set this up as not requiring actual Disqus membership and that’s really nice! This might be just what I want.

I’m not that interested in the content from commenters showing up on my pages for search engines (it won’t, because you use a javascript code with the universal setup that works with static html sites) but I’m very interested in having some interaction with visitors on certain of my sites…

The only thing left to decide is whether or not to have multiple accounts myself. I set this one up with an admin user(name) that matches the site and realized quite quickly that that’s going to be awkward to reuse on another site. ;-)

Update: I eventually abandoned this idea, because comments are few and far between and the overhead definitely outweighs the benefits of the few comments I was getting. :-)

Static Site Hell

I am in static site hell.

So, I got rid of WordPress on so many sites I can’t even count them… I also got rid of a lot of sites, period. Although I do have wide interests and an amazing capacity for picking up domains that I find appealing, I’ve decided I’ll have to forego that in the future. Life is WAY too short to spend it buying domains I’ll never develop. A (not so) short while ago, I bought my last domain for a (long) while.

Getting rid of WordPress isn’t a bad thing IMO. The bad thing is that I actually like discussion and not having WordPress means I have no commenting system on those sites now. Some of them don’t need commenting and that’s great. But some of them are definitely sites I run because I love the topics and those sites? They need commenting because without commenting I feel like I’m missing a huge opportunity to have fun with the sites!

And then there’s the updating. This is a mental block that I’m just going to have to overcome. The fact is, I’ve done the time studies to prove that I can update a static site just as fast as I can update a WordPress run site. Sure, the front-end effort is more time efficient in WordPress when I have a super-short post I want online. But it evens out when the posts get longer and the number of new images increases. I can whip out a formatted block of HTML just as fast as I can type in Word (or OpenOffice Writer when I’m stuck with it instead, no offense to Ooo fans everywhere, because it is a great free program, but dammit, I LIKE Microsoft Word). And when it gets complicated? Handcoded HMTL is unbeatable for customizing on a page by page basis and I can create a complex mini-site within a site with 10% of the effort and time I spend in WordPress trying to get it to do what I want. And I do have sites like that, where I want each section to be unique and have very little use for cookie-cutter pages.

But the problem is that even though I know this, it still feels like more of a chore to add a new article or page and I’ve really let that interfere with my site updating!

Then there’s another issue. When I converted, I kept all the old content, including tag and category pages. I can’t decide if I want to continue to update these (and even expand where appropriate) or just leave them as is and not add the new content to them (seems like a sure way to make the site look out-of-date even when it’s not), or delete them as I decide I don’t need them and convert relevant, useful tags and categories into actual subsections of the site(s). Guh. Over-categorizing just seems like a sure way to end up with a mess.

Maybe I’ll get this all straightened out soon. If not, I’ll just go back to worrying about my spy and not doing anything… ;-)

We Can All Use a Little Help Sometimes

Keyword research is not overrated. I used to build sites and pages without ever bothering to check the keywords for anything. I made sites that never got traffic, that never made sales, that—oops. Wait.

I had never heard of keyword research when I first started building sites. I made several that got plenty of traffic, and made several sales. In fact, one of those sites still makes sales and still gets traffic.

The thing is, you can build sites that work just fine without keyword data.

But, and it’s a big one, you can make sites earn a lot faster if you have keyword data that tells you what people are searching for in your niche and then you create pages that match those searches. You waste a lot of time building pages that possibly don’t help anyone because no one really wants to know anything about what you’ve just built a page around.

I can’t stand to do massive amounts of keyword research where I pull words, get traffic, figure out possible earnings, and then try to incorporate all that into my pages. I pay for that lack of interest though in slower traffic growth, less earnings, and fewer breakout sites.

I still don’t bother with traffic and earnings data, but I have been using a cool tool to help me pick out all the interesting things people search for related to some of the site topics I build around. The tool tells me what people type into the search engine when they’re looking for that topic and it has helped me with something I didn’t expect it to help with.

Article ideas. :)

I have the worst time dealing with large topics. I become overwhelmed and unable to focus. When I see the list of keyword phrases this little tool spits out for me, I immediately have something solid to grab onto—something that’s not possible when I have 4,822 ideas popping into my head at once when I think of my topic! This has saved me a lot of time just by keeping me focused and working and not flitting all over the place writing drafts I will never finish because I didn’t know where I was going with it when I started it.

And the good news is that if people are searching for these phrases, then writing that article is certainly going to help someone, somewhere.

<strike>GEOLOGY UNIVERSE</strike> Oops! Guess not

Because I have too few creative bones in my body and they mostly involve fictional tales of romance and foreign planets. This was a tough one. I had a really hard time picking out this name. I wanted something not related to the poor guy who gave me the idea, but in the end, this was as good as it got.

  1. geologyworld.com – taken
  2. earthgeology.com – taken
  3. geology.com – taken (seriously, I didn’t even have to check)
  4. geologydaze.com – not taken, but we know why
  5. geologyoftheworld.com – not taken, but doesn’t this limit me to only earth’s geology? Why would I want to do that? Mars has interesting geology and I love thinking about how the geology on other earth-like worlds might have developed.
  6. geologynews.com – taken
  7. geologyviews.com – Dang. I just thought of this one and I think I would have liked it.

I think I might be a little too tired after an overly stressful day. I now have 2 domains for the same site that I’m probably never going to build. :-o

Listening to: Cyndi Lauper – I Drove All Night; Blake Shelton – Some Beach

CSS Stuff that I Needed to Know but Didn’t

Ran across this CSS tip today, when I was researching an issue. I wanted to override a width in an element but the element already had a lot of styles applied to it and I didn’t want to create an entirely new ID.

Creating a new ID was my first instinct just because I don’t work with CSS nearly as much as I did when I first discovered it. I’m comfortable with the layout of most of my designs and just haven’t felt the need to more than tweak in years.

Really useful info, so check it out if you like to play with your CSS sometimes but want to keep it as streamlined as possible. http://css-tricks.com/multiple-class-id-selectors/

Islands and links

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting ideas I can work with. Today I ran across this post on reader engagement and linking out. The article, interestingly enough, touched on something I’ve been thinking about lately–or maybe that’s simply why the article caught my attention.

I have several older websites that still get email. Those emails are usually nice comments about the usefulness of the site and I always smile a little when I get one. I wonder too, why some of my newer sites don’t see those kinds of comments.

The differences between these sites is simply this: The older site has tons of links that link out to other useful sites I’ve found over the years. The newer sites have fewer links out, and are more heavily populated with my own “original” content. Now, I realize original content is important, but sometimes I know there’s someone out there that’s better able to say what it is I want said. These are the times when link outs make the most sense and when I should be linking out.

Come to think of it, many of the sites I visit aren’t spectacular in and of themselves, but they are able to pull together stuff on the web and make it useful in a way that it wasn’t before.

That’s why I like social bookmark sites. Articles and blogs are all pulled together by tags. It makes browsing easier and more useful.

Aggregators are important tools when it comes to the web, because there’s just so much data available and that makes for some serious information overload. I use up a lot of time online.

I’ve been thinking of doing more aggregation sites like those older sites I still have. I love them and I’ve always thought they served a great purpose. These days you see fewer and fewer niche aggregators–or maybe I’m just not looking in the right places!–but there’s a bigger need than ever for them. Even the small social bookmark sites get overrun with so much content that narrowing it down to a very specific topic is difficult.

In essence I’ve created my own aggregated links within Google Reader. But I’ve still ended up with so much stuff to sift through that I feel a little like I’m going to go crazy sometimes with the speed reading that I have to practice to get through all the headlines.

I’ve also noticed how stingy some sites are about linking out, and I admit I’ve caught myself being that way too sometimes.  Is this really the way I want to be?

I can make this stuff easier for others to digest by pulling it together on some of my sites. Frankly, I’m tired of trying to be an island of content. I’ve said before I have too many domain names and I might have just found a better use for some of them.

If my site is good enough, any visitors I send away will eventually make their way back.