Winding down in June

June has been the month where I am finally wrapping up the last of my dad’s estate issues. It’s been two years since he died and two years since my sister and I began this, so it’s a relief to finally be at the end of it.

This has meant that I’ve been very distracted this month. I haven’t been able to keep up my daily writing and I haven’t been able to think much about my writing.

Don’t misunderstand. I’ve had time to keep up those streaks most days, but I haven’t had the energy. So, I haven’t.

My dad was a car man, so he had built a working garage when I was a kid. But his health wasn’t good in his later years and the garage suffered. He had a lot of stuff packed into it. Far more than I or my sister had imagined. Very little of it was organized. None of it was clean. The inside was overrun with signs of rats.

Clearing it out has been a struggle. I’ve spent many hours traveling the forty-five minutes to the garage to clean for three to four hours before going home to get ready to do it again a day or two later.

My dad’s garage is on a piece of property given to him by my grandmother. He had also bought a share from my aunt. The family didn’t want us to sell the property. However, we decided we really couldn’t keep it, so we put it on the market late last year.

The emotional baggage that comes with that decision has been a lot to bear for both my sister and me.

By the end of today or tomorrow, the last details should be done. I’ll be closing on the sale of his garage and then there’s nothing left to do but get back to writing.

May 2024 accountability

My word counts dropped in May. I know why so it’s not a big deal. I wrote 5,291 words in May.

On May 20th, I lost my > 200 words a day streak. The rest of the month wasn’t better. I had too much to do, and everything just got a little overwhelming.

I’ve tried to pick the streak back up, but it hasn’t been easy. My routines have changed significantly, and things are still not settled around here, so I keep missing my goal. Overall, though, I do expect better from June. And since the halfway point of the month is a good restarting point, I’m going to try to make yesterday the last missed writing day in June. :)

April 2024 accountability

It’s a fact that if writing is going well for me, I don’t blog as much. I just realized I never wrote my accountability post for April 2024.

In April, I continued to write every day. I wrote 12,013 words.

I had hoped to start writing earlier in the day each day but that hasn’t been easy to do.

Some good advice

Absolutely adore these videos.

It was two weeks ago, I think, when I first came across The Cozy Creative channel and Lidiya Foxglove’s videos. She has a lot of wisdom about being a writer for the long-term, and she shares it with a quirky and fun attitude that makes her videos really easy viewing.

I’ve watched more than a handful so I’m not basing my opinion on any one video, but I definitely recommend you give them a watch if you’re interested in writing journeys and good advice to get you through a long haul as an author. :)

Starting somewhere so I can end up elsewhere

Part 1 of The Slow Writer’s Guide to Becoming Prolific

March and April have marked the beginning of my plan to create a slow writer’s guide to becoming prolific. After a strong start back in 2012 that lasted a few years, but then suffered from a bunch of life changes that seemed to hit one after another, my plans to write and publish a lot of books didn’t pan out.

From 2012 to 2023, I published books, don’t get me wrong, 44 unique titles of which 23 were novels. But I didn’t publish the number of books I wanted to publish. And most of those titles were published in the first half of the eleven year span. You can take a quick look at my progress page to see that.

In March, I began working on a way to get myself writing regularly again. It’s worked out very well.

So, step one of the slow writer’s plan to become prolific was to set a small goal I really couldn’t miss unless I really just didn’t want to make a success out of this at all. I set a goal of writing every day, and to make it count, I added a minimum word count. I had avoided that in the past, or I’d made it so small that it never really felt like it added up to anything. This time I decided not to do that. I wanted it to amount to something.

Thus began my streak of writing >200 words every day (fiction only). As of this writing, the streak is ongoing and it’s gained me 14,093 words toward my plan to be prolific.

I don’t do much editing of what I write, except I really do, because I work on my text as I go until it’s telling the story I want to tell. I don’t worry about much else. I have a decent grasp of grammar and I’m not prone to making many spelling mistakes. So I write mostly publishable words. These words are good words and they’re adding up. This is a good thing. :)

March 2024 accountability

Accountability? Progress? Summary? I honestly just don’t know what to call these posts. So for the moment, I’m going to stick with accountability because that was what I called the last few I wrote.

In March, about mid-month—or actually, at exactly mid-month on March 15th—I decided to start writing every day again.

Usually, I avoid setting a word count goal for that, but this time, I knew I wanted to see real progress, and I wanted it to add up to something. So, I set a goal for > 200 words a day. No more of this “one word counts” or “negative words still mean I did something that day.” This was intended to be a goal that would get me some real forward progress on my stories and get me back into some semblance of a writing routine.

I’m not good with routines. Past posts on this site are littered with the proof of that, so feel free to go looking if you want. :)

Maybe because I was also posting about this goal on a Discord server of fellow writers (it’s a small server of writers from my state), I found extra motivation to keep going even when I might have normally said forget it because it was 2 am and I still hadn’t written 200 words, but I did keep going.

In March, I wrote 9,259 words, and more than doubled my February word count.

506 of those words were from March 1–14, and 8,753 of those words came during March 15–31.

My year started off weird because my daughter was home a lot longer than planned, and I really needed this push to get started writing again. :D I’m glad I did it.

I decided not to change anything for April, because it’s working, and I don’t want to blow it up just when it’s picking up steam. ;D

The only small, teensy little thing I’m hoping to do different in April is start earlier in the day. But it’s not a requirement, and it’s not a real goal. Just a hope.

Having fun and reaching goals

I came across some draft posts that should have been published to the blog a while ago. Here’s one that still has something important to say, even if it doesn’t reflect my current state of mind. At the time, I was having difficulty having fun. Revisiting the posts mentioned below might even have helped me get to where I am now. :)

Today, I sat down to try to remind myself why it’s important to keep writing fun. I went looking for some old posts, and reading them did help.

The posts reminded me that focusing on productivity when I’m writing takes the focus off my enjoyment of the process and turns it into a self-critique. Sure, there are benefits to that if it keeps me focused on criticizing my speed and output instead of on the story.

But as is often the case, once you start criticizing yourself, it can be hard to rein it in. Spillover happens. It’s better to stay focused on enjoying the entire process of writing, including the part that gets the words out.

Simplifying in October: a daily accountability update

It seems as if I’ve forgotten my daily accountability challenge, but the truth is it’s still going strong. I’m just not prioritizing posting on the blog here over writing fiction. :)

I tend to fall away from blog posting when the writing is going well. I’ll post another update soon about what’s working to keep me writing and what’s not, but as of now, I’ve written 5,718 words from October 1–4, and that is a 1,429 words a day average so I am quite pleased with that.

Day 22 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/30/23

Yesterday was basically a no writing day, even though that wasn’t my intention at the start of the day.

However, I didn’t have a zero word day. No, sir. I had a -3 word day. I am disappointed, but it’s a fact that some days you’re just not going to feel great and things you wanted to get done aren’t going to get done because of that. That was yesterday. Moving on now.

Today, I’ll be back at the multiple stories challenge which I’ve since given its own page.

I’m starting the new month with renewed vigor!

Day 21 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/29/23

Yesterday, I had a limited amount of writing time. It took far too long to write my words. Overall, I wrote 415 words total, on 2 stories.

As for my September on-track challenge, I haven’t made much progress on it, and as today is the last day for it. I don’t see a win in my future on this one. I would need many thousands of words to have reversed the accumulating deficit in my word count.

All I can do now is look forward and try to keep that deficit from growing larger!

I’ve continued with my multiple stories challenge and I’m pretty happy with how it’s helped me increase my word counts this month over last. :)

Day 20 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/28/23

There’s nothing much I really want to say about yesterday’s writing, except that I enjoyed working on multiple stories. It’s very motivating. Ideas for one story feed into ideas for the others, so it also gives my creativity a boost. Because of that, I finished the day off with 1,503 words written, across 4 stories.

I really don’t think I would have done as well if I’d forced myself to stick with one story tonight.

Day 19 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/27/23

Well.

Yesterday was a day. The family things I’ve been dealing with are continuing to bleed into every new day. Here’s hoping it will ease up soon and give me back my creative energy!

I ended the day having written 82 words, on 1 story.

At least it wasn’t a zero word day? Even if that’s just a small win, I’ll take it. :)

Days 16, 17, & 18 of the daily accountability challenge

When I started this post, I thought I was only two days behind. Guess not! Here’s a catch-up post.

Accountability for 9/24/23

I wrote quite a bit on Sunday. I spent most of the day writing, in fact. My total word count appears lower than it is because of the way I count words day to day. I deleted some notes and little bits I’d written ahead in my novel as I came to them, and then a big chunk at the end of a scene that I didn’t end up writing.

I gained a lot of momentum early in the day from some easy wins on my goal word counts for a few of my stories, and that helped me when I got to my more troublesome novels. :)

This was a good day overall. I would love it if I could pick up some speed, but it was a win for the 1,300 words a day goal, and for the multiple stories challenge. When I ended the day, I had added 1,847 words to my grand total, across 5 stories.

Accountability for 9/25/23

Monday was a very busy day and I had a lot to do away from home. I finally got to sit down and think about writing at around 10:45 pm. That was the extent of my attempt to write on this day: zero words.

Accountability for 9/26/23

Yesterday, I had some more errands to deal with and a lunch meeting with a family member. We’re dealing with some final things for a death in the family a while back, so these were really very necessary errands that have gotten in the way of writing. Another zero word day.

I even had a few things to do this morning, but I am hoping to settle in soon for a return to writing today. :)

I definitely don’t want to have too many of these zero words days in a row because it will kill my momentum and ruin my averages—and I’m already struggling to get the 1,300 words a day I need, whether as an average or a daily minimum! :o

Day 15 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/23/23

I was reminded of something this morning when I sat down to write this post: I have a guilt problem.

Guilt made me stick to one story yesterday, and I paid for that with a low word count and less enthusiasm as I was writing.

Yesterday, I wrote 498 words, on 1 story.

When I know a story really needs to be finished, or I have a deadline approaching—even if it’s self-imposed!—I start to feel like I’m failing if I write on anything except that story. I don’t think I can succeed with the multiple stories challenge in the coming months if I can’t ignore this feeling and continue to work on multiple stories each day.

NOTE TO SELF: Do not fall into the mindset that I will finish the novel I most need to finish faster if I just focus one-hundred percent of my effort on it. Ain’t gonna happen, in almost all cases.

Writing a lot of words when I’m only working on one story is the exception, not the rule.

And truly, the motivational boost I get from working on more than one story at a time is huge, so there’s really no downside to it. :)

Best sprint length for writing fiction?

Ah, this is a tough question! I use sprints of varying lengths to help me stay focused when I’m writing. I don’t always need them, but I need them more often than I use them, to be honest.

5 minutes

Five minute sprints are good for when I just want to write and gain a lot of momentum. It really keeps me tightly focused on the writing, and I’m almost always trying to beat the clock to about 100 words. It’s about the only time I can consistently hit a pace above 1,000 words an hour.

15 minutes

A fifteen minute sprint works for me when I want something quick that’s easy to add up. A quarter hour is almost always easy math. :D

20 minutes

Twenty minute sprints are just about the perfect length for me. I rarely get distracted during them unless there are outside interruptions. The math is a little trickier through, because it’s one-third of an hour, or .333333 with a never ending line of threes. :)

25 minutes

Twenty-five minute sprints are great! I like them because they work well with my fifty minute sessions (a length that works really well for me). It’s exactly one-half of fifty minutes. It’s also a standard Pomodoro length if you like the Pomodoro Technique. The math is even tricker though, at .4166666666 (never ending sixes again). But I can stay focused on a sprint for 25 minutes usually. Not always.

30 minutes

A thirty minute sprint is a bit of a commitment. I can do it, but it sometimes feels too long. It’s easier for me to interrupt myself, and it’s easier to find my mind wander to something else if the writing starts to feel hard. With shorter sprint lengths, I can usually push through that kind of thing and keep going until the end, but with a thirty minute sprint, I fail a bit more often.

More than 30 minutes

Anything over thirty minutes isn’t really a sprint. They’re getting into marathon territory. Longer time blocks are great when you want to dig in and focus. A timer sometimes helps (as I said before, I like fifty minute sessions a lot), but sometimes the timer is just an interruption.

So there you go, a list of all the different sprint lengths I use often and how I think about them.

I do sometimes choose different sprint lengths (one I like is twelve minutes because it is one-fifth of an hour), but those are just novelties. Most often, I stick to the ones above.

Day 14 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/22/23

Yesterday was just one of those days I’d rather not talk about. :o

I wrote only 6 words, on 2 stories.

Two, because I made a few fixes in the short story that reduced my word count to a small negative, and then I wrote like two lines on the novel.

I stayed very busy with some publishing stuff, and that’s all the writing I got around to before I called it a night.

Day 13 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/21/23

Yesterday’s total words should have been better, but I got hung up on that short story I finished the night before.

I ended the day with 454 words written, on 2 stories (but barely).

I’d done a few continuity checks with the connected series that same night and found my timeline was off a bit. I started correcting it yesterday, went too far, then had to backtrack to the original story and start again.

The story was really good as it was, and I didn’t want to mess it up.

I don’t always realize it when I’m writing, but sometimes I write things that need to be shifted around once I’m done. Sometimes I’m not even sure where a part needs to be shifted to until I realize something’s missing. Once I write it, everything falls into place, as if that was how it was supposed to be all along.

All in all, I added a few hundred words to it, and that’s the majority of the words I wrote yesterday. :o

Day 12 of the daily accountability challenge

You may not have noticed, but I had to go back and change the days of the challenge in the titles for the last two posts. Somehow I got off on my numbering and had two day 7s. :D

Oops. It’s fixed now.

I also accidentally dropped “daily” from the post title starting at day 7. LOL. It makes for a shorter title, but I’d really rather not leave it out! The daily part of this is what’s keeping me honest. :)

Accountability for 9/20/23

Yesterday, I worked on multiple stories, so I’m now firmly back into my multiple stories challenge.

I like working on multiple stories concurrently, instead of focusing on only one project until it’s done. This works best for me, most of the time, as I’ve said in the past. My word counts go up, and my motivation stays high. I need both of those!

Before I called it a night, I had written 2,448 words, across 3 stories.

That means I again reached my goal of 1,300 words a day. I’m hoping to stay there for a while. Winning my September on-track challenge depends on it. If I want to stay a full-time writer, I do have to write more than I have been. No question.

Most of the new words were for one story (a novel I want to finish soon), but I did finish a short story I started a few days back and do some minor corrections and get back into another novel that I’ll soon be working on more diligently, if all goes well with the current novel. :)

Days 10 & 11 of the accountability challenge

Did I forget to post AGAIN? I did! I realized it after I shut down last night, and decided to just do another two day catch up post. Hopefully, this won’t happen again for a while. :D

Accountability for 9/18/23

I can see pretty easily why I forgot to post for this day.

Zero words. The publishing stuff I didn’t finish the night before got in the way, big time. But I finished all that then went to bed super late. Going to try not to do that anymore for a while. It’s messing my attempt to shift my sleep time back. And that is not a win. :o

Accountability for 9/19/23

Yesterday, I spent some time getting a few chapters of a serial finished so I can devote the rest of this week to a novel I want to finish by the end of the month. It’s how I plan to win at my September on-track challenge.

If I finish the novel, I will definitely catch-up some of those words and make progress reducing that word count deficit I’ve accumulated since I started tracking my 1,300 words a day goal.

I don’t know why it was so easy to get bogged down in those serial episodes, but by the time I called it a day, I had only written 745 words, on 1 story. (See below for the updated total.)

That was disappointing, for sure. I worked hard yesterday and spent a lot of time writing. :(

HOWEVER, that number isn’t a final number. I did work on another story yesterday. I have words I hand wrote late last night on my novel that I’ll type up once I get started this morning (afternoon, who am I kidding, at 12:43 pm already). I don’t think it’ll put me over 1,300 words, but it will put me closer.

I’ll update it tomorrow when I do today’s accountability post if I don’t remember to come back and update it today.

After adding in the handwritten words, my day came in at 1,047 words, on 2 stories.

But the serial is on the back burner now for a while, and my novel is going to get a LOT of my attention. However (another one!), I’m also going to be picking up my multiple stories challenge again today and trying to catch up a bit on some of those small word count goals, too.

It’s going to be a busy day. You can come back tomorrow to see what I make of it.

As for yesterday, getting those serial chapters done was a win, even if it wasn’t the win I most wanted. I’ll take it. :D