What Was I Thinking?

So, yesterday I tried a 5,000 in a day challenge, not even realizing until this morning, when I was thinking about making another attempt at that challenge, that I was taking a huge step backward in my thinking.

A words per day goal has no place  in my 2014 strategy.

In my better way of looking at the numbers post, I detail how the time I spend writing is a lot more important to manage than setting daily word count goals because if I spend the time, I’ll get the words. Averages, you know. They all work out in the end.

Yesterday, I was panicking a little, thinking about how slow my writing has been going and how I haven’t been hitting anywhere near the average I’ve been counting on. But see, this was a great opportunity for me to keep going anyway and let things settle into place, and instead I immediately set myself a word count goal.

I’m really glad I realized this while I was doing a few dishes this morning, because I can course-correct before I veer off into the bushes. :D

So, I’m still going to do another challenge today, but it’s definitely not going to be “5,000 In a Day Redux.”

5,000 In a Day Challenge

Did I make it? Hahahahaha!

So, I’m starting a new challenge today. It’s a one day challenge and it’s simple. Get 5,000 words today before 10:30 pm.* (If I stay up late doing it, tomorrow will suffer and I don’t want that.)

Getting a bit of a late start, but I’ve actually already been writing this morning. That’s why I needed to find something to motivate me. I’m barely trucking along at 300 words an hour and I want to break out of this <300 words an hour streak I’ve got going on. :D This book might be a little more challenging to write, but I sure didn’t find the first one of the series to be quite this slow! So this one shouldn’t be either. I think it’s the dark side of the whole time is all that matters mindset. Because of course there’s a dark side—there’s always a dark side! :D

I’ll update as the day goes on.

10:35 am: 297
5:06 pm: 790
7:44 pm: 1,369

I Did Not Count on Distractions!

But they are everywhere! Along with exclamation points!

I’m sitting at my highest Amazon Author Rank ever at the moment, and as I noticed my rank climbing that little extra bit to put it there, I found myself starting to get really distracted. I’m updating this post and hoping that it will let me release this distraction into the ether so I can regain my focus. I’m about to have my last big block of free time tonight in about six minutes and I want to get my mind cleared out of these distractions before that happens.

And not to put too pointy a point on it, but the increased author rank really doesn’t mean a lot. The new book’s selling about the same as it’s been selling since I put it up. It’s just a nice little blip in my day. :D

Alrighty, time to get back to my story.

*And of course, if it were to happen (but we know it won’t) that I completed the 5,000 words before my daily writing time ended, I will continue to write until I meet my time goal.

Here’s a Dilemma

Well. Here’s a dilemma. I have this nifty new schedule for 2014 (that I mostly really like) but today I had a lot of trouble with procrastination. So now I have to decide what’s more important. Stick to the schedule so I write when I’m supposed to and deal with some missing writing time here in the beginning as I get used to making myself write only during that time? Or stick to my time goal? What’s more important? Why’d I create the schedule?

As a guideline, not a straitjacket, that’s what. I need to remember that. Note to self: remember that!

I came up with the schedule as a part of a strategy to help me write more. So maybe this isn’t really that big a dilemma after all. I mean, I don’t want to fall into a habit of never doing my writing during my writing time, because then I just feel guilty when I take time out for living. But let’s face it, I have a love/hate relationship with schedules and there are probably going to be a lot of days like today. I’m not sure how trainable I am. I’ve already dumped the time tracking, because well, let’s be honest, time tracking is ridiculous. It reminds me of Phileas Fogg* and I don’t want to be a Phileas Fogg. :D

So, I guess tonight I’ll be writing again later.

Whew! Glad I got that all worked out in my head. :D

*Main fella in Around the World in Eighty Days. Love that guy, but I definitely do not want to be him.

Procrastination Station

My new writing spot has become just what the title of this blog post says, a procrastination station. The sun makes me sleepy and I lose all my motivation to do anything but sit and bask.

It’s such a cozy spot too. :(

Today, my 2014 total is stuck at 18,234 which is a harrowing 23,000 words behind for the month.

I announced that I was going to try for 4,000 again today but I’ve self-sabotaged myself completely out of that unless I plan to write all evening. My pace has been slower than normal for the last week, barely hitting 500 words an hour at my top speed. Today I’m sitting at 297 words an hour. 4,000 words at 297 an hour? That’s like … be right back, I need my calculator … 13 and a half hours! Yikes! So technically if I stayed at that pace, I won’t even hit 4,000 before midnight and the day is officially over.

I’m also struggling to not worry about how much everyone probably hates my books. Which is stupid. I have some lovely emails from fans and blog comments and 5-star Amazon reviews and 5-star ratings on Goodreads, so all I’m doing by doubting that my books are any good is doubting the intelligence and truthfulness of those fans, which is not something I want to do. But I’m still doing it! Apparently.

Why can’t I just write and not think of all this stuff?

Why does it all have to be so hard?*

*Fake hard, because really, my dad was a mason who went out and lifted blocks and bricks and squatted in the mud and slapped mortar down and made things that looked pretty out of that mess in scalding hot weather and breath-stealing cold for many years and that was hard. This isn’t hard. Just mentally frustrating. Or I’m just a whiner today. I blame it on the sun.

Now I feel kind of like I need to show some grit, because everybody knows grit is what makes the world go round.

Slow Day

So, it’s 7:53 pm and I haven’t written for the hours I was supposed to write today. Not even close. The little time I did spend today I spent on the wrong book (probably about an hour, but that’s just a guess based on the number of words I got and how fast I felt I was writing this morning).

One thing I know: I need a new workspace. I spend too much time relocating throughout the day trying to get comfortable, and I just don’t see how that’s helping me. Can’t be. So I need to prioritize setting up some decent workspace.*

*I just moved a desk so I’d have a nice place to sit in the sun and write in the early mornings. :) So, I either wasted an hour doing it (procrastination), or I—yeah. Procrastination. But hey, it might help tomorrow!


Started 2014 Novella #1

I’m writing 2014 novella #1 instead of 2014 novel #1 because I wanted to write something short but I couldn’t get into 2014 short story #1. :o Technically, I started this novella back in 2012, but only made it about 600 words in before I set it aside. I do that a lot, write one or two pages and then move on. I track the words, and some stories get picked up later and some get deleted when I finally decide I’m never going to write that one after all.

My pace could be better. I’ve spent the majority of the time I’ve been at the computer either goofing off, reading the previous stories in the novella’s series, or writing s.l.o.w.l.y and wishing I could write faster.

I’m really letting myself fall behind here on the one million words challenge, and I’m kind of sad about that. And mad. At myself. So tomorrow (because it’s always easiest to say tomorrow) I’m going to watch my time diligently* and do what needs to be done. I will aim to write at least 4,000 words tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be very dedicated (and lucky) and hit one of my rare 5,000 word days.

But for tonight, this is it, because I need to spend at least the rest of the time between now and sleepy time writing what I can. I already know the chance of me writing my full 2,750 words today is slim to none. I’d have to write six times my normal speed to get what I still needed in half an hour. But I might be able to hit 500 more before I crash.

I’ve averaged 1,096 words per day so far. I need to average 2,750.

*I installed a time tracking app on my phone, set it up, and started tracking my time into work (writing, learning, publishing) and personal (leisure, chores, personal) categories. This is ridiculous and I know it, but I’m willing to try anything if I think it will increase my chances of writing more! I plan to use this for at least a few days, maybe a week, and if it works, who knows? Maybe all year. :)

One Million Words Challenge One Week In

I joined the One Million Words community on Google+. We’re a group of writers who are trying to write one million words in 2014. It’s a great place if you’re seriously trying to write a lot of words this year! Which is something I’m working on. The group is great. I love it. It’s very motivational to be around other writers striving for the same goal.

Current total: 10,837
Should be:  24,750 (actually 24,194 but I’m rounding to a daily average of 2,750)

So … I’m behind. But if I can stick to my schedule going forward most days, I should make it up by the end of the month assuming my 500 wph averages out and I do most of the hours I’m supposed to do between then and now.

Why am I already behind?

I published a book! And wow, did that take some serious time away from writing. It was the fastest I’ve ever published a novel length book, but my deadline hit and it had to be done. And wow again, but that was something I don’t ever want to repeat. The stress! The worry! The tossing and turning! Also, the weather forced schools to close, so my schedule’s been hit and miss this week—mostly miss. But that ends tomorrow, so we’ll see how I do getting back into the groove.

It’s completely obvious to me now that I need one place to write about writing and as long as I have that place, I’m a happy person. :-) I used to send long, meandering emails to a friend, but decided the time had come to cut that out. No sense piling up someone’s email like that when a blog would work just fine. And lo and behold, I happened to have a couple of them available for whatever I wanted to post. :D

Finally, I’m having trouble settling on my next project. There are a couple of novels I want to write before spring, but I also wanted to take a short break and write something short, but nothing is really working for me except one of the novels. So. Sigh. I’ll eventually figure it out. I hope. You know, before spring. :o

Oh My! I’m Almost Done With 2013 Novel #5

This week’s been weird. I’d hoped desperately to finish 2013 novel #5 in, you know, 2013. :D Didn’t happen. But! I finally figured out my problem, chopped off 2,844 words at the end, and started over and now—nowfinally!—I think I’m just about at the end. I have a bit more wrap up to do, but I’m really, really hopeful it will be done by 8pm tonight.

Why 8pm? Because if I don’t finish by 8pm, I’m going to be late on this book, that’s why. I’ve squeezed my publishing tasks into the tiniest realistic allotment of hours possible and I have to start meeting those deadlines with a precision that’d scare a computer.

So. Deep breath and back to work for me. But I was so excited to realize the end was actually happening that I had to share. :D

Finding the Right Schedule for 2014

So, after giving it a little more thought, but not wanting to veer too far from the plans I’ve already worked out for the one million words challenge, I’ve made myself a new schedule for 2014 that’s turned out to be a bit different than I expected. Better, I hope, but not quite what I laid out in the previous post about it. :D


There’s a somewhat complicated reason for the odd numbers that I won’t bore you with, but I like it. I’ve tried it out today and it’s working really well for me. (Except that I’m getting about an hour and a half of a late start on the last session.)

On the weekends, I’m just going to eliminate the middle session and move the last session to 7pm (8pm when needed). That means most of my weekend days will be completely free from around 9:36am–7pm for getting out, reading, or taking up a new hobby if I want. :D And of course, if I have other plans, I’ll just pick the two most convenient session times for the day.

This is actually going to lead to more writing time in a day than I usually ever come close to, so it’s going to be interesting to see how much actual timed writing I get.

Theoretically, this schedule could allow me to average about 24,700 words a week. That means I could not write for eleven and a half weeks out of the year and still make the one million. So … breathing room! Which we all know is a definite necessity.

I am sincerely hoping this schedule will help me stay on track in 2014.

I’m making a commitment here and now to stick to this schedule in 2014—no rethinking, reconfiguring, recalculating—getting rid of all the baggage that comes with having to make decisions every single day* about how and when I’m going to get to my writing. This is a near perfect schedule for what’s going on in my life right now. I think this is going to be grand. :)

Still, I’m very afraid this goal is way too huge for me, and I’m not going to allow myself to feel like a failure if I only get partway there. :D But boy, I love this huge goal!

*I struggle with this kind of thing all the time. 2014 is the year I tackle this head on! I plan to come up with more rules for myself and my life this year to eliminate as much of this needless, repetitive decision-making as possible. I’m actually thinking of setting alarms on my phone to trigger me to do certain things at certain times—you know, train myself, lol. :D I’ve already set the alarms for the writing times. :)

One Million Words

So, in 2014, I’m planning to attempt to write one million words of fiction. I’m not sure why I’ve decided that quadrupling my word count’s a good idea: oh, the pressure! But I have decided to try and I’ll probably know after a month if I have any chance whatsoever of accomplishing such a thing.

I have a plan.

I’m going to write for 5 and a half hours on weekdays, and 4 hours on weekend days. Based on my average word count per hour, I can make it to one million words writing that many hours each week. If I push myself during my writing time or improve my ability to let go of my perfectionist tendencies, I’ll probably be able to scale back those hours. If I don’t, I might need the 5 and a half hours on weekend days too.

My biggest obstacle is going to be butt-in-chair time. I have a distinct aversion to it! :D

I’m working on honing my ability to focus and stay in flow, but it’s hard. It doesn’t take outside distractions to distract me; my mind can flit from one subject to another without any warning at all, and that’s not good for focus or for staying in flow!

I have rules that I hope will help me.

I’m turning off WIFI on my laptop at night before I shut down (and blocking it on my phone and Kindle and NOOK and anything else I might use to access forums, blogs, and email) and I’m making it a rule that it doesn’t come back on until I’ve reached 3 hours, then I’ll allow myself a WIFI break of no longer than 30 minutes (while I do some light exercise to keep my blood flowing to my brain!), and then off again until I finish my time.

That’s it.

I want to keep this simple so it’s easier to remember the rules and easier to follow. There’s not a lot of gray area here and I don’t want it to require a lot of thought to make it work. Discipline is hard enough without making it complicated.

I followed a similar rule set back in February of 2013 and I wrote 51,396 words that month. While my daily goals were in word counts back then, I remember quitting at about lunch time every day and rarely writing for more than 3 or 4 hours a day (which makes sense because I was tracking my time and my word counts daily during that period and that’s a big chunk of the data I have about my average words per hour).

I’m excited and nervous and terrified by this 2014 goal all at the same time! It’s going to be fabulous. :D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 15, ??, ??

The holiday has thrown me, and I’ve completely lost track of what day this should be in my Finish the Book! Challenge. Considering that the challenge should’ve been done ages ago, I’m taking this as a hint to retire the challenge. This book is at 140% of my projected/hoped for word count and it ain’t done yet. That really wasn’t the plan when I started the challenge.

I’m going to finish the book, and I’m going to finish it in the next couple of days so yeah, moving on.

Also, I’m keeping this short so I don’t waste time that should be spent writing fiction. :D

Oh, and even though I fully intended to keep the writing streak going until at least the end of the year, even though I gave myself permission to miss Christmas day, I messed up last night and fell asleep with only 10 new words written. So time to start that one over!

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 14

Okay, I’m getting  a late start today but this is it. I’ve gotta finish this book today or—today. Yeah. Today. If I go any longer, I’m going to be in trouble with my no-so-tentative-anymore release date. I’ve committed.

There’s definitely a part of me that says I can’t finish today. Maybe not, but I better get really close. :D I can handle being 1,000 or 2,000 words shy of the end. Right now though, I don’t even know where that end is and I’m already 19,721 words past my target. And despite being sick from 12/1 to 12/10, I’ve still managed over 13,000 finished* words in December.

12:50 pm: 0 words to start

I’m going to do about 10 minutes of exercise first to get the blood flowing to my brain and then I’m digging in for an afternoon and evening of hard core writing of 1 hour blocks with short 5–10 minutes breaks between.

Update #1: I haven’t timed my sessions because I can’t seem to get going on this, and I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with the scene. I mean, nothing wrong, wrong, but something about it just isn’t right. Might be time to delete a chunk and start over? I’m at a net gain of 28 words so far and that’s just so wrong. I must hunker down and daydream harder.

Next to last Final update: I give up. It’s been a sad little day. Nope. I just realized I can’t give up because I haven’t written 100 words yet. I’m not breaking my streak; I don’t care how much of a sad little day it’s been.

Final update: 117 words. Whew. The streak lives.

*I cycle through my writing as I go. I try to do as little after-the-fact editing as possible because I hate it. I don’t usually move on until I’ve got the actions/feelings/thoughts across on the page the way I want them. Works for me! This is the method that started me finishing stories. :) All the other things I tried (especially fast drafting through the first draft) just overwhelmed me and left me with a lot of unfinished stories. It took me over 25 years to figure out this was how I needed to write, assuming I started writing when I was 12. I actually think I was younger but I’d have to dig out stuff in storage to prove it, so I’m going with 12. :D Right now I’m working on eliminating the perfectionism that makes me rewrite sentences twenty times apiece before I end up right back at the same sentence I started with. (Yes, I’ve started paying attention and that’s invariably what happens. Yikes, all that wasted time and effort just to end up back where I started!)

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 13

Still not done. Day 13. Why oh why won’t you end, you darn book?! It is official. Longest manuscript I’ve produced yet for one of my independently published works. And still not done.

(Quick aside. The weather is crazy out! The wind is up and gusting, the house is cracking and popping, and the lights keep flickering and I’d worry about my computer shutting down except I’m using my laptop and I have a UPS for my modem and router. So I’m good.)

So, today’s count so far: 383 words
Ended with: 521 words

Staying focused today has been a nightmare.

I started reading a good book today during supper, though. Maids of Misfortune. I picked it up as one of those Kindle loans you can do once a month as a Prime member. It’s only the second book I’ve ever borrowed but I decided I should start trying to take advantage of that perk of Prime. I do borrow R.E.A.D.S library books on my Kindle sometimes, but that’s because I like browsing the library site more than Amazon. (Sorry Amazon! I love ya, but R.E.A.D.S is more browse-able.) (Here’s a link to the book: Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery. I’m not that fond of the cover, but so far the story’s good and I’m enjoying it, so who cares, right?)

Anyway, I’ve decided I have to make reading more often a priority. I’ve always read a lot of books and letting myself use writing as an excuse to skip one of my most enjoyable pastimes is crazy. I didn’t have to skip reading at the end of a long day when I worked the day job, so why should I have to give it up now? I refuse! :D

What’s that saying? Work hard, play hard.* Reading is my “play hard.”

*Oh the irony! I typo-ed that into “word hard, play hard” first time through. LOL. Maybe I should’ve left it alone. :D

End of the Year Thoughts

Now that it’s only a little over a week until the new year, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done in 2013 and how I want to improve in 2014.

Things I want to do

Write one million words in 2014 (and publish most of them).

Put out a new book every 6–8 weeks.

Find someone to re-cover all my novels.

Find a first reader for my books.

Find someone trustworthy to copy edit my books so I don’t have to worry so much about errors slipping through. (I can already tell you, I’ll still be doing the final read-through copy edit, because I’m just that kind of person. :D)

Stop writing so many plot holes into my books.

Make more writer friends.

Become a better writer/storyteller—the learning never stops.

Make a lot of money. :D

Difficulties I’ll face

To write one million words I’m doing to have to write for about 5 hours and 30 minutes every day.

That’s every day.

I still haven’t succeeded in writing four hours a day, most days.

I don’t see plot holes.

I’m a cheapskate when it comes to paying for services I think I can do myself. Handing over that money? It burns!

I don’t want to pay $350 for someone to read my book and mark up a few typos. (That’s a real quote.) See above comment about my cheapskatedness. (I claim dibs on that word!)

I don’t make friends easily. I’m honestly not sure how likable I am. :D

It’s hard work to make a lot of money. Sales are out of my control. I don’t market. I don’t discount. I don’t—never mind that one, I just added a mailing list. Yay for me. Sales are still out of my control though. :)

And that’s about it for now. This post took way too long to write, because I mostly wandered and then wandered away before coming back. If I think of anything else, I’ll update.

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 11, 12

There are two versions of today’s numbers.

The short story:

Day 11: 1,914
Day 12: 226 (Streak’s still alive. Since 11/17. Yay.)

The long story:

Yesterday, I got a few more words but I still missed the mark on my four hours. I came in around three to three and a half hours. I don’t really know because I quit counting after three.

Today … well, it’s probably best not to talk about today. I’m still not sure where the day went. I did some non-writing publishing things for a change, and I also finally updated the files at Amazon for 2 of my books that I’d slowly been fixing typos in whenever I ran across one as I reread the books during the research for my current book. I end up rereading a lot of material this way, but there’s just no way around it.

Apparently I really got twisted up with one particular word, where I knew the difference but still used the wrong word a lot. And then didn’t catch it during editing. Usually if I find an error, I fix it, save the file, and just wait until I’m about ready to upload another book. But today I wanted to update back matter—and there were enough usages of the wrong word that I thought getting the new editions uploaded now would be nice. I mean, I’m hoping to get the next book in that series up in early January, so having the lead-ins be as clean as possible can only help. :) But I still need to do that same back matter update for multiple other books and then make sure all the vendors have the latest versions. Ugh.

I really wish I had a better way of tracking updates, so that the editions are the same across all platforms, because I just don’t ever seem to be able to start and finish a full-on, across all platforms update in one sitting for any particular book.

A better tracking system something I need to think about, I guess. My current master publish list (a spreadsheet) doesn’t really have the right columns for it without making the sheet unwieldy. Sigh.

Publishing is not quite as fun as the writing most times, although on days like today, I’d say it had to be a bit more fun or I wouldn’t have used it to procrastinate on the writing—and there’s just no way I can deny that that’s what I was doing. There’s still time to write a bit more though.

However, there’s a blog post flitting around inside my head that I want to get out, and I think I’m going to do that first. :D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 7, 8, 9, 10

Today is day 11 and I’ll do a wrap-up for this day in another post. This is just a quick summary of the days I didn’t bother with a wrap-up because to be honest, these posts aren’t as important as writing and  I keep finding myself distracted every time I log on!

Sun, Day 7 = 247
Mon, Day 8 = 1,274
Tue, Day 9 = 914
Wed, Day 10 = 1,969

I wrote for 4 hours only on Wednesday (yesterday). The other days I fell short, and it shows it in my word counts. Even today, I sat down with the intention of getting right to work, and thought about the summary posts, felt a smidgen of guilt and decided to update. Here it is 1 hour and 50 minutes later!

So, off the internet I go and back to my Finish the Book! Challenge. :D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 6

Day 6? Didn’t see that coming.

I had really hoped this book would be done by day 6! I’m going to get started writing soon, but I need a breather first. Today was the annual shopping trip I take with my Mom and Sis. I’m pretty exhausted. And my ribs hurt, because we laughed a lot. And my feet, because we walked a lot. In the rain, to boot. But no boots, so my feet got wet because my shoes weren’t waterproof. I’m not even sure they were water resistant!

Shopping is my nightmare. I do not like shopping. And for some reason I get compulsive when I go. I came home with four throws (soft and beautiful) but I have no idea why I needed four. I have plenty of soft, thick throws. I just … had to have them. And I love them. I’m glad I bought them, and I can’t wait to get them out and use them. But, yeah, it’s a little mind-boggling as to why I felt compelled to buy them. I’m just glad I don’t have to shop very often, and that when I do, I usually have a much harder time parting with my money. :D

Now, two of the throws are in the wash and my supper is cooking and I’m about to start writing. I don’t know that I’ll get 4 hours of writing done today—or even one for that matter, but I’m going to do some. I haven’t missed writing at least 100 words since November 17 and I’m not going to mess it up tonight. :D

6:50 pm: 0

Bedtime: 128 words.

So all I really managed to do was keep my streak alive, but hey, that’s something!

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 5

Am I never going to finish this book? I’m afraid I’m having a problem ending this one. I cried like a baby today writing a certain scene and it was a good scene, but I’m really not sure it deserved a tear-bath. :D And this is definitely not the first scene I cried during the writing of. It’s been a true snot-fest, let me tell you.

In other news, I’m only 2 hours into my 4 hours of writing! I don’t know what happened today. If I stay up to finish (which I need to do so I don’t create a habit of not finishing my time each day) I’ll end up short on sleep because I have a family thing tomorrow that means I can’t sleep past 7 am unless I cancel, or pretend I overslept on accident—which is a terrible lie and I feel like a terrible person even thinking of doing it! So I won’t. I’m good like that. :D

9:32 pm: 1,100 words after 2 hours

*Apologies in advance (and in arrears) for the torture I put tags through. They love me anyway. Just like my characters. :D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 4

Yay! I made progress again today. Boo! I only wrote for 2 hours and 20 minutes. I had dinner with a friend which was a 3 hour trip so I can forgive myself for not doing anything additional in the late afternoon and evening but I really should’ve got more done today.

4:40 pm: 1,431 words

Going to try to do better tomorrow, and while I don’t believe playing catch up is a good idea usually (because it almost never works when I try it), I might actually try tomorrow. I need to put in some extra time to get this book done and then I have other publishing things I need to do outside of the writing time. But that’s all assuming I get tomorrow’s 4 hours first.

My ultimate goal for this new 4 hours of writing a day is a 2,000 words a day average over the course of a month. Two days in, I’m sitting at 1,862 even with today’s 1 hour and 40 minute shortfall. (I did better than my 500 per hour yesterday and today both.)