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

7am–9:36am
11am–1:36pm
4pm–6:36pm

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.)

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 3

Aha! I tricked you. You thought I wasn’t going to post today, huh? Well, I was too busy writing. Or, you know, afraid I’d get distracted and not actually get any writing done.

I started the 4 hours a day writing thing yesterday and we know how I did with that. But today was a different story.

I wrote in 1 hour blocks, got 3 done by 3:30 pm. Started the 4th around 4:00 pm but gave up after 20 minutes. I finished that block a few minutes ago at 9:34 pm. :D

Today, I seemed to be on pace with my 500–600 wph average, and ended up with 2,292 words for the day. I’m not a pre-planner or plotter, so I guess I’m lucky I get what I get. I also don’t edit much later. I do my fixing up as I go. If I didn’t, I’d never finish a book because I can’t go back and do extensive work on a story after the fact. Just can’t do it. I’m not just making an assumption, either. I spent 20 years trying it the other way and yeah. Not a lot to show for it.

Now, since I’m in the middle of this Finish the Book! Challenge, I would’ve loved to have gotten in a few extra hours but I’m still very tired and coughing a lot, so I’m counting it as a major win that I got in my 4 hours of hard core writing.* The coughing is bad enough that I haven’t been able to nap the last two days because when I lay down, it’s all I do. I miss my nap. Sigh.

*I love calling it “hard core” writing. Makes me feel all tingly inside. :D 

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 2

Definitely starting to feel better. I can tell a big difference today even though I’m still coughing a lot.  Hopefully the better feeling hangs around long enough to get four hours of writing in, but just in case, I’ve made a rule today that I can’t read KBoards until, or unless, I do.

I consider KBoards my leisure reading, although I don’t often participate. To be honest, I’d like to wean myself off the place, because I browse the boards more often than not to procrastinate. It could be social, but I don’t really do social there, so I can’t count that as a benefit. And although there is some good information there and some knowledgeable people, there’s also a lot of misinformation and plenty of posts that can make an author vulnerable to comparisonitis.* The Warrior Forum crowd has also started to take advantage of the naïveté of some authors on the board and that’s been sad to watch, and a little disheartening. Sigh. I should really just stop going there. :(

Anyway, happier thoughts!

I’m going to get my four hours in today, starting … right now!

10:15 am: 0
9:55 pm: 118

Uh, I’m innocent, I tell you. So. Yeah. I can’t explain what happened today, so I’m not going to try. Just know that I’m going to do better tomorrow. I spent a lot of time staring at my book. Just staring. It was kind of weird. I’m getting some extra sleep if I have to go back to bed in the morning to get it so I can have some energy. Goodnight.

*Swear I didn’t think comparisonitis was a real word (the spell check still doesn’t think it is), but then it showed up just fine on wiktionary. It’s always possible it’s still a fake word and someone just put it there to trick me. :D Ah, well. I’m tricked. I like it.

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 1

Feeling better this morning. If I don’t write today, then I’m just making excuses. Yes, still coughing, but the nose is better by a significant degree and I actually have some energy this morning. I’m going to nap after my first session if I’m still sleepy (I am right now) but I want to get an early start and get some words down before I do. I did get my 100 words last night so my 100 words a day streak* is still alive.

I’m starting the day at 0 words. But wouldn’t it be cheating to start it any other way? :D

1:43 pm: 55 ← That’s not a typo.
9:50 pm: 214

Yeah, whatever. It stayed one of those days. I had about as much energy after I sat down at 8 am this morning as I had three days ago. I never did get going.

I tried getting some sun today during a cloudless fifteen minutes, thinking that might help, but it really didn’t. All I can do is try again tomorrow! And hope the pressure in my chest clears up some in the meantime.

*That little streak is a powerful motivator. I didn’t want to do anything last night, and yet I wrote because I didn’t want my streak to die over a measly 100 words. Since getting started writing is always the hardest part for me, my efficiency has been terrible for those 100 words. I don’t think I’ve managed one night where it didn’t take me over 45 minutes to get them. (I could blame the cold and my fatigue, but I don’t honestly think that was the problem with efficiency. I think it was the getting back into the story and trying to remember where I was going and how to get there.)

A Better Way of Looking at the Numbers

I read an interesting blog post by David Haywood Young a couple of days ago and saved it in Evernote to read again when I could, because I wanted to think about it for a while. It was a really great post about writing processes and goals that you can control. This morning, I reread the post.

While I’ve been sick with this cold, I’ve been mulling over how to discipline myself to write in a way that’s going to sustain my career. I’ve tried lots of stuff over the last year and a half, the most usual being variations of different word count goals. The one thing I haven’t stuck to is a daily time goal that takes word counts out of the equation. My problem is I like math. I like my spreadsheets, and word count goals have always seemed like the only real way to track productivity and production. And maybe they are.

But as David Haywood Young says:

…some days I could write 5000 words or more, and other days I wrote nothing at all (which generally involved a lot of pacing and cursing), and…I might as well say my goal is to “sell 1000 copies of my next novel in its first month without advertising”…that’s more of a dream than a goal.

Later, he says:

You know what I can control? Whether my butt’s in my chair.

His words really brought home to me that I’ve been chasing something out of my control.

Now, I know I generally average 500–600 words an hour and that this average is something I’ve calculated based on timed writing sessions over 338.85 hours. ;) I no longer track this because it was  dejecting to see that average never really budge. It is what it is and I’ve accepted that for the time being. After another 500,000 words I’m going to revisit that average, but I don’t see a lot of point until then.

Some days I just don’t write fast, maybe 200 words an hour if I’m lucky. My spreadsheet proves that. Some days I really get on a roll and write 1,000 words an hour and manage 3,000–4,000 or even 5,000 words in a day. And again, my spreadsheet has data that proves that.

Word count goals aren’t working well for me. I don’t meet them most of the time, for various reasons, not the least of which is that if I’m doing really well, I stop too soon because I’ve hit my goal. When I’m doing badly, I end up working long hours to try to meet that number. And although I know my average, I can’t really predict how much extra I should write on the days I’m doing well, to keep ahead of the curve.

So I always end up feeling like I’m behind—and frankly it’s because I usually am behind.

What it comes down to is that I keep going at this all wrong.

If I set a time goal, I’m going to end up with a fairly predictable word count over time. Maybe not on a day-to-day basis, but weekly, and definitely monthly.

So I did the math.

At four hours a day of writing (and nothing but writing during that time), I’ll end up with plenty of words to fill one of my average-sized novels, which is more than double what I’ve averaged in the last year.

So that’s my new goal. Write 4 hours every day.  I don’t see a need to worry about whether I do 30 minute sessions, or 25 minutes, or 1 hour blocks. It’s all irrelevant. The goal is to write 4 hours every day. Simple as that.

Thank you, David Haywood Young. I don’t know you, but your blog post was just the spark I needed. ;D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—NOT Day 1 AGAIN

Feeling … okay. Not great, for sure, and I slept late because I just couldn’t get up after getting up a few too many times during the night so I could actually breathe. But I’m going to at least try to get something done today that involves my fingers, typing, and adding words to my book. :D Never give up, never surrender, as Jason Nesmith says!*

1:06 pm: 0

*I will always love that movie.

Yeah. Not day 1. Again.

I’m not going to announce the beginning date of this challenge again until I’m over this cold. Tomorrow will be sick day 7, so I’m hoping I’ll start to feel better soon. There were times today when I couldn’t even keep my eyes open and yet I couldn’t nap either because I couldn’t breathe, then I couldn’t stop coughing, then I couldn’t breathe again, then my eyes wouldn’t stop watering, then my nose wouldn’t quit running. And on and on it went. I wish I’d been able to just make myself write, but frankly, I was just too tired. I’m going to squeeze out my 100 words so I can keep my streak alive and then I’m going back to sleep.

If I wake up still feeling this bad tomorrow, I’m doing my 100 words and not even worrying about it. This has been a terrible, terrible cold. I know it’s not the flu (no real body aches and my fever’s been persistent but low-grade) but whatever it is, it’s kicking my ass. I don’t think I’ve had this kind of cold in a couple of years.

Or maybe it’s just that I specifically remember the day I woke up sick this time and I’m paying attention as the days pass because I really needed to be working on my book. :( I don’t know though. I don’t feel like I’ve been this sick in a while.

You know what? Never mind. I just remembered last December, being in bed and talking on the phone and telling a certain someone how terribly, terribly sick I felt as I pushed tissues off the edge of the bed and covered a hacking cough. I can’t believe I forgot about that—and that that was just last year!

And—aha! It also puts my low word counts from last December in a new light. I’ve been looking at last December for months and using it to castigate myself for not working hard enough. Well, well.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a valuable lesson here about not slacking off the writing, because just when you think you’re going to be able to catch up, you could get sick, but yeah, this isn’t the first time I’ve let something like this happen, and I doubt I’ll change my ways.

Maybe the more valuable lesson to be learned is to keep notes in my spreadsheet so that when my memory turns faulty, I can’t use low numbers to rail against myself without good reason!