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

Patreon Commerce

Saw the email about Patreon Commerce and was about to get excited. Started to add a product, in fact, when I came upon the notice that said: “Product files can’t be edited once you make your first sale.”

Um, no. That’s not how digital books need to work. What would I have to do to update a book? Would it require me to retire a product and add a new one every time? Is that even feasible?

Every retailer I sell through understands version control.

I guess this is an experiment I’ll avoid for the moment. :)

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

Days 8 & 9 of the accountability challenge

Did I forget to post yesterday? I think I did! Wow. I just realized.

Accountability for 9/16/23

I ended the day with 1,356 words, on 2 stories. Yay! I came in above the 1,300 so that is a definite win.

Accountability for 9/17/23

I had some publisher work to do and it took me all evening and well into the morning, and I still didn’t finish it.

By the time I called it a day at about 3 a.m., I had written 355 words, on 1 story.

That story is now complete. Whew.

I’m not too dissatisfied. I’ll take what wins I can get, even if they’re small. :)

Day 7 of the accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/15/23

Yesterday, I had several things to do that took me away from writing.

I was also still working on finishing a story I wrote and thought I had finished. When I went back through it, my writer voice said, nope, there is more you can do here to make this the story it’s meant to be. So I worked on that, and I am really, really happy with the things I’ve added to it. I had skipped a few potential scenes to expedite my way through the story, but it kept bothering me. I just couldn’t let go of the feeling that I hadn’t really finished the story.

On top of that, I’ve felt like I’m fighting off an illness for the last several days (I feel feverish even now while I’m typing this). And I’m still adjusting my sleep patterns, so there’s that. I’ve been feeling off kilter for two days now. I’m hungry at the wrong times of day, and my energy levels are also up and down at the wrong times. Basically, I’m suffering self-imposed jet lag. :)

All in all, I only wrote 154 words yesterday, on 1 story.

But I made progress, and I can’t call that a failure. Today, I think I’m going to get back on track. It’s just a feeling I have, but I’m going to push for it.

September on-track challenge

Back on 8/20/23, I decided on a daily word count for my daily goal going forward. I incorporated it into my spreadsheet so I could keep up with my progress, and even made a note to myself: do not delete even if I get really behind →. That arrow points to day 1 of the tracking.

As you can see, I have gotten really behind. My challenge for September is to cut into that negative number. So not only do I want to stay caught up for the rest of the month, I want to catch up a bit on that on-track number. :D

Anything will be a win, but I specifically would like to get the number back into the mid-20k range.

Still caffeine free

On February 6, 2020, I had my first full caffeine-free day. Here is it September 15, 2023 and I’m still off caffeine. I glanced at a few previous posts on this issue and nothing has really changed. (It’s been 282 days since I quit caffeine; what I’ve learned.)

Turns out, caffeine really had nothing to do with my changing sleep habits. I just hit a point in my life where sleeping well became more difficult.

The few—very few—times I’ve had a bit of caffeine in larger quantities than I’d have in a cup of cocoa or decaf coffee, I’ve felt the difference in anxiousness and upset stomach to a marked degree.

I sometimes think the lack of caffeine might actually be to blame for the dramatic dive in my word counts that happened the same month, but there’s no way to be sure. There was a lot going on in my life during this downturn, so I can’t honestly say the lack of caffeine was to blame, despite the coinciding nature of the dive.

I think it’s just as possible that my sleep patterns are to blame. It’s hard to write (or do much of anything, to be honest) when you feel perpetually tired. Prioritizing sleep sounds easy, but when you can’t stay asleep even when you’re trying to, there’s not much you can do about that. (I never have trouble going to sleep; I have a lot of trouble going back to sleep!)

The blue box is February 2020. (Each row is a month, Jan–Dec.)

It’s taken me a remarkable amount of time to recover, and I’m not really there yet as you can see from the numbers. However, I don’t think I will ever know if the lack of caffeine played a role unless I start drinking caffeine again and I see a marked increase. :)

I don’t particularly want to test that. I’ve adapted to a life without regular caffeine, and I like how stable my moods are these days.

Anecdotally, on Monday, I drank a cup of jasmine and orange green tea, which has some caffeine (the first cup I’ve had in ages), and I didn’t have a big jump in my word count that day. The day before that, as you might remember (probably not), I posted my best day in a long while—caffeine free.

Day 6 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/14/23

I had another unintentional day off writing, for the most part.

I did write 102 words, on 1 story.

I realize I seem to be pretty far from reaching my daily writing goals, but I do think the daily accountability posts are helping. And there are always things that get in the way.

But there will be days where nothing goes wrong, and I’ll get the words in. I don’t doubt it.

That just isn’t now.

Today, I almost forgot to write this post, but that’s because I started work on a story as soon as I could instead of letting other things get in the way. That’s a win, all by itself.

I also finally started last night trying to shift my sleep pattern to an earlier bedtime and an earlier wake-up. I really think that’ll benefit my writing, so I’m glad I was able to get that started.

Still, I didn’t go to bed with nothing written, and that’s another small win. :)

Day 5 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/13/23

I had an unintentional day off writing. I made three book covers (finalized 2 of them) for a series. It took all day.

I meant to make time to write, but I just got too tired. It was already 3 a.m. when I realized I was not going to get to the writing yesterday, and I decided sleep was more important.

Unfortunately, when I get tired, sleep always becomes more important. That’s why I had hoped to stick to writing earlier in the day. Hasn’t happened so far. Even today, I’m actually just getting started.

As long as I stick to writing for the next few hours, I’ll be fine. But that means I can’t delay any longer, so I’m going to end this here.

Zero words yesterday.

Not zero progress, because book covers are of course a necessity in publishing. But I could have managed it better, I think, so hopefully I will remember that the next time.

Day 4 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/12/23

Whoops. Almost forgot to post today, and that’s because there’s very little to report for yesterday.

I wrote only 51 words yesterday, on 1 story.

Why so few? And what went wrong?

For most of the day yesterday, I worked on publishing related activities that took my focus off writing.

  • Finalizing title choice
  • Finalizing cover design (needed that title!)
  • Generating the cover files I would need for publishing
  • Adding the ebook front and back matter to the manuscript file
  • Preparing the project file in Jutoh for the EPUB
  • Writing description (sales copy!)
  • Adding a web page to my author site (for the story)
  • Updating related web pages on my author site (for the story)
  • Writing a blog post (but not yet posting) to announce the publication of the story (it’s not published yet!)
  • Writing (but not yet posting) a post for Patreon (to make live when I publish)

It took me a lot longer to do just about everything I did, and that’s a problem with my ability to either control my use of time or estimate how much time I really need to get certain things done.

Still, I was pretty shocked when I realized how late it was and that I hadn’t written anything all day.

I had already decided to stick to writing more novels instead of short stories and novellas going forward. Seems like this was a great example of why I need to follow through on that. I lose a lot of time once I switch into publisher mode.

Publishing absolutely interrupts my writing.

Nowhere in my head does it make sense that those things took up my entire day. And yet, there wasn’t anything else of note in my day to account for the lost time.

If only I were better at beating back my perfectionist tendencies—perfectionism does nothing but make everything harder than it has to be.

I’ll finish getting these few that are in progress done, and then I’m going to be putting the short fiction to rest for a while.

Day 3 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/11/23

Yesterday, I continued working on multiple stories for my multiple stories challenge.

My word count dropped below 1,300 words, which is a bummer.

Most of my day was spent working on a cover and title for a short story I finished the night before. I’m not a great cover designer, not gonna lie about that, but as I’ve said before, I don’t really want to let other people do my covers. Since I self-publish, I get to do what I want. :D Since so much of what I do when I design covers is just play around until I get something I’m satisfied with, I can end up spending a lot of time on it.

That’s what happened yesterday. That and the title issue. This story needed a title and I had a really hard time coming up with something I was happy (enough) with. Still not sure it’s the best, but it will work. Time to move on. The story will either sell or it won’t, and I plan to be working on something else when I find out.

Late last night (sometime after that last post I made), in an effort not to go to sleep with a big fat zero in my spreadsheet for the day, I wrote 621 words, across 2 stories.

Only two again? Yes. I was too tired to get to work on another one. :)

And you know what? Despite not reaching 1,300 words for the day, I feel like it was a win. :D

Of a longstanding practice

I’ve had a looooogstanding practice of counting my words as of whatever the date was during the day, no matter how late I stay up writing, instead of logging words based on the clock and the actual date.

For example, it’s 12:49 am and Tuesday now, but in my head it is still Monday, 9/11/2023 instead of Tuesday, 9/12/2023. So all my writing up until I go to sleep and reset the date is Monday’s writing.

However—

I’ve been doing so much writing after midnight lately that I’m always a day behind on my spreadsheet, and it’s driving me a little crazy tonight.

I’m sure I need to wait this out instead of changing my longstanding practice. My spreadsheet covers more than 10 years of daily word counts now. And I’m not sure how I would deal with a midnight deadline in actual practice.

What if I wrote the words at 11:50 pm–12:10 am and forgot to update the spreadsheet in between? Or if I forgot to record the words until the next morning but can’t remember if it was before midnight or after midnight when I wrote them?

I think the messiness of it all would not be pleasant. :o

Maybe what this is really telling me is that I need to start going to sleep earlier so this isn’t an issue at all.

Day 2 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/10/23

Yesterday, I worked on multiple stories for my multiple stories challenge. My plan is set up around working on multiple stories concurrently, instead of focusing on only one project until it’s done. This is still something that seems to work very well for me.

I’m happy to have found that out. The creative dry spell I’ve been stuck in really felt like it was never going to end, but this has really sparked my interest in all my in-progress stories again.

Something I’m realizing from this (and probably not for the first time, but I never seem to remember the first time, or the second, or third) is that my interest is tied very closely to how often I am active within a particular story. The longer I go between writing days, the more my interest in that story wanes.

I finally reached 1,300 words in a day.

Before I called it a night, I had written 2,286 words, across 2 stories.

That’s my best single day word count since 12/16/2021. It felt like it took all day (and looking back, it really did for the most part), but I’m probably rusty. ;D

The reason I was focused so tightly on just two stories is because I was pushing to finish a short story I’d started a while back (May, I think?). I also wrote a chapter for the serial I have going. These were the specific goals I set out to reach yesterday, and I’m so happy I finally had a win. :D

Day 1 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/9/23

I was going to write a big post detailing how I’ve decided to tackle the goals I’ve set myself going forward. But no. It’s a waste of time. :D Best just to sprinkle it in a little like backstory. Info dumps never do anyone any favors. They kill momentum, and drag out the pacing.

Yesterday, I worked on multiple stories. I think I’ll call this my multiple stories challenge. It’s simply that I have set my plan up around 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 detailed extensively in the past.

I haven’t yet reached 1,300 words a day. But before I called it a night, I had written 844 words, across 6 stories. Some of those were just corrections I needed to make, most were new words.

First things first, everything else last

I posted about my goals in the last post. The first hurdle is to get to a sustained average of 1,300 words a day.

It doesn’t really matter if it’s just an average or a daily minimum word count, as long as I’m writing about 9,100 words a week.

Based on my own history, expecting myself to binge write a whole bunch of words two or three days a week is unrealistic. I will need to write daily or at least most days to reach this goal.

Getting myself to maintain any kind of consistency with the writing itself has never been easy for me. For the last several years, it’s been unbelievably tough. But I’m persistent, and I’m here to try again. :)