I need my anti-perfectionism practice today

:D

What a way to start a post. Anyway, I read an interesting interview today and feel energized to get started early despite being more than two hours short on sleep.

For the last few days I’ve been using 24 minutes timers and a scribbled time log to keep me focused on writing, although yesterday I forgot to start the timer more often than not. However, it all has helped because my word counts are up and I’m feeling both productive and like I’m getting some free time to myself that doesn’t involve me feeling guilty for not writing more.

As of three days ago, I’ve started a streak of 1,000+ word days that I’d like to keep going for a while. My last 1,000+ words a day streak ended in March 2013 (you can see it in the sidebar) and lasted for 27 days. It would be nice to set a new record for 1,000+ days since it’s 6 years later now. :)

Active streaks:

  • Editing something every day (typo hunts and continuity checks that aim to make finishing my books easier and the last read through more likely to go quickly).
  • Writing fiction every day
  • Reading fiction every day
  • Writing more than 1,000 words a day

New one I’m aiming to start today: Finish at least one 24 minute sprint every day before noon.

I actually plan to go for three today but the streak I’m aiming for is just to make myself get that one sprint in every day before noon no matter what else I do.

And now it’s time to start writing fiction. My fingers are limbered up and my brain is firing nicely and I’m clear-headed. Away I go. :)

I’ll do a progress post later today with word counts! I don’t want to deal with that right now. :)

The difference between writing and rewriting

Yesterday I didn’t write as much as I really thought I would. It was my first day with the kid back at school and the house was quiet and I have no one to blame but myself. The problem is that I’m really not sure how I managed not to write more.

Still, dwelling on the past doesn’t help the present, so I’m going to put that aside and think about today.

My anti-perfectionism posting isn’t going well. I wrote about three paragraphs here that I’ve already deleted in whole. But I’m just going to have to deal with it. I also came across something in a quick reread of some posts I’ve always found helpful and it made me realize that I continue to rewrite the rules I follow in my head to be more restrictive than they should be. Of course.

This is a little bit of a rant, mostly aimed at myself, because I have always found the line between writing and rewriting hard to pinpoint. It’s a “know it when I see it” thing.

Rewriting and writing are very closely related.

If you’re actively writing a story, the first time through, still working out the story as you type, most of the stuff you do isn’t going to be rewriting, even if it fits the definition of rewriting in the most basic sense that you’re changing something you’ve already put down on the page. It just isn’t, it can’t be, it’s just a basic part of the writing process.

Even one of the biggest proponents of not rewriting says he puts stuff in and takes stuff out as he loops through a story he’s writing. You can read this in his Writing into the Dark book in the chapter about being unstuck in time if you don’t believe me.

The words you put down are not golden. They are words. You’re finding your way and writing the best words you can find to get the story out of your head and onto the page.

We make what feels like a bazillion decisions as we write, mostly instantly, and sometimes the wrong thing gets down, and when you come back after writing through a few pages and start adding a few things to deepen the story, it’s inevitable that you’ll realize your character is feeling a certain way, or someone left the room earlier than you thought, and you totally missed it the first time through so you have to delete a line and put in a new one. That’s not rewriting. That’s an integral part of the process of writing a story.

Very few people can take a story fully formed and write it fully formed and never change a word. That’s just not a normal thing. And if you have those kinds of expectations, you’ll drown under them. You’ll start to hate writing and maybe even yourself.

I should know. Because I often have these expectations for myself. It’s the curse of perfectionism. It works really hard to kill every ounce of love I have for writing—and everything else in my life, to be honest.

But those are my issues, not yours. I have coping mechanisms in place and I use them to the best of my ability.

Don’t let other people put those kinds of expectations of perfection on you, either. It’s just as destructive.

On the other hand, there’s a line there you do not want to cross. If you’re changing a lot of things, every time you take a pass through a story, you’re probably not just writing anymore. You’re doing what most people think of when they talk about rewriting. You’re being a critic and you’re thinking about other people and what they’ll think of you and your story when you change things.

If you’re thinking about deleting something because it feels superfluous (especially because you’ve been told that if it’s not relevant to the story it doesn’t belong), and the something you’re thinking about deleting isn’t hurting anything by being left alone, then leave it alone. Seriously. Ignore those assholes. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

How do you write a book that no one else has written? You leave in the stuff that you wanted in there. That’s your voice as a writer. It’s you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put something in a story that seemed totally useless but I liked it so I left it and it became crucial to the story as it unfolded, or to the series even further down the road. Don’t change things for the sake of changing them. Let the story be what it will be.

All these little threads give you more opportunities to look like a genius when you do call backs three books later. ;D

If you’re worrying about getting what you want to get across in the best way possible to support the story and make the story come alive for your reader, you’re writing, not rewriting.

If you’re worrying about how stupid your sentence sounds and trying to make it sound better, then ouch, that is definitely rewriting. You are your own worst enemy when you’re writing and you need to work on getting that under control ASAP. Nobody cares how your sentences sound unless you’re looking to earn a literary award.

Even then, I’ve read some literary fiction with atrocious sentences in them. Writing good fiction is not about writing good sentences. It’s about writing a good story and pulling the reader along with you as the story unfolds.

No more zero word days—day 12

Notes on the challenge:

  • Only true zero word days count as zero word days, meaning—
    • Negative numbers aren’t zero word days because they just indicate that I deleted more than I wrote.
    • I don’t want oodles of negative word days, because forward progress matters a lot more than just logging a number that isn’t a zero, but I also don’t want the same issues that I had with my “no sweets before 1,000” to crop up either—the issue of needing to delete something but hesitating because I wanted to get my 1,000 words in so I could have a treat!

All that said, things are going well! I just need to get my daily word counts up to where I would like them to be, 1500-3000, and I’ll finally be satisfied. :D (Really? Who knows! But I’m going to pretend.)

Yesterday, I helped my daughter move back to college and now I can’t be blaming other people for my lack of concentration and writing. It’s all on me.

Today is a super quiet day here and I plan to enjoy it by writing the day away.

Days 1–11: 7,104 words*

Day 12: in progress!*

* Edited because I had those days and word counts all wrong. What the heck?! I have no idea how I messed that up. Never mind. I totally forgot this wasn’t a monthly update but was for the challenge only. The numbers were right the first time!

A daily dose of anti-perfectionism

It’s time for my daily dose of anti-perfectionism. I allow myself to type a post or journal entry without editing except to fix typos and actual mistakes. No revising my words. Actually, it’s not so much that I allow it, as I make myself. :D I wanted to go back and change that, but I said, nope, you have to leave it and move on. It’s a lot harder to do that than you’d think with a brain like mine!

I wrote 1,887 words yesterday, which is the most I’ve logged since 5/28. That was the day I finished my last piece of work. Today I plan to finish my current piece of work, that short story that I restarted five times. It’s up to over 7,000 words now and I’m going to write until it’s done today. I hope. :)

My daily writing streak is 6 days long now. So is my daily fiction reading (longer, actually, but it’s easier to keep up with like this), and my daily editing streak is five days long. And by editing I mean proofreading and typo hunting, continuity checking, and error fixing. That’s all. I’m really trying to avoid touching the stuff too much. I do not allow myself to change things for the sake of change. The fact that I can reread these stories this many times and not be bored with them yet bodes well for my state of mind. :)

When I’m feeling creative, I love rereading my own work. When my inner critic is running free, or I’m suffering from a resurgence of perfectionism, I start to hate it. Everything reads stilted and flat and I get no joy from the humor and no excitement from the adventure. I really don’t like being in that state of mind.

And holy crap. I revised this thing to death. I think I need to start over and do this exercise again. :-o

Maybe I’ll just save it for the journal entry I started. I’ve been using the journal as a daily log, recording time stamps and what I was doing and plan to do at each entry. I started that a few days ago and it seems to be helping me concentrate and stay focused.

Now, off to write before it’s 10 am and I haven’t done a thing but this silly post.

And maybe it wasn’t really revising so much as it’s just a pure example of my writing process. I really don’t write things in order. My thoughts aren’t always complete and I do confuse people in conversation by jumping around as I talk. I have to go back and fill in and expand things that I know but didn’t quite get out of my head and into the conversation. :D That’s pretty much how I write too. :)

AM writing and anti-perfectionism

It’s 9:06 and I’m just about to write my first fiction words of the day. This little detour is me practicing anti-perfectionism. I’m deliberately allowing myself to correct only typos, but not revise anything I type here this morning. I think I’m going to practice this daily, although that might not always mean a blog post.

Yesterday I didn’t write much fiction at all. But I did keep my streaks alive.

50 words of fiction on one story.

Read and edited parts of two stories.

Read some fiction.

The book I’m reading is entertaining and it has definitely made me think about whether or not I’ve been doing a good job of reining in my inner critic. I rephrase things in my head a lot before I write them down and I shouldn’t do that. I know it’s the critic inside me telling me I’m doing it wrong so I have to redo it before it even sees the page. That makes for really slow writing, when I let that part of me win.

Anyway, no point dragging this out. I’m ready to write some fiction this morning.

I’ve found my new writing challenge

Yesterday, I logged my day so I could try to keep my concentration focused on writing. Didn’t work exactly the way I hoped, because I only ended up with 1,075 words for the day when I’d aimed for considerably more. But—

I did write the following note for myself in OneNote and I wanted to post it here because it’s relevant to a couple of my previous posts. :)

I have found my new challenge. I did a quick little formula in my word count spreadsheet today and realized that the number of zero word days I have is exactly 999. One look at that number and I knew I wanted to see how long I could keep that from turning over to 1,000 zero word days. So that’s my 2019 challenge. I don’t want that number to tip over to 1,000.

Simply put, the “no more zero word days” challenge is back. It’s one of my oldest and I’m happy to bring it back to life.

This little challenge is all the motivation I need to keep my current fiction writing streak alive.

8/5 was the 999th zero word day I’ve had since I started my daily tracking.

8/6 I wrote 119 words and that day began my current streak of daily fiction writing.

Since I wrote that, I realized (this morning) that the 999 included yesterday’s zero before I started writing, so in actuality, I have 998 zero word days. I’m just going to count that extra day as a cushion that I hope not to need before the end of the year.

My last zero word day was 8/5, so I now have a four day writing streak. It’ll be five in about five minutes. :)

July 2019 progress

Ah! I forgot to post my monthly progress post for July. :) I’m forgetting a lot of things lately, but I blame it on the fact that my brain has been full of plans to make the writing work and the worry that maybe the boredom is deeper than any one book. I realized yesterday that was probably not true, and I had that proven today.

Yesterday, I dropped the plans and goals and quotas, and lo and behold, I had no trouble at all getting started today. I’ve already been writing and I even did some reading of two of my works in progress and found no errors to correct at all. :)

July words: 995.

OUCH. So many ouches.

As you can see, all those things I’ve been trying to do to get myself to producing more words again have not been working. You’d think I’d double down on those plans now that July numbers are in, but nope.

I am apparently allergic to goals and quotas. :-o

In lieu of all those things, here’s what I’m doing for August.

At the top of my calendar I have three recurring all-day events.

Screenshot of calendar events

1. Read some fiction every day – This keeps me in the creative frame of mind and makes me a lot less critical of my own writing. I read a lot, but this is meant to keep me reading fiction every day. If I’m going to be writing fiction every day, I need to be reading fiction every day to dull the bleat of my inner critic.

2. Edit some of my fiction every day – This is to ease the burden of the final proofreading and copy editing I do right at publish time. I find all that reading right after I’ve finished a book a lot tedious, and keeping things done ahead of time makes that last read through before publishing go much quicker (fewer typos, continuity issues, or other errors to mark and correct). Mostly, though, this is to keep me focused on my stories, and why I like writing. I love to read my own work, and when I don’t love to read it, I know something’s going wrong in my head. I only ever don’t like it when my critical self gets control of my brain.

3. Write some fiction every day – This is there so I can put my “+” beside it and feel a little thrill that my streak is still alive. It’s also got three separate reminders on it so I get a little notification three different times of the day. That’s to help me be aware if I’m frittering the day away. :)

This little set up will create three separate streaks for me to track and that will keep my analytical self happy and occupied. :)

I’m really happy with this set up and I’m feeling good about it.

I am still worried about the novel that I’m bored with, but I’m going to read it today sometime, mark any errors that need correcting, and look for the place where I might have taken a wrong turn.

I don’t think it’s the first few chapters. A bit of a niggle of an idea has been coalescing in the back of my brain since early this morning, and I have a feeling I know where I need to chop off the book and restart from. :D

Fingers crossed!

I’ll lose a lot of words but in the time I’ve been away from the book, I could have written another novel. I don’t want to let that drag on.

So, although July was the pits, really, I’m pretty happy with the course corrections I’m implementing for August. I’ve written more already this month than last, and I’m going to consider that a good sign this early in the month. :)

It’s still entirely possible this will become my best (most productive) year ever, with approximately half the year to go.

Unthinking my writing plans and making adjustments

So. I’m in a tough spot right now. I keep going over things in my head, trying to come up with some process that will help me get past my boredom to do the writing I need and want (but don’t want) to do. I want to do it, but I don’t want to sit down and do the work of it.

A conundrum, I know. It isn’t the sitting down, or the typing, that keeps me from getting started. It’s the expectation and the thinking I have to do.

My brain is just so tired of all this thinking.

So tonight, after another day of agonizing about not writing but never getting to the point where I could make myself sit down and write (I even canceled a doctors’ appointment today for this), I have finally come to the conclusion that I’m making this so much harder than it has to be.

I’m going to take a step back from all the various plans I’ve come up with in the last few weeks to try to get me moving on my books again, and just… go easy on myself.

The new plan is so simple I feel ridiculous even calling it a plan.

I’m going to write some fiction every day.

I’m going to try to write enough to keep me happy when I look at my daily and weekly and monthly word counts.

I’m going to focus on getting a streak of daily writing going.

That’s it, really. Just write, and stop thinking so much.

Too much thinking gets in the way of a lot of things. It can also set us on a path we don’t need to be on.

A creative writing craft resource: Writing Commons

I came across what looks like an interesting resource for newer writers, or anyone who wants a refresher in some basic craft lessons while I was searching for something else.

I originally sent the link to my college student kid because college writing is always a chore and lessons to help with that seem like a good resource to share. Then I realized the resource also included creative writing resources.

https://writingcommons.org/chapters/creative-writing

I haven’t examined every article at this site, and I don’t necessarily recommend anything there, but it looks like a really good resource for someone who wants to explore learning craft. There are some interesting articles about writing short stories and about the technical aspects of writing like point of view and plot and characterization.

I’ll probably check it out in more detail myself later, because I am the first to admit I will never learn enough about writing, and it doesn’t matter that I’ve been writing fiction for almost 30 years at this point. There’s always something new to learn—or something old to remember. :)

Also, just to clarify, I estimate I started writing fiction at 14 so I’m not that old. :D Yet!

Fiction writing log: August 2, 2019

Still trying to think up an interesting and fun challenge for myself. In the meantime, my attempt to be more workman like with my writing did not fare as well on the second of August. I fell far short of my goal, and even though I was away for several hours, I could have made time to write more and didn’t.

Coffee was an issue. I forgot to drink a cup yesterday morning (sounds crazy, but I really just forgot) and ended up with a bad headache yesterday evening. I didn’t want to risk messing up my sleep because I just went off an allergy pill that was helping me get drowsy in the evenings and sleep harder, so I skipped having any coffee at all. I really don’t have any self-discipline when I don’t feel well.

I did not reach my daily minimum word count.

Word count: 319

Daily goal range: 275–1,000 words an hour.

Three hours x 275 words = 825 words.

Six hours x 1,000 words = 6,000 words.

Anything within that range is a win, small or large.

I did not have a win yesterday so -1 for me. :(

Today’s plan is to get my 3–6 hours of timed writing in early and I’m giving the no sweets rule another try.

It worked well for a while but I started to get too frustrated with it when the writing wasn’t progressing well and I had words to delete. But really, I still need to lose some weight that I’ve gained since I started writing (it’s the working-from-home weight, really) and the no sweets rule had double duty. I don’t do well with free access to sweet treats.

So—I’ve made an adjustment that ties it in to my new goal: No sweets until I’ve logged 3 hours of writing, or 1,000 words. We’ll see how it goes today.

Now I’m off to write. :)

Fiction writing log: August 1, 2019

I’m trying to think up an interesting and fun challenge for myself. In the meantime, my attempt to be more workman like with my writing is going well. I fell short of the 3 to 6 hour goal, but I had a five hour commitment today, so I’m pretty happy with my 2 hours of writing, especially because even though I didn’t reach my minimum hours, I did reach my minimum word count.

Word count: 1,516

I used to keep up with my words per hour average, but the truth is, after all this time, I’ve come to realize averages don’t really tell me anything so I don’t pay attention to that any longer. I have a range I want to push for when it comes to how many words I write during my hours, and that’s the information I need to set minimum word count expectations. That range is 275–1,000 words an hour.

Three hours x 275 words = 825 words.

Six hours x 1,000 words = 6,000 words.

Anything within that range is a win, small or large.

I exceeded my minimum today, so +1 for me.

:)

Peppermint tea, coffee, and an epiphany

Back on the peppermint tea today. I mixed it with a bag of my “I Love Lemon” and it makes a great minty lemony tea. Better than either one alone.

I’m trying not to overdo the coffee. I’m back down to one 6-8 oz cup a day. And I have avoided the sweet tea the last few days. Not enough sleep lately, so I’m doing what I can. Sleep has a major impact on how steady my nerves feel. I need them steady right now or I’m never going to get back in a groove with my writing. :D

Holy shit, I just had an epiphany while writing this post. I’ve deleted everything I had written here so that I can get this out before it disappears.

I know what my problem is now, finally, after never really understanding what was going on after I finished a project.

I’m bored.

I was writing about how I am dedicated to becoming a working writer, which I defined as someone who writes every day instead of someone like me who struggles and struggles and struggles until a story catches hold and then things take off and I write for 60 days in a row before taking another 60 days to get moving on something else because everything I write bores me to tears. That was when the epiphany hit. I’m bored. I am so bored.

I have no idea how to address this issue, but it is nice to finally know what’s going on. It’s not the let-down of having finished a big project that is throwing me for this loop and knocking me out of my routines. It’s boredom.

Boredom is a killer of all motivation and desire.

Now I just need to figure out how to work around this so I can get back into another project sooner–one that doesn’t bore me to tears.

I admit, I’ve restarted the story I’m trying to write at the moment five different times and that is no exaggeration. I’ve also redrafted parts of it multiple times during those restarts. I’ve written considerably more words than my spreadsheet shows, because deleted words disappear from the totals as if they were never written in the first place, but boy, were those words hard to get out the first time.

The story is interesting and I can see this on an intellectual sense, but it isn’t interesting to me at this point in time. So I keep deleting stuff trying to find that story that I want to be writing, the story that will pull me along so it all doesn’t feel like such a damn chore right now.

I keep taking wrong turns, getting bored again, and stalling out.

I really do think I’ve figured this out.

BOREDOM.

I have the kind of mind that resists anything that I find tedious or boring, and as of this moment, that is exactly how writing feels. It feels hard, and it feels hard because I’m bored. When I sit down to write, it’s hard to be creative. My subconscious isn’t engaged—I might not have realized I was bored until this moment, but my subconscious has known all along. It doesn’t know how to label these feelings (I hypothesize) but it knows something isn’t right.

I’m looking for novelty and excitement and I’m not finding it in my writing. So I’m looking outside the writing and finding distractions everywhere.

It’s not that I’m distractible. It’s that I’m bored. Which makes total sense, because when I’m really into something, nothing can pull me away. I sink into my mind so firmly that I can’t get out without truly wrenching myself free.

It’s so painfully obvious now.

My problem is that I’m bored out of my damn mind.

I need to shake myself loose from this and spend my time writing something else, whatever that might be.

The big problem I’ll have to overcome is that I’m not usually in control of how I feel. I have a history of abandoned hobbies that prove it. Once I do what I set out to do, I get bored out of my mind with it. Quilting, scrapbooks, collecting, photography, home decorating, home improvement, designing websites, building websites, learning coding, learning lots of things to be honest.

I am a novelty seeker.

I have to figure out how to make writing into reading, where I never get permanently bored. I just get a little bored, and I start reading other things to spice it back up.

But to be honest, even with reading, I have spells where I go months without reading anything, then spend 6 months reading hundreds of stories and novels. That was last year, in fact.

If I can’t figure this out, I might have a real problem here with my career. I need to give this some serious thought.

In the meantime, I intended to write about my new plan. It’s pretty simple.

    1. Remember that writing fiction is how I’m making a living and treat it as such—as something nonnegotiable, in other words.
    2. Do 3–6 hours of timed writing each day using one hour timers, aiming for 275–1,000 words per hour.

275 words per hour is a good fit for the bad days, and 1,000 words per hour is a good fit for my good days. This means that I can expect at least my 1,000 words a day and possibly my 2,000 words a day most days, with some not great days and some really fantastic days mixed in.

I’m not sure how this plan is going to work with what I’ve realized today, so I guess I’m going to have to give that some thought too.

However, I should probably do that after I sit down and try to do a few of those daily hours. Hm. :-o

*The crazy thing is that I reread a post while trying to find that link above, and wow, the clues are all there! Boredom, mentioned by name. I am blown away that I didn’t recognize this choke point sooner.

The spreadsheets that help me tame the minutia of indie publishing

I’ve been reading a lot lately about spreadsheets and inventories on The Daily Journal.

Reading about the time involved in such a massive project has made me very happy that I’ve been tracking my stuff from the very beginning.

My main “publish-list” spreadsheet is up to ten tabs of data these days, and even includes all the sales links for my books on all the retailers I upload to. It’s been a handy thing to have.

I include so much in this spreadsheet that it’s difficult to think of something I can’t find there.

Screenshot

Screenshot

Screenshot

Within those tabs, I have a sheet called “File Updates” that tells me how long it’s been since I updated a file on any particular distributor site. It was a wake up call when I added that one because I ended up with a lot of titles in the “2000+ days” category, meaning all the back matter was way out of date.

I recently decided to tackle those old files and the way I’m doing it is to have a goal of updating at least one old file each week on an ongoing basis. That’s 52 files updated in a year, so that means I will have caught up within a year or so without adding in a lot of extra work or losing a lot of writing time.

(I have 34 titles at this point. Someday it will become more than a year’s worth of weeks of updates but I’ll worry about that when it happens.)

I also have a pretty streamlined EPUB generation system these days so this first year of updates will go a long way to making future updates take minutes instead of the hour or so it will take for some of these books now and will mean I should be able to easily update multiple books at a time instead of keeping it to one a week after this first round.

I update my publish-list spreadsheet every time I publish something or make a change that needs to be recorded. And keeping this thing updated is something I force myself to do every time I do anything that affects the data I keep up with. I don’t let myself off the hook on this, ever. It’s just too probable that something will slip through the cracks if I do.

Day two of working the new mindset

Today I’ve set aside two main blocks for writing. I’m posting here for the accountability. I’ll come back and fill in my progress later today when I have the time to spare. I’m doing it again today, because it turns out I do like this planning and working to the plan thing. :)

2:00–5:30 pm

7:15–9:45 pm

The goal today is 2,995 words. I’ll write a post later talking about the new mindset and what I’m attempting to do. Right now, it’s 1:59 pm and I have to get to work on today’s writing.

End of day word count: 794 words

Update:

I mostly adhered to the schedule, except I’m still finding it difficult to stay focused. That’s a thing with me, though, and I’m trying to do my best to keep myself on task by using a timer that runs when I’m actually writing. It’s simply a way to hold myself accountable for writing during the blocks of time I’m setting aside.

As usual, I’m not actively writing nearly as much as the time allotted would suggest I am. That’s also something I’m used to happening with time blocks, so we’ll see if it improves over time.

Chopped up writing day but a writing day it will be

It’s going to be a chopped up day but writing can’t wait, so I’m setting aside several blocks of time. I’m posting here for the accountability. I’ll come back and fill in my progress later today when I have the time to spare. I think I’m going to like this planning and working to the plan thing. :)

10:15–11:15 am

I wrote 588 words during this block of time.

5:00–7:30 pm

I wasn’t even home yet. So this one didn’t work out.

9:00–10:30 pm

I was so dead tired I didn’t even bother looking at my computer. Two hours longer in the pool than I planned wiped me out.

I love swimming but I came home as wrinkled as a prune and more sunburned than I wanted. Luckily, I have skin than tans easily once I start getting a little sun, and I had been acclimating myself to the sun this year in an effort to raise my low Vitamin D levels and avoid the supplements my doctor wanted me to take for the next year.

(And I will say, today—I’m writing this update on Friday morning, the day after—I feel really good. The exercise and sun really did me a favor. :) Hopefully I’ll see the benefits in my writing stamina! I’d like to write a lot of words today. I’ll update with a link when Friday’s post goes live.)

Thursday words: 588

*I take my ending document word count and input it into my spreadsheet, which calculates the difference from the ending word count for the day before and tells me how many words I “wrote”, which of course, isn’t about how many words I wrote at all. It’s about how many words more my document contains today than it contained yesterday.

It’s by far the easiest way to track word counts and keeps me honest about the progress I’m making each day writing words that will end up published. :)

Screenshot of my word count tracker spreadsheet

As you can see in the screenshot of my spreadsheet, I’m currently trying to practice my way into writing 2,995 words a day.

I’m nowhere near close to that as a daily average, so don’t get goggly-eyed at it. I’m not there and who knows if I ever will be. I’d like to be, for reasons I won’t get into in this post, and that’s why that number is there. :)

Finally, those word count lengths in my spreadsheet for novel, novella, and novelette are my personal goals. The SFWA sets novels at 40,000+, novellas at 17,500+, and novelettes at 7,500+ words, and I use something very close to those definitions as my own guide when categorizing my stories. :)

Screenshot of the Nebula Award rules from the SFWA website

My length categorizations are only slightly different and at this point I can’t remember exactly why that is. :)

Novel > 40,000 words
Novella = 15,000 to 40,000 words
Novelette = 7,000 to 15,000 words
Short story < 7,000 words

In all honesty, I think it’s because I have more stories than not that fall at the upper edges of those word counts and I felt like they fit the category above more than they fit the category below so I adjusted the numbers to fit my writing style. :)

July 1–23 progress

It’s full on summer now and distractions abound.

I don’t do well with distractions. Or I haven’t been doing well. The problem is that I can’t ignore distractions. I’ve been trying for years to train myself to do that, but all I’ve done is waste a lot of time trying to shore up a weakness that’s probably inherent to my nature.

Words written July 1–22: 2,611.

Words written for July as of July 23: -746 words.

Ouch.

I was just facing too much project block on this short story I’m working on while I try to get past the project block I’m facing with the novel I’m working on, and deleting was the only way to go. I chopped off the last 3,400 words of the story last night (the 23rd) and started again today from the 925 words I had left.

Problems to overcome:

  1. Can’t be perfect.
  2. Procrastination is a weapon in the fight against perfectionism. Putting something off makes it a lot easier to push aside the need to be perfect in the effort to just get things done on time.
  3. Can’t wait until the last minute to write a book because it’s not realistic to do that. If I could write a book in a day or two this would work, but I can’t, so this is not doing anything but getting in my way.
  4. The struggle to be perfect leads to procrastination which leads to disappointment in myself which leads to self-recriminations which leads to depression which leads to a lack of interest which leads to no writing which leads to self-recriminations which starts the whole circle all over again and the only way out is to jump the tracks and get back to writing.
  5. STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT
  6. Perfect doesn’t exist.
  7. DOES NOT EXIST
  8. Time to try treating my writing as a job. For real. I need to move on from this idea that thinking of my writing as work is going to kill my desire to do it. Honestly, the feeling like something is wrong with me for not actually wanting to do it all the time is already enough of a drag on my motivation.

New plan because July needs rescued

So July has been a terrible month for writing, but I haven’t given up on rescuing it yet. Starting tomorrow I’m going to just plow into my most appealing current story in progress and try to pick up some momentum.

The plan is simple. Start writing and don’t stop until I’m done, or 4 pm.

The 4 pm thing might seem like a cop out, but I know if I don’t allow myself a break at some point if the writing isn’t going well, I’ll give up completely. So 4 pm is my fail safe.

If I’m doing my best and I can’t seem to get up any momentum and can’t reach my word count goal (of 2,995 words, reasons for which I don’t want to get into in this supposed-to-be-short post right before bed) then I’m allowed to quit at 4 pm for a longish break and make another run at it later in the evening.

If I’m not doing my best to write and do nothing but write until I reach my word count goal, then the experiment failed anyway so none of this will matter. :-o

I’ll update this post after the fact and let you know how it went.

Update: It did not go well. I tried again the next day and it didn’t go well either. I’m currently trying again and it is going better today. A little. But I’m not giving up on this just yet. I’m in the midst of a mindset change and that can take a bit of time.

PayPal hassles are pushing me to switch from Smashwords to Draft2Digital

I divorced some-odd years ago, and I’ve lagged with the name change for an online bank account and my PayPal account. I finally got around to it recently, and dear lord, it’s obvious to me now why I waited.

PayPal changes are a hassle. Their (new) website is glitchy and won’t accept my documents for the name change, and the email support is a run around, as is the chat support. First you get automated responses that make it near impossible to get hold of anyone real to deal with issues and then when you do, the wait time is interminable and the notifications to let you know the issue is being dealt with are nonexistent.

The only money I get through PayPal are my Smashwords deposits. Draft2Digital will do direct deposit to a bank account.

I haven’t wanted to switch, for a variety of reasons, but this might just be the thing that does it. If PayPal doesn’t get this done soon and right, I’m just going to close the account. If I close the account, Smashwords no longer makes sense as a distributor. And getting paid for Smashwords sales will become a hassle because I’ll have to go to a check.

However, if that’s what it takes, then so be it.

I do like that Smashwords is not just a distributor, but also a storefront. I do make money from that storefront and I do use the Smashwords coupons sometimes. Still, I’m not that happy with the payment set up because PayPal or check are the only options.

Smashwords really needs to get their house in order and start offering direct deposit.

*Despite the run-around, PayPal actually got this fixed. Crisis averted for the time being.

June 2019 progress

I’m a little late posting June’s progress, but since I’m not really making progress of any kind, I haven’t been compelled to update. I’m dealing with some kind of unknown health issue at the moment and doing it with June and July temperatures in the southeast without air conditioning.

Yuck.

A doctor visit didn’t really give me any hope that I’m going to figure it out soon, or get better soon, or even relieve my anxiety over it all.

So my writing productivity has fallen off, drastically, and I wish it were otherwise, but apparently I’m totally spoiled by modern temperature control and I’m wilting (melting) (dying) in this heat. The house is staying a reasonable 80-83 degrees while it’s heading toward 90 outside every day so that’s good, but I am not doing great with the 90%+ humidity we’re dealing with right now.

June writing: 10,272 words.

Bonus: July 1–9: 0.

That said, today is the day I attempt to recover and get some real writing done. I have a couple of more things this week that’ll make it difficult to make lots of progress, but all I’m asking of myself is to make some progress.

I’m sitting in front of a fan with the laptop and it feels pretty good right now.

June 15–27 progress

Oh dear. June has really been a down month for me. After such a run of good writing days, I’m pretty bummed to be honest. However, I didn’t fall completely off the wagon. I just slowed way down.

I am kind of stuck on my current project, and I’ve been writing some short stuff while I let it rest. I need to decide if it’s time to cut back to a previous point and go at it again, or just push through. I can’t seem to make that decision, but I know something is wrong and my brain just isn’t letting me move forward until I figure it out.

This is kind of an intermediate progress post and I’m hoping that spelling it all out this way will help me move forward tomorrow.

I still have time to get to about half my monthly goal if I push myself a bit over the next three days.

We’ll see if it happens. :-)

June 15–27 words written: 4,435