Authors and hissy fits

There are times in your life when you have to make choices. Today I made a choice to scratch a few sites off my reading list. When authors start having hissy fits in public and trying to knock down other authors because of differing viewpoints on how to write, that’s my cue to move on.

Some authors claim to understand that other people have different processes, but when you read between the lines of their posts, you can see the bias in every word they write. They’re not just offering an alternative way to approach storytelling, they’re calling people who don’t want to do things that way “silly” and “scared” and it’s just… ugly, for lack of a better word, and I don’t like it. So I won’t be reading any more of it.

(The surprising thing is that this alternative way to approach storytelling is supposedly against the establishment, but since I’ve been writing this way for thirty-odd years, I find that hard to believe. I mean, no one ever told me I wasn’t supposed to be a discovery writer. I thought that was how most fiction writers worked—but maybe it was just the particular craft books I chose to learn from. I read all of Lawrence Block’s craft books (Spider, Spin Me a Web is still my favorite of all time), and Stephen King’s On Writing, and Bird by Bird and so so many others, and the bald-faced truth is that of the large number of craft books on my shelves only a few actually make a big deal about outlining. Being a discovery writer is a tried and true method of storytelling and I don’t know where this myth started that everyone pushes outlining so hard. Maybe inexperienced writers, and those that outlining works for? I don’t know. That’s just not been my experience. No one ever told me I needed an outline to write a story, not even the high school English teacher that made me write stories when I would have rather been reading!)

I won’t pick on the sites in question and post links, because I don’t think that’ll help anyone. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to see these kinds of conflicts, you’ll probably choose to avoid these sites on your own.

The good news is that this might mean I have fewer distractions in the mornings that lead me to flit around the internet. :D That’s always good!

 

February 2020 progress

February was not much of a writing month, to be sure. I spent a lot of time avoiding my book, because I knew something was wrong and didn’t want to deal with it. The last week of the month, I finally gave in and started reading it, about five to six chapters a day, and yep, once I got to chapter sixteen, I saw that everything I had been worried about was true.

The book is good. Until it isn’t.

Starting in chapter twenty-three or so, I’ve written a whole bunch of stuff that is completely incompatible with what came before. Up to that point, this is an awesome book. It works great. It’s exciting and fun and I love it. After that point, it doesn’t work. I don’t like it. And frankly, in places, it doesn’t even make sense.

That’s my fault, because I wrote a bunch of stuff for that damn streak I should have let die much sooner than I did (I quit the daily writing streak on Feb. 8th and could not be more happier that I did), and then I tried to fit those pieces together like a puzzle, and that’s just not the way I work best. So I made a mess. Of course I did. ;D

But—finally!—I’m ready to fix it and move on.

By tomorrow, I’ll be back to writing full steam ahead. I made a pact with myself on that and I will be honoring it. :D

However, that doesn’t help February’s word count.

It’s bad. My best February day was 697 words. My worst was -1,697 words. That’s pretty much how the month went. February had eight zero word days. The rest were mediocre at best when it came to word counts. The last week of the month was my most productive, if only because I finally got over my reluctance to read back through the book and tackle it head on.

February words: 228

Bad advice

There’s a lot of bad advice out there about writing. The antidote to bad advice is the truth.

No one can teach you how to write a story. They can tell you the elements that separate a strong story from a weak one, but they cannot tell you how to get that story out of yourself and onto a page. They can only tell you how they do it or how other people have told them they do it. But what works for them might not work for you. If they believe their way is the one true path, you’d better run, and run fast, because there is no one true path to writing a story. You’ll waste a lot of time beating your head against that wall if it isn’t the right process for you.

You have to figure out your process for yourself.

Do you sit down to a blank page and start writing with no idea where the story is about to take you, and end up with a finished story you’re happy with? Good. Do more of that.

Do you create the bones of a story and then go back and fill it in and then fill it in some more and some more until you have a finished story you’re happy with? Good. Do more of that.

Do you read back over your story as you go and tweak and fix and expand and contract the words on the page until you have a story you are happy with? Good. Do more of that.

Do you write like you’re afraid to look back because you’ll slow down and second guess yourself and lose all momentum and finally get to the end with a sigh of relief, happy that you’ve done it, and quietly sure that this is the best story you could have written and certain that nothing you could do now would change that? Good. Do more of that.

Do not let other people’s opinions about how you should write a story have power over you and your process.

Do what works for you. Seriously, this is the most important writing rule you will ever learn. :D

It’s the only rule you should follow.

Hm. Spammers are assholes disguised as robots :D

I had a spam comment to deal with in the blog comments today (I moderate all comments so these things never make it onto the site). I get a lot of them, and the anti-spam plugin I preferred got bought out and turned into something I didn’t like, so I end up manually dealing with a bit of spam that makes it through my ever growing list of blacklisted words.

The comment was short, with the usual link in the comment field that pretty much always gives it away.

I have not checked in here for a while as I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

Because this is how you snow people into thinking you’re real: You say something that only an asshole would say.

LOL.

Delete.

February slip

The coffee thing might or might not be to blame for February being in the dumps, but February’s word counts are way down. It’s my worst month since July.

I held off the usual slump for January with the daily writing, but it seems to have slipped its way into February instead.

I quit the daily writing on the 8th. I don’t regret ending it, not in the least, because it was time, but it’s very possible that is to blame for the usual January slump becoming a February slump instead.

Because of some things that have to happen this week, it’s not likely that I’ll be able to prop the month up with a rush of words written this week. But, as usual, I don’t care about the facts, and I’m going to push for a better ending to the month anyway.

Finally, I’ll be glad when this month is over so I can reevaluate the coffee situation. The benefits of being off caffeine have not outweighed the drawbacks as of yet. My sleep hasn’t improved in a noticeable way and that was the primary reason I decided to do this experiment.

There are other changes that are negative but I can’t say for sure the coffee fast has anything to do with them. When I think on it, I noticed a trend toward pessimism a few weeks before I eliminated coffee and caffeine.

Unexpected side-effects of caffeine withdrawal and lack of motivation

I’ve quit coffee (and caffeine) so many times over the years that I feel like I should know everything there is to know about caffeine withdrawal. And yet, I’ve been surprised this time, and some of that may be because I’m paying more attention to the longer-term effects of it than I usually do.

Today I noticed for the first time that even though I don’t appear to be sleeping better than I was before I quit, I feel kind of like I’m getting a little boost in my energy levels. And despite the frequent awakening at night, as long as I stay in bed and push myself to get enough sleep, I haven’t been suffering from any daytime drowsiness. Which is surprising, because I am definitely not feeling like I’m sleeping well at night.

I’ve had a distinct lack of motivation to work since I quit caffeine too. I’m not sure that’s related though. It’s been 15 days since I decided to quit, and 11 since I’ve had more than a minor amount of caffeine (a couple of cups of cocoa, and half a glass of sweet tea from a restaurant ordered out of habit before I remember I wasn’t supposed to order tea!). But I started a downward spiral of not really wanting to work on this book 18 days ago.

I guess, in a sense, I was hoping that better sleep would equal more energy and motivation to write, but that has not been the case.

I’d say I’m just going to strong-arm myself back to writing, but when has that ever worked? I’d love it if it did, but that’s the curse of me. I’m not capable of strong-arming myself to do something I’m not in the mood to do and I’m pretty self-destructive about it too. Such as, I really need to finish this book, for the money, for my future, for the stability of writing as a career, but I keep putting it off and doing so many other things that don’t matter at all, because I just don’t want to write (fiction) at the moment.

If I can’t make myself do it for those very important reasons, what possible reason could motivate me?

(I don’t even want to write blog posts. I’ve started and stopped a whole handful since my last substantive post and littered my blog with unfinished drafts that I have now deleted. I’m writing this post because I think it matters, for me. I need to work out some thoughts I’ve been having and writing is how I do that.)

I need to finish this book, and I just don’t care. The book is good, so it’s not a book problem. I realized that the day before yesterday, when I went back to the parts that were giving me trouble right before I quit the daily writing, thinking I would have to delete and just force myself on a different path, but I picked up right where I’d left off with no trouble at all. I realized then that it’s not the book. It’s me.

I’ve kind of known this all along, but I was almost hoping it was the book because the book would be easier to fix. (Pick a starting off point, delete the rest, and start fresh. That’s a very effective fix for most problems.)

So what do I do? I do need to finish this book, if not for me, then for the people who have said they want to read it. Maybe that’s the trick. Maybe for a while, even if it’s just a little while, I need to focus on doing this for someone else. As a general rule, I really don’t like thinking about other people when I write, and I don’t think this would mean I have to do that. It would mean only thinking about other people to get me to sit down and write, which feels like a different kind of thing.

Maybe it is time to change how I think of a few things.

Since my intrinsic motivation to write seems to have disappeared on me (temporarily, I hope), I have to find something else to focus on to get me to the book every day.

Caffeine withdrawal might not be to blame at all. There are patterns to my desire to write that I have to fight now that writing is my career. If I were making enough money and stable enough financially to take long breaks, I’d just build them into my process. But I really don’t so that’s not a reasonable option right now.

I have an inkling of an idea for something I’ll try for a while, and I’m hoping it will help. Maybe I’ll write up a post about it later. Right now, I’m done with this one and feel a need to let some of these thoughts gel.

Later. :)

 

 

 

Disappointed but sticking it out

I should be beyond the caffeine withdrawal at this point, so I’m not sure why I’m not sleeping one iota better. In fact, I’m almost willing to say I’m sleeping worse.

Caffeine has never kept me from being able to fall asleep, but it does make it easier for me to forget that I need to go to bed and get some sleep, so I really thought this would help.

I’m giving it the full month so I’m not ready to call it quits, but I am disappointed and frustrated that I haven’t seen any sleep rewards from this effort.

Bah.

No caffeine again today and no headache

Sleep was not great last night, but I feel fine today. I don’t have a headache and didn’t have one yesterday either, so I think I’m past that part of caffeine withdrawal.

I will say that my ability to concentrate is toast right now. I’ve had a two hour timer going this morning and I’ve had to stop it three times already to stop myself from pulling out my hair and tossing my computer across the room and there’s an hour and nine minutes left on the timer!

I’ve self-medicated my focus issues with caffeine for most of my life so I guess it was silly of me to think I wouldn’t have to deal with a backlash when I went off caffeine again.

Since the timer isn’t helping today I might just forego it altogether for the rest of the day. We’ll see. I’m going to cut this one short at one hour because I think I can push myself to get back to it for nine minutes, then take a break, then see if I have trouble getting started again.

First full day off caffeine

I’ve made it through weaning myself off caffeine. Today was the first day I didn’t need any coffee (or tea) at all to stave off a headache. Now I’m waiting on any lingering withdrawal symptoms to fade away.

I don’t know that there are any left, to be honest, but I’m giving it another day or two before I expect myself to feel however it is I’m going to feel without caffeine.

As for today and the last several days? My mood has been in the dumps, and I haven’t slept one iota better than I slept before quitting caffeine.

But I’m holding out hope. Last night there were storms and lightning and wind that kept waking me up, and so last night can’t count as a test night of sleep. Tonight, on the other hand, I expect to be a good night, and if it isn’t, I’m definitely going to be disappointed. But like I said, I’m going to give it another day or two before I let myself get frustrated about anything.

January 2020 progress

I’d almost forgotten to write my January progress post, and although it’s a few days late, I don’t want to skip it because January was actually a pretty good month despite falling far short of the goals I had set for myself. I didn’t come anywhere near 3,600 words a day—or 4,000 or 2,400 or even 2,000.

But January did become my best January on record and that’s not nothing.

January words: 24,213

My next best January was back in 2014, when I logged 23,650 words. That said, none of the other Januarys really come close. My January average now stands at 9,161 words even with the new best January.

I also decided at the end of the month to quit coffee and tea, so that’s something I’m doing now to improve my sleep. I can’t say it’s working, yet, but I have hope! :)

Over the course of the month, I realized the daily writing posts weren’t working for me, so on January 31, I made the call to end them. I also realized that I needed to try something different for a while, so I’ve started putting the focus back on finishing one thing at a time.

I mostly do that anyway, but sometimes I don’t. From now on, the general rule is going to be to keep pushing at one thing until it’s done before I start working on anything else. It’s just too hard to tell the difference between self-sabotaging behaviors like procrastination and beneficial ones like dwell time. I might end up with better word counts on any one day, but I lose interest so easily that letting myself get distracted by other stories only seems to be hurting me in the long-run.

Now, back to focusing on February and working on this book I’m trying to finish. I’m trying to end it this week but if that’s going to happen, I definitely have to get in some words.

 

Mental barriers to forward progress and a caffeine withdrawal check in

The coffee/caffeine weaning is going well. I woke up with a heavy head and a slight headache this morning but overall I feel good. I’ve got my 4 oz of coffee sitting beside me (made with only 1 tsp. of coffee) and I’ll have another in a few hours if this one doesn’t knock the headache back all the way. If it does, then I’ll skip the next one. :D

I always like to hurry these things along, but the one thing I don’t want to end up with is a raging headache so I’m going to be careful not to go too fast on this.

As for the writing, the daily writing streak is still going. I didn’t check on the number of days, because I don’t really care right now. It’s not my priority. I’m focused on a different experiment I’ll talk about later this month, after I see where it leads me in February.

I believe I know now why I was feeling so constricted by the extra challenges I had added to my daily writing streak. It was exactly the same thing I went through with the “no sweets before 1000” streak right before I had to end it. Because I’ve had two negative word days since I failed to meet it and finally made progress yesterday after getting rid of some cruft that was holding me back.

In other words, the perfectionism had cropped up and I kept putting off deleting stuff I needed to delete to make sure I got the words for the streak logged in my daily word count spreadsheet.

List of recent word counts

I’ve explained before that I don’t track written words separate from deleted words. It all comes together into my daily count. But my inner perfectionist sees a negative count as a failure even if I know I wrote enough words to count.

I deleted a couple of thousand words between 1/30 and 2/2. The only reason my word counts aren’t reflecting that is because I also wrote a couple of thousand words between 1/30 and 2/2.

You sure can’t see that in the numbers.

It’s a minor flaw in my system that I built in on purpose. I only track publishable numbers. My cumulative word count equals the manuscript word counts of all my written stories and all my stories that are in progress, and the moment a story gets tossed, that day’s word count is going to take a hit.

I seem to forget that when I decide to do challenges that don’t allow for the negative days. Maybe next time I’ll remember now that I’ve written it out. ;-)

I do delete and I’m generally not afraid to do that because words are just words. And that means my word counts are what they are and don’t always reflect my true effort for any particular day.

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses on a scene or chapter or three, and start over, maybe going in a different direction, maybe just coming at it again in a slightly different way, with a different perspective. (That’s what worked for me yesterday.) It’s important not to have mental barriers in place that stop you from doing what needs to be done. :)

I feel better, and the book has started moving forward again. I have a feeling I’ll make a lot of progress toward my ending today.

It’s time to quit caffeine (coffee) (again)

It’s time for an experiment!

I’ve quit caffeine cold-turkey too many times to count in my life and I know what to expect—so I am not going cold-turkey. The last time I quit caffeine, I weaned myself off it and it worked out so much better. That’s the path I’ll be taking this time, now that I’ve decided I need to quit caffeine for a while to see if I can improve my sleep.

I’ve been sleeping poorly lately, and I’ve been drinking more and more caffeine between coffee and tea (black and green), and I’m not reaching to say there is probably a connection. :) I’ve also been experiencing a few more headaches than usual lately, and I’d like to see if it’s the caffeine. I’m bad at routine, so some days I do too much and some days too little and this varying caffeine consumption can definitely cause withdrawal symptoms.

I worry, a bit, because coffee kind of brings the world to life around me, and usually (but not always) helps me focus and feel clear-headed. Sometimes it’s the opposite. I wake up feeling crystal clear and that first cup of coffee steals that away and makes me feel a bit too hyperactive. Those are the days I tell myself I’m going to wait a few hours the next morning before I have my coffee. I almost never do.

It also exacerbates that nervy feeling I get sometimes and can make me feel like I want to jump out of my skin. It only takes one cup too many to give me a bad case of the jitters and an upset stomach, and sometimes I have that cup before I’ve realized it and then I spend several hours feeling miserable. I’ve always thought I am highly sensitive to caffeine.

I’ve had a love / hate relationship with caffeine (coffee and tea) for most of my life. :D It’s time for a break.

I’ll take a pass on those second thoughts, thank you

I went to bed last night wondering if I had made the right decision in ending the daily postings because my inner perfectionist was telling me that I should have stuck it out even though it wasn’t helping simply because I had said I was going to try to do that this year.

The second thoughts didn’t last long, but there was still a niggle in the back of my brain, the inner voice of my personal critic, calling me a quitter, because of course there was. I manage to ignore that voice more often than not, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get to me after a while.

Negative self-talk is pretty much useless at self-motivation, but that voice never dies because it thinks it knows best and will browbeat the hell out of you trying to get you to listen.

Ignore the fucker. That’s all the advice I have about that.

But then a little miracle happened. :D

This morning I woke up early after a terrible night of sleep and started doing a little online reading. I came across Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s newest post, Nobody Cares.

If you’re doing work you don’t care about, then find a way to move on. Because you don’t care and nobody else does either, so why are you doing this again? Because you made up some perfect ideal, and now you’re trying to achieve it, and it’s only causing you emotional distress.

I always find it interesting that I seem to come across articles like this when I most need them. I realize that a lot of time this is simply confirmation bias at work, but it still often feels like a sign that I’ve chosen the right path.

So, yeah, I’ll take a pass on those second thoughts, thank you very much.

Daily post – Jan. 31, 2020

Today, being the 31st, is a good day to end this.

This will be the last “Daily writing” post.

It felt a lot more like an obligation than I meant it to. Even though I tried a couple of different things to get past that feeling, nothing really worked. In the end, it still felt like an obligation and became something I dreaded doing every day.

I’m just going to go back to posting my monthly progress reports with some scattered reports in between when I feel like it and that’s going to be that, because honestly that’s really the only reason I post. I do it when things are on my mind and I want to clear my head. That could be a scattering of posts or it could be a lump of three or four in a row.

:-)

On that note, I have a novel to finish and I need to spend some time working on it. I might come back and post my word count–and I might not, because this is the last daily post so who really cares? ;-)

I will update my accountability page with my January number once the day is over.

Daily post – Jan. 30, 2020

Thursday word count = -58 words.

Back on January 11, I added an extra element to the “no more zero word days” challenge to make it more interesting.

Last night I failed to keep that going. I know I wrote 50 words, so I’m good on the 50 word rule for the streak that I set back in November, but I did not write enough words to match the length of the daily writing streak. What I did write got offset by the deleted words and that’s how I ended up with -58 words for the day.

I’m now going to drop back to just keeping the basic “no more zero word days” streak going for as long as I can and let my muse tell me if I want to add another extra element to the streak at some future date. As of right now, I really don’t want to. I don’t even want to keep the daily writing streak going. I’m not sure how I’ve managed not to drop it yet.

The itch to let it go is constant at this point. I have visions of making it to 365 days, but GAH, I really just want to drop it. But I’m sitting down now to write today, so it feels silly to preemptively end it. So I won’t.

But now, right now? I totally know why, on the last day of my last attempt at daily writing, I wrote: Gave up on daily writing. It sucks.

It sucks!

(I will say that eliminating the daily writing post obligation and letting go of the extra little challenges I’ve tacked on might help me keep this going. Tomorrow, I’ll probably feel better about it. If I can just hang on until then.) :D

It’s time to write on fewer stories at one time

I currently have ten stories in progress. The longest one is at 66,000+ words and the shortest is at 188. Overall, I have more than 107,000 words of unfinished stories waiting to be finished. This is the natural result of keeping multiple stories going at once.

I’ve been working on the premise that I should always be writing whatever seems the most interesting to me to keep my interest levels as high as possible. However, that presupposes that just pecking away at the current story wouldn’t trigger new interest when I finally hit on something that felt right for the story, and also presupposes that getting tied up in something else wouldn’t delay a return of interest for the original story. And as it stands, I can’t know the answer to that.

As much as keeping multiple stories going seems to help me write more when the writing isn’t going well, I can’t really know that for sure, primarily because when I started doing it my numbers were already falling and I was trying to prop them up in whatever way I could.

Even though 2019 was a big improvement over the two years before, my best annual word counts came in years when I was still writing only on one book at a time for the most part, and I haven’t beaten those numbers yet.

Now, I don’t know that this means anything. I’ve been in a weird transitional phase with my kids for several years now, because it’s their college years and only one seems to have settled a bit, and the other is home a lot and has a work schedule that is all over the place, but I thought it was worth a true experiment to find out if sticking to one thing at a time might be better for me in the long run.

This came about because I’m frustrated that I’ve lost interest in several of the stories I have in progress and I blame that on the fact that I feel like I’ve been working on some of these stories for far, far, far too long.

I just can’t hold interest in something that long. It’s starting to feel like it would be better not to even start the book at all if I’m not going to be able to devote myself to it and finish it within a reasonable span of time.

Something has to give, because to be frank, I’m losing interest in almost every story I write these days long before I make it to the end. I’m not used to that, and I don’t like it. If I can’t get that under control, I can’t improve my daily word counts and I can’t meet my goals.

 

Daily writing – Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020

I wrote 190 words on Tuesday, and more than half of those were on paper with a pencil. :-O What?

I used to write a lot on paper, but I really don’t work like that anymore. This is what the streak has driven me to. :D

I was out yesterday evening and tired when I came home and tried to do my words at the computer but I kept nodding (I did stay up until 3 am the night before) so I gave up. I said, nope, not doing it tonight. Don’t care about the streak. Just can’t do it.

Then I put away my computer (I was in bed), and before I knew it, I’d picked up my little notebook that I keep with me almost everywhere, and my pencil, and I’d started writing. It came so much easier than it had been coming on the computer that it took me a minute tops to write enough words to keep the challenge part of my daily writing streak alive.

In fact, I spent fifteen minutes or more staring at the computer trying to get something to come to me to write next, and yeah, I wrote 80 words, but it was hard. I was just too tired.

Only apparently I wasn’t.

So here’s my little tip of the day: If the words aren’t flowing, pick up a pencil and a notebook and try that. You might be as surprised as I was that what had felt hard a minute before felt effortless a minute after. :-)

Now, I’m ready to start my three hours of leisurely writing and get my first 1,000 words so I can get that cup of hot chocolate I mentioned a day or so ago. Yesterday was not a good day for writing, so I didn’t, but today I have no other plans and I’m kind of hoping for TWO cups before the day is over. ;-)

(Also, I changed the title format again, and left a note in Sunday’s post that explained it.)

Daily writing – Monday, Jan. 27, 2020

Today I finally got back to the novel. I wrote 1,622 words on it.

I also think I found my new routine for a while: a 3.5 hour block in my calendar for writing and a timer set for 3 hours of leisurely writing. ← Leisurely is the key word there.

I don’t like pushing but I do it all the time. It ruins the fun of writing for me. It’s time I stopped that. I have to write the way that makes writing the most fun and the easiest for me. Easy writing is fun writing. (Not theme, craft, blah blah blah, I’m talking process—the actual act of writing.) I need writing to feel easy. If it doesn’t feel easy, I procrastinate and I don’t write.

I am done pushing to write faster. I write at the speed I write, and that’s that.

And now to tell you how I really did it. :D

Although all of that mentioned above helped me today, it’s not what got me to sit my butt down and stick it out today. It was just the method I chose to get me to a cup of hot chocolate. :)

Yep. Hot chocolate.

A little more than a month ago, I cut out most sweets from my diet and that has been working great. But I’ve been missing hot chocolate something fierce during these dreary winter days this week. (I had specifically forbidden hot chocolate because it’s a weakness of mine, and one cup becomes two and then I’m drinking far too much hot chocolate every day.)

So I revisited the idea of my “no sweets before 1,000 words” rule and decided that I was willing to self-sabotage the no-sweets rule for the benefit of my writing.

I made a list of things in OneNote that I thought would help focus me.

==> New rule: Hot chocolate after I write 1000 words! But only if I get there. Then I can sit down with my hot chocolate and get the rest of my quota.

It worked. :)

What is the quota, you ask? (Or maybe you don’t because you don’t really care. If so, why the hell are you reading these blog posts? There really is nothing here for you if my process doesn’t interest you at all, because that is what the vast majority of my posts are about. :D)

The quota is the number of words I need to get to meet my 2020 financial goals, based on the historical value of a word in dollars. I’ve been calculating that in a spreadsheet for years—earnings per word published. It’s a little complicated, but it’s a fun exercise for me. I happen to really love playing with numbers.

That quota is 1,616 words average. (2,000 today and 1,232 tomorrow work just as well as 1,616 every day. It’s an average. But the easiest way to hit the average is to get as close to 1,616 as I can every day.)

So I have a quota based on financial goals, and I have a goal based on how many words it would take to make me feel prolific. They’re not the same and probably shouldn’t be, because I’d hate to think I had to be highly prolific to meet my financial goals. However, being highly prolific is something I aspire to.

As for the “no sweets before 1,000 words” rule, I was following this rule back in April and May when I had my first two consecutive 50,000 word months. It’s a powerful motivator, because I love sweets just that much. Hot chocolate was often the sweet I went to the minute I had reached that 1,000 word mark even back then.

And sure enough, I started this rule yesterday evening and although I didn’t write enough words to get chocolate yesterday, I found myself making writing my priority today just so I could make sure I got my hot chocolate this evening. :D

The rule is simple: write a thousand words and get a cup of hot chocolate. That first 1,000 words is the big hump. I had toyed with making my rule more strict and tied into my daily quota, but decided against that.

Small wins are great motivators. :-)

As an extra incentive to keep trying for the bigger, more aspirational goal, I can have a second cup if I make it to 4,000 words.

The second cup hump is bigger because if I’m going to self-sabotage, I’m going to have to earn it. :D

Now, off to bed. :)

Daily writing – Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020

I’m changing the way I title these posts for my own benefit. I want the day in there so I can keep track of where I am in the week, and I like the way “progress” fits in my mind better than “daily post” which feels like an obligation. This is a blog, and it’s a very casual one at that, so putting that feeling of obligation in there takes something I like and makes it unpleasant. I still plan to do a daily post, I’m just changing how I view them, internally. :)

(I have since changed my mind a bit on this. I’ve retitled these posts “Daily writing – ” because I think it accomplishes the same thing but separates them a little better from my “progress” posts. Basically, “Daily writing – ” doesn’t feel like an obligation to post, it feels like an opportunity to talk about the daily writing.)

Now, on to today’s progress.

I wrote 238 words today, and I had to jump to one of my other stories to get started, because I’m still not in the mood to write on my novel even though I really need to get this thing done. I wrote 104 words on the short story (same one as yesterday) and then switched to the novel and started weaving together those parts I’d written out of order that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, and that’s how I got the rest.

The No More Zero Word Days streak is up to 174 days now, far exceeding my former 122 day record. I’ve had some days where I just wanted to drop it, but I’ve managed not to do that. Re-reading that post I linked to reminded me of why this time is different and it’s given me some added motivation to keep going.

Tonight, I start reading through my previous days’ writing in the mornings and at night again. I’ve found that helpful in the past, because it keeps me grounded in my story.

This is what some people would probably call cycling, except I do it on my phone. I highlight stuff that needs fixed (missing words, etc) and then those are the things I do first when I open the computer to write. This is exactly how I do my final read through and copy edit. Send my book to my phone or Kindle tablet and read it like a book, adding highlights and notes to things that need fixed. Works like a dream. :)

On to tomorrow.