September 2019 progress

September passed much too quickly. I wanted to finish more projects in September and it didn’t happen.

September words: 24,609.

I did keep my “no more zero word days” streak alive. Yesterday marked 62 days of daily writing. But there were a few days there when I’m not sure I like how I did it. I didn’t cheat, because my only rule is that I write something but I still don’t like the way I went about it.

On the other hand, I really don’t want to set a minimum, because it messes with my head when I know I need to delete stuff and don’t want to because it’ll leave me with a negative word count and I need a positive word count for some streak or other (like the 1,000 words before sweets rule I had for a while).

Maybe I’m going to have to set a minimum of some sort whether I like it or not. If that happens, I’m sure I’ll go with a time based minimum, because the word count is pretty much out of my control. Some days are productive and good and some days I struggle to move forward in my stories no matter how much time I devote to it. Time is a good compromise. In fact, as I type this, I’m becoming convinced I need to set that minimum time.

I stopped editing my work every day. I think mostly because I kept getting far ahead of my writing and there’s no point reading something twenty times! I just need to read for errors or things to fix, because I edit as I go when I write, and that meant I was often rereading stuff I’d read the very day before for the third or fourth time.

That said, I might pick it up again, because there were some benefits to it (it kept my stories very alive in my mind).

October is already passing quickly, so I’m hoping today to regain some momentum I lost at the beginning of the month because my refrigerator died on me and I had to deal with that and get it replaced when the repairs didn’t fix it. :)

It’s just been one thing after another lately but I am determined to get back on track and have a 50,000 word month! I want to make October–December all 50,000 word months. April and May were my last two 50,000 word months and I was disappointed when I didn’t make June another one. But it did set a new personal best for me, because I’d never had two 50,000 word months back to back.

Now it’s time to set another personal best and have three 50,000 word months back to back. :D

Today’s goal (day 11)

Oh, dear. I was all set to post my goal today and realized I was suffering from goal creep again. I was going to post a crazy high goal and had a rationalization for it all written out. I deleted it.

Time to reset.

I face a constant push and pull situation with goals. Too small and I don’t do enough, too big and I do more but get overwhelmed.

Today’s goal: blank.

:D Yes, BLANK.

I’m just not in the mood to set a goal.

I do, however, have a hard minimum I want to hit today.

And for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, I’m already tired of having a daily goal to deal with. Changing the nomenclature doesn’t help. Target, aim, blah blah blah. It’s all the same and I know it and I can’t hide that fact from myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to get to 3,200 a day and that number is stuck in my head, in a good way, I think. I won’t go into all the calculations that led me to that number, because I’ve done some of that in prior posts. Suffice to say, I used highly conservative numbers so I had the absolutely best chance of far exceeding my financial goals if I can ever reach a consistent 3,200 words a day.

BUT, I also calculated a fairly loose minimum word count that I need if things go well, and it’s 962 words a day, which gave me the idea to set a hard minimum of 1,000 words a day. If I can’t reach that and maintain it, I really do need to go find a different job. That’s just reality. It’s no different than setting a hard minimum to actually, you know, go to work every day. Money’s got to come from somewhere!

The hard minimum of 1,000 words a day is my go to work every day number of words. And dear God, it’s embarrassing in the extreme to say this, but if I can’t manage the 1-3 hours a day of writing that this requires, I’m not in the right career. If it’s that hard to make myself write, I need to move on and be done with it, and putter with writing only when I want to.

Wow. I guess I’m in a mood. ;) Maybe I should channel this into today’s writing.

The good news is that yesterday I did write more than 1,000 words of fiction, so I’m already off to a good start even though I didn’t know then that I was going to do this. :-)

Tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll be doing another goal post. However, I think I will do a simple summary post. See you then.

What I ended up with: 430 words.

What did I tell you about me and goals? Apparently a hard limit is pretty much the same thing. Ugh.

It’s time for a late night writing spree :)

First, does it count as a late night writing spree if it starts at 9:32 pm? That doesn’t feel like late night to me. However, this is likely to take a while, so I’m predicting a late night here.

I have a 500 word daily minimum to hit. I didn’t hit it yesterday or the day before and I don’t want to let that streak get out of hand.

My reasons for not writing that daily minimum of words is the usual. I just couldn’t get started yesterday at all.

I looked at my story before I wrote this, so I’ve gotten a head start, technically. In actuality, I deleted the last few paragraphs of chapter 9 and lost 97 words, starting me off in the hole. It doesn’t affect any of the opening of chapter 10, so that’s okay. I won’t be getting sucked into any revision because of that decision. In fact, I’m pretty sure that might be a sign that I needed to get rid of those paragraphs all along.

I seem to get stuck a lot and I’m not sure why or what that says about me or my writing process.

Now, it’s time to go write. I’ll be back with updates.

Update 8/25/18

And… that failed spectacularly. As soon as I settled down and stopped moving around much, I got sleepy. So sleepy that I finally just gave up, hibernated the computer, and went to bed.

So I accomplished almost nothing last night.

My ending word count on my book: 21,161.

Meaning I didn’t even write enough to cover the 97 words I deleted.

The “no timers” thing

When I revisited getting rid of my timers, I thought the beginning of 2017 and the middle of 2017 was the last time I’d addressed the issue. But I was wrong. As I published my last post and checked through it as I usually do, I clicked the “corrective action“ tag.

It showed me a post I wrote in November 2017 called, appropriately, “Done with timers” that kind of shocked me. I had forgotten all about writing it.

First, no more timers. I’m not even talking about temporarily. I’m doing away with timers.

I know that didn’t work for me at the beginning of this year, but that was because I was using timers in conjunction with no schedule and no goals either. That was a mistake.

I know what I need as far as word counts: 500 words a day minimum, 3,000 words a day goal.

The goal is there to help make a particular dream I have a reality. I want to move. I want a new house. I want a pool. I need money to make that happen. :-)

I really don’t need to track anything else. Those are the numbers I need, each day. One is easily accomplished, the other is a stretch. Tracking my daily words is the only metric I need to know if I’m doing what I need to be doing (500 a day) or want to be doing (3,000 a day).

Swap out that 3,000 a day with my 2,000 words a day plan and this is pretty much what I’m doing now. I didn’t set a 500 a day minimum this time, but now that I’m reminded of that, I think I will.

I’m not going to forget and I’m not going to go back. I am done with timers. I mean done done done.

That 500 word minimum has the benefit of making yesterday’s word count an important success (I wrote 571 words, after all) and gives me something to push for tonight that’s more realistic than 2,000 words, because I’m not even going to pretend I’ll be able to go from the 53 words that I have to 2,000 words before I call it a night considering how late it is. But 500? Definitely possible.

And to top it off, this also means I have a 500 words a day streak going that I won’t want to break tonight. I mean, it’s only two days, but it’s two days in a row!

Day 9 of 500 words a day

Yesterday was day 9 of my 500 words a day streak. I wrote 2,626 words.

My daily average since beginning this effort is now 803 words. This just goes to prove that it doesn’t take much more than the 500 words a day on a few days a week to really improve my long-term average.

Through day 8, 575 words was my daily average.

Add in day 9 and my daily average shot up to 803 words, which is 188 words above my all-time daily average. Meaning that if I maintained this pace, writing mostly 500-520 a day but having 1-2 days where I write quite a bit more, I would write an additional 68,620 words in a year. Or another entire novel.

It’s something to keep in mind, for sure. For someone like me, who finds it difficult to maintain a consistent pace, having a low set minimum appears to be a great way to at least ensure a minimum of production, while increasing the chances of producing more. I’ve already talked about the benefits I’ve been seeing, so I won’t go into that, but suffice to say, I’m feeling really good about this new plan to write 500 words a day. It’s going better than I ever expected, to be honest.

Won’t let a late start slow me down: I’m going to write 3,000 words today

Caveat: I’m trying to finish a book, so if I finish it before I reach 3,000 words today, I’m calling it a win, full stop. :D

I meant to start writing much earlier today. I’m very happy with my progress now that I’ve gotten into a groove with the 500 words a day challenge (let’s just call it that for ease of reference), but I have goals and that 500 words a day isn’t a goal. It’s a daily minimum requirement. Not the same thing at all.

Because I want to finish this book ASAP and move on to something new, I’m planning to write 3,000 words tonight, despite the fact that I’ve put off starting until now, at 4:50 p.m.

:-D

I went into this whose spiel about how I was going to do this, but axed it.

It doesn’t matter how I think I’m going to do this. I’m just going to start writing and do it.

I’ll be back later to post updates, because I love posting updates. :)


Updates

#1 – Not going well. My word counts are terrible because I’ve spent most of my time rethinking/rewriting/redrafting the scene I should have finished already. It’s kicking my butt.

#2 – Well, I’m up to 332 words. I stopped counting the time and I’ve just been writing, trying to get this pain in the butt scene right.

Final – I made it to 503 but it was hard! I deleted so much stuff that I had to write a lot more than 503 just to get there. But I did. :-)

Now, to stop this rewriting bullshit and get this book done tomorrow…

A small win last night that bodes well

Yesterday I somehow made it until nearly 1:00 a.m. without writing. But I was determined not to break my 500 words a day streak so I finally overcame the resistance to getting started and sat down and wrote.

Instead of 500 words, I ended up with 1,004. Considering I didn’t use a timer and honestly only intended to get 500 words and then go to sleep, I think that’s pretty amazing. I went to sleep around 2:20 and don’t feel so hot this morning, of course, because I’ve now had two nights in a row of about six hours of sleep, but I feel great that I had that small win turn into a big win.

After four days of the 500 word minimum, my daily average of 644 words is already better than my all time daily average of 614.

This is exactly the result I was hoping to see. It only takes a few days of better than 500 words a day to start pumping up my average. And 500 a day feels like such a doable number of words. It’s enough of a commitment to writing each day to make me feel accomplished and it also seems to be enough words to set off the creative part of my brain so that I’m actually getting somewhere instead of just staying stuck in place.

What I mean by that is that with say 100 words, I can often add a little here and there and never actually move the story forward. I might be able to get away with editing enough words into a scene to reach 500 words once, maybe twice if the writing was thin to begin with, but after that, I have to move forward, which is what happened last night. Once I started moving forward, I didn’t even have to work to pick up momentum. The story was pulling me forward.

Now, despite all that success after midnight last night, I don’t want to repeat the after midnight part tonight, so I’m going to go write. This story is actually interesting me again, and I feel a need to make some more progress on that never-ending ending I’ve got going on! I’ll post later with results, unless I fall asleep at the keyboard. :D

Focus on action and small wins; a new daily minimum

Today I’m starting work on my book much later than I planned. Mostly because I’ve spent too much of the day thinking about a decision I made a couple days ago and trying to decide if it’s the right one. I’ve finally decided it is.

Tuesday, I decided to lower my minimum word count for a day to 500 words. That was a good call, I think. My average daily word count is 614 words. Since I have a complete record of every day’s word count since mid-2012, this isn’t a guess. This is my actual daily word count average for more than 5 years of writing.

That said, just because I’ve averaged 614 words a day for 5 years doesn’t mean 500 words a day should be a no-problem, no-trouble, easy daily goal for me. Averages are just that: averages. And averages never tell the whole story.

Consistent daily writing is still a major problem for me. I do not do well with long term daily writing. My longest streak to date is 122 days and I had to count many days of less than 100 words to even get that.

Writing 500 words a day, every day, will be a considerable challenge. But I don’t think I can go any lower than that, just because it doesn’t feel reasonable and it doesn’t feel like a challenge. It feels like giving up.

Daily, it’s only a small win, but 500 words a day will get me a book of average size (50,000 words) in 100 days. Meaning even if I totally fail at all else and ONLY write the 500 words a day every day and never one word more, I’ll write more words in the next 12 months than I wrote in the last two years combined by a little more than 40,000 words.

That’s a win, no matter how I look at it.

And my hope is, as always, that this small win will drive me to write more and reach some of the bigger goals I have.

Every time I write more than 500 words a day, it’s going to push my average up, and I’m going to get that much closer to my long-term goal of being a prolific writer. I can’t ask for much more than that considering where I’m starting from.

But I have to start somewhere and becoming a consistent daily writer is where I’m choosing to start.

The fact is, a small win is better than no win, and I have to start focusing on action if I want to change.

This isn’t just a post about intentions; this is a post of action! I made this minimum word count change two days ago on Tuesday. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, I successfully met this challenge with 517 words and 533 words, respectively.

Yay! I have a new writing streak going. :-)

Now, it’s time to go write and keep this thing alive.

Update: Yep, I did it. 520 words for the day.

That stopped working surprisingly fast

I tried to recreate Sunday’s success on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but no such luck. It just didn’t work and I’m at a loss to explain why.

Word counts:
Sunday (of course) = 2,073 (5.017 hours)
Monday = 670 (2.4 hours)
Tuesday = 379 (3.533 hours)
Wednesday = 103 (.467 hours)

I’m really not doing well with my 1,557 word minimum, or goal, or whatever you want to call it. I averaged 2.85 hours of daily writing time so that was close but I’m really trying for 3 hours a day—not as an average.

Maybe it’s too much. My all-time average daily is 613 words a day. Even when I wasn’t struggling with the writing, it was only 700+ words. My best month ever only averaged 1,908 words a day, and my best week ever, the best I can recall, only had me at a little over 3,000 words a day average. And these are all definitely averages, because I’m about as consistent as lumpy pudding. ;D

All told, 1,557 words a day in light of that might still be too much of a mental hurdle for me. So I’m dropping it to 1,000. The 1,000 isn’t a goal—it’s a daily minimum. For the most part, I’m going to focus on the three hours a day of writing I want to do, every day, and have that 1,000 word minimum to keep me from puttering along at a 200 wph pace. (Which I don’t doubt at all that I would do!)

Of course, I’m going to hope for more, and push for more anytime that I can, but I want to develop a consistent writing routine and I have to start somewhere.

I feel good about today, much like I did Sunday, so I’m hopeful. However, I decided last night I wasn’t going to continue with the loose schedule I’ve been trying to follow unsuccessfully for the last three days.

Today’s plan: Run the timer down from 3 hours, don’t track individual sessions, focus on making sure I hit that 1,000 words. The pace I need to do that is a mere 333 wph.

As always wph = words per hour.

Stop thinking so hard and just let the words come

Stop thinking so hard and just let the words come.” That’s the note I’ve written to myself in my notebook and those are the first words I saw when I looked at it beside me in hopes of coming up with a title for this post. :)

I’ve spent some time writing today, although only a little, but I don’t know how much because I forgot to start the timer. The fact is, I needed to write a lot today but I let an assortment of interruptions throughout the day keep me away. Now it’s 9:05 PM and I really need to push myself to write for three hours before I go to bed. Any interruptions at all will keep me from reaching that goal, simply because I can’t really afford to go to sleep any later than 1 AM, and I’ll have to finish those three hours by 12:30 at the latest.

I’m going to have to try, but I don’t feel very hopeful. Sadly, that’s probably going to work against me.

On the other hand, I do have to try, so here I go before I waste too much time on this post. It’s now 9:07 PM, probably a record for me and a post! :D


Update:

I didn’t make it to three hours but I did end up with 1.95 which is kind of great, considering how I felt when I started. It only amounted to 322 words, but I made it completely through chapter 16 and started on chapter 17.

A challenge for this second day of August to perk me up

Since I did so poorly yesterday, only 123 words and 15 minutes!, I’ve decided a challenge might perk me up today.

It’s a simple challenge. Finish my 1,557 word minimum before I stop for lunch. :) I’ve finished breakfast and there’s nothing standing between me and lunch but time to fill. :D

I’m going to fill it with writing.

I’m just going to do 50 minute sessions until I get there.

Updates will follow below. :)


Well! That was unexpected.

I got in one 50 minute session then had to run off to a dentist appointment I’d forgotten about! So that blew this challenge. I was gone nearly 4 hours. I’ve found it difficult to get started again, mostly because it’s now so late in the day. Maybe I’ll try later, but at the moment, I’m thinking of taking the rest of the day off. There’s a movie I want to watch and I don’t like the idea of making up work time in the little bit of leisure time I’ve planned for myself in a while.

Revisiting yesterday’s plan—but not

I’m going to keep an open mind with today’s writing, because it’s possible I might want to try again for a record setting day, despite the fact that I have the AC guy coming to repair my unit. (Which is now working again, but which I just know will quit the moment I cancel him, so I’m just going to let him come and do maintenance on the thing. It seems to need it every year, and if anyone ever asked me, I’d say yes, my geothermal unit has save me a lot on my electric bill but most definitely not on my nerves or my home maintenance costs.)

The reason I say open mind is that I’m just not sure actually planning the thing isn’t partially to blame for me not writing yesterday.

I’ve found success with the 1,557 word daily minimum. Jumping right into higher word count challenges might be self-sabotaging behavior—or at the least, seriously counterproductive!

So today I will write my minimum and go from there. Once I do today’s minimum, I might finish off yesterday’s minimum. Once I do that, I might go back to the next day where I didn’t finish my minimum and do that one too. And if at the end of the day, that leads me to a record setting word count, I might celebrate.

Sounds like a good plan for the day to me.

Hmm. Anything else? Oh, yes.

I’ll be sticking with 15 minute sessions today so I can keep an eye on my speed. I’ll be trying to reach 250 words at least once today during those sessions. 250 is a big number for me, and I know I can hit it but I don’t do it often. So, yeah, it’s a challenge, but a tiny one. :D

Update: It’s down to the wire. I have 30 minutes to finish 440 words, unfortunately. Might be a problem because my last several sessions have been in the 200–300 wph range. I don’t even know why I’m taking time to write this except that I had a compulsion to do it. Anyway, getting back to it so I can get those 440 words asap.

Update two: I wrote until just a little later than midnight because I was so close that I couldn’t let my day end without reaching that 1,557 words. I did! I came in at 1,661 and 3.5 hours of timed writing. I just can’t believe how difficult I find it to accumulate those hours of writing time over the course of a day. This is something that’s bugged me for years. I just can’t figure it out.

Update three: Ha! You thought I forgot about the challenge, huh? I did. Sorry. The fact is I didn’t make it to 250 words in any of my sessions. My closest came in at 179, I think. (I deleted the log before I remembered I was supposed to be keeping up.)

That experiment didn’t last long

I like writing posts here while I write. I don’t know if it helps keep me focused in on writing or not, but I like it. So I’ve decided to end this latest experiment of mine early. I’d rather write less fiction than have to restrain the exuberance I feel and ignore the compulsion to talk about it. :D So—I’m back!

I’ve done pretty well with my other big writing experiment though. The non-negotiable 1,557 words a day is working for me. It helps that it’s a number I can look at and imagine myself completing in a little over an hour. Now, I don’t usually complete that many words in an hour, not by far, which makes the whole thing funny in a sad sort of way, because it exemplifies my problem with grandiose thinking. BUT, I’ve finally found a way to make that work for me, it seems, because 1,557 words a day feels so easy when I think about doing it, that I don’t find myself hampered by resistance at all.

It’s kind of an amazing feeling, really.

I’ve already told everyone who’ll listen to me not to ever let me set a huge goal for myself again. :D

One reason I think this is different than previous attempts? I usually say one thing but mean another. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually accepted that maybe this is the upper limit for me and that it’s okay. I don’t have to write more than this because I can make a good living (barring catastrophe) and my books might come slower, but consistency will get me there much faster than my usual patterns.

In fact, 1,557 words a day is actually more than 2x my current all time daily average of 618 words. See what all that inconsistency has gotten me, chasing after ever growing goals I never seem able to reach? I can double the number of novels I put out in a year just by writing a small number of words every day.

I’ve known this for a long time, but I think, now, finally, I’m ready to embrace it.

Now, to figure out how to kill perfectionism once and for all…