Pushing for a finish today; must write faster!

I haven’t finished my current book in progress despite having been trying to finish it for a couple of weeks now. Today I’m pushing for a finish, although I know it’s going to be tricky. I don’t have a clue where the story is going to come together, only a vague notion that something is going to have to happen before I can end it because I need my main character to play a more active role in the ending here and so far he just hasn’t stepped up. He’s gonna have to step up. That’s all there is to it.

I need at least one solid chapter to finish up the climax and maybe half another. Then I need some wrap up scenes, so that’ll be another chapter at least.

My chapters range anywhere from 2,000 to 2,800 words, rarely more, but sometimes, so I can’t rule that out. That means 4,800 words minimum to end this thing, even though I wanted my word count for this book to max out at 65,000 words. It hasn’t. The book is now the third longest book in the series. It’s questionable at this point if it’ll remain only the third longest because I’m getting uncomfortably close to the length of the second longest.

So…practice time. I’m going for 800 words per hour, writing in 15 minute bursts. That’s a goal of 200 words for each session of 15 minutes.

That is a push, but practice time it is.

In other news, I’ve reinstituted some personal rules to help me stay away from time sucking activities online. LeechBlock is set to block me from most of the internet from 7 am to noon and 2 pm to midnight.

I’m doing this because I’m just spending too much time on places like K boards.

Which, in another note, I’ve decided might be the wrong table for me to sit at.

Most of the authors there take self-publishing much too seriously for me. I realize publishing is my income source and that I do need to treat the business aspects of it as a business, but the rest of it is for me to do as I please. I don’t treat the publishing part as a traditional business and I don’t want to. I much prefer to be the artisan and do my own thing until I have a product ready to sell. But then when I have the product ready I really prefer to be the person at the flea market or the little corner shop and not really the mass marketing Walmart. I’ll be honest, that’s a terrible analogy, but it’s all I can come up with at 9:12 a.m. in the morning when I just know that I need to stop visiting that site as much as I do and I keep going back and forth and I continue to visit and I continue to read the forum day after day to excess and I continue to find many of the people’s attitudes there quite infuriating at times. And nothing throws me off my game more than being angry does. I think it’s normal to want to be accepted, even looked up to, by your peers, but when your beliefs are so far outside the norm in the group, it’s not going to work out that way unless you start conforming. That price is too high for some of us. It comes to this: Kboards is not good for my mental equilibrium. Know thyself, as they say.

And my final note today: this was written on my phone using the default Google speech-to-text so if it is somewhat unreadable I’m sorry. But the one thing I’m not going to do is override the LeechBlock settings and allow myself to get online and post on my blog before I’ve had a chance to do my writing today.

Now, time to get up and get this day started. It’s my birthday. :)

An unproductive weekend

First, I love my kids, make no mistake about that. But this weekend highlighted just how disruptive it is to my routine when change is in the air. My daughter came home from college this weekend for the first time in three weeks. I had got into a certain routine and her presence pretty much destroyed that routine.

Not that I wish in any way that she had not come home. But I do need to start planning better for this kind of thing because this was the weekend that I really, really needed to finish my latest book.

Spoiler alert. It didn’t happen.

I wrote 81 words Saturday during 0.967 hours of timed writing. Ouch on two fronts.  Since I mostly did edits, it makes sense, but it’s still ugly.

Sunday (today)? 71 words after 22 minutes of writing.

So here I am at 9:06 pm trying to figure out if it’s feasible in any universe for me to write 4,264+ words before I crash tonight.

I’m going to say no.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on recovering at least a little. My daughter went back to college today and the house is relatively quiet again, and I’m going to write for the next several hours.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Update: I wrote 429 words. Although I tried to make it to 1,000, at 1:24 am I just had no willpower left at all and I gave up.

Interesting results on something new

More words, fewer hours on Friday over Thursday, so that’s good. Yesterday (Friday) wasn’t as good a day as I’d hoped for, but it was my best day in 222 consecutive days. Prior to that, on the 223rd day, I had reached what is my current record word count for a day, 5,816 words, on the day I finished my last book.

Yesterday’s final tally: 2,652 words, 4.55 hours, 583 wph (a little more than the chart shows below because I had one last gasp before I quit and didn’t record it).





















































Something happened around 8 pm that got me off track in a major way. It went something like this.

I have some micron pens I received as a gift and I really love the blue. I use it for my journaling and session notes and lots of other stuff. I dropped it a few days ago and it took a hard hit on the point, and then day before yesterday I realized it wouldn’t write at an angle very well anymore (while the other pens did). So I was using my purple pen yesterday and right around 8, I dropped the lid down into the couch. It disappeared. I spent half an hour trying to find that pen cap and ended up moving the sofa multiple times, vacuuming everywhere I could reach in and under it, and finally discovered the cap had slid into a nook inside the couch where some joints came together.

Well, that pushed me to move to the dining room table with my writing, and once there I decided I was going to switch back to my blue pen. But it wasn’t writing well so I messed with it a little bit and, yeah, I messed it up. I managed to mash the nib or whatever you call it until it split and now it writes a very flat, sometimes split stroke onto the page. That frustrated me and I started searching for stuff about pens and waterproofing and whether archival safe pens are really necessary for journals, because my favorite pens are the blue and purple Pilot V5 Precise but they are not waterproof in any way. (I tested it a while back. Ugly fading and smearing was the result.) I know archival safe stuff isn’t necessary, but I do want to keep these journals until I die so I want to write with something that holds up a while.

But back to the story. I ran across an interesting website about pencils and suddenly the idea of pencil journaling started to seem appealing to me. I wrote on a napkin, ran it under some water and sure enough, no bleeding or smearing at all. I even rubbed the watery napkin and the pencil marks stayed in place in a way I could read them.

So… I dug out a box of pencils and some other pencils I had and spent half an hour or more sharpening pencils. I have some mechanical pencils I love but they don’t make the pencil scratch sound when I write with them, so I’m keeping the wood pencils on hand too. Honestly, I miss the bright colors in my journal, but since blue was my favorite and it took a week to get those pens delivered (with only one blue in the pack), I’m just going to try pencil for a while.

But that’s what happened to those four hours last night that should have been spent writing. Sigh. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever change.

Well, on to today. I have a book to finish.

Something new

It’s interesting, because I thought I’d tried just about everything to get myself writing faster and more regularly, but obviously I haven’t tried everything, because I tried something yesterday that’s working out pretty well (between yesterday and today) and I really don’t remember having tried it before (or at least in this way).

Here’s what I did (and am doing again today): I simply listed out the hours of the day (10–11, 11–12, etc.) and am running the timer during that time, accumulating as much time as I can, without any specific session lengths, with the goal of reaching 500 words for each hour in the day.

Yesterday I ended up with this:

























































Which really did not seem bad to me at all. If I hadn’t had such a slow start finishing/editing chapter 23, I would have done a lot better on my word count.

Today I’m doing the same thing as yesterday. I’ve had some interruptions and delays that I’m hoping won’t affect my day too much, in the end, but it remains to be seen how things are going to work out today. Overall, though, I’m really liking this structure around my writing. It’s loose in some ways but strict in others (I can’t change the fact that 11–12 and 12–1 have already passed and I got no writing done), and I like it.

Gotta go now, because I have a personal deadline I need to meet. I’ll post results for this informal little experiment in a follow-up post sometime later. :)

No time to spare

Here’s what I’m aiming for each day: 1,000 words minimum, with an eye toward 2,893 words. Of course, more would be fantastic, but 1,000 is the minimum daily word count I want to hit every day I possibly can.

I have four minutes to finish this post. Since I want to start writing at 11:15 I’d better make this quick.

Today I’m trying for multiple 60 minute sessions. If I have to stop in the middle, I’ll just pause and resume.

The goal is 7 of them at a minimum pace of 700 wph for a total word count of 4,900 words. This is so I can finish this book in two days, assuming I can keep it under a maximum length goal. (Lots of assumptions there. I can do these numbers, but I can’t always do these numbers. Let’s see if I can make today the former and not the latter.)

Session 1: 60 minutes, 301 words
Session 2:
Session 3:
Session 4:
Session 5:
Session 6:
Session 7:

Okay, this isn’t working. It’s 5:21 and I’ve only managed to complete one 60 minute session.

I’m just going to wing it with some 15 minute sessions. I’m feeling pretty desperate to stop a stall out before it becomes a problem I can’t recover from today. Time is seriously running short and I need some appreciable words before I get too tired to write them.

The next book: writing plans

I’ve started my next book. At this point, I’m 12,606 words into it. I’ve also started another book (and have two others already started, too), but I’m not going to let myself work on it except when I’ve already finished my goals for the current book. See my previous post about writing one book at a time for reasons.

It’s important that I keep my interest level high on this book because it has a tight deadline. It had an even tighter deadline, but I had to nix that one. See another previous post for those reasons. :)

I’m aiming for about 63,000 words on this book.

The median word count for the series is 67,886 and the average word count is 67,655.

The books range in length from just over 50,000 words to just over 85,000. It’s a pretty big range, to be honest, but I can’t seem to control for length when I’m writing. I wanted them all to be 50,000 but we see how that worked out. :D

I started this book estimating 50,000 words, realized that just wasn’t probable, and raised it to 68,000 after seeing those numbers. Now I’ve backed off, because I actually want it to be closer to 60,000 and I don’t want to set myself up for writing a longer book just by default.

At this point, here’s what I need to finish by 11/30/2016, which is the date I’d like to finish: 3,150 words a day (average).

I’m going to keep this post updated with my progress, although it’ll probably be in batches instead of a daily update.

I’ve let myself get behind—by a lot

I have a deadline coming up, very much a “can’t miss this date” deadline. It’s making me anxious.

I mean, technically, I could miss it. The date is still listed as tentative, but in my head, I know it’s not a deadline I need to miss. I don’t want to miss it. The fact is, though, that it’s really getting beyond my current capabilities to reach unless I have some kind of breakthrough in my writing.

So here I go trying to force that breakthrough.

I’ve found a schedule I don’t remember having tried before, and I’m going to try it today.

It pushes my pace a little bit, but nothing out of reach (~667 wph needed to stay on track). Where I’ll have the most trouble is just focusing on start and end times for my sessions and actually doing them when I’m supposed to do them. Five minutes late getting started is no big deal, but my history shows that I tend to get behind early, start every session late, until it’s snowballed and I’ve eliminated massive swaths of writing time just by letting five minutes here and there become twenty.

Here’s the plan.

1.5 hour writing sessions where the goal is 1,000 words each session. (Yes, I’ve tried this part before.)
.5 hour breaks between sessions (This is where it’s different. The writing sessions are all evenly spaced all day long.)

Here’s where I’ll update results.

12:00–1:30 – 1,296 wordsWoo hoo! Things are off to a good start.
2:00–3:30 – 977 wordsOnly 1.23 hours, because I’ve fallen pretty far behind. I’ll have to skip the next session to get back on track. I’m hoping I can get ahead with some better word counts for the next couple of sessions. I had just enough time before 6 to finish it off before I started that one. :)
4:00–5:30 – Skipped to catch up
6:00–7:30 – 840 wordsI’ve fallen behind again. It’s 8:17 and I have half an hour on this one to go. I’m going to keep going with it at this point.
8:00–9:30 – Skipped, because I was still working on the previous session.
10:00–11:30 – Skipped because I’m exhausted and I’m going to bed early so I can start off strong tomorrow.

If I get behind, I’ll cut a session or break short and move on to the next session.

If this goes well, I’m going to try it again tomorrow, starting earlier and taking a full hour between sessions (if I want—it certainly won’t be mandatory). The only reason I’m not doing that today is that I’m starting so much later than I planned when I came up with this idea last night.

Now, gotta go. I’m already 15 minutes behind. Yeah, I know. Not kidding. :o

**This might seem like it hasn’t gone well, but considering how badly I fail at this and how often, I’m actually really pleased with what I accomplished using this schedule. I’m definitely going to try the slightly modified version tomorrow, with the hour between sessions and see how that goes. I don’t yet know if the longer breaks will help or hinder my ability to stay on track.

Schedule update: times are almost right, sessions keep changing

Since I started following a writing schedule again, I’ve found that some adjustments have had to be made. A few things just weren’t working out how I’d like.

I added an extra half hour for the midday break. I also stopped an hour earlier for lunch and moved that hour to after lunch.

Scheduled times

7 to 12 became 7 to 11, while 1 to 4 became 12:30 to 4:30.

I’ve only tried this for one day, and not successfully, let me add, but possibly because it’s fall break for the schools here and I keep messing up my 7 am start time. Still, the lunch hour wasn’t working. I’ve had to adjust it every day, so building that into the schedule makes more sense than not.

Session times

First it was 50 minute sessions, then 15 minutes, then 25 minutes. They each worked at different times this week, but I’m moving permanently back to 50 minute sessions for planning writing output because of how well they work within the framework I’ve constructed. It’s very easy to account for how many sessions I should have completed in any number of hour long blocks if I assume 50 minutes writing time to 10 minutes break time.

One change I’ve made is that I’m not longer stressing over whether or not I can complete the entire 50 minutes without a break. (Too much tea, I know. I can’t help it. I feel compelled to have something to drink while I write.) I just plan to write for 50 minutes, pause the timer when necessary, and aim to complete the 50 minute session within the one hour block. Now this? This is something that’s actually had a much bigger impact on how I feel about these long sessions than I would have thought. The new perspective is working great. No more resentment for long sessions, or hesitation to start one, because it’s perfectly okay to pause the session. In fact, I expect it. There’s also a bit of pressure to get back to it quickly that’s helpful (because the timer is paused). It’s working out much better than the break between sessions. That’s where I’m still having a lot of trouble with distractions. :)

Session goals

One thing I realized right away was that I wasn’t just pushing for higher word counts per hour with the sessions. I was also demotivating myself a bit. Not much, just enough that I really started to notice it yesterday. The problem is that I use my number of sessions times my word count goal to estimate what goal I should have for a day’s writing. The numbers made me feel too optimistic about the chances I’d have of reaching really (really) high word counts, despite what I know of my historical performance.

So I scaled back. I might want to write 250 per 15 minute session, or 325 per 25 minutes, or 600 or 800 per 50 minute session, but that’s just not that likely, and it’s no way to plan. I can still hold all those numbers in my head as goals, but they’re really no good for planning.

I’ve settled on a 550 word goal for each 50 minute session for planning purposes. That’s 660 words per hour. My average the last time I checked was about 641 wph, and my all time average was about 541 wph, so it’s a bit of a push, but not an overwhelming one.

I know how many words I need to finish several of the books I’ve got going, I just needed estimates of sessions and words to get me to a daily plan to make it happen by the deadlines I’ve set myself (publicly this time). The book lengths are estimates, of course, but I don’t mind adjusting how much writing I need to do each day if I see that a book is going longer than I planned. It happens more often than not, to be honest, and that’s another reason overly optimistic word count expectations are a problem for me.

My former session goals led me to create deadlines that were just too tight. I gave myself some much needed breathing room. :)

June 27 writing schedule update

As you’ve probably already guessed, the schedule hasn’t helped in any way to get me started writing again. I haven’t even come close to getting started on time a single time since I came up with it, because for some reason beyond me, I’ve gone from going to bed at a reasonable hour to staying up until midnight. Needless to say, I haven’t been getting up at 6 AM and I haven’t been getting started by 7 AM.

I’ve revised the schedule for tomorrow and tried to set up another for today so I don’t end the day having written nothing again. But I have a feeling I have deeper issues to worry over.

Allowing myself to work on multiple books at once without making any kind of commitment to finish any one before another was working great for me.

I screwed that up. I’ve cost myself loads of time that I am CERTAIN I wouldn’t have lost if I’d just stuck to that. I bet I’d be finished with at least one of my almost finished books by now.

Instead I changed my focus, and now I’m in a terrible position of REALLY needing to finish a certain book before the others, making me feel overwhelmed and stressed and setting off a wave of procrastination and avoidance that I knew would happen—but thought, foolishly, that maybe this time it wouldn’t.

I don’t know if I can get out of this without missing my deadline—a deadline I put on myself but that I mentioned in several places in a way that makes it feel like an honest-to-God obligation.

I suspect I’m going to miss it and I suspect there’s nothing I can do about that.

I don’t like failing in situations like these, when I know it’s all my fault—I totally set myself up for failure in this instance.

Okay, deep breath. I’m moving on to another post, one where I set out my plan to get out of this mess I’ve created for myself.

Also, this is not in any way related, but I’ve decided my categories and tags on this site are pretty useless for finding things. Expect changes.

Editing and proofreading continues, redux

I’m restarting yesterday’s challenge for today, because today is really do have to finish this editing and proofreading! I have another book to finish, and I need as few as 10k words to finish it (although it might go long, in which case, I’m really hoping I can do 20k in a week again, because a week is about all the time I have left for that one).

I’m starting at location 1997 of 4185 total locations this morning, so I have 52% of the book left to edit and proof. But really, I have a bit more, because I haven’t yet fixed the stuff I found to fix in my last reading session. So… Yeah. I really have to do a better job staying on task today and not letting my breaks eat up all my time.

Time to get to it.

The plan:

  1. Read in one hour sessions
  2. Make corrections/edit
  3. Break for five to ten minutes
  4. Do it again.

Record of time and locations (percent complete):

  • 7:18 am:
    • At location 1997 (48%)
    • Finished edits through this location at 11:03 am
      • Took much too long!!! But, to be honest, this edit encompassed the scene I mentioned in this post. I guess I’m lucky it didn’t take longer. :o Although I thought I was okay with that scene when I finished it, it still had more buggy spots left than I’d realized.
  • 2:15 pm:
    • At location 3084 (74%)
      • I forgot to set the timer so I just read until I needed a break.
      • I read for about 2 hours and made it through about 25% of the book.
      • Therefore I estimate 3–4 hours to go! (reading + edits)
      • I’ll be back to input these edits after a nap. :D Brain is toast. Concentrating so hard  for that long is tough on me!
  • 7:01 pm:
    • Still at location 3084 (74%) & about to start inputting edits!
      • Nap was too long, then it was time for the regular Friday balancing of my accounts, which inevitably took longer than I planned. It always does.
    • Finished the edits for this session and called it a night! Boo!

Editing and proofreading today

I was supposed to be on the editing and proofreading days ago, and yet… here I am, doing it today. And let’s be honest. I’m writing this to delay getting back to it just a little longer. Procrastination, you are my frenemy.

I have about three hours in which to finish all this and I can already say in all honesty that that is not going to happen. No way, no how. It would take me that long just to read the rest of the book without distraction. And I’ve already discovered that there are places in this book that need more attention than that.

I use the Send to Kindle software on my computer to send my docx files to my Kindle Fire for this stage. The book has 4185 locations in Kindle (easier to read for typos there) and I’m at 583. It took me about a hour to get there.  Then I stopped to make some corrections to the book, ended up adding a few bits in to be most consistent with something that happens later in the book and that took about half an hour.

If I use today’s progress to estimate time to finish the editing and proofreading , I come up with about 11 hours total for editing and proofreading time. I’ve done 1.5 hours already, so that’s about 9 hours to finish. That’d put me finishing at 4 a.m. assuming I take no breaks whatsoever.

Then I’ll have to proofread everything I corrected, again.

So I’ll be at it again tomorrow. And I’d better put in as much focused time tonight on it as possible. I’m running up against a couple of deadlines now that I really can’t miss this time.

Oh well. Gotta get back to it, so I’ll leave it there. Maybe I’ll get through the rest of the book faster than I expect and will be able to report back something awesome!

Either way, I’m going to post where I end up. I’d like a written record. :D

I ended at location 641. Ack. I did do more edits, but mostly I spent some time with my son. Ah well. It was a trade off that was worth it in this instance. :D Back at it tomorrow.

Writing delays and deadline approaching

Yesterday I wrote:

Time to get to work now, and I’ll report back later with the results! I’m hoping to get all the way through the book today, and add about 4k words to the story.

And then my A/C and heating unit died.

So yesterday did not turn into a stellar writing day. In fact, I wrote only 306 words, and I’m lucky I did that. I don’t find it easy to concentrate when I’m anxious. I waited for the serviceman to come out and one of my kids came home from school early, feeling bad, and then I got the bad news about the unit.

It’s in a really bad way that’s going to cost me out the nose to get fixed, assuming it’s not just more economical in the long run to buy a new unit altogether.

Yep, that bad.

Today, I’m struggling to let it all go long enough to get started on my book—I honestly thought I’d be writing by now, and maybe finishing my second hour up.

Against my better judgment I’m still trying to catch up by finishing one particular book this month. I’m down to 8 days until I pass up my deadline. I need at least 3,526 words a day just on this book to now maybe reach the end of the book in time. If it goes long, I’m in trouble. If I miss a day, I’m in trouble. If I use all my time writing on some other story, I’m in trouble.

Let’s just admit it: I’m already in trouble with this book.

I’m just going to ignore the part of my brain trying to tell me I can’t do this, because of course I can do this. I’ve shown these past 5 weeks that I can write 3,933 words in as little as 4 hours. Worst case scenario, I can still write 400 words in 1 hour, and that means I can write 3,526 words in 9 hours. I can write for 9 hours. I don’t really want to, but I can.

So no excuses. I can do this. I can finish this book in 8 days, and maybe have a little writing left for other stories too.

I just need to get this one book out of the way so I can have what my write multiple stories at once experiment seems to be promising me: total writing freedom while writing many more words than before. :)

It’s time to quit putting it off and get started. I have somewhere to be later today and I’d like to finish my writing before I go so I can end this day feeling accomplished.

Time to panic

I just deleted 11,117 words, after deleting 1,442 words last night from the same book. I’ve gone from being comfortably in the middle of this book to being all the way back to the beginning. This is absolutely the most words I’ve ever deleted from one story at one time.

I’m hoping desperately that it was the right decision. Progress on this book has been pathetically slow and I just haven’t been happy with this story for the majority of the book.

So, today is a day of recovery for this book.

I hope to figure out how I want to go forward, and if by the end of the day I’m not thrilled with a new direction, I’m going to pull up the copy of the doc I made before I deleted anything and force myself to keep going with it.

I’m already behind on this book, again, and my May deadline is—as usual with any deadline—about to bite me.

God, I hate deadlines.

It’s Friday—What?

I’ve failed every attempt this week to meet the challenge I’ve set myself to break 6,000 words. In the last 7 days, I haven’t even broken into the 3,000 range.

See? 1,439; 1,009; 595; 2,330; 1,087; 701; 0 (today)

Today’s 0 won’t be zero because I’ve already started writing.

My last >3,000 word day was last Friday.

I’m not really sure where the blame for this lies. It’s just been a rough week and the writing hasn’t been easy. I think I’m making the obvious mistake of pushing myself to write more on one particular book and because I’m having issues with that story, I’m stalling out a bit, and it’s creating the beginning of that vicious cycle of writing avoidance I’ve talked about many times in the last couple of weeks as I try to keep myself working by only working on what I want.

Unfortunately, I’ve committed to finishing a particular book this month and I mean to meet that commitment.

But I guess I don’t trust myself. I’m worried that if I just write, without keeping an eye on how much of my time is spent on that particular book, I’ll screw up and realize I’m too far behind to catch up before my personal deadline hits. The 20th is the latest I need to finish this book and have a chance of meeting my commitment, and that’s 15 days from now, or about 2,321 words every day, or somewhere around 3,200 words for 11 out of 15 days.

Honestly, these are totally doable numbers. It’s 2 to 3 hours at my current year’s wph rate. My daily goal is 5 hours of writing. That still leaves me plenty of time to switch between stories and try to get my momentum up before I hit this book.

So why has this week been so bad? I think because I just haven’t remembered this stuff that I just wrote. I mean, I don’t have to work on this book every moment I’m at the computer writing. I just need to focus on reaching my 5 hours a day (maybe 6 until this book is done) and try to start at least a few sessions with this book every day. If they don’t get off to a good start, I can switch back, but I don’t think that’s my problem. I think it’s just the resistance to starting at all. :D

Going forward, I just need to catch up with this particular book and one more and then I can let go of all deadlines and really stick to writing only what I want when I want. I expect I’ll be more than able to keep up with reasonable releases within my series then just because I write so much faster when I keep switching between stories.

So, I guess I’ve just worked out a few thoughts I’ve been struggling with. Let’s see if it helps today be a more productive—and interesting—writing day.

Now, time to get back to the fiction. Tomorrow and Sunday both will have me short of writing time if I’m not careful and I can’t really get any more behind than I already am this month. Plus, I don’t need to fall back into the habit of making my writing take all day. There are other things I need—and want—to do sometimes. I’d like to get to a place where I can do those things and still count on being able to hit my daily writing goals!


Time to focus on the 12-month 1,180,000 words challenge

So I’ve been giving some thought to what I can do to get moving on this challenge: 12 months, 1,180,000 words. I need to stay focused. I’ve had to step back from the cover design practice, because I had become well and truly obsessed.

57 of 98 days since January 1 have been zero word days. That’s… scary high. I don’t know that I’ve had that many in so few months at any time since I started writing to publish. Saying that made me wonder, so I pulled up my spreadsheet and set up a quick formula to count and discovered that I do have one period of 98 days that had 68 zero words days in it. That one ended in November 2013.

The fact is, I don’t want any zero word days anymore except for true emergency/sick days and publishing days.

I’ve got to figure out how to make that happen.

One way is to start having more fun with writing. I’m stagnating, I think, under self-imposed expectations, and that’s stealing a lot of the fun from writing. When it isn’t fun, I don’t want to do it.

I want to wake up excited to get started every day. I know I can get back there, but I’m going to have to break through this wall of expectation first.

I’ll be trying to do that today: putting all my fears and expectations aside and writing only what excites me. I have a rule: skip the boring parts. In fact, I have more than one rule: No more length limits / deadlines. Just write the story. Write the parts I like, skip the boring stuff. I also believe that art and great story do not come from purposeful thinking. That came from Dean Wesley Smith, although I can’t remember if he said it in a lecture or on his blog. A search of the blog didn’t turn up anything, so I’m going to assume it was a lecture. I’ve paid to watch several and I recommended them to anyone who asks about them.

As for the cover design practice, here’s what happened.

I’ve made some huge leaps forward with the cover design over the last few weeks, but I started to realize a few days ago that I’m suffering under the lack of a deadline for finishing the covers. In the past, I always waited to do covers until the book was finished and I was doing copy edits. That meant I had a hard deadline of ASAP, because I usually need to get those books published. Without that deadline, I’ve discovered I spend too much time trying variations, avoiding commitment, and being indecisive about whether the cover or the series look is good enough. And although I tried the outsourcing approach, it felt like more work than just doing it myself. And no, I wasn’t satisfied, in any way, with that experience. I won’t be doing it again any time soon. The designer was good, the covers were pretty, but they just weren’t what I wanted, and the whole process took away my control and made publishing a lot less fun.

Outsourcing cover design is not for me. I have 100% decided to stick to doing my own covers for the foreseeable future.

But night before last, I finally decided I have to go back to working on covers only when I’m closer to finishing a book. That’ll impose at least something of a deadline and I won’t be able to get hung up on all the little details that have led me to create 9 different versions of the same cover. Not tweaks. Entirely different versions. Nine. Yes the series needs a cohesive new look, but gah, that’s ridiculous. I have to be able to decide on these things. And I can’t decide when I have what feels like unlimited time—I need time pressure to force me to make decisions.

The fact is, I am very much still in the throes of this obsession. I’m waking up at night with ideas to try and today it’s going to be a challenge to set all that out of my thoughts.

I resisted yesterday, although I didn’t write as I’d planned to. Yesterday, I had to take some time to do my estimated 2016 taxes and make that first payment—something I started, I admit, as a way to avoid getting to work on writing, but it was something that had to be done and once I’d started it, I realized that. I spent about 4.5 hours on it, doing the worksheets, estimating an income that just can’t really be estimated because it’s so variable, and I was wrung out by the time I had made the quarterly payment.

Kind of amazing that I would do taxes to avoid doing something I like as much as I like writing. In the end, I decided to take the easy way out: I paid 100% of last year’s tax liability and decided to just save the rest until I file. I’ll probably owe a shit-ton of tax at that point, but I won’t owe penalties. My hope is to double my income this year, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m safe and won’t have paid in too much.

Finally, though, it’s time to focus.

Today I will work on multiple stories.

Tomorrow I’ll do the same.

I’m going to resist the trap of forcing myself to work only on the story I need to finish next. That method is how I become stuck and lose my forward momentum. Total word count is the goal. If my word count is going up, that means I’m getting my books written.

I won’t worry about finishing that book I’ve been struggling with (not like I’m expecting massive sales from it anyway, so what’s it matter when it gets done?).

I will write for one hour on each story that I have in progress in each of my series. That’s 6 stories, so 6 hours of writing.

I’ll write a few extra sessions on one particular story: I have 20 days to finish that one, with about 45,000 words left on it, meaning I need about 2,250 words every day for those 20 days. If it takes three sessions (~750 wph), then I’ll need to write for 8 hours; if it only takes two sessions (~1,125 wph), then I’ll only need to write for 7 hours. That last is what I’d prefer, but we’ll see.

I’ve only written for 7 hours in a day a few times; it’s not something I find success at often. But I’m hoping the switch between stories will keep me fresh and keep my interest going. We’ll see.

My long-term plan for 5 hours of writing a day hasn’t changed. I won’t be writing on every story, every day, but for now—until I catch up a bit and get excited about my books again, I do plan to do just that.

If I do as much writing as I want to do today, I could break my current one-day word count record and crack the 6,000 words in a day barrier. I’ve never written 6,000 words of fiction in one day before, not since I started keeping records. It’s also highly unlikely I ever did it before I kept records.

So, time to get to it. :D I’ll update later in a separate post. This one is already too long.

Knowing something needs doing will have to be enough

My response to the pressure that deadlines create? Complete and total shutdown. I don’t deal well with anxiety, stress, overwhelming goals or odds, or pressure. I used to believe I worked better under pressure, but I think that’s just something I told myself after the fact because I had come up against a hard deadline that left me no wiggle room and I had finally overcame the inertia holding me back and got down to business. In a limited sense, I do work better under pressure—because outside pressure can actually make me work whereas I might not work otherwise. As far as quality of that work, well, there’s just no way to know. Doing something is better than doing nothing in most cases, so there you go.

The problem with writing as a career is that there are almost no hard deadlines. Even when something has been promised to a publisher, most writers know they can ask for an extension if they ask soon enough. How hard you consider a publisher’s deadline will greatly depend on how concerned you are with your reputation and how important your self-image as a promise-keeper is to you.

I don’t know how I’d handle it, to be honest, but I have this fear that if I weren’t my own publisher, I’d be in trouble. I generally keep promises, if I see the sense in it and if I care about the person to whom I made the promise, but if I can rationalize it away, then all bets are off. I rarely bend over backwards to make most other people’s lives easier than my own.

I hope this is the last post I ever write about this topic, because I’ve come to a realization today. I have to stop setting personal deadlines and goals and start focusing on just doing the work day in and day out. Consistency is going to be key for me, because I’m not looking for goals: I’m looking for a way of life. At this moment in time, I want my fiction to be the way I earn my living until the day I die. I’m not saying that’ll never change, because I’d like to live a long time and have a long life and maybe that’ll mean I come up on the day when I’m ready for something different. But that’s not today, and I doubt it’ll be next week or next year.

I want to get up each day and I want to write. Some days it’s obvious I’ll write more than others, but overall, I want to write every day and I want a routine that makes it easy to do.

I can’t keep stressing over the goals that I’m not even supposed to be worried about right now, because I’ve got the schedule. The schedule is not working well at the moment, but I’m not giving up on it. It’ll be the backbone of my writing routine.

This post came about because of the aforementioned realization. I was choking under the pressure of the production schedule I created when I decided to focus on my income producing series.

Today, I had to face what I’ve been doing to myself. I made that schedule to see if I could squeeze in the other books I want to write alongside the ones I need to write if I’m serious about focusing on growing my income for a while. Of course, it became a ridiculous expression of everything I know is wrong with the way I think sometimes. I had input deadlines for every book I want to write between now and next year and I had compressed those deadlines to the point that I was going to have to write more words every day than I’d ever written in my life and maintain that pace for weeks at a time.

To remind you, if I focus on my income producing series to the exclusion of my other books, I can write half the number of books in the same time period and yet in all probability earn more money. There’s just no world in which this isn’t the smart thing for me to do, knowing how slow I write.

And yet, there I was this morning, staring at that production schedule and wondering why I’ve been having so much trouble getting myself to write since I created it. It should have been inspiring, I told myself, because it showed what I could accomplish if I just buckled down.

But it wasn’t.

My sanity returned after a flurry of scribbled notes and much too much time spent trying to make it work out to a smaller, more reasonable daily word count average. It’s never going to work out. I just can’t count on myself to write at a steady pace each day and I can’t work to these deadlines. The reason I love writing for a living is because I can take the daily ups and downs I naturally experience and smooth them out into what will become the whole. A book is a book when it’s done; it doesn’t matter if I wrote 1000 words a day for 50 days or if I wrote 0 words for 25 days and 2000 a day for the rest, because I still end up with my book. I can count on my averages. I can’t count on much else.

I don’t want to stop trying to improve my averages, and I’ll still keep trying to stick with my schedule as best I can. I want to improve. But I don’t want to do it with deadlines hanging over my head.

And that’s all I really wanted to say today.