A little challenge for today

Here’s the thing: I think I have a kidney stone. I also think it’s making its way out of my body so I’m not in as much pain as I could be and the worst of it was definitely back on Tuesday/Wednesday. It’s Sunday now and I’ve lost oodles of writing time to this, even though I’ve actually written more than usual!

Uh, what?

Well, I’m in a particularly good place mentally for the writing I think and would have probably written a lot more if I hadn’t been hurting.

That’s what I think. I could be totally wrong. I do seem to perk up when I’m in pain. Weird, I know. So maybe the pain itself is causing me to be more focused (in pain, not sick—there is a definite difference—if I were sick, there would be no focus!).

Anyway, long story short, I really need to finish this book, so today I am going to try to stay focused on writing and write as much of this book as I can. My record word count for a day is 6,241 words. I don’t know that I can beat it, but I think it’s the right day to try.

I’m going to post my progress as the day goes on to try to keep myself focused on the writing and moving the book forward.

My biggest concern is that I’ll fall into a cycle of perfectionism, become too critical of what I’ve written / am writing and end up rewriting or redrafting stuff. That kind of thing will make it impossible for me to write more than a couple hundred words an hour, and that’s a fact. That kind of pace will not let me make the kind of progress I want to make today, so I’m saying it now: NO SECOND GUESSING MYSELF TODAY.

It’s time to let the words flow!

1st check-in: 674 words.

Things are going well enough. I had a longer break than I should have taken when I stopped for lunch so I’m just now getting back to the writing, but I did start at noon and have a lot of day left so it’s not the end of the dream by any means.

2nd check-in: 1,149 words.

A sudden surge in word count accounts for the change. Things are going well so far. Not in the direction I had thought but I’ll take it. :)

3rd check-in: 1,530 words.

The story is still going well. I’m going to have to be careful of my critical side because if I start wanting to turn back and go a different direction I’ll lose a lot of momentum (and words!).

4th check-in: 1,732 words.

5th check-in: 1,832 words.

I need a break for supper soon so I’m going to get a few more words then stop for a little while. I can’t say I’ll be back. I’d definitely like to continue but I don’t think I’m going reach my challenge word count. Miracles happen, sure, but I’m still suffering here with frequent bathroom visits (kidney stone, remember?) and some unpleasant back pain, and I’m really starting to itch for a long break.

Because it’s getting on into the evening, I’m not sure how I’ll cope with stopping and restarting. But that’s for a later worry. Right now, more words. I have twenty or so minutes before my oven timer goes off for some small red potatoes and zucchini I put in to roast. Good food to make me feel better. :)

6th (and final) check-in: 1,883 words.

It’s the next day that I’m writing this final check-in note, because I was right to suspect I wouldn’t make it back. I ended up going to bed early (for me) and sleeping off and on for 10 hours. I felt worse last night but better today so I’m going to try this little challenge again.

Mid-month progress check-in for March

I decided early in the month that this is it, I’m finishing my next book this month. I set out a schedule and I’ve been doing my best to follow it. I like it, too, so that’s a plus.

Three days ago, I started having massive back pain and I think it’s a kidney stone.

I’ve had my best word counts for the whole month since the pain started. :-o (What?)

Silver linings and all that, I guess! I’ve found that the only comfortable place to sit in my house at the moment is at my desk because it keeps my back straighter, and a straighter back seems to be a lot less painful for me than the alternative.

I’ve written more words in the last three days than I wrote in the entirety of February.

That’s not to say I didn’t do any writing in February but it was writing related to working out details for another book that wouldn’t leave me alone and stuff like that. It was just part of the process I’ve found myself repeating time after time. I write a lot, then take a break, then struggle to get back to writing, and then do it all over again.

Sometimes it takes longer between books than others, apparently.

Also, turns out I did not make a wrong turn in my story. I rewrote (redrafted) sections of chapter 9 and chapter 10 for my current book but overall everything is the same and I’m taking the same path in the story that I thought I would be taking. What changed was how I got to where I am through the characters’ dialogue and some of the narrative. What was there just wasn’t working for me, and what’s there now has changed the way I view the characters, so there was a definite point to it. Basically, I just needed to keep working that section until things felt right and I wasn’t doing that. I was looking for some big thing that wasn’t there. In other words: the problem was the bugs in the trees, not the trees in the forest. :D

That didn’t last

I made plans before I finished my last book not to start the next in that series until I’d written the book that I already have in progress. I’m attempting to keep my enthusiasm for my projects high by managing them better. It’s easy to lose enthusiasm when I write a few thousand words and then move to something else for months at a time before I get back to it.

The last book I finished? I wrote about that delay. I also wrote about how much more of a chore writing is when I have delays like that because I get bored and lose interest in what I started and have difficulties getting that interest back.

To be technical about it, writing that last book took me from March 2017 to November 2018. That’s more than a year, and that’s a long time to try to keep up interest in writing one story.

That said, my plans to avoid doing that again aren’t working out—which is a total bummer. :-|

I got an awesome idea this morning for the direction I want to go in the series I finished that last book for. At the same time, I’ve had no ideas for the series and book I’m currently supposed to be writing. I haven’t had much interest at all in finishing this book—the same one I was flying through just months ago while still trying to finish the other book.

I wrote down the idea for the series and my thoughts about it, or some of them anyway, and I went ahead and started the document for the next book in that series. I haven’t gone so far as to write words for that book yet, but it is calling to me something fierce. The idea for the opening scene is right there in my brain and it wouldn’t take any effort at all to just let myself explore it a little.

It doesn’t pay to ignore the muse, but I’m trying.

It’s a conundrum. Miss out on harnessing the enthusiasm I have for the one series to struggle with the other book instead? Or write what I want while the little bit of enthusiasm I still have for the other book continues to wane?

The only right choice seems to be to let go and allow myself to work on two books at a time again. Or to make myself. Call it what you will.

But hey, it worked for the last book.

Sort of.

I finally finished it, at any rate, and I enjoyed doing it, and I broke through to a 6,000 word day. I didn’t push myself to do it, either. It just happened.

December 1–12 progress

I sat down tonight to write something after another day of not writing anything. I haven’t so far. Instead, here I am writing this, after spending about forty minutes looking at reports, messing with Gmail (I had forgotten you can still access Gmail through the basic HTML link for slow connections, so that was entertaining) and my calendar, and a few other trivialities. Not my best decision, by far. That forty minutes was supposed to be spent writing something for my book.

As a reminder, I pulled up my June 1–15 progress post.

The fact is, I need to start finishing books again. I’ve had way too much time off on the whole over the last couple of years and it’s time for me to start pushing myself again to do more.

I’m worried that I’m falling into the same patterns I seem to fall into after every book I finish lately, where I don’t write, and I start feeling more and more disconnected from the desire to write.

That June progress post is relevant in other ways too, because just this week one of my kids returned from college for the winter break and my routines have been completely upended. The quiet, distraction free environment I seem to need to be able to write is gone. It’ll be three more weeks of in-house disarray before things go back to what passes for normal for me these days.

I’ve written only 1,009 words from December 1 to December 12.

I’d like to take that time off and just say forget it until after the new year but I can’t. I know what will happen, because I saw it happen last year after I released a book. I didn’t write more than a few hundred words for five months. I know it might not happen again, but I don’t want to risk that, and besides, I want new routines. I want to spend my time writing another book. I want to go from one book to the next and not get caught up in this morass of feelings I’m feeling about the struggle to write.

No more struggle.

It’s not real. It’s not worthy of the angst it causes me.

But right now, unfortunately, I’m tired after a couple of really bad nights of sleep, this morning’s interrupted by an earthquake of all things and I’m going to bed instead of write something for my book. That 1,009 words won’t change because of anything I did tonight.

(Yes, a real earthquake. Doors jiggled and stuff rattled downstairs but I didn’t hear much up in my room, just a kind of whoosh after a hard shake. I pulled up the USGS Earthquakes website and just as I did, the earthquake showed up on the list of latest earthquakes.)

I’m falling asleep here, so goodnight.

 

Obviously I just don’t like change

So I’m all aggravated about the WordPress 5.0 block editor, and I log in to my Gmail account because in all the aggravation of writing that big test post with images in it, I’m making links to some books and I accidentally buy an ebook from Amazon that I don’t need. I’ve already read the book through the library, so of course I returned it immediately, but now I’m logging in to Gmail to check something and I realize there was a reason I don’t log in to Gmail anymore.

I use Thunderbird to check my email or I use my phone. Because Gmail’s web interface is the most godawful thing I’ve seen this decade. Unless you count Google Calendar, because that thing looks like it was made for a six year old. Anyway. Now I’m just depressed because obviously the taste of the people creating all this stuff is becoming so far removed from me that I’m thinking I’m pretty much guaranteed to have to learn to live with a whole lot of things I hate for the rest of my life.

The irony is that Google keeps sending me notices that one of my websites has accessibility issues because the text is too small to read (it says), but the text on the website in question is considerably easier to read than the soft, fuzzy, not really dark enough mess that is the text on Gmail’s page. Staring at that page just gives me a headache.

I really should have spent my evening writing. It would have been a lot more fun.

Day 17 of NANO 2018

Not only did I not have time to write until nearly 4 pm, after that I was sick. Well, I was sick before that, too, but I was also not here and had no opportunity to write before then.

The vertigo returned, probably because of continued sinus and ear problems. All I’m going to say about that is that doctors do not listen. I remember now why it had been since 2010 since I’d gone to my GP.

So I didn’t write even one word of fiction on day 17 of NANO, although I thought about it. Thinking isn’t doing, though, so no prize for that!

Day 17: I wrote 0 words for the NANO book (0 words total for all my fiction).

Burning bridges and all that

So. I kind of burned some bridges yesterday. I think that’s a good thing, in this particular case.

I’ve been dealing with some angst about KB for a while as I’m sure some of my previous posts here have made clear, and it had all turned into an emotional sinkhole and I needed to climb out.

I have also decided that this applies to all forums. Forum culture is not for me. Forums promote engagement and investment of self, but it is very much an illusion. I get attached to the people on the other side of the keyboard. They’re real people to me, and these kinds of real relationships and friendships don’t exist for a lot of the people who post on social sites online. They do not care about me, and they will never care about me. So to protect myself, I have had to realize this and decide to step back permanently from these kinds of spaces.

Here’s the thing. I might omit details or gloss over some things to protect my privacy, but I am here and I’m me. I’m not trying to be someone else, despite my pseudo-anonymous posting here. I don’t knock other people down to make myself look more accomplished, successful, or lucky next to them. I mean, my God, have you been reading this blog? :-o

Maybe sometimes I can’t seem to make up my mind about who I am, but that’s because I honestly don’t know sometimes. I think my posts speak clearly on that topic!

Anyway, I said some things that I meant, but I don’t know if I said them well, or that I don’t regret having said some of them. I’m not going back to see if I can figure it out. I burnt that bridge. When I walked away, the thread I was posting in had just been locked, and that’s how I’m leaving it in my head.

I blocked KB using the ad-blocker add-on I use in Firefox (uBlock Origin) and I blocked it on my phone.

It’s done.

I have always found burning bridges to be an effective (if last resort) option to eliminate things from my life. This, I expect, will be no different.

July 2018 progress

I’ve had another dry spell with the writing but I’m trying to get things moving again. It all started with the space bar failure and snowballed from there. I had several things happen around that time that that kept interfering with my daily routine and distracted me from writing.

I relocated the stray cat and her three litters of kittens/cats to a cozy barn where they can live in peace and so can I. I’ve had to heal from that burn on my wrist that might not leave a scar after all. I don’t know. I seem to be healing well, just have some weird sensation around the edges of the new skin that twinges.

But all in all, several things have really taken my focus off writing and it’s taken me this long to get going again.

So in the end, I didn’t do nearly as well in July as I’d hoped to do.

Words written in July: 6,478.

That’s definitely a slowdown from June. Still, it’s better than nothing, and I’m trying to do better in August. I’m also trying to finish this next book of mine. Wish me luck.

Yesterday with the book went well, so what did I do today?

I spent the day messing with my fonts library, caused Word to screw up with some of my most useful fonts, spent way too much time deleting and installing one particular font that just would not display correctly after I’d installed newer versions, deleted my font cache again, (and again), and finally got things working correctly by digging out some files I’d put into a backup folder in case I messed something up.

I do appreciate that I had the foresight to do that.

Because boy did I mess something up.

At one point I had Word displaying everything in an italic font for what was supposed to be a regular font and I have no idea how that happened.

But what a waste of a good day. I can’t even understand why I did this.

I finally started writing at 11:24 and spent most of an hour and three minutes editing stuff that probably didn’t need to be edited.

Oh, and about mid-day, I reached across my kettle while it was boiling water for my coffee and steamed the crap out of my arm. Right where it touches the edge of my keyboard when I type. Those burns hurt! Of course it blistered. It’s a very ugly burn, in fact, and will probably leave a scar.

So “Yay” for today.

I’m ending my writing session with a negative word count. I knew when I sat down today that tomorrow was not going to be a writing day and that I really needed to make some progress today.

I did none of that.

It was just not a great day. I’m glad to see it over.

July 1-13 progress

Time for another progress post. (Progress on what? Go here.)

As usual, the moment I made a plan for myself, I backed away from it—not in thought but in action.

Little things tend to disrupt me in big ways. That’s what seems to have happened with the keyboard issue I had to deal with this week.

I have the new keyboard installed. I have the new fan installed. I’m not liking the new fan, because it’s noisier than the old one and there’s a weird static-y feeling sometimes as I’m typing, and I think it’s the fan causing it. But overall, my computer and desk are once again set up the way I prefer for them to be.

Yet I’m still feeling disrupted.

Yesterday, I spent some time getting my little netbook that’s running on Lubuntu up to date with the latest LTS distribution. That led me to test a new idea I had for writing away from my desk. I liked it. The keyboard is small but I have small fingers. I used my backup file that I send to Dropbox every day when I finish writing, opened it in LibreOffice Writer, renamed it immediately and saved it in a different Dropbox folder, then just started writing in it.

The big thing for me about working on the same book in multiple places is that I like to see what I’ve written as I work but I do not want to move my master document off my main computer or into Dropbox. Dropbox is for my backup files or for copies of files I want to access elsewhere. I just do not want my master book files stored in any cloud-syncing folder on my computer. I sync my files to my Dropbox folder using yCopy2 and that’s the way I like it.

This means I can’t edit the file I opened on the little netbook, though, or I’ll have a mess on my hands.

It’s one thing to just copy and paste some text from one file to another, but if I were to have to incorporate edited and changed text…? No way am I going to do that. On the other hand, I don’t mind being forced to stop editing and just write, because I do have a tendency to edit and rewrite a lot even when I don’t plan to.

I quite liked this other option for working on my books. It means I can get away from distractions of my main computer while not losing access to the whole document I’m working on, also without risking the integrity of my master document.

All that said, though, I need to be writing more. The disruptions I’ve dealt with this month hasn’t been good for the word counts.

I’ve had too many days this month where I just haven’t forced myself to sit down and write, even though I needed to.

My July-to-date word count: 4,968.

For the moment, I’m going to focus on my 2,000 words a day and go from there.

Today’s (writing) forecast

Today’s writing forecast: cloudy, stormy, but not without hope. ;-)

From the 7-Day Forecast at weather.gov

A rainy day always makes for a good writing day, as far as I’m concerned.

I need to write at least a couple thousand words today, or I need to just admit I’m not going to finish this book anytime in the next three months.

Low word counts are bogging me down again, and several days of interruptions that shouldn’t have been interruptions have distracted me. My focus is not where it needs to be, and my ability to concentrate has taken a sharp hit. But it’s nothing I can’t overcome. These distractions are to some extent self-inflicted and I have to ability to limit them.

Writing feels hard right now and that’s making it too easy to give up. So today’s primary challenge will be to ignore the hard stuff and just enjoy coming up with a fun story.

Challenge accepted.

 

My schedule is killing my productivity

No joke, my schedule is killing my productivity. The unfortunate truth is that I need a schedule. That doesn’t seem to matter. I can’t stop myself from constantly making changes to any schedule I create, and even when I leave it wide open for writing and just fill in the basics like lunch, supper, and the like, I still can’t stop messing with it.

It turns out that having a schedule is just a massive distraction I don’t know how to handle.

Is this that moment where I look back and realize I really should have seen this coming? Probably.

Why can’t I break the Kboards habit?

I’ve gotten myself worked up into a state again, one that isn’t conducive to being creative, and I have no one to blame but myself. I know not to visit Kboards when I’m already having trouble writing—in fact, I know not to visit  at all—but I do it anyway because… because… I don’t even know why.

I keep thinking I need more writer friends but then I read (and occasionally participate in) threads and discover that I really don’t like half the people there. There are nice people at Kboards, really, but they get drowned out by the others, the ones that cannot stand, in any way, for fellow self-publishers to go their own way or walk their own path.

Since I experiment and choose to do things my own way, I don’t usually find helpful business advice there. I visit for the camaraderie—and yet rarely find it. It’s a well-moderated board, but even the most innocuous threads turn divisive and you end up with one or two “successful” authors gently (and then not so gently) scolding  everyone for not doing things the right away—their way. And then their minions or people who just want to be like them jump in and it becomes an echo chamber determined to drown out dissenting voices. Anyone who’s found success on a different path is labeled an outlier and told their advice isn’t valid.

To which I say, massive success in publishing is rare and elusive, and anyone who has found such massive success is probably an outlier and should not be listened to. In all likelihood, they have no idea underneath it all what it was that brought them success other than the fact that they probably work hard and know how to write a good book. (I say probably because half the world will tell you that there are a lot of bestsellers that aren’t good to a lot of people and there is a certain percentage of people in life who do just get lucky and never have to work hard at all.)

I don’t begrudge anyone their success as long as it came honestly, but man, it would be nice if people didn’t wield their sales numbers like a razor-sharp sword and try to skewer everyone on the ladder below them.

Which brings me full circle really. I want to break the Kboards habit. I just don’t know how. I’ve tried blocking the site, even going so far as to block it in my hosts file, and I still find myself undoing all my hard work and going back. It makes me sick every time I do it. Especially when I end up in this same state of mind because of it. I don’t like conflict, but Kboards is a black-hole of conflict. It’s really not the place for me.

Update: Alright, I did it. I edited my hosts file and blocked Kboards completely. I had no choice. Mind the Time tells me that just today using Firefox I’ve spent 43 minutes there—and I probably spent twice as much time as that scanning threads on my phone. >:-{

10/18 update: I’m still visiting on my phone and tablets but I haven’t undone the hosts block on my computer. If I could just figure out something similar for my phone, that would be a huge help.

Update to the update: I use Firefox on my phone with the uBlock Origin add-on. I filtered kboards.com and it will no longer come up in Firefox. I could use Chrome to get around it but since I don’t like Chrome I probably won’t. :-)

Update to the last update: I removed the block from my hosts file and I took the block off my phone. I’ve had a rethink about habits and I don’t think this solution is the long-term answer. However, I have ideas and I’m giving them a go, so this fight ain’t over. ;-) I’ll update with a link to the post I’m currently writing about this rethink once I finish it.

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.

I’m stressed, so of course I decided to rename all my files

I’ve been feeling stressed this week, after a book release that’s going nowhere fast. I expected this one to do better and it hasn’t. So as usual, when feeling stressed, I turned to my computer for solace.

I decided it was imperative that I rename all my files.

Yes, I know I just renamed them all barely more than a month ago, but at least I’m not reorganizing email again. :)

I spent most of yesterday and all of this morning and early afternoon renaming 12,000+ files. I used a bulk renamer where I could, and then went through every directory and tidied up where necessary.

Basically, I abandoned Pascal case and went back to dashes between words. I also stopped putting the full title of my books in most of my supporting files in my publishing folder.

I really wanted shorter file names, if only because I found myself annoyed at the long file names in the file tab in Adobe Photoshop Elements and GIMP when I was working on those paperbacks. I want (need!) to be able to see the differentiating parts of the file name when I’m working with similarly named files and I couldn’t, but I also still wanted my files named in a logical order.

So I went from files named like this: MyBookTitle-Cover-PaperbackBackText.psd to this: cover-mbt-pb-back.psd

pb = paperback (everywhere)
mbt = acronym for My Book Title

All lowercase and dashes for ease of reading.

And I use that acronym in my daily word count log and a few other places so I recognize most of my books right off the bat from those letters. :)

Then, of course, they’re in folders named for the title of the book so there’s really no reason not to use the acronyms to shorten those file names.

I tested a couple of folders side by side with files named in various formats, and it was obvious at a glance which one I found easier to read. Skimming is easier when the first part of every file name isn’t the same book title!

It seems kind of silly that wasting all this time on renaming my files has made me feel better, but it really has. I feel lighter and less stressed now and I’m about to get started on a story.

By tomorrow, I expect to be ready to get back to my challenge to write 6,000 words in a day. But today is out.

I have a few obligations to deal with that preclude me being able to put in the time I’d need to even come close this evening to a high word count, so I’m just going to work my way back into a story and enjoy that—and maybe click through my folders a few more times and enjoy the neat and orderly look of my files. ;)