LibreOffice has an undo limitation that isn’t working for me

I have spent a lot of time preparing myself to switch permanently to LibreOffice before I move to a new computer and no longer have access to my old Microsoft Office 2007 install.

Well, today, I came across the first limitation that actually might be a problem for me.

I edit as I write. In fact, I sometimes change a sentence, paragraph, or word multiple times before I settle on what I like, and sometimes I end up right back where I started. I very often use ctrl+z to do that. Very often. And I can end up hitting ctrl+z a great many times in a row to get back to the version I want.

A great many times.

It so happens that a few times I’ve run into this limitation with LibreOffice Writer and managed to just ignore it, but not today.

Oh, no. Today I had to reload my book from the last saved version of the file, which I was lucky enough to have not saved in the last five minutes (never thought I’d say that!) so that I could recover what I’d written the first time through. I also had to remember a few lines that I had changed but wanted to keep while I scrolled to my place in the document so I could change them back.

LibreOffice Writer seems to have a low limit for this kind of behavior. (100 is the limit, in case you’re wondering. I know, I know. 100 is a lot. I did say “a great many times” and I admit that this probably isn’t smart behavior on my part. :D Still, I do it, and I’ll have to actively remember not to do it if I keep using Writer.)

There is an advanced configuration setting in LibreOffice that will let me increase the number of undos, but I hate having to change the default configuration. I always worry that there was a reason it was set as it was, and that changing it might introduce bugs or other issues that will degrade the performance of whatever program I’m using. The article I got the info from about the configuration option basically says I’m right to be worried.

Grr.

Now I have to decide if I want to try to change my behavior, or accept that me and LibreOffice might not be meant for each other. If not, then I’ll be going back to Word 2007 until my computer dies on me, and then resubscribing to Office 365 so I can use the new versions of Word and Excel once I’m on a new computer and can’t access Word and Excel 2007 anymore.

This is really not how I thought I’d end up back in the arms of Microsoft Office. I honestly thought it would come down to the style sets.

I’d already discovered that you can’t undo style edits in LibreOffice and that didn’t make me happy. Word doesn’t have that limitation, and I know it because I tend to tweak styles and then change my mind and undo them. I learned that lesson in Writer the hard way. I had to manually reset some styles I changed after playing around while not being aware of this limitation. Oops.

I’ve discovered pandoc

I have discovered pandoc. Oh dear.

It has garnered an immediate place in my backup routine and has filled a gap that my switch from Microsoft Word to LibreOffice Writer created in my editing and proofreading routine.

And I’ve discovered that I like reading the HTML version of my document better than the EPUB when I’m proofreading because paragraphs are spaced automatically instead of appearing in book form and that makes for really easy reading to pick out mistakes.

It’s also super easy to open an HTML file from Dropbox on my phone and tablets.

So, here’s how I made it work for me, in my routine. Maybe you’ll get a few ideas from this that’ll work for you.

First I installed pandoc. It is a command line tool so that’s a big deal for me. I don’t do command line work. I can, if I have to, but only if I’m looking at a cheat sheet. I have no advanced knowledge of command line stuff so what I present here is what I found in the pandoc documentation that worked for me.

One thing I do know how to do is create a .bat file for windows. I know only a few things about that, though, too.

That said, I know just enough to know it would be possible to do the thing I wanted to do once I realized how cool pandoc was.

So, let me start again: I installed pandoc. https://pandoc.org/

I followed the super easy installation method. I downloaded the windows installation file and ran it. :-)

The pandoc website is super easy to browse and I browsed right through the About, Installing, and Getting started pages. I skimmed the Demos and searched a bit of the Documenation at points too, but pandoc is really easy to use if you can just get the command line stuff right.

So here’s a cheat sheet. :D

It’s nothing special, but maybe seeing it will give you ideas.

I store my working files in a structure like this:

\users\myusername\files\publishing\works\series-name\01-book-title\

I do it that way so all my book folders are in the order I wrote them and not in some other random order.

I don’t even bother with the command line / terminal. I put my stuff in a .bat file that I created in notepad. Seriously.

I knew about .bat files and have used them for backing up files in the past. So I combined that with the stuff I discovered about pandoc and made a file that will generate a format for me and save it somewhere just by me clicking the file and “opening” it. .bat files don’t really open so much as they “run” so that’s what’s actually happening.

I click the file to open it and it runs. :D

Oh, and just to note, I’m using Windows 7. I don’t use Windows 10 so I have no idea if this stuff is just as easy there or not.

Once pandoc is installed, just right click in the folder where you store your book file and choose New Text Document from the context menu.

Here are supporting pictures to show me walking through what I did last night but in a dummy folder this time.

I made a new text file.

I named it “formats.bat”.

The file tries to default to “formats.bat.txt,” but I just deleted .txt so that the file is a .bat file. You’ll get a warning. Tell it you know what you’re doing and to rename the file extension.

Since I didn’t want to have to type up a crazy long file path, I had to make sure my file was actually in the directory where I put the .bat file.

If I’d been using one of my real book files like I did last night, this wouldn’t have been necessary because the file would have already been there. But that’s the problem wtih dummy folders. You’ve got to fill them with dummy files. :-)

Now I edit the file and put the pandoc command line stuff in it so that it’ll generate a couple of alternate formats and spit them out.

Here’s what’s in that file for easy copying and pasting:

pandoc book-title.odt -s -o book-title-draft.epub --metadata title="Book Title draft" --metadata author="Your Name"
pandoc book-title.odt -s -o book-title-draft.html --metadata title="Book Title draft" --metadata author="Your Name"

It won’t ask about overwriting files. So BE SURE you don’t mess up those file names and that you don’t mind having the files overwritten.

Just swap out “book-title.odt” for your file name.

Pandoc does handle .docx files too so you could start from that rather than an .odt file like I do. Also swap out the “book-title-draft.epub” (and .html) file for whatever name you’d like. Finally, the –metadata stuff is only relevant to certain file types so it isn’t needed for all conversions, say book-title.odt to book-title.txt. :-)

I use this to generate backup formats for my book, including a plain .txt file, and I actually have the EPUB and HTML files saved to my Dropbox folder instead of the directory it’s in so that I can open that file on my phone and do my editing read-through there or on a tablet.

These will be basic files, nothing fancy, but they are perfect for me to do my editing read-throughs that I do as I go, or as backup formats.

If you’re the type that prefers to start with something other than a blank document, you can take the EPUB or HTML into Sigil or Jutoh and tweak it there at the end if need be. I prefer to import my formatted word processing file for that into Jutoh, but it’s something I might look at just to see about when I get that far with my current book. :-)

It’s a one-click document generation and backup solution.

It is so easy. I love it. :D

Timed reading while I’m working on my book

Today’s writing plan was simple: time myself as I read through what I already had written (chapters one through four) and then use my timer for some 45 minute writing sessions.

I use the timer when I’m doing my proofreading check at the end (for publishing).* I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about that here before. It really helps keep me focused on reading and not getting distracted the way I used to do when I did my final read through.** This is one of those coping mechanisms I’ve come up with over the years to deal with the fact that I don’t always find it easy to focus, even when it’s something I want to do.

Today was the first time I’ve tried the timed reading thing while going back to read through and fix things during actual story creation.

I liked it. I think I’ll do it again when I need to.

But there was a definite difference in speed. My proofread usually takes 15-20 minutes per chapter. This was much more time consuming! I ended up spending most of the day on this. Focusing is hard work (for me), no joke!

Now that I’ve done that, I’m going to go off and write for a few minutes, then pack it in for the night. I just don’t think I have it in me to do any 45 minute sessions. It’s 10:48 pm and I’ve been at it all day.

I do think I’ve cleared out all the deleted stuff in my head so that when I really get into the next scene I’m not going to be confused. I do hope so.

Maybe I’ll reread on my Kindle in bed tonight where I can’t touch it except to highlight errors and just try to settle it more firmly in my thoughts.

+=+=+

* I have a spreadsheet for this stage. I have a column with my chapter number and I sit down with that chapter, turn on my stopwatch timer, and read. I record the time. I move on to the next chapter. Breaks are optional.

** I used to just keep up with my percentage read based on my Kindle locations in the final manuscript (after sending it to my Kindle). I tried to read in long stretches of time, sometimes setting hour long goals for myself to read as much as I could in that time. Trust me when I say that I really like my current spreadsheet method much better. :)

Edits are almost finished for this one

It’s been an odd couple of days.

I spent a good deal of time on Thursday away, so I didn’t make as much progress that day as I wanted.

Then yesterday, I spent more time editing than reading, by a large degree, and I ended the night feeling like I was still stuck in some hypercritical state of mind.

After inputting all my edits for the day into the document, I loaded up my most recent version of the file onto my old Kindle Fire and took it to bed with me to read the next few chapters but was too tired to even look at it.

Then today came.

I woke up and immediately read three chapters before I even got out of bed. And found myself in the right frame of mind for this process—finally!

The number of corrections marked went way down between yesterday and today (not for actual typos, etc, those are about the same, I think). I think getting started so early caught me while I was more likely to read as a reader than a writer.

And it stuck.

Today’s progress was fantastic. I finished chapters 23–42 (43,792 words). I still have to input edits for all those chapters, but it’s only a few pages of highlights—nowhere near the level of edits I had to input for the first half of the book.

And I do think it was my frame of mind that made the difference today, not the quality of the material.

(I’m not counting chapters 5–7, because the stuff I fixed in those chapters has made a huge difference to the rest of the book. The fact that the rest of the book is better for it instead of needing tweaks to make it work shows that the fixing I did was necessary, not optional.)

I have to say, I am thrilled that I got so much done today, especially since I’ve felt a bit sick all week, and my kids are both sick now. :-)

Here’s the latest:

Screenshot of editing time log spreadsheet
The reading time for chapters 1 and 23–26 are guesses.

I deleted the editing time left estimate because it just wasn’t working for me. (I had added it to the sheet for this book as a test.) It’s been so far off the mark the entire time that there’s just no point to it. I like the fact that the reading time estimate is fairly accurate. The editing estimate was not.

I think I’ll be doing a black line compare as soon as I finish inputting the changes, to help me pinpoint areas that need a second read through, since I did so much more than correct a word here and there for some parts of this book.

I don’t want to get trapped reading the whole book again, but I can’t remember where a lot of those specific lines were. More typos or errors could have snuck in.

I also have a few items marked for continuity checks, since when I got to them, they felt off but I couldn’t remember for sure if it was an issue. (The hazard that comes of spreading the read-through out over several days.)

If I had it in me, I would read the whole book again, right now, but gah, I just don’t think my nerves could handle it. I want to be done, so bad.

Then I have my copy edit checklist, full of words I literally check one by one for mistaken usage. It’s/its. There/they’re/their. Phase/faze. Many more. Yes, it’s tedious. No, I actually don’t usually find many, if any, of these errors, but I like knowing I double-checked.

Then there are some specific errors I noticed in this specific book: tried for tired (I’ll check the opposite too), breath for breathe, anyone that (anyone who), two character names I somehow mixed up a couple of times, the were for they were, this for his.

Just a list of stuff that I messed up at least once, and could have easily overlooked, so I’ll check.

I might do a post when this is all done detailing out how I so this big self-edit. It’s a process, truly.

Now, off to finish this thing. I’m watching the Psych movie as my reward for finishing. As a huge Psych fan, I can’t wait. ;-)

(Affiliate link. My disclaimer: I’m just as likely to link to crap I hate and tell you I hate it, as I am to link to stuff I love that I tell you I love. I don’t care if I make money off recommendations or not, I don’t recommend shit that I don’t like.) :D

The editing continues

I went back to the book last night and dug in. Considering how I felt when I started, it went well. Overall yesterday, I added 385 words to the book, corrected some issues and left myself in the middle of a mess. :D

It could be worse!

I’m starting early this morning (relatively speaking, after staying up until 2 am). I’ve had breakfast and I’ve gone back into my hosts file and blocked some particularly distracting sites because I’m actually excited to get started again and I do not want to squander that feeling by scrolling through news and forums posts for a hour or more.

I’ll scroll through my document instead. :)

In actuality, I’ll start by reading what I added last night—stuff to tie in the ending better, really, and just some redrafting of a few paragraphs and sections, because just changing the wording around isn’t the goal here. I mean, I could, but it’s a waste of time and wouldn’t help the issues, and could make things a lot worse.

My problems with these chapters aren’t just issues about how I wrote sentences. That stuff is irrelevant at this point. This is something else, something deeper. Right here, in these places, the story just doesn’t feel right to me.

Since I’m my own reader, if it doesn’t feel right to me, it ain’t right. Period.

If I let myself fall into the rabbit hole of making this about the sentences, I’d probably ruin the book. I’ve learned my lesson on that.

It’s very easy to steal all the life from the words by massaging them into “something better.”

I believe that wholeheartedly because it has happened to me a few times, the most notably being when I smoothed out the beginning of the first book in this same series. I read back through it right before I went to publish and realized it was just flat—flat and lifeless even though it was an exciting scene. Or it was supposed to be. It had been. So I pulled up the original beginning, unedited, and plopped it into place. Since the edit of that had been all about the sentences and words, there was nothing to fix to make it work with the rest of the book. I published it like that a few minutes later. (Maybe hours, lol, because I did still have to format the book and that was back when it took me longer than the five minutes it takes now.)

That is still my best selling book and the opening is absolutely fine. I was being hypercritical of myself and the way I sound on the page and I almost messed up the beginning of that book, all because I didn’t trust myself. That was my breakout book. It’s why I’m able to write full time.

This situation is different. I am trusting myself here. The problems with these chapters I’m working my way through aren’t the fevered imaginings of a hypercritical reader. I’ve gotten pretty good at shoving that aside when I’m reading during my edits—sure, I may cringe occasionally over a real clunker, but I tend to recognize that for what it is. Maybe not all the time, but right now, for this, definitely.

There are problems here that need fixed.

So that’s what I’m going to do, get in there and fix them.

I’ll post the log of my reading and editing times when I finish this thing. :)

Here’s where it stands right now.

Screenshot of editing times

I went back to a different book to compare these numbers and for that one my reading speed was very close to 10,000 words per hour. That just goes to show how slow this one is going.

And just for comparison, chapter 4 is not a short chapter. It was just a good one and I was finally getting into a groove with the reading. Then chapter 5 hit.

Ready to edit today

screenshot of sunlit paper Today I’ll be editing. I have fresh coffee, my document on my Kindle Fire (the oldest one I have), and some fresh sunlit paper and a pencil for notes. I have tablets and journals and pencils and pens everywhere, to be honest. :)

It’s time to edit this book and I want to do it while the story is fresh in my mind. I know that’s opposite of what a lot of authors recommend to other authors, but I have my own way of doing things, for reasons that make sense to me.

Of course, I dated the page yesterday, so that’ll have to be updated, but other than that, I’m ready to go.

With as much sun as is shining onto my face, I’ll have to watch out, but I want the warmth of the sun right now. I find it motivating when it comes time to focus on reading. :)

So here is the plan.

Every chapter will be timed. (I do this to stay focused.) If I need to stop for a break, it’ll come at the end of a chapter. This is helpful so I can get a feel of the momentum in a chapter and pay attention to pacing. If I’m stopping three times in a chapter, I just get to the end and have no idea how fast or slow it felt.

After 3 to 4 chapters, I’ll catch up typo edits and the like, and save all other notes (highlights really) until the end.

This is so I don’t run into an issue with the Kindle losing my highlights. It hasn’t ever happened, but if it does, I don’t want this to be the day. Until I started doing it this way, I regularly ended up with 30+ pages of highlights to deal with all at the end. The horror of losing all that and having to start over is what led me to change my ways.

I’ll be using the notes page to make notes of continuity stuff and things I want to check at the end. I’ll be jotting down eye/hair/clothes/names and a small chapter summary of one or two sentences, too. But I might save that for the end of the chapter so it doesn’t bog me down as I read. This is something new I’m adding to my process so I’m going to have to work out the details as I go.

Anyway, I think I’m ready. I will definitely post a screenshot from my spreadsheet later. :) It’ll be interesting to see it all laid out. The spreadsheet tracks the reading sessions, and using it and the timer has worked really well to keep me completely focused on reading.

It’s also cut the time it takes me to do the read through by a significant degree. It used to take a week at least. Now it takes a day (or two).

This is the kind of thing I’m hoping to find with my writing someday. A process that just works.

I haven’t given up looking. But for now, it’s time to focus on edits. :)

 

There’ll be no zero word day today

Zero word day? Or zero words day?

Eh, no one cares anyway.

Today I will write 500 words—maybe not net of deletions but I will write them. I happen to know that for a fact. I’ve already finished one session and am about to start another.

On the other hand, 500 words is going to be tough to get. My first session got me up to 33 words. Yeah. Not kidding there. I spent most of that first session editing out some stuff that was bogging down my scene. I’ve also realized I’m going to have to delete a large chunk of the rest of the scene, too.

These are the words I considered deleting a few days ago but didn’t delete. I probably should have done it right away. I have a feeling these words are why I’ve been stalled for four days and broke my 500 words a day streak.

Despite all the editing I seem to do, let me take a moment to say that I do believe Dean Wesley Smith has the right of it when it comes to rewriting. On the other hand, because of the way I put scenes together on the page, sometimes I have no choice but to edit stuff.

I don’t like to rewrite (which is to me just taking a sentence and trying to recompose it using different words and which usually does take your natural voice right out of your work) and I try not to do it. But I do fight myself a lot and end up doing it more than I should.

But I’m not talking about rewriting when I’m talking about editing. When I talk about editing, I mean I’m working with my text, trying to figure out where I’m going and how to get there.

Since I don’t do that in my head as often as I do it on the page, there have to be additions and deletions on the page.

Generally, when I start doing this, it means I’m stuck. Call it writer’s block, call it project block, it’s all the same to me. I can’t go forward, so I just start messing with the book, trying to figure stuff out.

I should trust the process more often and stop avoiding it. I have a feeling I would get through these little phases so much quicker that way.

Some people would probably just say this is part of the writing. And it is. But I can’t seem to stop calling it editing.

There are other reasons I get stuck editing, too, but it’s all kind of hard to explain. I’ve written a lot of books this way, so something about it must work for me, even if it’s not very efficient.

Progress and a brilliant idea I should have had sooner

I did run out of time yesterday and didn’t make it through all the chapters of my book.

Well, sort of. I stopped the editing at chapter 12, but then I sent the file to my tablet and read through the rest of it and realized most of it’s solid. Just a few bits I want to change, one because of an inconsistency and a few paragraphs that tripped me up when I was reading them. They could use some smoothing out for sure for various reasons.

Unfortunately, I didn’t highlight those spots during that late night read through so I still have to read through those chapters again today and find the things I thought needed changing. I was just too tired last night and it seemed like a good idea at the time to focus on the reading. I don’t agree so much to that today, but too late now. :o

I think those rough patches come from not writing fast enough. Too many rewrites and edits makes it very easy to screw up the flow of a story. When I bog down, that happens to me. I mean, I’m doing it because I can’t figure out what’s wrong usually, so I have to, but I know it’s not usually helping the story. I seem to get the best results when I’m able to just ignore what’s there and write fresh, then delete the old. :D

That’s probably why this kind of edit takes me so long. I’m really doing a lot more redrafting of the book than actually editing what’s there.

As for the brilliant idea I mentioned in the title of this post, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before. I have to revisit my previous books quite a lot to find stuff, and I had the notion to create a master series doc yesterday. It took me about three minutes to put together using Word’s “Insert > Object > Text from File” menu item. Then I used another half hour or so cleaning it up so it wasn’t cluttered with various styles. (The oldest books used different style sets than my newer books and I just quickly applied the new styles and deleted the old from the document. Less chance of corruption later, I hope.)

Anyway, it’s a huge file, but Word handled it fine. So now I can open one file when I need to search the books for something and I can get results for ALL the books. Since small corrections won’t affect that, I won’t ever have to do anything else to this doc except add the newest books when I publish them. :D

When I start the next book on my other series, I’ll do the same for it. So much easier than opening and searching multiple books trying to find that one bit of info I need. ;)

Anyway, here are the numbers: 6.467 hours of timed writing (plus all the times I forgot to turn the timer back on, because that kept happening) and 151 words net from edits, redrafting, and deletions.

It was a highly-focused day of writing, for sure.

Now on to today. I need to get these final changes made, and then I’m going to put some real effort into writing the rest of this book as fast as I can. Onward!

11:23 pm and too few words again today

I’ve managed only 2 of my 12 sessions today (20 minutes each). Part of the blame goes to my panic at realizing I had ruined the opening of my book by overworking it. I had to pull up backup copy 9 to get the old opening back. I’m currently at backup copy 20, and backup copy 9 was made on 6/11 (today is 6/24).

This all came to my attention last night when I sent my document to my Fire and read through what I’d written. My first thought was uh oh. So I pulled up the old version that I just happened to have sent to my Fire a while back and read the opening of it.

The old version was much better than the new. Miles better. Leagues better.

I was not happy to realize this.

I got up this morning knowing I’d have to fix it.  I’ve obsessed over things I didn’t need to obsess over today in an effort to avoid thinking about this.

I did a “compare documents” in Word to see just how bad it was. It was bad. More red than black, and ouch, I didn’t really need to see that.

It’s 11:59 pm and I should really go to bed, but I think I’m going to try to do a few more sessions so I don’t have this hanging over my head tomorrow. Then again… it’s late and I just want to put this day behind me, so maybe I won’t.

As for tomorrow, I think I’m going to forbid the internet until I’ve done at least half my minimum sessions. That’s only 6 and at 20 minutes each, comes to only 2 hours. I can surely hold out that long!

Now, time to get out of my own way and write this damn book without agonizing over every word. :D

DAILY ACCOUNTABILITY

Session 1 (20 min): -25 words (meaning I deleted more than I wrote)
Session 2 (20 min): 8 words

Uh oh! (challenge update)

Here is my first challenge update.

I’m way behind already.

After 1 hour and 49 minutes, I’m only up by 149 words.

Getting through the last of the material I wrote a few weeks ago is taking too long. Perfectionism? Probably. I’m going to try to get through the rest of it faster.

As of right now I still have the computer WIFI off. I’m writing this on my phone. It’s easier to do all new posts on my phone than edit a really long one so I expect all updates to this challenge will be separate posts today.

Be back later. :)

Hopefully with better numbers!

Revising is not a good idea; how to fuck up a story

I had to make a few changes to my book. I try not to do much when I go back to already written material, but in this case, I had an issue I couldn’t work out and when the solution came to me, it meant adding a few things. I don’t know what it is about how I write, but it’s almost impossible for me to write something and just plop it into the middle of an already written scene. It just never seems to fit in and I have to work to make a place for it.

So I did that with the fix and probably tweaked a bit more than I should have.

Yep, I know I did. How do I know?

Because I got through chapter 13 last night, and when I reached 15, I had some stuff that totally didn’t make sense anymore because I’d gone back and put stuff in related to it thinking I’d skipped that issue altogether and yet there it was, fully fleshed out in a later chapter.

Ugh.

This is where I just leave it, fix chapter 15 so it won’t matter and KEEP GOING.

Like I said, I try not to get caught up in making the kinds of changes that count as revising. I cycle through my document as I go, building and growing the story, and most of the time I do end up cycling from the beginning at least once, but it’s best if I do it when the story is fresh—not when I’m trying to get the story back into my head.

When the story isn’t fresh, I’m much more likely to make mistakes like this and end up in revision territory, and I do not like revision. I can’t keep the various versions of a story straight—all the bits and pieces float around and I get confused about which ones are really there and which ones I’ve deleted. It’s best I stay as far from that as possible, because that’s the kind of stuff that makes me hate writing. And feel blocked and have to move on to another story for a while or just not write.

So anyway, yes, I’m still working on getting through this story to arrive at all fresh blank empty pages, but I’m a lot closer now than I was. To be honest, if I don’t finish it today, I’m going to—

You know what? It doesn’t matter, because I’m going to get through it today. I’m going to do it and that’s that.

Still making progress, but still much too slow

I’m making progress on this book, still, but it’s still too slow. I mean, really, way too slow. Yesterday, I ended with a net gain of 274 words. Today I’ll spend as much time on the book as possible, so we’ll see where I end up.

As of this moment, I’m on chapter 9 and it should be nothing but a basic read through fixing typos until I hit a specific scene where I need to add in some stuff that goes along with the fix I made several chapters back. Then at chapter 17 stuff gets kind of messy. I have several scenes written that went in one direction before I doubled back to 17 and took off in another. We’ll see if they eventually join up. I’m hoping. I really like them.

It boils down to just needing to make sure I actually get the time in that I want to spend on the book today. That has been my biggest issue the last few days, not writing too slowly. (Just a little of that. :D) Mostly it’s just a factor of time. I need to get started, stay focused on it, and do that for most of the day.

I really believe I can do it. The only thing stopping me is me.

Too bad I’m not still drinking coffee. It’d come in really handy right about now.

I’M NOT YELLING

Yesterday was a bit of a letdown. Sure, I wrote, but my net word count came in at 9 words. I spent some time working, but I also spent A LOT of time doing I don’t know what, because I didn’t do any web reading except for a single visit to DWS’s website yesterday morning and some late evening searches. I didn’t read any fiction, except my own book, and I didn’t do much of anything else either.

So where’d the time go? I have no idea.

One thing I know: I don’t believe I worked as much on my book as I wanted to. I think if I had, I’d be further along.

I made it to chapter 6 at 12:56 PM (from my notes) and finally reached chapter 7 at 4:36. Yes, I did some minor deleting and redrafting in that scene, but I can see it wasn’t very much at all now that I’ve looked over it this morning. Just a few lines here and there, definitely not 2.5 hours worth (the missing hour and a half is lunch). Except, yes, it probably was 2.5 hours because I tend to get lost in that stuff, tweaking and rewriting sentences until I finally hit on one that just feels right.

It’s not the best way, that’s for sure. I wish I didn’t do that kind of thing. I can’t tell if it’s perfectionism, or if it’s just the way my brain works.

As of this morning, I am still only halfway through chapter 7, which means I know I didn’t do much after 4:36 PM. I know that because I read through this chapter a few days ago, and I remember thinking there wasn’t a lot to fix here. Maybe one or two lines. So I should have gotten through this section quickly. Yet I’m still there.

Anyway, all that said, today I have things to do that mean I won’t be home for a chunk of the day but I still need to make some SIGNIFICANT progress on this book today.

Last night, at about 7:02, I installed RescueTime. 12 minutes later, I uninstalled it. Then I installed ManicTime. I loved it, really, but it didn’t do the ONE THING I wanted, which was record only active time in a document. I don’t care how long my document is open and in focus on my screen. I need to know how much time I spend working on that document—writing time. So I uninstalled it too.

Then I found Timekeeper for Word, which could give me the exact info I want. Except it’s for Word 2016, 2013, or 2010. I don’t write in my Word 2016 install. I tried to, for a while, but I couldn’t stop hating it. I use Word 2007. I opened Word 2016 anyway, just to see if I could convince myself it would be worth going to if I could have this awesome record of my time spent writing.

Nope. Couldn’t do it.

So I’m back to basics. I’m just going to jot down my start and end times today in my notebook and leave it at that. All I really want is something to tell me how much time I’m spending on my writing, since I’m not using timers, schedules, or explicit goals this year to tell me what I should be doing and how badly I’m failing.

I just need a rough figure so I can aim to do better. :) Getting better is important to me, and I want to write a lot of books this year, because life is short and who knows when my time will run out. I don’t want to look back from my deathbed (if I’m given that moment) and think about all the time I didn’t spend writing when I could have. And I will, because that’s me.

*I’ve been using all caps as emphasis in email and text since the late nineties and I’m sick of holding back because some other people have decided it means I’m shouting at them. If you don’t like all caps in text, I suggest you not read my blog. :D

I’ve made a mistake I don’t plan to make again

Yesterday morning, I read a good chunk of my current book. I was pretty damn pleased with it. But there were a few things I needed to fix. Only I decided not to highlight those things because I knew I was going to have to get back to the read through on the computer and what was the point?

The point was that if I’d just highlighted those little bits I could have sped through this second read. I forgot just how much time it takes me to thoroughly read 40,000 words. So today has not been the kind of writing day I really wanted it to be.

It’s a mistake I don’t plan to make again.

Note to self: Next time, just highlight the damn mistakes!

Panic! Panic! Panic!

Yeah, I’m still having trouble getting moving on this book. I’ve done edits today instead, so my chapters are all edited through chapter 15. (I generally edit as I go, but these are what I’d call copy edits, and some very limited line edits.)

I even timed them just like I did on my last book. It made a huge difference in how focused I was able to stay. I mean HUGE. I’ll be doing this from now on. Every time. It made that much of a difference.

Chapter Read Time Edit Time
1 3
2 14
3 10
4 17
5 13
6 14 10
7 18
8 11
9 12
10 14
11 12
12 15 16
13
14
15

12.75 = Average minutes per chapter reading time

26 = Number of minutes it took me to actually make the edits*

*I highlight stuff that needs fixed or changed on the file by sending the Word docx to my Kindle email address where I read it on my Kindle. Much easier to “see” the story (and mistakes) that way and not get lost in the writing phase again and start rewriting stuff that’s just fine the way it is.

Chapters 13–15 aren’t on the chart because I did those the night before last and don’t consider what I did the final edit.

Chapters 1–12 are done, completely, unless the next 20,000 words I write requires me to go back and change something—which I’ll avoid unless it becomes unavoidable. ;)

I’ve been done with the editing for a while now, but I still can’t seem to get started on the writing. The stuff I read was so good that now I’m afraid I can’t follow up—ugh! I know how that sounds, but I really liked what I read, and if I don’t like it, how can I expect anyone else to like it? :P

I need to start writing RIGHT NOW, or I face missing my personal deadline. In fact, that ship might have already sailed, but I’m not quite ready to admit defeat.

Somehow I need write 6,582 words in the next 3 hours. :o

Knowing my average pace—and even my above average best pace ever pace, there ain’t no way that’s happening, so I just need get as many words as I possibly can before I have to call it a night 3 hours from now.

So… see ya! I have important things to do.