All that Pocket reading added up to a lot of reading

Screenshot of notification telling me how much reading I did in Pocket
Third year in a row I’ve gotten this little notice about the Five Percent Club from Pocket. Time to change. I don’t want a fourth. :D

There was a time when I thought Pocket was the second best option for all the articles I was used to clipping into Evernote to read later. I do not think that anymore.

I’ve found that over the last three years I’ve read more of the stuff I’ve saved in Pocket and it is easier to keep up with too. Most of the things I read, I discard after the fact. What I don’t discard, I archive in Pocket. My archive in Pocket is very small.

Overall, Pocket has been the best thing to come out of my switch from Evernote to OneNote. Pocket has become my first choice for reading saved articles.

OneNote isn’t optimized for reading, and I never have been able to use it the same way I used Evernote. But that’s okay.

Pocket is compatible with every device I have, still–even the oldest–beating out both OneNote and Evernote. (Joplin has a very nice interface for reading articles, but I haven’t installed the web clipper extension and I’m not sure I want to). Pocket has been the perfect tool for collecting reading material to read in my spare time.

And that brings me to my 2019 goal to read fewer articles in Pocket.

:D Yes, it’s weird. But I’ve gotten this little notice three years running now, and I don’t want to get it again. Let me explain.

1. I read too many random articles I find on the web.

2. I’m wasting a lot of good reading time doing it.

3. I’m cluttering my brain with repetitive information I don’t need, and what happens when you repeat things? You remember them, they become habits, and you get stuck in a rut. No joke.

For example, I might send ten articles about, oh, I don’t know, procrastination to Pocket, and then read them all, even knowing the chance of me discovering or realizing anything new from them is infinitesimal.

It all comes down to this: I am wasting good brain power going over the same things time and again, when I should be reserving that time for deeper, longer, more meaningful learning on topics I haven’t already studied to death.

So that’s my number one reading goal for 2019.

Revisiting a post: The “no timers” thing

I am finally settling into a nice work flow that does not rely on timers to keep me writing. I’m occasionally dipping into more than one story at a time, but I’m surprised at how often I’m staying focused on one book.

It’s obvious to me now that something was wrong then, but isn’t that how it always is?

I can’t remember at this point exactly when I decided I was going to seriously focus on not using timers, because I’d posted about abandoning them, then went back to using them, before deciding to give them up one final time.

On 8/10, I got rid of my time logs and sessions.

In September, I began using timers again.

Sometime in October, I ditched the timers one final time.

On 10/21, I gave up on daily writing.

On 11/14, I had my best one-day word count to date. I broke through the 6,000 words in a day barrier.

My word counts have steadily increased month over month despite (or because of) the changes in my routines.

8/31/18 7,840
9/30/18 13,358
10/31/18 20,602
11/30/18 31,928

I’m writing and I’m enjoying it, and I’m not driven by a timer! It feels wonderful.

I fail a lot

I fail a lot. I think the overwhelming number of posts I’ve put on this site where I candidly admit that I haven’t reached some goal I’ve set for the day tells that story well.

Night before last, I failed again. I didn’t write 500 words or 2,000 words, and I didn’t end up staying awake for a night of writing.

Yesterday, I didn’t do any writing at all. I’m not sure why, because I intended to write, but it didn’t happen.

But here’s how I see failure: it’s a chance for a fresh start.

Today, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve given myself a fresh start.

⇒ I will write a minimum of 500 words (255 already written and 245 to go).

⇒ I’ll do everything I can to write at least 2,000 words.

However, I have also come to the conclusion that I do have to start taking my stated goals more seriously. I’m not doing myself any favors by constantly failing to meet them. This easy acceptance of failure has set a bad precedent and become a habit I didn’t want to cultivate.

On that note, I’m going back to my writing. I have a book I haven’t given up hope of finishing this month and I need a lot of words for that to happen.

Update: I wrote 565 words. Not as many as I wanted but beyond that minimum. That’s an okay result. Definitely happy to have stuck to my resolve to get that minimum.

The “no timers” thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August word count update

August word count to date = 7,258*

That’s a far cry from where I wanted to be by now when I started August. I’ve had a few good days, though. Specifically, the 16th and the 20th.

8/16 – 1,685
8/20 – 2,198

The rest of the days of this month have been mediocre at best.

Yesterday, I’d hoped for a repeat of my 2,000+ words day, but it didn’t happen. And today is looking even worse.

8/21 – 571 words
8/22 – 53 words (so far)

*Today is still in progress, although I’m not sure it’s going to get much better if I can’t find some way to convince myself to finish writing the scene I’m in the middle of. I just do not want to write the rest of this scene.

I’m trying very hard to decide if I want to delete the portion of the scene that I haven’t wanted to write today or to push on through. There’s also the fact that if I delete it and write, even though the words will be gone, I’ll at least be writing again. But it could lead me to end the day with in a negative position if I don’t write enough. However, the words aren’t doing me any good if they’re just getting in the way of my brain coming up with an alternative so getting rid of them could be my best way forward.

The best way to figure this all out is to start back through the chapter and just go with it, changing or deleting if I need to so the story can move forward again, but I’m just feeling very resistant to that and have been all day.

But… it’s time to decide and do something, because this book isn’t going to write itself and I’m trying to end the week with 14,000 words.

2198+571+53=2822
14000-2822=11178

(I really love how you can type math into OneNote and it solves it for you.) :D

I have 11,178 words still to write this week, and I should probably try to get a least a few (more) of them written tonight.

 

Done with timers; wrote more last night but can’t use any of it

So last night I had this idea that maybe what was bothering me about this story was the way I handled the climax. I took my notebook up to bed with me and made a few notes, and then before I knew it, I’d written two pages of new material (and it’s a big notebook with narrow lines).

This is the notebook I’m talking about. I love this notebook. However, I’ve since realized that for long-term preservation of my notebooks, I’m going to have to abandon the metal spirals because of the potential for rust. Ah, well. I have three more in aqua and two in charcoal. I won’t leave them unused. I just won’t buy more.

Of course, the plan this morning was to get it entered and add the word count to yesterday’s total.

Only when I looked back at the scene I’d written in the climax where I would need to insert this (and go in a somewhat different direction) I realized I have a decent scene there and that the new material just wasn’t going to work.

On the other hand, I like the new material, so as far as I’m concerned it still happens in the book, just without the intervention of my main character. It’s part of the hidden story and I’m going to use it in the next book. Probably as the opening. In fact, just typing that has made me feel certain that, yes, the stuff I wrote last night (at least a chunk of it) will be the beginning of my next book in this series. :-)

(Hidden story is the part of the story that isn’t revealed in the story but that must occur within the time frame of the story for the other things to occur—not to be confused with backstory, which occurs before the start of the story.)

Hidden story in this book could easily become backstory in the next book, but since I’m thinking this little bit of hidden story is going to become the opening scene of the next book, it won’t be hidden story or backstory. It’ll just be part of the story. :-)

So, now I just need to get to work on today’s writing and finish this story.

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

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

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

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

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

Update #1

My internet was giving me troubles this morning so I had to delay finishing this post, but that’s okay, because I spent the time writing.

I’ve written 405 words this morning and I need another 95 before I can stop for lunch. I’ll be back with an update when I have them. :-)

Update #2

Time for lunch! My word count is now 559 words.

Update #3

And I’m at 545. Yes, I’m going backwards. Except I’m not because I’m closing in on my ending. Consider it the cost of nearing the end. I clean up as I go.

Update #4

623 words were it for the day, but it is the official restart of my 500 words a day streak—if I can do it again today! Life happened, and I had a big chunk of time between 5:40ish and midnight that I didn’t get back to writing. I did a little more until I went to bed oh so late and was really sad that I didn’t push for more writing so I could finish. But I didn’t finish. Now it’s time to get started with today’s writing, so moving on.

A new goal for 2017: turn my worst year into my best year

The end of the year is approaching and I’ve decided to pursue a goal. My goal is to make this year—on track to be my worst year of production since I began tracking—into my best year, by 10,000 words.

The math.

Best year 268,191
This year 104,676
Difference + 10,000 words 173,515
Words to write every day to get there 2,169

It is without a doubt beyond my current skill level to write 2,169 words every day. On the other hand, it’s a short-term goal, because this is mid-October and this will all be over on December 31. So it’s possible I could average a high enough word count to do this.

Since it’s possible, I’m going to try.

The fact is, I believe I can do it. The problem is, I haven’t ever done it before. But—and there is a but!—I have record of the following numbers.

February 2003: I averaged 1,836 words a day for the month.

November 2015: I averaged 1,761 words a day for the month.

April 2016: I averaged 1,908 words a day for the month.

To make this year my best year by 10,000 words, I only need to average 2,169 words a day for 81 days. Then I can flake out and go back to 500 word days and it won’t matter at all for this particular goal.

Writing 2,169 words a day isn’t something I’m going to stew over every day since I’m already trying to write 3,000 words a day. My daily minimum remains 1,000 words. But now I have something to explain my desire to write more each day and that’s going to be helpful when my contrary self rears up and demands to know why I’m pushing myself so hard to write more.

There you go contrary-self. I have reasons. :-)

Not going to give up without a fight

I’m trying to come up with my goal for today. I think I’m done with the catch-up attempt for hours because I’m further behind now than I was when I started yesterday. On the other hand, this morning, I’ve already written for 13 minutes and put down 87 words of stuff. It’s a start.

I’m actually very concerned that I haven’t gained any speed or momentum after what feels like a significant time investment over the last few weeks. I’ve spent 47.93 hours writing in the last 19 days and my cumulative word count for all that time is 3,982 words.

3,982 ÷ 47.93 = 83 words an hour. I type at about 60 words a minute. Typing isn’t writing, I know, but has my brain really slowed down to the point that I can’t write at even 10 words a minute?

I’m in uncharted territory, because I can’t recall ever spending so much focused time writing and ending up with so little progress. It’s obvious something is going on with my writing that I don’t understand because my word counts have dwindled to half what they used to be just three years ago and I’ve lost a significant portion of the excitement I used to feel when I write.

I kind of feel like I’m making progress on the last of that, but the first—obviously—hasn’t improved or it wouldn’t be 33 days since my last day of 1,000+ words.

The fact is I’m trying. I don’t know what kind of hole it is I’m trying to dig myself out of but I am trying.

I want this career, and I’m not going to give up on myself without a fight.

So off I go again today, trying to make progress, or recapture some momentum, or something, anything that will prove the creative part of my brain hasn’t up and died on me.

As for today’s goal? I think I’ll just start with the basics. 1,557 words. When I reach that, I’ll evaluate how much time beyond three hours I’m going to aim for.

Progress will be in my next post. It’s easier than revisiting an already long-enough post and scrolling down every time I want to add a line. :)

Disappointed with my progress this last two weeks

I’ve had a couple of bad weeks of writing and I’m anxious to stop the downward slide. It’s 1:34 in the morning and I’ve spent another evening doing everything I can to avoid getting started with writing. It’ll continue until I decide to put a stop to it. So that’s what I’m doing. Tomorrow, I’ll write. 3 hours minimum. 1,557 words at least. And then a little more just to prove that I control my own actions. I don’t have to end the day disappointed in myself.

That experiment didn’t last long

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

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

It’s kind of an amazing feeling, really.

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

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

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

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

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

Final sessions for the day

I finished up the last of my sessions. I had hoped to reached 3,000 words but I didn’t quite make it. I’m at 2,332 for the day. I might come back later and do some more writing, because I really want to end the day at 3,000 words!

But for now, I need a break. A massive break, because my brain is tired. :D

  • Session 6 = 425 words (850 wph)
  • Session 7 = 236 words (472 wph)
  • Session 8 = 209 words (418 wph)

Totals for the day

2,332 words and 583 wph

Eight sessions instead of twelve seems to be the way to go

Eight sessions instead of twelve seems to be the way to go! Of course, I made up the total time difference by making the eight sessions thirty minutes long instead of twenty. But it has left me fewer opportunities for distraction and here it is 11:56 a.m. and I have only three sessions to go. :)

  • Session 1 = 302 words (604 wph)
  • Session 2 = 263 words (526 wph)
  • Session 3 = 270 words (540 wph)
  • Session 4 = 312 words (624 wph)
  • Session 5 = 315 words (630 wph)

Sessions are 30 minutes long. Goal is 375 words per session, 750 words per hour.

Not there yet, but getting closer!

Total so far = 1,462 words

3,000 – 1,355 = 1,645 words to go

I’ve completed eight sessions now and although I’m pretty happy with the fact that I’m writing, I’m disappointed that my morning pace didn’t hold out when it came up against my story line uncertainty. I think that’s been a big deal on this particular story. I’m still very much not sure where it’s headed.

  • Session 4 = 36 words
  • Session 5 = 29 words
  • Session 6 = 199 words
  • Session 7 = 130 words
  • Session 8 = 84 words

Sessions were 20 minutes, goal was 250 words per session.

This put me at 2.667 hours of timed writing for the day. I need 1.333 hours more to reach 4 hours, my minimum goal.

For the rest of the evening, I’m switching to 30 minute sessions. I just keep running into the fact that I feel like I’m just getting on a roll when that timer dings, but doing 2 sessions back-to-back just hasn’t worked well.

Now, back to writing for me! I have a lot to do and it’s already 7:51 pm and I don’t want to be up late tonight. Here’s hoping I can pick up the pace again so those 1,645 words come quick.

A plan for the future

I’m tired of lowercase titles. And yet, I continue to use them. :)

Today I have a plan.

20 minute blocks x 12 of them @ ~750 words an hour = 3,000 words

Yep. That’s my plan.

In fact, it’s my plan for every day for the indefinite future. I’ve been giving some thought to the need for change and some direction for the rest of my year. Those thoughts led me to realize I need to expect more from myself; it’s the only way to grow. I don’t want to be stagnant. A moribund life is not the life I want, despite the fact that my brain is all about strolling down easy street.

I made a note to myself last night. It’s important.

Write for fun! Do more than that though. Make time for other stuff. Don’t drag it out.

I need to write with focus. I need to focus on writing. I need to meet my goals early so I can do other things. Then as a reward, if I want, I can write more later. But always, I need to remember that the only way to meet my goals is to actually prioritize writing and do it first. I get to do it first and save all the stuff in my life that I don’t really want to do for later.

What I’ve typically done, though, is dawdle until I feel pressured to do these other things at the expense of what little time I’ve left myself for writing, because there are immediate consequences if I don’t. (Bills! Dishes! Laundry! Talking to relatives and friends! All of these have consequences for me that I’m not willing to accept if I don’t do them.)

I’ve always felt as if writing daily is a priority, and therefore I feel all the guilt one feels when one doesn’t do that important thing one should have done, but when it comes down to it, I haven’t treated it that way at all.

That’s the big thing I need to change about myself. That’s what I’m going to be focused on changing.

Write in the morning

Reach my word count goal

Or at least do the number of sessions I’ve decided I should be doing at a minimum each day

Then worry about the rest of life and whatever I want to do with my time after that, even if it’s just more writing

Simple. :D

New year, no plan

Today begins the new year. On the other hand, my plan hasn’t changed. In case I haven’t done a good enough job of laying out that plan, here it is again.

There is no plan.

Here’s what I wrote in one of the Google+ communities I’m in.

2016 words written: 220,071

Definitely want to see some improvement in 2017, but this is the year of no goals and no timers! I’m ready to fall in love with writing again.

I’m hopeful a little less focus on goals and a little more focus on just writing as much as I can will prove to be a winning combination.

In fact, I just told my daughter I’m making year 2017 the year I quit trying stuff I’ve already tried (goals, schedules, timers, sprints, etc). My word counts have actually gone down, not up, since I started in 2012 and I’m done with beating myself over the head with this stuff.

I think the best shot I have for writing lots and lots of words is making sure I’m having so much fun doing it that I can’t stop myself. :)

Truly, no joke, that is my plan. That’s this year’s big experiment. It came about because of yesterday’s thinking about goals, and how much they haven’t helped me progress as a writer.

Here’s to a happy 2017 and lots of words written. :)

Why I don’t like goals

I’ve been thinking about goals and habits and systems again. I’ve talked about those things many times in the past, and I have continually chased goals and failed to meet the vast majority of them. I’m really getting tired of failing.

A forum post I read today talked about how binary the whole goal mentality is: succeed or fail. Sure, you can play mind games with yourself and try to remember that you haven’t actually failed if you’ve made progress, but… really? When you set a goal, if you don’t reach it, your brain is going to tell you you’ve failed. And too much failure definitely takes a psychological toll.

Just yesterday I had a talk with my son about how I’d made 2016 sound like my worst year for writing since I’d started publishing. But it wasn’t. It was very close to an average year, and better even than 2014.

2012: 146,821
2013: 268,191
2014: 217,641
2015: 250,011
2016: 220,017

The monthly averages show how close those numbers really are:

2012: 24,470
2013: 22,349
2014: 18,137
2015: 20,834
2016: 18,335

But it felt like a terrible year, all the way around, because I had set such large goals at the beginning of the year and I came nowhere near reaching them. 2016 was the year I tried to write 1,180,000 words in 12 months; it was the year I decided 4,558 was a reasonable number of words to expect from myself most days.

Looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking.

Nov. 19 and it’s COLD outside today!

Well, we finally got a bit of rain early this morning (like 3 a.m. early) and the wind gusted and my power went out at about 4. I know because I have a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) for my desktop computer, router, and DSL modem, and it has an annoying beep that never fails to wake me up and keep me awake until either it runs out of backup power, the power comes back on, or I shut it off.

I didn’t feel like getting up this morning, so it kept me from drifting back to sleep for about an hour, and then of course, five minutes after it goes off, the light I turned on when I thought about going to shut it down comes on and startles the crap out of me before it goes right back out. I thought I turned it out, but apparently not. I clicked it off one more time so it wouldn’t come on again if the power returned and went back to sleep.

Yesterday had a high in the low 70s (Fahrenheit). Today the high is supposed to be 46.

And boy can I tell. It is cold.

Now I need to write for 8 hours today, because I’ve been behind my goal word count every day since I started my plan to finish this book.

At this point, here’s what I need to finish by 11/29/2016, which is the (modified) date I’d like to finish: 3,859 words a day (average).

Here’s what I need to do today:

3,859 words to go

6.00 hours planned
– hours completed
643 wph needed

And here’s what I want to do:

6,164 words to go

8.00 hours planned
– hours completed
770 wph needed

I’ll settle for the one and be ecstatic with the other.

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.

One more attempt to have a 6,000 word day

The plan: Write in one hour blocks until I reach 6,000 words!

It’s almost 11 am this morning, and I’m starting so late because I had a really late night. On the other hand, I happen to know that one of my rare 5,000+ word days happened on a day when I started writing after 11 am, so that doesn’t have to stop me from doing this. Also, family will be clearing out shortly and my quietest time today is going to be this afternoon and evening, so it seems like a great day to work on setting a record for myself.

Time to get started. :)

**Nope. Came up very short. 1,178 words. I just couldn’t get started until late, and then when I did, my pace was pathetic at < 300 words per hour.

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. :)