Fighting to keep up my momentum

April was a great month for writing. I wrote more than 50,000 words. May has been fantastic. But I’ve recently finished a book and now I’m fighting to keep up my momentum.

Finishing a big project leaves me feeling adrift. I have to stop letting myself feel like I’ve finished something when I finish a book. The big project is my career, not this one book, so I have to keep writing if I want to avoid a long break between books.

Implementing the plan should be easy but we all know it won’t be. But here’s what I’m doing.

1. No writing break between books.

2. No moving on to a book I “should” finish while I’m interested in writing a different book.

I’m writing the book I’m most interested in writing right now, not the book I feel like I should write right now. That particular series has waited this long for another book, and it can keep waiting.

Enthusiasm = intrinsic motivation = finishing the next book before I lose interest in it and have to work hard to regain it.

I hope it works, but I really won’t know until I’ve tried it a few times and seen the results. :)

I’m also still following my rule about sweets and 1,000 words. This little rule helped me write more than 50,000 words in April. And that momentum put me in a position to break my 6,241 words in a day record.

My new record? 6,606 words on May 7, 2019.

I don’t have a post for that day, because I’ve really been focused on writing fiction and saving the blog posts for progress updates, but I am thrilled I did it. It was awesome. It was also exhausting. I’m really not meant to write that many words in one day! :-) Next record to break? 7,000 words in a day. It’ll happen.

Now, off to write. Today is the first day of the new book. (Which I started in January, and wrote a few thousand on between then and now, so I’m not actually starting the book at zero words. I really want to write this book! It’s going to be so much fun.)

And I really want one of the brownies my daughter made so I’m definitely about to start writing. :D

Days 1–6 of NANO 2018

I forgot to post that I’m participating in NANO this year (NaNoWriMo, actually, meaning National Novel Writing Month, forever hereafter to be called NANO by me).

I’m actually doing pretty well. I got off to a strong start on a new(ish) book (nope, I haven’t finished the ending of the last book, still working on it).

Days 1–4: I wrote 11,412 words for the NANO book (12,299 words total for all my fiction).

Yeah, I know. It is crazy how I went from a few words a day to a 3,075 a day average without even trying.

(ETA 11/8/18: I think it’s because I might be a burst writer, even if I’m not a hugely productive burst writer.)

October 21-31 I wrote 616 words net of those I deleted, or 56 words a day average. Mostly because I had 7 days of zero writing, after making a note to myself that said: “Gave up on daily writing. It sucks.” (I wasn’t feeling well. I even went to my GP doctor—for the first time since 2010 apparently so I had to go in as a new patient. And yeah, even I was shocked by the length of time I’d managed to avoid my GP.)

Back to NANO.

I had my first bad day on Monday, day 5, but only because I spent the entire day working on that ending of the book I can’t seem to finish. I wrote 515 words that day while deleting stuff and moving some things around.

Once I realized on Monday night that I just wasn’t feeling up to writing anything for the new book, I decided to make it up on Tuesday, but, ack, tornadoes blew through the area at 2:05 am (ish) and my power went out. It stayed out until 8:20 (ish) Tuesday evening. So there went day 6.

I freely admit I could have written something on day 6 (yesterday) because I had at least an hour of charge in my laptop battery left, but I chose to sit huddled up on the couch for most of the day reading instead. :)

Days 5–6: I wrote 0 words for the NANO book (515 words total for all my fiction).

Par for NANO for days 1–6 is 1,667 x 6 = 10,002 words.

Today is day 7 and I’m just about to sit down to write. I’m still on track for a NANO win. All I have to do is keep writing. :)

I don’t have a plan. I just know I won’t be timing myself. I’ll write until I’m done for the day and that’s that. That’s what I’ve been doing since November 1st and I’m very happy with my progress.

I have adopted a new philosophy over the last week.

I’ve been writing fiction, wanting to write fiction, for most of my life. If I’m having trouble getting myself to write, there’s something wrong. I’ve decided enthusiasm is the problem. I’ve just not been focused on writing what I really want to write. It is essential that I always focus on writing what calls to me. Even if it doesn’t fit my own ideas about what I should want to write. :)

And, in all honestly, it seems to be working.

(Just to clarify, I’m still working on the same books, I’m just making sure I write what I want to write and not what I imagine someone else wants me to write or what I think I should write. Make sense?)

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.

Well, there you go. Bye-bye KBoards

My love/hate relationship with KBoards is pretty much over. VerticalScope bought the site from the former owner and snuck in terms of use changes that I noticed and brought to the attention of the other members, and boom, explosions happened.

When all was said and done (not all has been said and done, but it’s getting there), many of the members agreed that the terms were onerous, ugly, possibly illegal (laying claim to rights VS can’t have just because you’ve posted something on the board, and then stating there’s no recourse if they misappropriate or infringe them, and other weird, overreaching, and unconscionable shit like that), and made it not worth the risk to stick around and keep posting.

I agreed, but since I’ve been mostly anonymous as a user on KB for all the years I’ve been posting there, I wasn’t worried for me. I wasn’t even worried about what VerticalScope might do with the content I still had up because most of it is very much just random comments. There’s not much there to be honest, because I delete most of my posts every year or two to keep things fresh. But then the community manager for VerticalScope, Helene, came on and acted like an asshole with no respect at all for the valid concerns of the non-anonymous members.

So I decided nope not sticking around with assholes like that in charge. Then I went in and cleaned out the 700-ish posts I did still have there.

Permission denied, VerticalScope, I do not choose to agree to your Terms of Use.

I left a few posts, ones that were relevant to the topic of the terms of use, and some in a thread I’d started recently, and that’s it. I decided not to abandon the thread I started but I won’t be posting much in it and will let it die if no one else posts. At that point, I will clear out those posts too, because I don’t like leaving loose threads behind.

Whether or not I post anything else there in the future depends entirely on what VerticalScope does or does not change. As of right now, the plan is to truly abandon KB and not go back once my own thread has died out.

In the meantime, I’ve found a different forum to use to keep up with the news I usually get from KB.

I am sad about this, despite the fact that I’ve been pretty hard on Kboards here. I really had hoped when I posted about the new Terms of Use that someone would come onto the thread and make a good case for why the changes weren’t anything to worry over. I’m disappointed it turned out to be just as ugly as my gut was telling me.

But now that this has all happened, what I really want is to take this opportunity to cut back how much reading/participating/posting I do on any publishing forum. Until I get to the point where I can reliably write my words every day and have plenty of time left over, all this other stuff is just getting in my way. :D

On that note, Leechblock is back.

For those not in the know, that’s 10 minutes total for all those sites combined, in a four hour period. You would be astounded (or maybe not) how quickly 10 minutes goes when you’re trying to read a busy thread. Yesterday I started out with a 4 minute limit and boy was that frustrating in the extreme! :D I had to ease up so that I didn’t become so frustrated that I abandoned this effort. I quite like it.

In the past, I usually turned off access to certain sites during certain times, which works not at all when you’re not tied to a writing schedule. :) I also had tried limiting myself to so much total time per day on some sites, but my personality is such that I would use all the time, then get annoyed that I couldn’t go back for the entire day. So that didn’t work, because I constantly cheated myself by pausing or resetting Leechblock.

This particular set up seems to work well with my brain. I get to look at the clock and know it’s only a few hours until I can go back if I get locked out, and that is soon enough to trick me into getting on with other things instead of dwelling on it and then ultimately cheating. :D

The news tab is even more restricted. I allow 2 minutes every 4 hours, with the intent to save anything I really want to read to Pocket. :) I do my Pocket reading when I’m really desperate for something to occupy my mind. Half the time, I delete a whole bunch of stuff unread because I’ve let it get stale and lost interest. That right there, my friends, is half the battle won. :D

Well, I’ve wasted enough of my morning writing this up, so I’m moving on to the next post about my upcoming writing sessions. See you there. :)

 

Writing as work

For years I’ve avoided thinking of writing as work. I’ve even written a blog post about how writing is not a job, and after re-reading that, I stand behind what I said about it not being a job. However, I’ve also started to have a realization that for me, maybe doing everything I can to avoid thinking of my writing as work isn’t the right path for me.

I was raised to believe that my work had value. That no matter what job I had, the work I did was valuable. I hate jobs, no two ways around that, but I don’t hate work. I’ve never hated work, really. I can name only a few very specific instances where I might have hated it, if it’d gone on too long, and they all involved boring-as-hell work. Even then, I considered what I did valuable. Just boring.

But my hobbies, reading and writing? Not valuable at all. Time wasters. Time passers. Whatever you want to call it.

It occurred to me that by doing everything I can not to think of my writing as work, I’ve essentially told myself that it has little or no value, despite the fact that I’m living off the money it brings in.

Last night I decided it was time for an attitude adjustment. I can continue to hate jobs and I can continue to avoid having a job—even a self-imposed one—for the rest of my life. But what I can’t do is continue to not think of my writing as my work.

Work can be fun and awesome. I know this. Just because other people sometimes have issues when they think of writing as work doesn’t mean I do or have to. In fact, I’d say I don’t, because for me, work is about doing the best you can. You’re invested. It’s a commitment. It’s not “punch the clock, do as crap a job as you can get away with before punching the clock again” kind of thing. That isn’t my world view, and it never has been.

It’s perfectly okay to call my writing work.

If I want to change my ways when it comes to getting the writing done every day, every week, every year, then I have to think of my writing as valuable, as important, as something I need to do above all other things. Work has pretty much always fallen inside those lines for me. Work is valuable. Work needs to get done.

It’s time to start ascribing some real value to the writing I do.

Writing is my work. My work is my writing.

There. That wasn’t so hard an adjustment to make.

Oh, hell. I’ve already lost track of the days

So that book 19, day whatever lasted a few days. I don’t even know what to say about this. The day after my last post, I pretty much decided I was spending too much time detailing out my struggle to write and that I should focus more on actually writing, you know? So I made a pact with myself to stop writing about the struggle. There is no struggle. My issues with work are not related to writing, except that writing is my work. But I don’t have a problem writing once I start. It’s really just this other thing—these other issues—and I’m tired of putting all that on my writing.

That means my posts about writing either need to be about the story, the process, or my actual word counts. Instead of wasting so much valuable time and energy day after day just writing about how hard it is to make myself write.

So that’s it. This post is a way station and I haven’t figured out exactly where I’m going from here. Most likely I’ll just start posting about exactly those things I mentioned above: process, story, and word count updates.

Since I haven’t written much over the last several days, I haven’t had anything to post about.

I can still use my book xx, day xxx title format for word count updates, but not if I have to start counting days every time I want to post. Yikes. I didn’t think it would be so tedious to keep up with it.

Currently, I’m annoyed with my story because I feel kind of stuck at the moment, and my word counts have suffered greatly because of some personal stuff I’ve had to deal with over the last several days. I don’t begrudge those days, but man, I’m really behind where I want to be on this story.

On that note, I’m going away to write for a while. Maybe I’ll actually have something to post later that isn’t a post saying what I won’t be posting about anymore. ;)

About the writing of my current book

I was looking at my word count spreadsheet today and realized that my “Worked On” column in my “Daily Log” sheet gives me the perfect opportunity to know things about my writing that I might not know otherwise.

Here are some things I found interesting about the writing of my current book (book 19).

3/9/17

I wrote a few words.

12/26/17

I wrote a few more words.

2/16/18
and
2/17/18

I tried to get started on this book in earnest. Didn’t work.

5/9/18

I wrote 100 words but I’m not certain they were all on this book.

5/25/18
to
Present

I started the real work on this book. I’ve had 23 zero word days since 5/25, but since I’m actively working on the book, I’m counting them in the total number of days I’ve been working on this book. :-)

What does that all add up to?

I’ve spent exactly 100 days working on this book (so far).

It’s been 537 days since I first started this book. And that means I’ve had this book in my head for 537 days.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I get bored when writing a book takes too long. I need to stop stalling when it’s time to start the next book—or just not allow myself to start writing until I’m ready to commit.  Even starting the book sets things in motion in my head that make me feel like I’m losing interest when I don’t continue to make progress.

Finally, ouch. It’s been at least 537 days since I put out the last book in this series (make that 685 to be exact). Sigh. This book is going to flop so hard.

And to tie this all up, I’ve finally found a title format I like for my accountability posts: Book 19, day 100. It ties in with both this post and the last. I can also imagine this being a nice way to keep up with just how long I’ve spent on any one book (or story) and how many books I’ve written. I like it. :-)

Book: Book 19, day 100.

Short story: Short story 13, day 2.

I only foresee one difficulty with this, if I don’t want to be doing multiple accountability posts when I work on more than one story on any particular day. I’ll just line them all up in the title or I’ll summarize at the top of the post for any I don’t want to do that with. :D

Book 19, day 100; Short story 13, day 2; Book 20, day—Oh no. That’s not going to work. I really don’t always know where some of these books are going to fall in line when I’m writing on them like this. Now I’m sad, because I really liked this idea.

Then again, I am trying not to overdo the multiple story trick. Until I can start regularly writing 2,000 plus words a day, working on more than one story at a time is just another way to take too long finishing any of them.

I’ll have to think about this some more.

Or maybe I won’t have to. I could just stick to only counting the current book as the one with a number, and list any extra work I’m doing on other books in the post sans number. Because truly, it’s only been once or twice out of all 30 titles I’ve written that I haven’t known which book I’m actively trying to finish first so I can publish it.

Whew. Crisis averted.

Now, on to finishing today’s minimum word count. I’ve really not been focused where I need to be today. Today has been a study in procrastination.

August changes

A few things have changed since my last writing post.

I’ve decided:

To ditch timers and timed writing for good.

It feels weird to sit down and write without the timer. I still look for it in the corner of my screen as I type. I still look for the column on my spreadsheet and feel a little startled when I realize it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I wrote those 187 words.

To erase my record of my timed writing and words per hour calculations.

I did make a backup of the original file with those numbers because I couldn’t not do that.

To stick to word count quotas.

To STICK to word count quotas, for real. I do need some type of structure to keep me working.

Structure is useful for me.

But going back and forth between time / word counts / WPH anxiety isn’t useful to me at all.

I can’t control my daily word counts as easily I can control my time spent writing but I never (seriously, never) seem to reach the time quotas I set for myself either.

Since word count quotas are so much more meaningful to my income, they win. :-)

The day after I made this decision, I wrote more words with less effort than I’ve written in a long time. I reached 671 words for the day and hardly felt like I’d done any writing at all. It felt great.

Then stuff happened, delays and distractions, and I didn’t write very much for the next two days. Now we’ve come to today, and the writing is again going easily and I hardly feel like I’ve done anything at all. I’m already up to 187 words for the day.

Those timers really did make writing feel too much like hard work. Getting that out of my system might take a while, but I’m sure it’s the right path forward for me. I need to like writing or I won’t do it, but lately, I just hadn’t liked it very much at all. That changed so quickly after making the decision to ditch the time keeping and WPH calculations that I really feel it was hindering my enjoyment of writing and interfering with my ability to keep going with this for the long-term.

The hours and WPH are just demoralizing anyway most of the time. Average words per day is the only number that really matters in the long run.

It’s just a renewed focus on actually getting the word counts and not wasting time worrying over anything else to do with productivity.

To stop trying to make my book perfect.

I know better than this. But I’ve fallen into some bad habits this year and my inner perfectionist is making life difficult again.

To keep using OneNote.

I have decided I’m just not leaving OneNote for certain types of notes until or unless I have to. I need software for note-taking or I never would have started using Evernote, way back when, even before I migrated to OneNote several years ago.

I did move the rest of my notebooks to OneDrive so I can keep using OneNote the way I like once my Office 365 subscription expires in September. And, it’s a little hard to admit, but my notebooks are actually a lot more useful since I moved them.

The local notebook issue was more a principle thing than a practical issue for me. I decided to bend on this one.

It’s time for me to get back to writing fiction now. I have a quota today and I’d like to see how close I end up to it. That 2,000 words a day plan is still something I’ve got in my sights.

Focus on action and small wins; a new daily minimum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That stopped working surprisingly fast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always wph = words per hour.

Facing resistance and adjusting the plan

You know how you make a plan and then immediately feel resistant to actually following through? Yes, well, that’s been happening to me.

So instead of letting myself get too far down that hole, I’ve decided to make a few adjustments to the plan.

I wrote a long post about this and then decided to cut most of it. Suffice to say, I’ve decided I might be better served to have a minimum daily plan that is, to be honest, a little more minimum.

That’d be 1,557 words, every day. Yes. I know some days life will interfere. I still want to write 1,557 words every day, even if I have to switch projects to get them done, or write something quick and ugly just before bed to do it.

I can do this in 3 hours or less most days (based on the fact that my real, I’ve-tracked-it average is about 550 words an hour). It might take longer some days but I’m confident in these numbers—they’re real, they aren’t overly optimistic, and this can be done.

It’s really all about training myself to write every day, because I am not good with habits once I start letting them slip. Seriously, it’s the way I’m wired or something but there ain’t a lot of middle ground with me. The only habits that stick are the ones that I make non-negotiable.

Not gonna lie. This is going to be hard as hell to get embedded in my brain: writing daily is non-negotiable. 1,557 words a day is non-negotiable.

All I have to do is show up and stay the course.

I think the thing I’ll have to remember is that if the writing is going badly, I’m going to have to write shit and just accept that. Some shit is better than no shit, right? :P

Now that I’ve thought this all out, I’m ready to get started with this TODAY. :D I have 412 words written and I need to write another 1,145 words.

I like this more reasonable plan. It’s one I can start working on late in the day and still expect to get done. Here’s hoping that will stop the excuses!

(Have I mentioned that a lot of these posts are totally me just writing out my thoughts and trying to make sense of them? Because, yes, that’s what I’ve just done.)

No more coffee—a lifelong challenge to ditch coffee for good, forever

I’ve quit and restarted my coffee habit many times over the course of my life. It’s finally time for me to commit to making a lifelong change. I like coffee but the caffeine and even the coffee itself isn’t doing me any favors these days.

This post is my written commitment to ditch coffee for good—forever.

No more coffee.

I’ll check in on this once a week or so for a while, then once a month, then only if something changes.

As an aside, I’ve also committed to eliminating as many sweets from my diet as I can. I’ve been doing pretty good with that. I use the Android app Loop – Habit Tracker to keep up with my success rate, and it seems to help.

Sweets-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

I’m being pretty strict about what counts, so although I had only a few semi-sweet chocolate chips, they were enough to stop me from marking yesterday and the day before as sweet-free days. I think it’s best that way, because I don’t want half-measures to eventually derail my effort in this.

I already have a habit set up in the app for coffee-free days, but as you can see below, I haven’t made much effort at all up to this point to avoid coffee. That’s going to change going forward. :D

Coffee-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

 

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

4:52 pm and a 2,800 word goal

Today started off well enough. I finished organizing (cleaning out) my music directory. Doing that was a better use of my time than (re)organizing my email again, but that’s not possible any more because sometime last month I deleted all my email. I saved a few particular pieces of interest to a few relevant folders and I absolutely did delete thousands of emails. They’ll never be seen again. I kept only one backup, stored in an inaccessible location, with the intent to delete it at year’s end. I don’t doubt that I will too.

But that’s all beside the point. The point is that I need to write some real words today and I’m really getting tired of failing.

So I’m not going to fail anymore.

Missing a goal once in a while is no big deal and doesn’t feel anything like failure. Missing a goal every single time is not a good thing. There are repercussions to that kind of repetitive failure. I’m done with that. I just can’t be that person, that kind of writer, any longer.

So, despite the fact that it is now 4:59 pm, I’m going to sit my ass down and I’m going to write 2,800 words this evening.

To make it easy, I’m going to break it down into 21 minute sessions. I’ll do as many as it takes, but I’m planning for 10.

During at least one of those sessions, I want to reach the best word count per hour I’ve ever reached, and I’m going to reach it by having fun with this damn book. I love the characters. There’s no reason it should be so damn hard to have fun.

Now, I’m going to go trim my fingernails so I can get my first session started.

Session # Cumulative Words WPH
1 29 82.85714
2 54 77.14286
3 72 68.57143
4 82 58.57143
5 142 81.14286
6 251 119.5238
7 285 116.3265
8 0
9 0
10 0

Okay, so I’m calling it a night. It’s 12:29 am and I’m disappointed at my speeds tonight. I spent a lot of time redoing a chapter but I’m glad I did it, because I like what I’ve got now better than what I had.

I’m 3 sessions short of the 10 I wanted to do. I’m also short a ton of words. On the other hand, I totally don’t feel like a failure, because I literally did the best I could tonight. I took short breaks when I had to, and I focused hard when I wrote. I just can’t always predict what kind of writing day I’m going to have. This was one of those days.

So all in all, I’m satisfied. But one thing for sure: I’m going to do better tomorrow, because I’m going to start a lot earlier and I’m going to put in the extra sessions if I come up short on word counts like I did this evening.

But 12:33 pm is too late to keep going if I want to get some sleep tonight. The one thing I can count on is waking up at 7 in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep. I need to go to bed before it gets any later.

See you here again tomorrow.

F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit

I have no idea how to craft blog post titles, so for the foreseeable future I’m going to input whatever I happen to be thinking or whatever I see on my notebook beside me as my title. No one reads these things anyway, so yeah. I get to do what I want. :D

The titles I was using before sucked anyway. I’ve only rarely been able to go back and find something I wrote in a post based on my recollection of the title. I have a few posts that make sense, most are just notes about my writing progress for the day and random thoughts that collected and found their way out of my head and onto the page as I made those updates.

So why “F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit?”

Simple really. I installed Lubuntu on a slow netbook and an old Pentium D desktop formerly running Vista. Gotta stay on top of those security issues since everything I do to make a living is stored on my computers. Vista was alright as far as I’m concerned, but Windows has stopped supporting it with security updates so it was time to move on. The computer still has a lot of life left in it for the kind of use I give it, though, so I decided Lubuntu would be just the ticket after having installed it on the netbook. It’ll run Libre Office, which is relatively compatible with Word. It’ll also run Sigil, GIMP, Jutoh, Calibre, Firefox, Thunderbird, and VLC, so I saw no reason to go with a heftier install since I actually quite liked the Lubuntu interface. (More than quite liked, to be honest. I think it’s great.)

Of course, all that meant I needed to go into BIOS on the machine in question and update the boot order to get the new OS installed. Hence my note to myself on the tablet sitting beside me: F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit has Boot Override option.

The update went great. Both computers are running like new machines. Fast and responsive, and I’m really liking that. Next up: figure out how to get my new Lubuntu machines back on the network so I can make backups to them from my Windows 7 baby. :-)

Caffeine helped but it’s time to quit again

I’m facing caffeine withdrawal again, but this time I’m trying to wean myself off caffeine instead of just eliminating it altogether. I can’t face the headaches with the holidays so near and my deadlines looming.

I’m drinking water in a cup, hoping it will satisfy the need to have a cup of something nearby. It seemed to work yesterday and is working okay this morning too.

I waited yesterday until I had a headache before I drank any coffee and I only had 6 ounces then. It took about 45 minutes for the headache to completely go away after that, but it did go away. It’s not that I plan to wait for the headache every day, but I did need to know at about what time to expect it. That would be at about 4 pm. So today, I’ll have a cup of my favorite green tea (considerably less caffeine than equal amounts of coffee) after lunch and see if it can hold off the headache. I will admit, it’s only 10 a.m. and I’m already feeling twinges over my right eye, but I’m going to wait and see if it’s a full blown headache forming earlier today, or if it’s just this sinus thing I’ve got going on.

I want to do this because I’ve been having some side effects from the caffeine that I’m ready to get away from for a while. Dry skin (so dry that it’s like I’ve developed a coating of powered sugar on my arms, LOL), possibly a stomach ulcer (something I’ve never had before, but maybe it’s something else, who knows?), jitters, and a bad habit of staying up really late but not really getting anything extra done to make up for it.

I don’t mind staying up late if I can look back and see that I’ve accomplished something during that time, but that’s not what happening. I’m planning to go to bed early, then puttering around doing much of nothing but reading stuff that’s a waste (like forums and blogs with info I’ve read a hundred or thousand times before).

I feel like I’ve been sick more often lately, too, but that might also be unrelated. Then again, sleep and dehydration probably play a roll in illness, so…

Anyway, that’s the plan. Here’s hoping I make it! The holidays are a tough time to quit anything, IMO, so I know I’m going to have to watch out for stumbles.

Changing how I monitor my daily average word count

I track my daily average word count in a number of ways, including yearly and monthly, and more recently, since 9/19. You see that last one in my word count posts. I’ve been adamant that I’m not going to change the start date for that count and I haven’t. Until today.

I decided today to change that column in my spreadsheet to hold a 30 day rolling average instead.

What I realized today is that there’s a problem with using a set start date for the average I’m using to monitor improvements to my daily word count. Over time the average becomes weighed down by the past and the present gets lost. If I have 90 days of numbers, the current 30 days are 1/3 of the average. If I have 180 days of numbers, the current 30 days are only 1/6 of the average. As the history of numbers grows larger, the average becomes less representative of the present and how I’m doing now.

A 30 day rolling average will be much more focused on current progress and will tell me if I’m doing well now and let me to see course corrections more clearly.

Update: This was a fail. I no longer even include this in my spreadsheet at all. :)

New goal: more average and moderate word count days, fewer low word count days

I have to stop reevaluating my daily word count goal.

It’s kind of stupid really, all this number crunching I do. I’ve approached it in so many different ways that it doesn’t even make sense to keep redoing the calculations. I already know about where the numbers are going to end up.

I guess I keep hoping I’ll discover I’ve done something wrong and I’ll be able to write 500 words a day and make a killing and finish all the books I want finish in as little as a few months or a year at the most. :D Totally unrealistic, honestly, but I keep trying anyway.

I need to write…

  • 2,085 words a day to earn my ideal income.
  • 2,192 words a day to write 4 books in 4 series each year (16 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 1,644 words a day to write a book a month (12 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 2,466 words a day to write a book a month for one pen name and a book every other month for a second pen name (18 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 2,164 words a day if I write for 4 hours a day at my average 541 words an hour pace.
  • 1,623 words a day if I write for 3 hours a day at my average pace.

See where I’m going with this?

I have to stop reevaluating these numbers! It isn’t helping me in any way that I can see. None. It’s nothing more than a way to pass the time and distract myself from what I really need to be doing: writing.

I need to just write as much as I can each day, but that attitude never seems to work out for me. I need a bit of structure, but not too much. I don’t want another schedule, and I hate the arbitrariness of picking one of these numbers as a daily quota. How do I decide? (I’m remarkably indecisive. Impulsive too, but that’s another post.)

After a bit of thought, I’ve come up with a possible solution.

I’ve created a scale to help me keep things in perspective. :)

1,000 = low word count day
2,000 = average word count day
3,000 = moderate word count day
4,000 = high word count day
5,000 = record breaking word count day (always, because 5k is such a push for me)

My goal is to have more average and moderate word count days, sprinkled with high and record breaking days, and as few low word count days as possible.

I can track this by monitoring how I’m doing keeping my average daily word count at or above 2,000 words a day.

Easy, right?

Okay, maybe not so much easy as simple. :D

The concept makes sense, anyway. :)

That means today’s goal is to reach 2,000 words, and this week’s goal is to keep it there. And the month’s goal is the same, and so is the year’s goal. Like I said, simple.

Wish me luck.

Today starts a two week experiment with a new schedule

Here’s the writing schedule I’m going to follow for the next two weeks.

9:00-10:30
1:00-2:30
7:30-9:00

Why have I changed my schedule yet again?

The other schedule wasn’t working for me. At all. I didn’t write one single time during my scheduled writing time. Right now, in particular, I’m having trouble with getting started, and the large blocks of time weren’t helping that. Even two hours felt like too much of a commitment when there wasn’t a lot of time empty between the sessions.

So I created this new schedule with one thing in mind: making sure I don’t feel like I have a job.

That’s important. I don’t ever want writing to feel like a job.

  • I split the time blocks up so that I have huge breaks between writing sessions.
  • I made the sessions as short as I could while making them long enough that I can still get into flow during them.
  • I gave myself 3 of them so my total writing time each day fits into my long-term goals. 3 × 1.5 = 4.5 hours.
  • I started the first one later in the morning so I can sleep late if I have a bad night of sleep.
  • I’m not going to move the scheduled times if something comes up to preempt the time. I’ll just assume that I’ll miss one or two of these a month and live with that knowledge. (I won’t schedule anything during these times unless there’s no other choice.)
  • I’m not going to skip a session and claim that as a preempted time. I’ll just start writing as soon as I can near the time I was supposed to start and write for 1.5 hours. There’s enough time between sessions that this shouldn’t be a big deal.

I’m feeling hopeful this morning that this is the right thing to do.

Now, I’m off to get that first session done. I’ll post later today with the results for the first day of this experiment.

Here’s an update on a few other ongoing experiments

The no sweets experiment has been working really well (I’m down 4 pounds in two weeks), and I’ve decided to extend it indefinitely. The only exception is that I will allow myself sweets if I go to a birthday party, which is rarely more often than once a month, and usually less often. I’ll also allow myself sweets at my family’s annual Christmas party, but that’s it. These exceptions are clearly defined so they shouldn’t put any decision-making stress on me. That’s something I’ve liked about this experiment: no decisions. If it’s a sweet, the answer to “Can I?” is simple: “No.”

No caffeine: I haven’t had any coffee and I haven’t had any other caffeinated drinks either.

No Kboards or TPV: I haven’t been back to Kboards or TPV since I started that experiment. The fear of missing out is what was keeping me clicking on links. I’ve read a few author blogs I’d begun to ignore and checked out a podcast or two, but I don’t really feel like I’m missing anything, other than the entertainment factor I get from reading the posts themselves. This experiment has been good for me.