Today’s goal: 5 hours of timed writing (day 9)

I enjoy the challenge of working on multiple stories so I’m going to spread those hours out over the seven stories I have in progress. They’re all growing at a satisfactory clip and I’m pretty doggone happy with how it’s going.

The biggest complaint I have is that I really need to read some of my older books in the series and I’m not making a lot of progress with that. I got halfway through another yesterday, and that was awesome. I can’t believe how awesome and fun it was to read. :D Ego, ego, I know, but I write these stories to please myself first, so if I’ve done that in a way that gives me many rereads of pleasure, I can’t help but feel like I’ve actually accomplished something awesome! :D

I tried yesterday to spend more time on one story so I could get closer to finishing something this week, but that really didn’t pan out in the end. Today I’m going back to letting my muse direct me.

The one thing I will say is that I’m confident I can finish all my books. I’m not of the type to work on lots of things and never finish any of them, and I would never recommend working on multiple stories at a time to a writer who hasn’t nailed the ability to finish a book yet.

You gotta learn how to finish and that should be the first thing you focus on learning. It’s that important.

Let me say it again: Don’t try working on lots of different books at one time if you aren’t confident in your ability to finish! You’ll flit from one project to another and use them all to keep you from having to do the hard work of getting to the end on any one of them.

What I ended up with: 488 words, 20 minutes.

Well, it was my best 20 minute session ever. That’s gotta count for something.

Today’s goal: 7 hours of timed writing (day 8)

I totally failed at 5.5 hours yesterday, so why not set today’s goal for 7 hours?

Yep. I know.

But I have a plan. So I have to keep this short.

Today’s goal is 7 hours of writing. I’m not setting a word count goal because I’m pretty sure as long as things go okay, I’ll totally make the 3,200 daily goal I keep trying for right now.

The plan is work on whatever I want to keep the writing flowing, so no goals broken down by story today.

See ya!

What I actually ended up with: 1,434 words and 1.78 hours.

Yes, more words, fewer hours. It’s like a curse. Set a goal and move backwards toward it. ;) Since my daily word count was larger than my average and yesterday’s word count, I’m going to call it one of those sort of wins. :D

Today’s goal: 5.5 hours of timed writing (day 7)

One week in on my effort to post daily goals and I’m not disliking it. :) As long as I keep it to the point I think this is the kind of accountability post best suited to me, of all the kinds I’ve tried over the years.

Today’s goal is a little different. I’ve set a time goal in addition to my usual 3,200 words, but I’m not putting the 3,200 words goal into words. (Even though it is here, it’s not, so don’t get any ideas. :D)

I’m doing this because I want to start practicing writing more and just setting the word count goal isn’t getting me past my biggest obstacle to writing more: the number of hours of writing I manage to focus on each day.

The only thing I can think of to fix that is practice.

So, same set up, different goals.

Today’s goal: 5.5 hours of timed writing.

3 stories = ½ hour each
4 stories = 1 hour each

Or, to compare to prior day goals:

½ hour (192 words) x 1
½ hour (296 words) x 1
½ hour (301 words) x 1
1 hour (603 words) x the other 4

Swapping out stories might be just the thing that makes this attempt different from the last time I tried setting hour goals. There’s a bit of challenge and excitement in the chase to get to all the stories in one day that I really like.

Plus, as the numbers above show, this won’t interfere at all with my 3,200 words goal, because 5.5 hours is just about the right number of hours most days to get me to 3,200 words. :)

3,200 / 5.5 = about 582 words

That won’t interfere with my 3200 a day goal at all, because that actually fits right in the time range I need to get those words. 5.5 hours. I can’t think about that though because it messes with my head. So I’m just going to think about the 1 hr (and .5 hour) of writing I want to get for each of my stories.

Anyway, if I find I don’t like it, I can always go right back to chasing the word count goals (which I’ll probably be doing anyway even with the hour goals, but the truth is, this is just me trying to find a way to practice focusing for longer periods and actually getting in all the time I need so I can reach those word count goals!

What I actually ended up with: 1,109 words and 1.92 hours.

It was better than my current September daily average of 692 so it was a sort of win. It helped push my September average up above 700. :)

Today’s goal: 3,200 words (day 6)

Day 5 is missing. I know. :) I’m just not even going to bother going back and correcting it. Day 5 I wrote 130 words.

Today’s goal is identical to the day 4 goal, even though I’d like to write more. I just don’t see how that’s even going to happen. The evening of day 4 (Saturday night) I realized I’m going to have to go back and read all my books again. Some of the details are getting fuzzy and it’s time for me to refresh my brain. I’m struggling too much with my current stories because I can’t remember things I need to remember. That’s 28 books I need to reread.

I’ve read a few recently. 28 is the number I still need to reread. 18 or so of those are novels and the rest are shorter than that, thank God. :D

So, today, the goal is 3,200 words, broken down by story. :)

192 words x 1
296 words x 1
301 words x 1
603 words x the other 4

What I actually ended up with: 2,355 words.

192 words x 1 (done)
296 words x 1 (done)
301 words x 1 (done)
603 words x the other 4 (got 1 done, didn’t touch the other 3)

Today’s goal: 3,200 words (day 4)

I have afternoon plans today so I’m going to try to get my words done early today. I had planned to start at 9 AM but the power went out early and a few other things happened and my plans didn’t pan out. :)

I’m a little shocked that it’s already 11:02 am to be honest.

I have 8 stories on the go right now and I’ve been working on each of them this last week. My goal is based around that fact.

Today’s goal: 3,200 words, broken down by story. :)

192 words x 1
296 words x 1
301 words x 1
603 words x the other 4

Rounding makes it 3,201, but I don’t have to round. The silly numbers total up to exactly 3,200 based on how many months I want between the series releases. It’s both ridiculous and amazing that the number worked out so perfectly, but I took it as a sign. :D

3,200 is the perfect number.

Someday my abilities will catch up with that fact. :D

What I actually ended up with: 1,073 words.

192 words x 1 (done)
296 words x 1 (done)
301 words x 1 (done)
603 words x the other 4 (barely got started)

The writing streaks live on

Yesterday, at the twelfth hour, I did some writing and managed 470 words.

Another small win and another day to add to my streaks.

148 – 12/30
172 – 12/31
203 – 1/1
209 – 1/2
246 – 1/3
277 – 1/4
345 – 1/5
470 – 1/6

The streaks are:

  1. > 100 words each day
  2. increasing number of words each day

At some point, the increasing words per day streak will end. There’s no way around that, because I do want to write a lot of words on a daily basis. But for now this is a great motivation to keep going.

I’m finding the challenge of doing better every single day not to be much of a challenge at all. Part of that is probably because I’ve let myself write on a variety of stories (all stories I hope to finish writing and publish within the first three to four months of this year assuming I eventually reach four digits with my daily word count). That’s led to me having no trouble at all getting out some new words each day.

I don’t know, it’s kind of making me rethink my ban on writing concurrently on multiple stories.

I’m not sold on backing off the ban yet, but I do notice my motivation to write everything increases when I’m writing on anything. That matters when I’m having a tough time getting myself started. I’ve said it before: Getting started is the single most difficult thing for me when it comes to writing (or anything else).

Anyway, off to work on paperback formatting for some books and then to do some writing.

(By the way, I love this font. Firefox says it’s Libre Franklin, and I’m seriously considering downloading this to my computer and using it for my notes.)

(And I did, and yes, it definitely wasted some time, because I got lost looking at fonts. But I’m away from there now and clicking publish here! Time to get to work.)

Why the new plan does not include writing on multiple stories

I had a lot of success producing more words when I let myself work on whatever I wanted. That doesn’t really work with the new plan. Theoretically, if I’m having a bad day I can still move on to another story within the group of series stories that I’m working on, but one thing I realized I need to fix is my lack of interest in a story after too much time has passed. To fix that I really need to be writing my stories faster, and I can’t write my stories faster if I’m splitting my focus between 4 books. Because that’s how many books I would be working on at one time if I let myself work on multiple stories while I follow this new plan. Which means that all four books will be ready at about the same time and that they could all take three full months to write even if manage to consistently hit my daily goal.

Three months is too long.

Right now I’m thinking one month to six weeks is probably best to keep my interest high and to keep me from becoming bored with any particular book.

So that’s really the basic reason why I’m not going to be continuing the multiple stories experiments even though they have proven to improve the number of words I can write in any one day.

The fact is I never ended that experiment, and I continue to have trouble writing after I took the break to publish one of my other books. So obviously, even though it did help temporarily, it didn’t create a long-term solution to my long-term problem of my lack of motivation and drive to write some days.

Also, I wrote the majority of this on my phone while I was talking into the voice recognition software and I’ll just say right now that the way that my mind is scattered and the way that I think as I talk probably means this doesn’t make a lot of sense. I will try to edit it the best I can later. :)

Consider this an experiment an anti-perfectionism. I readily admit I actually did go back and edit as much as I could on my phone. But I think I’m going to leave the rest as it is. See you in a later post. :-)

End transmission. ;)

It’s all a work in progress

Hmm. It’s possible I was overly optimistic about my start time today for writing, since I was trying to make up for a really short night of sleep the night before.

You see, the night before last, I stayed up and binge watched Stranger Things on Netflix. I shouldn’t have, and I didn’t mean to, certainly, but once I got started watching it, I couldn’t quit. I think my lack of self-control is tied in to everything that’s been going on with my writing. On the other hand, I burned myself out and I’m going on a TV watching hiatus outside of my lunch break. (I watch TV during that time with my daughter and she would not be happy with me if I cut out that time together. So, not giving that up.)

Because of how tired I was yesterday, I stayed up late last night. I know that sounds at odds with how that’s supposed to work, but for some reason, when I’m desperately tired because of lack of sleep, I find it much easier to stay up late. I get a surge of energy in the evenings, usually around 8 or 9 o’clock and I start to feel like I can finally make up for a lackluster day. It’s a routine, or might as well be. It’s also one reason I have a hard time getting back into good sleep patterns when I mess up even just one night—and it’s why I try not to do that. I didn’t succeed last night and ended up getting to sleep around 12:30 AM. So of course, this morning I woke up at 6:56 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep, although I did try. I shouldn’t have. It did no good and it led me to getting up much later than I wanted to get up today.

It’s also put me off my stride and I’m struggling to get started this morning.

Not only that, but there’s a leak in a pipe in the basement and a repairman is here to fix it, and that’s also been a distraction.

But… even though I know it’s late, I’m about to try anyway. Since no one is here to notice that I’m not stopping at 11 AM today (the 11 AM to 2 PM break is not a break so much as it’s reserved non-work time), I’m going to write from now until 12 and then stop. After that, I’ll restart at 2 PM and go from there.

The goal today is unchanged: 3,233 words.

One thing you won’t find mention of is the multiple books experiment. I think it really works for me, but… I also think it has its flaws. If I’m still going to end up struggling to write the way I’ve been struggling these past two months, I think it’s best if I focus all my energy on one book at a time.

I have a sneaking suspicion that part of the reason I’m having such a hard time with the particular book I’m working on now is because I’ve spread it out over such a long time period. According to the files in my backups folder, I made my first backup of that story back on 2/8/2015. That means I’ve been working on this book, in one way or another, for almost 18 months. That’s too long to spend on a book. I lose interest. I lose focus. I can’t write without either of those. I lose the threads of the story, and that’s worst of all, I think, because it leads to the other two problems.

This is something I just realized a few days ago. The multiple stories experiment has failed to keep me writing. If I’m going to struggle, I might as well reserve that struggle for one book so I can have a better chance of keeping up my momentum with whatever particular story I’m working on.

Anyway, it’s all a work in progress. I keep feeling like someday I’ll find the perfect system that’ll keep writing fun and keep me writing, but the truth is I know that’s not going to happen. I just have to keep doing whatever it takes to make as much progress as I can. I do love to write when a story is going well, and I’m happier doing this than I’ve ever been at any of my previous jobs. It’ll work out if I just keep moving. :)

Multiple stories at once: eighth week

Thursday—Wednesday, May 26–June 1

2,220
1,852
2,854
1,181
0
0
193

Total: 8,300 words

I wrote fewer words than I wanted this week, by far (goal is 27,533) but I still ended May in a much better place than usual, so I can’t complain much. Nothing I can do about it anyway so I might as well enjoy the small win.

Probably the biggest reason for the fail is the fact that I still only wrote on one story this week, despite my decision last week not to get stuck in that frame of mind again.

My pace this week was also again much slower than I’d hoped. I averaged 516 wph over the week, and that’s in line with my old average, but much slower than I’ve been tracking since I started with the multiple stories experiment.

I’m just really at a point where I want to finish this book so I can let go of the stress that’s interfering with my ability to let myself work freely on multiple stories. I’m really feeling the pressure to finish this book, and it’s not helping me at all to push it, and yet, I keep pushing it.

Here’s hoping next week will turn out better, but I can already say based on the fact that today is Saturday, that the ninth week isn’t off to a great start.

Honestly, considering the fact that I’m obviously not working on multiple stories right now, and I know it, I’m not even sure these weeks should count.

Failure in May wasn’t as bad as it feels

I didn’t write but 1/3 of what I wanted to write in May, but in the end, when I looked harder at the numbers, I discovered it wasn’t as bad a failure as it feels. May’s word count comes in at 35,296.

Only 7 months out of 46 have been higher. May was my 47th month of publishing, and that makes June my 4 year anniversary as a self-publisher. :D How absolutely amazing!

Between April and May, I’ve had my best two month word count, ever, by 1,470 words.

February–March 2013 = 91,075 words
April–May 2016 = 92,545 words

My next best two month period was November–December 2015 when I wrote 73,377 words.

Gotta say, I’m happier than I was after looking at these numbers. I’m still showing improvement, and I’m excited by my progress. :D Here’s hoping June is a great month for word counts. :)

Multiple stories at once: seventh week & summary to date

I thought I’d list this week’s progress and then list out how I’ve been tracking from the beginning and maybe even compare it to this time last year and a few of my more productive 7 week periods from the past just to see if there’s anything there to learn.

Thursday—Wednesday, May 19–May 25

(9)
907
1,201
951
1,511
730
1,299

Total: 6,590 words.

My pace was down significantly this week too, the average coming in around 356 wph.

I worked only on the book I was trying to finish this week. Not even one word for another book.

As I said in another post, this week has been the second week I’ve had to get through that is completely out of my routine because of the end of the school year for my kids. I did better than last week, but not by much.

I don’t honestly know how much of that to blame on the messed up routine and how much to blame on trying to work on only one story. I’ve decided the latter is just not going to work, not even with me knowing I need to get this book I’ve been trying to finish finished. As soon as I started telling myself I needed to work on one book and one book only, my word counts plummeted.

So, I’m backing off the deadline. It was a personal deadline anyway, and it’s not the end of the world. It feels like a big deal, but I’ll just have to let that go in favor of getting more words so I end up with more books, faster.

Now, for the summary.

Week 1: 21,873
Week 2: 10,959
Week 3: 16,927
Week 4: 11,948
Week 5: 11,282
Week 6: 4,296
Week 7: 6,590

Total: 83,875 words

To compare previous 7 week periods:

  • Last year: 7 weeks ended 5/26/15: 40,035 words
  • My highest word count from any 7 week period since I started keeping records ended 3/24/13: 89,587 words
  • The highest I’ve made it during any other 7 week period is in the low 60,000s.

I believe the downward trend in my word counts isn’t something problematic so much as it’s a result of my shifting routine with the end of the school year.

The next couple of weeks should provide evidence of that, or to the contrary if it turns out I’m wrong. Still, I’m convinced this method is exactly what I needed to increase the number of words I write every month and that it has serious long-term potential for me. :)

Multiple stories at once: sixth week

Thursday—Wednesday, May 12–May 18

306 2 stories
0
3,618 2 stories
372 2 stories
0
0
0

Total: 4,296 words

Ouch. This was a terrible week when it came to writing. Honestly, it wasn’t much better for anything else either. It’s the end of the school year and my routine is completely out of order and I’m just trying to keep writing and make it through one more week of this. Plus, heating/A/C unit is still down, awaiting repair, and last night was graduation.

 

Multiple stories at once: fifth week

Thursday—Wednesday, May 5–May 11

701 1 story
1,656 1 story
747 2 stories
256 1 story
1,613 1 story
3,728 2 stories
2,581 1 story

Total = 11,282 words

I didn’t feel like I was writing multiple stories this week, probably because I’ve been panicking a bit about a book I’m trying to finish (which is something I hope will be over soon, but there are 2 books that I just really need to get caught up on).

I worked on 2 distinct stories this week. The only day I really broke out on, I spent most of my writing time on that second story. That was what helped me realize something was wrong with the other one, because I could still write faster and easier when I was working on something else. (And this is a great example of why the multiple stories method is really working for me to increase my word counts.)

Overall, it was another week that was much lower in word count than I’d hoped since I’m aiming for 27,533 for a full writing week, but I still did much better than my average.

I’ve now had 5 weeks in a row where I’ve written more than 10,000 words each week.

My current total words written since I started this experiment is 72,989 words. Not the 98,333 words a month I want to reach eventually, but a damn sight closer than I’ve ever been in the past. :D I’m pleased.

This experiment continues to be a raging success.

Multiple stories at once: fourth week

Thursday—Wednesday, April 28–May 4

2,260 2 stories
3,228 2 stories
1,439 1 story
1,009 2 stories
595 2 stories
2,330 3 stories
1,087 2 stories

Total: 11,948

Definitely under where I’d like to be, but it still works out to a daily average of 1,707 words which is considerably better than my 2016 daily average of 779, or my 2015 daily average of 685.

So, still a ways to get where I want to be: 3,933 words on writing days, or approx 3,233 daily average, for 98,333 words a month, but much closer than I’ve been in the past (as a whole, not my recent past—I did much better last week and the first week).

Since I started this experiment, my daily average has increased dramatically, more than doubling to 2,033 words a day. :D I call that success.

I worked on 5 distinct stories this week.

Multiple stories at once: third week

Thursday—Wednesday, April 21–27

245 (4 stories) (was not a writing day, just inputting error corrections after a read through)
2,245 (1 story)
2,863 (1 story)
149 (3 stories)
2,831 (2 stories)
4,858 (1 story)
3,736 (2 stories)

Total: 16,927 words.

It was a good week—really good, in all honesty, but I didn’t really come close to my goal of 27,533 for a full week of writing.

Still, I cannot deny that something has changed. I’m giving all credit to the things I mentioned in two posts I’ve written since I started this latest experiment (key to success, multiple stories first week).

I worked on 5 distinct stories this week.

Multiple stories at once: second week

Another week has gone by—already—and I have another week of data to support my growing belief that writing on multiple stories in the particular way I’m doing it now is the best thing I’ve done for my writing in a long while.

Thursday—Wednesday, April 14–20
4,185 (3 stories)
4,798 (3 stories)
1,752 (3 stories)
242 (2 stories)
0
(18)
0

Total: 10,959 words

Despite my five days off writing, I’ve still managed to make this a great week, relatively speaking. Two of those days will end up affecting the next week’s numbers, but I have to say, I’m really pleased with what I accomplished this week. I wrote 10,959 words, and that’s a good number for me based on my historical performance.

As long as I let myself write what I want, I still feel the excitement to get going. I had a moment today where I slipped and was making myself write something, and I finally noticed how it was affecting me. I felt a great deal of resistance. But once I realized what was going on, I opened a different book, read a bit of it, and then ended up writing on the one that had been bothering me at the outset anyway, just because I wanted to.

That’s where the real power of this method has shown itself.

Get rid of the need, and I’m left with want. And want is powerful.

Multiple stories at once: first week

I have 8 days worth of words to count now, so my first week writing on multiple stories is done, and I feel like I have something to say about this method: it really works for me.

Thursday—Wednesday, April 7–13
3,003 (4 stories)
1,009 (2 stories)
1,347 (2 stories)
3,557 (4 stories)
3,983 (2 stories)
5,391 (4 stories)
3,583 (3 stories)

Total: 21,873

What’s different about this attempt and any others where I worked on multiple stories regularly?

I can’t say 100% that this is an accurate list, but I do believe it’s close to the truth.

  1. Now: I’m writing in 1 hour blocks, but am free to switch if another story calls strongly to me. Then: my 50 word challenge.
  2. There is no most important story. See the 50 word challenge post again. I write what I’m most interested in writing. :D

That’s really it, the big differences that I think are leading me to write more and stay at it longer. And what it all boils down to is interest in what I’m writing, excitement, and fun.

When I’ve got those, writing is not hard.