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.

I was all set to be a rebel and then I realized I don’t have time

I wrote a long post about how I was abandoning WordPress a few days ago, and then I started the process by creating some HTML5 templates for one of my websites (the easiest to convert), but after two days of fiddling, it hit me hard that I don’t really have time for this. I am as much a perfectionist with the websites as I am with the writing and what should take one hour takes ten. Not my favorite confession. But—

1. I plan to finish a book this month. And by gosh I’m doing it.
2. The classic editor plugin isn’t going anywhere for a while, so for me nothing’s changed. If it changes suddenly, well, then, I can start moving on this project again (make no mistake, it’s a project for the future, because I am going to do it eventually)
3. The time will come, but maybe jumping right into it right now when I’m actively looking for things to tear me away from writing (but shouldn’t be!) isn’t what I need to do.
4. It feels like an obsession in the making. It took all day yesterday of doing other things and distracting myself to not think obsessively about it. I feel like I’m borderline this morning. A stray thought here or there could pull me right back in. So I’m going to have to do something this morning that is distracting in itself. Writing fits that bill. And since I need to write to finish that book this month, yep, that’s the one I’m going to aim for, right after I do a little morning reading (there’s a fan fiction story for Psych calling my name).

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?)

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. ;)

Pen name ethics

There’s been some grumbling on Kboards about pen names and personas that has struck a chord with me. I use pen names and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I don’t have a problem with anyone choosing to use them, for whatever reason they want to use them.

But I do have qualms about the use of personas. They ring of sock puppets and scam tactics to me, and although maybe that’s not how the authors who use them think of them, I can’t help but find it distasteful and deceptive.

On the one hand, making up a name doesn’t seem so different than making up a dog you don’t have. But to me, I do think of those things differently. When I interact with people, that fake name doesn’t really mean anything. I still interact with people as myself, even if it’s only using select attributes of myself.

Say I’m shy in real life (I’m not that shy, mostly standoffish, which is actually quite different). But say I am. I might dig deep and pull from the part of me that isn’t as shy and give myself permission to be more outgoing and brave with other people while interacting under the name of my pen name.

That kind of thing just doesn’t feel deceptive to me. That’s me behaving differently because of who I’m interacting with. I could choose to interact that way as me or as my pen name and no one would think much of it.

But if I give myself a fake dog, when I interact with others, if I choose to use my real name, then the people that know me are going to know I’m lying. Just because I choose to interact under a different name, a pen name, doesn’t mean I’m not lying any less.

So, no, I’m not supportive of authors who create entire personas that are fake. I just don’t think it’s right to do that kind of thing and present it as fact. It’s lying. It’s deception. It’s lying and deception meant for personal gain.

The thing about author bios is that it’s not generally accepted that they’re going to be fake. People, in general, expect bios to be genuine. When they’re not, it breaks a trust with the reader. I care about that. I don’t want any readers of mine to ever be able to come to me and say I lied to them or deceived them about who I am.

I hold back a lot in my bios. That’s because I’m not willing to lie about who I am, but I’m also not willing to give everything about myself away to people I don’t know. Personas are a way of trying to have it both ways.

There are authors I’ve read and loved in the past that I don’t read anymore because of this kind of thing. I have no interest in supporting people who enjoy deceiving others or who are willing to deceive others because they think it gives them an edge in whatever market they’re in. The thing about those kind of people is that they don’t care. They’ll probably never care. But I don’t have to like or support them.

Marketing has a bad reputation because of people who’ll do anything to make a sale. In my mind, I have no doubt that authors who adopt actual personas with made up details about their lives are some of those people.

Not so bad? WTF

I was reading this blog post on book stuffing this morning (and it’s a good one) and came to the screenshots that included comments someone had made in the Chance Carter Diamond Group.

Mind blown.

Why? Because I don’t understand who would look at that list of instructions on how to do the KU Flip and actually think anyone is worth that kind of time investment.

I understand there are people out in the world who feel entitled to steal other people’s time while providing nothing of real value in return, just so they can make a few extra dollars off each one. I do.

But I don’t understand why people value themselves so little that they would actually let it happen. It’s worth it for a free book? A chance at a prize? You’ve got to be kidding me.

And then to think that this character—this person—is already making thousands every month and these readers are giving up time—something that you never, ever get back—to give this person another $12-15 for a KU read? Ugh. Fuck that.

Inherently selfish people have no trouble taking advantage of givers. These poor givers are giving and giving, and this dude is just taking and taking and taking.

The only way this makes sense to me is if it’s all just a big pyramid scheme and the used are hoping to become the users at some point and recoup their investment. But that’s not what I’m hearing. These are readers, who’ve been drawn in by this person’s persona, and who choose to let themselves be used in this way.

I’m sad that I don’t really believe in karma in this life. Maybe in the next.

Taking another run at “The End” today

I’m off to a good start. Only 49 words up after two 45 minute sessions, but I’m through the editing completely and back into new words territory now. (Just finished deleting a decent chunk of several hundred words. I was up 162 words after the 1st session only to lose most of them in the 2nd.)

The plan is to keep doing the 45 minute sessions until I reach either 6 hours or the end of the book. (Hoping for the latter!)

Anyway, off to make something to drink and then I’ll be starting session three.

Here are the sessions so far.

Minutes Words Session WPH
45 162 162 216
45 49 -113 -151
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0

(Sometime very much later…)

I’m sitting here staring at my results today and more than a little disappointed that I finished only two 45 minute sessions.

I wrote three pages in my journal about not writing (typical) and then went website hopping for self-help articles to validate my feelings (also typical). It was stupid and I really don’t understand myself sometimes. Writing fiction is important to me.

One, it’s my life’s work. Two, it’s my job. Three, it keeps me from having to work as someone’s employee and live a lifestyle I absolutely hate.

The self-sabotage I’m capable of just boggles my mind. I’m destroying my chance for happiness by not sticking to a writing routine of some kind and actually putting out the words I ought to be perfectly capable of writing.

I don’t want to write. That’s just all there is to it. I look at my book, think about the writing, and just do not want to do it.

I think I know why, but I can’t seem to fix it.

Writing is a chore because I make it hard. Every time I sit down, I spend loads of time redoing sentence after sentence, word after word, trying to find my way. Trying to capture a feeling or a scene that I can’t seem to capture no matter how hard I try. Second-guessing every decision, writing for everyone except myself, even though that is exactly what I do not want to do.

I didn’t used to be this way. I’m not sure what happened or when it changed, but writing has felt hard for a couple of years now. I’ve been publishing since 2012. It’s 2017 now. Somewhere in there, something changed. It could have been a slow slide or a sudden shift, but it happened, and I’ve been left standing on a ledge. The rocks under my feet are crumbling and I’m starting to feel a little desperate.

I need to find a way off this damn ledge.

I tried changing up my formatting on my book-in-progress to see if that refreshed my feelings for the writing, but it was a wasted effort. I tried multiple formats and ended up right back where I’d started: Times New Roman 12 pt, single spaced text, first line indent.

It was a band-aid anyway.

The problem isn’t how the text looks. It isn’t the fact that I can’t get comfortable. I can get comfortable enough to web-surf for hours on end and read online articles, or read forum threads, or read a book that takes all day long to read, but I can’t get comfortable enough to type words into my computer? Give me a break. My comfort isn’t the problem.

The problem is that I don’t want to write.

But it’s not just the writing. I don’t want to do anything. That’s the real problem. I just want to be, and let me tell you, that’s the stupidest thing in the world, because I know as well as the next person that you don’t make it through life that way with your self-respect intact.

Is depression something that can last for years? Because I’m seriously starting to wonder if there’s something serious behind this weird combination of worry, apathy, and lack of motivation I’ve had going on for so long.

Something’s just not right.

You know the funniest part of this all? This post is 669 words long.

I’m not laughing.

Journaling my way to success?

I started an experiment four days ago on Friday (see the post).

Fri: 198 (deleted a chunk of words that knocked this down by about 300)
Sat: 2,088
Sun: 1,185
Mon: 1,544

I’ve had a few times where I just forgot to journal at my break but overall, it is keeping me focused. On the other hand, I admit, I went back to running my timer as I worked, not because I’m going to agonize over my words per hour numbers, but because I just feel less at loose ends when the timer is going. And it doesn’t hurt to look back at a less than stellar word count day and see that I put in a decent amount of effort so I shouldn’t be criticizing myself for it!

(Honestly, it’s the first step of reform for me. I have to quit being so hard on myself all the time. I’m not talking about what I expect from myself, because I think it’s good to push for more than my average as often as I can. I’m talking about how I talk and think about myself and my efforts. Talking down to myself is just not a viable long-term happiness strategy.)

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. :)

Funnily enough I feel good about writing today

After last night’s contemplative mood, I’m surprised by how well I feel today, about writing, about the future, about everything.

Well, except for the spider infestation I seem to be dealing with. Not so happy about that! But they’re little spiders, with feathery legs, and those kind don’t trigger my phobia the way most other spiders do.

Still, not that happy that one landed on my bed last night and started trucking it right up beside my leg. I couldn’t find any sign of where it came from, but I’ll be vacuuming my bedroom ceiling today regardless. Then of course I came down to find one tucked up in the corner over the breakfast room window and another in the corner of the hallway that leads to the garage. I vacuumed those ceilings just a couple of days ago. Let me just say, as a five foot one person with nine foot high ceilings, this has been a chore and a half! My bedroom has a tray ceiling and the middle section is ten foot high. That’s going to be fun.

So, on that note, I’d like to finish my writing before I have to go up and start vacuuming ceilings again. I figure when I’m done, all I’m going to want to do is crash on the couch and read a book!

Okay, on to today’s plan. I’m going to go with 45 minute blocks, because they divide evenly into 3 hours. I’m planning four of them.

I decided last night after some vague contemplation (I wasn’t forcing these thoughts) that 3 hours a day even if I reach 1,557 words earlier isn’t a bad expectation. I see no reason why I wouldn’t want to write for at least that long most days. So although I haven’t decided it’s a rule or anything, I think aiming for a complete 3 hours each day of writing isn’t asking too much of myself. Preferably I’ll do this in the mornings, but on days when I don’t, I’ll try not to stretch out my day to the point that I’m finishing an hour of writing at bedtime. Some authors do well writing late at night. I don’t. I give up much too easily when I’m tired. So I have to stop putting myself in that position.

Write early, write more later if I want.

Now to go write.

I don’t know

I let my streak of writing every day end yesterday. Technically, I did sit at the computer and write, but it was of such a small amount that it didn’t overcome a few minor deletions and left me with a net word count of -40 for the day.

So why am I not counting it?

I asked myself that last night when I consciously decided I just wasn’t going to write any more and I wasn’t going to count what I’d done. The streak was dead. I read a book yesterday, finished it even (not one I’d recommend so I’ll just leave it there), and I was tired. Not too tired to write at least a few hundred words. But a hundred or two words felt like a token number just so I could count it for the streak, and I had a moment where I just thought, that’s ridiculous. And it really felt ridiculous. Even now, it feels kind of ridiculous. So I let it die.

I’ve always had a lot of difficulty figuring out exactly what I want of myself when it comes to writing, because there are so many things I want and not all of them make sense when taken together. I want to be prolific and write every day and finish books unusually fast. I want to sit down in the mornings and write until I’m tired of writing and then get on with my day. I want to split up my writing throughout the day so I don’t feel trapped in a routine. I only want to write when I want to write, but I want that to be every day.

What I do know:

Writing every day isn’t as important as writing most days. (Is this self-justification for last night’s choice?)

Writing 1,557 words every day isn’t as important as averaging 1,557 words a day. (We all know every day just isn’t going to happen in the real world. Not with something that’s going to take over an hour even on the absolute best of days.)

Still, 1,557 words a day is a nice number. A magic number, if you will, because I always feel like I can write that number of words in a very short amount of time, even if that hasn’t proven to be true, yet, with this particular book.

Knowing how other people self-publish and market doesn’t interest me. I’ll do things my way until my way doesn’t work anymore. Then I’ll worry about figuring out how to do things some other way.

I write fiction for a reason that has more to do with lifestyle than money.

What I need to do is stop thinking so much about the why and how and when, and just write.

Routines bore me. But I’m constantly fighting the feeling that I need a routine. I want one. I daydream about having one, how my life would be so calm and awesome and I’d sit down in the mornings with a cup of tea or coffee (which I no longer drink) and I’d write my words, and then I’d get up and go for a walk, then sit down with a good book, have lunch, go out, and go to bed feeling accomplished and satisfied, then I’d get up the next day and do it all over again.

It’s a very detailed daydream. ;)

The only problem is that I have no idea how to make it a reality because every time I try to get a routine going, I bail on it. I can’t take it after a while. I feel like I’m suffocating. It’s horrible. I hate it. I get bored so easily and that routine, the one I daydream about, would kill me after about three weeks.

So what do you do when the life you imagine you want isn’t the life that actually fits your personality?

I don’t know.

So here I am. It’s 8:41 pm and I haven’t written any fiction today. I did read every article I had waiting for me in Pocket—quite a few actually. They’d been building up. I talked to my mother. I watched a few episodes of television.

Now I’m feeling contemplative, but I need to start writing.

I guess I’ll do that.

Oh, and here’s an essay I read this afternoon that I can recommend and it ties in nicely to my previous post: “Avoid News: Towards a Healthy News Diet” by Rolf Dobelli. Yes, I did seek out a few articles in support of my decision to cut out news and a few of them applied quite perfectly well to forums too. I was surprised by how closely the essay mirrored some of my own thoughts.

It’s time for a permanent reduction in distractive reading

I’ve started using the Mind the Time add-on for Firefox again, temporarily, to help me keep an eye on time I’m spending on things I need to cut out of my day so I have more time for reading fiction, watching TV, doing random stuff, all while still having plenty of time for writing.

See that number 1 in the picture above? Yeah. I’m not surprised, believe it or not. I know I have a problem with that site. And FYI, that 8:13 is hours and minutes not minutes and seconds!

Thirty-four percent of my time online is going to clicking through forum threads and reading them, and almost never engaging in actual discussion. It’s stressful. Maybe that doesn’t make a lot of sense, because why go there when I don’t actually enjoy it? But I do go there—every time I get a little antsy and start looking for a distraction.

I’m going to have to make it a rule that I can’t go there anymore. I really don’t know how else to stop this massive waste of my valuable time.

Same goes for news. Almost nothing I read has any relevance to my life at all, and yet, every time I get on my phone or tablets or my browser, I end up scrolling through the headlines, looking for something interesting to read. It’s like an addiction. I really don’t like feeling addicted to things.

Not only that, but I keep telling myself I’m going to watch more tutorials on design, I’m going to read more fiction, I’m going to study a language, I’m going to learn to draw, I’m going to write more every day, I’m going to go out more, I’m going to visit family more often, and yet I keep wasting vast amounts of valuable time reading news and forum topics that are just a repeat of what I read yesterday. It doesn’t make any sense to let it continue.

in light of that, I’m making a new rule for myself: no more trending news, no more NPR, no more Kboards, no more The Passive Voice. I already don’t watch news videos or television news, read newspapers, or news magazines, so I think that’ll cover it.

I’ve reduced my media intake before and I quite liked it. It’s time to make it permanent. It’s like that old adage of closing one door to let another open.

I will seek out the things that matter to me, and in the process, I’m sure I’ll come across other topics that I’ll feel are important enough for me to delve into in depth. No more skimming news items or forum topics looking for my next distraction.

Even writing that, I feel a huge sigh of relief just waiting to escape. It’s the right thing to do for me and I already feel better.

Ah… :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.

I want to write every day

How can I say this and it not be a goal for the year, for the month, for my life? I don’t know, but I have and it isn’t. It’s a statement of fact. I want to be the kind of writer who writes every day. It’s not a challenge and I’m not making it into an experiment. I’m just throwing it out there so that I can hear myself say it because it’s true.

I want to write every day.

Disheartened by a bad book

I can’t make people like my books. I can’t really change what and how I write, or if I could, I wouldn’t want to, because then I just wouldn’t want to write. I don’t always enjoy the process of writing, and it’s the story, written the way I want it written, that carries me through when I’m feeling that way.

Writing is hard for me.

Sure, sure. There are people who’ll say that’s dumb, that writing isn’t hard, but those people? They don’t know how it feels to be me. I love making up stories, but writing them down, in some kind of coherent way, is really damn hard work. There are lots of days when I’d rather clean bathtubs all day than try to make sense of the stuff in my head and put it down in readable form.

I do the best I can with everything I write, and I do try to improve. And I recognize that not everyone is going to like what I write—especially because I write primarily for me.

All that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still disheartening when I realize I’m not writing things other people enjoy in the same way I do.

I’m pretty sure my last book didn’t hit the mark with a great many people. I had that realization after I accidentally saw a review I really didn’t need to see and went looking for evidence to support it one way or another—and it was an accident, because I never would have gone looking for it but one retailer in particular emails me reviews and I can’t stop them from doing it.

Probably not my best idea today.

What I found was that this latest book is my lowest rated book on Goodreads, by nearly a star. The thing I liked most about the book is the thing really not loved by most other readers. People do not seem to be liking this book. I’ve had a few 5 star ratings, but no reviews to go along with them, while the reviews I do have are all pretty negative.

Right now, I’m feeling like I’m just not that great a writer. My books have flaws, some of those flaws pretty major, but other than continuing on as I am, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do about it.

I’m doing the best I can. I just have to keep going, write what I write, and hope people continue to buy my books despite those flaws.

I’m not where I wanted to be

It’s been four years since I started self-publishing. I published my first story in July 2012 and I’ve never looked back. I quit my job in September of that year, lived on savings, and wrote as much as I could. I had a ridiculous amount of faith that it was going to work out, even when it really didn’t look like it was going to work out.

But it has, and I’m making a living on the money I earn from my fiction.

But now I feel stuck.

It’s been four years and I’m not where I wanted to be at this point, with either income or output. I know what to blame: My inconsistency. I don’t meet my word count goals. I can’t stick to a regular production schedule. I don’t have a regular publishing schedule.

The only thing I’ve done with any consistency is spend weeks and months struggling to keep myself writing when the doldrums hit. My latest zero word day streak ended today after 35 days.

I’ve had 145 zero word days this year. That’s already more than in any other year, and this year has 4 months to go.

I’ve got a problem, and I’m not sure how to fix it.

On the other hand, my output over the last four years is eerily consistent considering how irregular my writing schedule is.

2012: 146,821 (tracks to 291k for the year)
2013: 268,191
2014: 217,641
2015: 250,011
2016: 137,080 (tracks to 205k for the year)

Of course, if I continue to fail to write, this year could be the first year I dip below 200k for the year. I really can’t let that happen. I already feel disconnected from my writing, and I don’t like that feeling. I’m just not sure what’s going on.

I want to change this, to improve my output numbers, but at this point, I’m just not sure what it’s going to take, or if I’m capable of it. As you can imagine, this is a very frustrating time for me. I’m at a low point, and I’m very much feeling like I just don’t have that something special that drives people to exceed their limits and achieve great things.

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. :)

July 11: follow up & the decision to go all in

I’m really disappointed in myself right now. A couple of things happened that stopped me from returning to my work at 1 pm today, one of those being a  headache. That’s a legitimate issue, but in all truth, I should have worked through it. I needed to work through it.

I know what was to blame for the headache. Four days ago I drank a cup of coffee. The next day and the day after I drank another. Yesterday, I continued the pattern.

Today I didn’t. And I got a headache.

Just to prove the point to myself, I finally gave in and drank a cup of coffee at about 5 pm. Yep, a half hour later the headache started to get better.

It’s gone now. But my day ended up completely off-kilter and I just never recovered. Also, I started to obsess over the fact that I’ve been regaining some weight I lost last year. I can’t write, I’m having trouble controlling my eating, my time, my attention—it all seems to point quite clearly to me toward the fact that something’s got to change.

Moderation isn’t working for me, in anything.

Tomorrow I begin a new plan. I’m going all in, moderation be damned.

I will follow the schedule, even if I’m just staring at the damn laptop screen and doing nothing.

Meals will be meat, vegetables, and fruit, and nothing else for two weeks. I eat a varied diet—but I eat too much!—and I eat way too many sweets. I am completely addicted. I don’t say this to make light of addiction. Alcoholism runs rampant on one side of my family tree. Obesity runs rampant on the other. I think it’s pretty obvious addiction issues plague both.

There’s a reason I’m very, very careful about how much and when I drink anything alcoholic. I’ve never been drunk. Ever. And I never plan to be.

It’s time I started treating certain foods as if they were alcoholic beverages. Frankly, I think my body already does. I’ll just make it a conscious choice now to do the same mentally.

(Just a quick note: I’m not banning grains, but honestly, I generally only like them when they’re part of cakes, desserts, or smothered with sugar so what’s the point of trying to fit them in? Toast? Only if there’s sugar and cinnamon on it. Rolls? Only if I add honey to the butter. Oatmeal? Only with sugar and maple syrup. Rice? I add sugar!!! Usually a tablespoon per cooked cup or I can’t eat it. I can’t stand cornbread. I don’t even like wheat bread that much.)

So that’s it. Tomorrow I’m taking control of a few areas of my life that feel completely and totally out of my control.

Wish me luck getting over this hump.