Need to get this next book moving

I need to get this next book moving, and I need to do it in a hurry. I’m already so far behind I’m not sure I can catch up.

Time for a challenge.

I plan to aim for my best word count in a day ever tomorrow: 6,000 words.

I have 3 blocks of 3 hours each scheduled. (And I’ll go vote during the break between block 1 and block 2.)

I need to write 2,000 words in each 3 hour block.

I need to write 667 words for each hour in each 3 hour block.

As in, I really need to keep my pace up. A big part of this challenge will be keeping my breaks as short as possible. My historical average pace isn’t that great—and 667 wph is already pushing it. The less time I actually write during each hour, the faster I need that pace to be.

really need to reach that 2,000 words during each block.

Side benefit of this challenge? Working this hard, it’ll be impossible to find time to worry over the election!

Now, off to bed to make sure I’m ready to get started when I need to start tomorrow. :)

Another trying to write 6,000 words in a day post

Today I’m trying to make up for lost time.

I’ve set aside 8 hours today for writing. I hope to get 14 total 30 minute sessions out of them, unless I finish the book sooner. To get to the estimated word count I originally set for this book, I need to write 6,311 words today. Since I’ve set aside only 8 hours, and at least 1 of those hours will get lost to interruptions, I need to write about 900 words an hour today.

That’s a BIG challenge. :D

I’m up for it. This book is going to end today.

Trying to write 6,000 words in one day

Here’s what I’m going to do to try to meet this 6,000 words in a day goal.

Well, first:

  1. These need to be final copy words or very close to it.
  2. They’ll all be on one story, because I really need to finish this book to meet my personal deadline.

Here’s how I’m going to structure this:

  1. I’m going to write in 30 minute sessions.
  2. I have 4 massive 4 hour blocks scheduled on my calendar. 7:30 to 11:30, 12:30 to 4:30
  3. I want to complete 7 sessions in each 4 hour block.
  4. I want to reach 858 wph average over all the sessions.
  5. I want to reach 3,000 words for each 4 hour block.

There it is: the plan. I’ve been trying this for days, tbh, but today is the first day where I’m going to be trying 30 minute sessions, and where I’ve laid out how a goal number of sessions I want to finish in each block.

Wish me luck. :)

FYI, I got SO lucky yesterday. No jury duty today! The case that was scheduled for court today is off the docket. Or something like that. That means I have the day to work on finishing this book. :)

Here’s how things stand at 4:24 pm:

  1. This is working well today
  2. I’m completely outside these windows now and nowhere near where I should be on number of sessions from (1) above
  3. Got through 4 in block 1 and sitting at 6 total all day a few minutes from the end of block 2
  4. My pace is 746 wph so far
  5. I haven’t even yet reached the first 3,000 of the day

I have to stop at 7:30 pm to make a book cover, unless I decide to put it off in favor of more writing. I’m still planning to write as much as possible, because even if I don’t hit 6,000 words today, I’m feeling close to the end of this book and I’d love to finish it tonight. :)

 

Need a push today

I need a push today, so public humiliation it is! ;)

The plan is to write for 50 minutes out of every hour.

9:30–12:30
1:00–4:00

I need more time than I’m giving myself, but I don’t want to put in more time than I have to for these words, so I’m depending on Parkinson’s law to get me there (praying, in other words, for a miracle).

#DIV/0! avg wph
    4,776 words to go
#DIV/0! hours to go
6 planned
6 to go
795.917 per session
955.1 goal wph

So, it’s 9:11 and I have to get started or my plan for the rest of this week is toast.

*** Update ***

It’s 3:53 pm and I’ve finished 2—yes, 2—sessions. How has that happened? I had 6 hours set aside for writing and I’ve spent a lot of time at the computer today. I can’t pull any one thing out of my head and say that’s what caused me to lose time today, but I’d say I’m about to have to institute a no WIFI rule until I get better at staying on task. :o The internet is a tempting little morsel when writing starts to feel like work.

Here’s where I sit:

        521 avg wph
     3,821 words to go
7.32739 hours to go
6 planned
4 to go
955.125 per session
1146.15 goal wph

I did do a little writing outside of one of my sessions so that’s why the number don’t exactly add up.

Time to get back to it. I unscheduled the rest of the stuff I was hoping to get to this evening, because getting the rest of those words is more important than any of those things. Considering my pace, I’m definitely going to need to do more than the 4 sessions I have left, so it’s liable to be a long night.

Bummer.

In a twist anyone (but me) could see coming…

I did not spend yesterday or today writing lots of words.

I did read a few chapters of the book I’m trying to get back into and do some edits last night, adding a few words to the story, then spent about half an hour writing this morning, but I’m very far from where I wanted to be right now on my word count.

That puts me in a pickle, because the word counts I need to reach each day to reach my goal for the week are above anything I’ve ever done in a single day—and I’ll need to keep it up for 3 days in a row.

The word counts aren’t impossible, but they kind of really feel that way. There’s a mental barrier there at 6,000 words—I’ve yet to go above 5,758 words in a day, and then there’s the creative barrier, and the energy barrier.

I need about 20,175 words in 3 days, or about 6,606 words each day. At my usual output and ratio of writing time to break time, there just isn’t enough time in the day to reach those goals unless I’m at the absolute top of my game.

Also, I kind of suspect the reason I stalled out today and didn’t get restarted on my writing is because there’s some stuff I don’t remember that I need to know for me to keep going with this story. I’m going to have to take some time to read some of the previous chapters of this book if I have any hope of finishing the book quickly. Meaning I really can’t get back to writing tonight until I’ve done that.

Since I just did an experiment earlier this week, timing my read through of the last book I finished, I know I can read 3 chapters an hour (taking approx. 14 minutes per chapter, plus a necessary break). I read every word at this speed, and it’s great for catching typos and such. I’m on chapter 15, but I already went through chapters 12–15 last night.

So 4 hours of reading to catch up to where I am.

I do believe this is a “have to do it” thing.

So, decision made, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to use the time I have available tonight to do this, and then get up tomorrow with the intent to write as much as I possibly can.

The only other option is to do hours of reading tonight, go right into the writing, and stay up so late that I’m miserable tomorrow and get nothing done. :o

Considering how many words I’ll still need to write tomorrow even if I have a fantastic night of writing tonight, I need to avoid that outcome. ;)

Schedule update: times are almost right, sessions keep changing

Since I started following a writing schedule again, I’ve found that some adjustments have had to be made. A few things just weren’t working out how I’d like.

I added an extra half hour for the midday break. I also stopped an hour earlier for lunch and moved that hour to after lunch.

Scheduled times

7 to 12 became 7 to 11, while 1 to 4 became 12:30 to 4:30.

I’ve only tried this for one day, and not successfully, let me add, but possibly because it’s fall break for the schools here and I keep messing up my 7 am start time. Still, the lunch hour wasn’t working. I’ve had to adjust it every day, so building that into the schedule makes more sense than not.

Session times

First it was 50 minute sessions, then 15 minutes, then 25 minutes. They each worked at different times this week, but I’m moving permanently back to 50 minute sessions for planning writing output because of how well they work within the framework I’ve constructed. It’s very easy to account for how many sessions I should have completed in any number of hour long blocks if I assume 50 minutes writing time to 10 minutes break time.

One change I’ve made is that I’m not longer stressing over whether or not I can complete the entire 50 minutes without a break. (Too much tea, I know. I can’t help it. I feel compelled to have something to drink while I write.) I just plan to write for 50 minutes, pause the timer when necessary, and aim to complete the 50 minute session within the one hour block. Now this? This is something that’s actually had a much bigger impact on how I feel about these long sessions than I would have thought. The new perspective is working great. No more resentment for long sessions, or hesitation to start one, because it’s perfectly okay to pause the session. In fact, I expect it. There’s also a bit of pressure to get back to it quickly that’s helpful (because the timer is paused). It’s working out much better than the break between sessions. That’s where I’m still having a lot of trouble with distractions. :)

Session goals

One thing I realized right away was that I wasn’t just pushing for higher word counts per hour with the sessions. I was also demotivating myself a bit. Not much, just enough that I really started to notice it yesterday. The problem is that I use my number of sessions times my word count goal to estimate what goal I should have for a day’s writing. The numbers made me feel too optimistic about the chances I’d have of reaching really (really) high word counts, despite what I know of my historical performance.

So I scaled back. I might want to write 250 per 15 minute session, or 325 per 25 minutes, or 600 or 800 per 50 minute session, but that’s just not that likely, and it’s no way to plan. I can still hold all those numbers in my head as goals, but they’re really no good for planning.

I’ve settled on a 550 word goal for each 50 minute session for planning purposes. That’s 660 words per hour. My average the last time I checked was about 641 wph, and my all time average was about 541 wph, so it’s a bit of a push, but not an overwhelming one.

I know how many words I need to finish several of the books I’ve got going, I just needed estimates of sessions and words to get me to a daily plan to make it happen by the deadlines I’ve set myself (publicly this time). The book lengths are estimates, of course, but I don’t mind adjusting how much writing I need to do each day if I see that a book is going longer than I planned. It happens more often than not, to be honest, and that’s another reason overly optimistic word count expectations are a problem for me.

My former session goals led me to create deadlines that were just too tight. I gave myself some much needed breathing room. :)

Self-discipline: a necessary evil–and possibly the key to my happiness

So… I’ve been thinking again. We all know I favor thinking over action as often as I can. ;)

I was writing my word count post yesterday when I realized that I really have become the kind of writer I don’t want to be: unreliable, undisciplined, and full of excuses for why my books are languishing unwritten.

Even knowing how badly I needed to produce words yesterday, I put it off and ended up wanting to pull my hair out over my own resistance to doing something I like to do (write). I ended up here, writing that post.

What I realized is that I’m going to have to change, whether I want to or not. I’m not going to be that kind of writer. Or person. Or whatever. :)

I have the ability to self-discipline. I just really don’t like doing it and I talk myself into the mindset that life shouldn’t be about schedules and discipline, especially if I’m doing something I like. But that’s just not true. Maybe it should be about discipline and schedules because it’s something I like.

Anyway, I’m here only to say that I’ve made a new schedule. It’s one I’m going to start following today, and it’s not a guideline this time, it’s a rule.

I’m going to adjust it as needed to make sure I meet my writing goals. What set this off yesterday wasn’t actually me realizing I was putting off what needed done, again, but a conversation I had with my sister about needing to lose more weight and what I was going to do about it. I told her I was going to go back to counting calories in a spreadsheet I have, because that’s what really works for me because I’m very numbers oriented.

That made me realize that for my writing, this probably explains why my spreadsheet is so motivating to me, and also made me realize I need to utilize that more. I had at one time included deadlines on the spreadsheet but decided they sucked the fun out of writing. But I’m not so sure about that. There’s definitely fun to be had figuring out how many words I need to write to meet that deadline.

I think the problem was thinking of those deadlines as set in stone while I kept underestimating the word counts for book length on most of my books. As long as I keep in mind that adjustments are perfectly okay and not a flaw in the system, I can see this working for me.

On the other hand, I really only want to do that for the books I’m behind on, so I can get them out ASAP, and then settle into my goal for more 2000+ word days. :)

This is not an experiment so much as it’s a challenge. I’ve told myself I can’t drop this plan or decide I don’t need to follow a schedule after all because it’s too restrictive—what silly nonsense. I made the schedule based on my own needs. No one is telling me what to do here; I’ve just figured out that these are the best times for me to do what I already want to do, for the benefit of both my future and current self. Being schedule-less just isn’t working out well for me and my sinking numbers for this year are yelling at me to make changes or risk losing the future I most want (continuing to write fiction for a living).

I’m going to do my best to follow the schedule. Some days, like today, I’ll have to make adjustments right off, but it’s a plan and I plan to keep on it.

7 to 12: writing, 3 sessions of 15 minutes, with a goal of 250 words per session (on publishing days I won’t be writing)
1 to 4: currently needed to catch up to where I need to be on several projects, writing some days, same as above, more likely doing publishing stuff, such as proofing chapters of whatever I’m working on

Because this is a 7 day a week schedule, the 1 to 4 won’t continue indefinitely. That’s 56 hours a week, and I don’t want to work that many hours every week unless a story is driving me to it. It’s just that right now I’m really behind on some stuff, so I need to work until 4 if I want to get this stuff done. By the middle of October, if I can stick to this, I’ll be in a much better place and will be able to adjust my schedule accordingly, for shorter hours. 5 hours x 7 days a week is a much more comfortable 35 hours a week, doing something I really like doing. And if I show that I can meet my goals and work fewer hours, I’ll take advantage of that.

However things end up, the plan is to have regular hours for my writing and publishing, so I can settle into a strong routine and actually start being productive in one way or another most days. I’m done ending every day feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile.

Now, I’m late starting my work today, because of writing this post, so I’m going to call this post done.

Current goal: plan to read entire series from beginning

I’m still struggling to get moving on this book I need to finish, so I’ve decided to put writing new material on the back burner until I’ve read the entire series from the beginning. I’m going to let myself count the reading toward my 15 minutes of writing today, simply because I think reading the series is the best thing I can do for myself right now; I just do not think I’m going to be able to start writing on this book again until I read those other books.

Here’s the plan.

Tonight: Read for about an hour, get 1/2 through book 1.

Finish reading book 1 by 10 AM tomorrow.

Read book 2 by 2 PM tomorrow.

Read book 3 by 6 PM tomorrow.

Read book 4 by 10 PM tomorrow.

Saturday: Read what’s written of book 5 by 12 noon. Commit to keeping or deleting the last few scenes.

I’m going to track how I do with this and update this post accordingly. :D

Updates

Uh oh. The reading is going slower than I hoped it would. At 11:22 I’m at the 18% mark in book 1. :o

Still, it’s working. I’m getting excited about this world again! I’ll continue to update with my progress throughout the day today. I’m hoping I’ll be able to catch up on the reading. :)

2nd update: I haven’t done well with the reading today. I’m going to try pushing for a little more self-discipline tomorrow and stay offline until I’ve read at least 2 books. Tonight, I hope to be able to stay awake long enough finish reading book 1. I’m afraid that’s going be difficult. I’m already very sleepy.

Saturday updates

Yep, I’m a day behind now. The goal is still to finish this read through as quickly as I can, preferably today with a bit of time left for writing. What I don’t want is to finish reading and not have time to write something right away.

10:05 book 1 38% read

12:17 book 1 56% read (I’m having serious trouble concentrating.)

10:44 book 1 67% read

Sunday updates

Too much time away and too many interruptions yesterday, plus a serious problem with concentration led to very little reading.

8:40 book 1 67% read (today’s starting point)

I’m going to try to stay on schedule today with my original plan.

9:58 book 1 80% read

10:58 book 1 100% read!

12:17 book 2 8% read (Again, I’m having trouble concentrating, but of note is how flat my stories feel to me right now. I’m trying to remember the last time I was truly excited about a book while I was reading it, and I can’t really remember. I know it wasn’t the last one; I gave up on that one about 200 pages from the end of the book’s 680ish pages. On the other hand, I feel better about the new book—if this is as good as it gets, the new book will fit right in.)

12:04 (AM) book 2 9% read

Monday updates

9:15 book 2 12% read

Tuesday updates

8:51 (PM) book 2 23% read

Thursday updates

9:29 (PM) book 2 44% read

Finally, the eldest is off to college. It’s been a stressful few days–weeks even–but I’m hoping things are about to settle down a bit. Too little sleep last night put me into a stupor today, but tomorrow I’m going to finish this.

Saturday updates

“Tomorrow” came and went yesterday, with very little reading.

I’m starting from the last update on progress I have listed above.

Sunday updates

This is it. I’m going to finish the reading today and start writing again before the day is done. It’s mind boggling how long this has taken, but the time for excuses has passed.

10:22 book 2 57% read

Dealt with a few interruptions, but it’s back to reading now.

3:03 book 2 67% read

4:02 book 2 71% read (I’m not enjoying these books the way I used to enjoy them. I read something else yesterday, hoping to perk up my interest in reading, but all that did was make me feel worse about my writing in these books, and I’m already feeling pretty bad about it. I honestly don’t know if it’s as bad as it feels as I’m reading, or if it’s just me. If I didn’t need to do this reading for continuity with the new book, I think I would abandon this effort. It’s really making me feel terrible about my skill as a writer!)

Aside: I’m either going to have to stay up very, very late, or I’m about to start skimming!

Monday updates

Okay, so I didn’t finish yesterday, but I’m making good progress this morning, and I’ve committed to making today the last day for this.

8:55 book 2 77% read

9:51 book 2 100% done!

Having a much easier time concentrating today and the numbers prove it. No, none of that was skim reading. I just found it easier to stay focused on the story and got through 23% of the book in a less than an hour. I’m taking a break for food and then I’m going to dig into book 3 and hope this improved ability to concentrate sticks around.

12:10 book 3 20% read

2:12 book 3 24% read

2:45 book 3 31% read

By the way, book 3 is twice as long as book 1. :)

4:55 book 3 33% read

6:33 book 3 36% read

9:30 book 3 41% read

It’s obvious to me that I’m not going to finish this tonight unless I stay up much later than I can possibly stay up.

Tomorrow it is then. But I do believe I can still finish this book tonight, now that it’s quiet again.

Tuesday updates

Unfortunately, I’m not yet reading book 4 this morning, because I conked out last night not long after I made the update above. Fell asleep with my phone in my hand and the book in face.

But what’s done is done. I’m very confident today will actually be the last day of this, and I’m somewhat confident today will be the day I get back to writing.

9:34 book 3 49% read

5:37 book 3 62% read

7:11 book 3 73% read

8:01 book 3 81% read

8:58 book 3 100% done!

9:17 book 4 9% read

Calling it a night. I will finish this tomorrow. The goal is to finish book 4 by 11 and what’s written of book 5 by 3. Then I’ll spend some time writing.

Wednesday updates

Last day, I know it. Really!

It’s 9 AM sharp and I’m ready to read. I’m starting just where I left off last night. I have 2 hours to read this book if I want to stay on track with my plan so I may do some skimming. I have read this book more recently than I had read the previous books so skimming may be adequate. :)

2:12 book 4 27% read

I’m still planning to finish this today but I am not where I wanted to be. It really looks like I’m going to just have to force myself to skim read. Skimming does not come naturally to me. I actually have a very hard time doing it, and that’s probably one reason why I ditch books so quickly when I get bored with them.

Which brings me to this: I am bored with these books. I’m hoping that’s one reason the first 3 books of the series annoyed me so much with their inferiority. (As in, I’m praying really hard that they’re not as bad as they felt as I was reading them.)

The book I’m reading now, though, book 4, is just as good, if not better, than I remember. Maybe I haven’t yet read it too many times. :o

2:56 book 4 34% read

6:45 book 4 37% read

9:12 book 4 45% read

Monday updates (Or 18 days later!)

Let me just say that I didn’t intend for it to take anywhere near this long to finish this little project of reading my series from the start. It was supposed to be a quick detour to help me get back into this series so I can finish this last book, which only needs (guessing here) about ten to twenty thousand words to complete it.

My perception of time is warped, I know, but this failure can’t be blamed only on that. Thursday I read a book, then started several others that I couldn’t quite bring myself to finish. By the way, Dead City is a good book, not one you want to think too hard about, but one that keeps up a nice pace and is fun reading. Plague Year, one that I started reading Thursday but haven’t finished, has slower pacing, but drew a much more visceral reaction from me. I’m going to get back to it, but first I want to finish reading my own book, get into a steady rhythm with my daily writing again, and read the sequel to The Last Policeman, which I read a week and a half ago and loved.

Funny how I just move on to reading other stuff when I forbid myself a book because I should be doing something else instead. :o I told myself I couldn’t read Countdown City until I finished reading my book and got back to writing. Instead, I spent time reading stuff I wanted to read much less than Countdown City and didn’t make progress on anything.

The weekend turned out to be time off, and that leaves me here. I started this morning at the 45% mark in book 4 (still) and have made some progress.

Goals today include (1) finish reading this book, (2) read/edit 18 chapters of book 5, and (3) write chapter 19 of book 5. (I’m giving something different a trail run, and I’ll post my draft on that topic as soon as I get to call this post DONE.)

11:23 (AM) book 4 62% read

Sometime in the afternoon book 4 87% read

Wednesday updates

Well, I got sick. I’m doing this update because I promised myself I’d update my word count spreadsheet every day, especially when I’m not writing, to help me stay aware of the passage of time.

Friday updates

It’s Friday, I feel better, and I’m going to finish this thing today, twenty-two days from the day I started this project. Yes I am. :)

Tuesday updates

DONE. Done, done, done, done, done!

Now on to the next phase. :o

Let’s not discuss the fact that this is many days after the day I was absolutely certain would be my last day at this.

15 minutes a day

It’s late, but I’ve just ended another 0 word day. So I’m going to try something a little different tomorrow and thereafter. (I certainly have to try something!)

15 minutes.

No matter what else I do tomorrow and every day thereafter, I will spend 15 minutes trying to write something for my in-progress story.

I’ll set a timer and just make myself sit down for those 15 minutes and write. After that, who knows what will happen, but—15 minutes. I will learn to be more consistent, even if it’s 15 minutes at a time.

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. ;)

Recognizing perfectionism

I had a realization yesterday morning and it’s led me to some serious soul-searching. My 12-month 1,180,000 word challenge is quite possibly—probably, in fact—a manifestation of perfectionism.

I’ve been upfront with the fact that I suffer from repeated bouts of perfectionism, and I don’t always realize when I’ve let it creep back into my life.

But yesterday, I started to realize that the only reason this plan even exists is because I spend a lot of time imagining the awesome way I’ll feel if I write all those books right now, if I can find the perfect system so I can write a perfect number of words every day, all so I can design a perfect release schedule for the many series I have going.

I do not need to write that many books in 12 months.

Not only that, but this goal is so far from realistic for me that I’m not sure it’s even part of my universe.

To reach this goal, I’ll have to write 5 times my current average daily word count. FIVE TIMES.

Every single day.

But perfectionism keeps me re-figuring my calculations at every turn, trying to find a way to do the impossible, because it fits some ideal I’ve come to worship. As if I’m just not doing enough, as if I’m a loser if I can’t write all the books in all the series, and write them damn quick, too. Because I should be able to do it, because it’s so reasonable if I just consider the numbers.

Bullshit.

This all started because I do want to write a lot of books in the series I have going, and the unfortunate truth is that at my current speeds it’ll take me 3.5 years to write them. But I also want to write other things, and I definitely don’t want to wait 3.5 years to start writing those things.

But realism never has been one of my strengths, and neither has delaying gratification.

That was the crack that let perfectionism sneak in. What if I could write this many words? What if I could follow this schedule? What if I could double, triple, no, quadruple my word counts? What if, what if, what if.

I’ve set myself up for failure, trying to reach for some ideal. And I’m failing under the pressure. I’m losing my enjoyment of writing.

I’m going to fix this, now that I’ve recognized what’s going on

I’ve stopped the schedule experiment.

I’m ending the push for 1,180,000 words in 12 months. I studied the list of books I want to write and decided I need to focus on only a few series instead of trying to do everything.

It’s impossible. I can’t do everything, not in the time frame I want.

I love all the series I write, I really do, so I picked based on reader interest and money. I settled on 3 series, plus the pen name series. I picked the pen name series not because of reader interest and money but because of potential for those things. Also, if I give up that series, the pen name is dead, and I don’t want that. Not yet. I want to finish that experiment.

That’s not to say I’m not still setting the bar high. I want to release a book every month for my main name, and a book every 3 months for my pen name. For me, that comes to 2,192 words a day.

To be clear, at least to myself, it’s not a daily quota. It’s a goal.

2,000 one day and 2,400 the next will work fine. :)

It’s possible I’m fooling myself, still. 2,192 is still almost 3.5 times my current average daily word count. I’ll have to take that chance. I need to step up to another level in my earnings, and I can’t do that being satisfied with the number of words I’m currently writing each day.

I debated this goal, wondering why this feels necessary, wondering if I was just replacing one unrealistic goal with another, less obviously unrealistic goal, but decided in the end that I have good and valid reasons for not eschewing goals altogether. I can’t expect to get off the income plateau I’m on if I just keep releasing books at my current pace. Growth and improvement are important and having a big goal doesn’t have to mean I’m succumbing to perfectionism. This plan is a stretch, no doubt, but it isn’t grandiose in the same way as my plan to write 1,180,000 words a year.

One reason for that is because I’ll only be focusing on 4 series going forward. The consequences for failure are mild compared to the consequences I’m already facing because I haven’t been able to reach this other, huge, goal.

Even if I only increase my pace to 1,000 words a day, I’ll still be putting out 2 books a year in each series. That’s considerably better than the current schedule for one of those series, which hasn’t seen a new release in 18 months. And let’s not forget that it took me 11 months to put out the second book in the pen name series. I’ve spent too much time writing other stuff, in no particular order, just trying to stay on top of all the series. I can’t keep up.

So going forward, I’ll be writing a book for each series, in the same order every time, and I’ll stick to one book until it’s done before I move to the next.

Could be this is a mistake. But if I reach my 2,192 words for a day, I can write on anything I want, including those series I didn’t choose to make part of my plan. It’s a reward for staying on track.

And if I do stay on track long-term, I’m considering throwing in one of those side projects every three or four cycles through the main series. I’ll consider that a reward to strive for, too.

In the end, it was important for me to recognize that I’d let perfectionism into my planning. I don’t think it’s done my career any favors and it had to go if I want to move forward. It feels weird to give up on this challenge, but sometimes you have to give up on the things that aren’t working to make real progress.

Starting tomorrow: new plan, same schedule

My current plan seems not to be working, but I don’t want to give up on the schedule just yet, because the reason it’s not working is definitely a personal one. Motivational issues, trouble getting started, all those usual things that plague me.

Anyway, the new plan is to just allow myself to write during the 8-11 and 2-5 time periods. Yes, it’s a bit of a mind game, but something’s got to be done.

Oh, and I did tweak the afternoon start time for the schedule, because I really think I need that longer break in the middle of the day (family, nap, reasons) and I might be more successful with this if I don’t set myself up for failure right off. That’s also the reason I’m sticking with the 8 AM start time for the time being. If I start earlier, that’s great, but it doesn’t seem to be likely, so why plan for it?

So tomorrow, I give this another go, and I do it by allowing myself to write from 8-11 and 2-5.

I deleted the alarms I’d set on my phone for my writing start times and I got rid of the detailed session lengths I had mapped out in my calendar (8-8:50, 9-9:50, etc.).

I’m trying to get away from the mindset of having to force myself to write. Honestly, if this is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life, it’s already time to move on and find another career. I certainly can’t keep this up forever!

All that said, the truth is that I believe my problems with writing almost always come down to a combination of perfectionism, fear of failure, and pressure. If I can mitigate those feelings, I can get to a better place with my writing—and have more fun with it—and maybe I’ll make real progress toward some of my larger writing goals.

That’s the plan anyway!

Starting well

I had a bit of a late night, so I adjusted today’s schedule to 9–11 & 1–5. If I feel like it later, I’m going to make up a bit of the 4 hours I missed yesterday. If not, the plan is to make them up tomorrow, because I should be fully back on my early morning schedule by then.

Otherwise, the plans I made yesterday are off to a good start. I feel better after a good night’s sleep. I had scrambled eggs and a small can of V-8 (original) for breakfast. Now it’s time to avoid thinking about food again until lunch. Also, I took an ibuprofen this morning and I’ll take another at lunch time, in an attempt to hold off the headache I expect will show up when I don’t have coffee today. Relapses happen, but I’m taking charge of this one right now; there’ll be no more coffee for the foreseeable future.

Time to get to work. I want to write 3,233 words, preferably in 4 hours. That way I’ll have time to start on those covers I want to finish.

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.

It’s not too late; a plan for the rest of July

I’d like to finish 3 books in July (or get close to it). I’m off my goals by quite a lot, but after a bit of math, I realized it’s not too late to make July my best month ever. I don’t even have to add extra words to my 3,233 words a day goal to do it. I just have to actually write every day. :)

There are 21 days left in July (not today): 21 x 3,233 = 67,893. My best month ever comes in at 57,249 words. That was only 2 months ago in April.

The books I’d like to finish including estimated word counts and current word counts:

Est WC Actual To write Total Daily
Novel 50000 41,648 8,352
Novel 50000 29,675 20,325
Pen name novel 50000 1,378 48,622 77,299 July 3,681

If I want to actually finish all three books, I do need to write a bit more every day, but even that doesn’t seem out of reach. I’m going to go for it.