I am an object at rest

Three things

  1. I become an object at rest after I publish a book. (Current streak of 0 words proves it.)
  2. Procrastination is a habit.
  3. I’ve already forgotten the third thing.

If I want to get the law of inertia working in my favor, I need a plan. I’ve let some bad habits slip into my routine over the last several weeks. Time to stop them. I’ve let procrastination become a habit.

My challenge

  • No more visiting forums or blogs for a while—preferably until I’ve completed the four books I most need to finish.
  • No more reading articles about procrastination. :o
  • No more reading the “Trending” tab on my Kindle Fire* or my other Fire tablets. Worst use of my time ever. I don’t know why I have so much trouble resisting a look at it every time I open the browser.

The secret to this plan is to get boredom working in my favor.

If I find myself turning to fiction reading to relieve said boredom, at least then it’s somewhat productive, because any fiction writer should consider fiction reading a necessary part of the job. !

Plus, reading good fiction has a major tendency to make me want to write. So there’s that.

I know that as soon as I get back into one of my stories momentum will take over and save me from myself for at least a little while. :)

*My Kindle Fire is one of the 2nd generation devices. I won it in a drawing at a local restaurant, after eating there for the first time (and last time to be honest). I love it and I still prefer it over the newest generation Fire tablet I bought in December. It’s a much better device, to be honest, all around. Still doesn’t have a scratch on it.

June 19 no sessions

I just didn’t do any writing today. I’d hoped I would, but I didn’t, and now I’m tired and I think I’m going to bed early. One of my kids is sick, and I’m a bit worried I might be showing symptoms of what she’s got. Considering how badly I need to finish this book, I’ll be in trouble if I do. :o

But tomorrow? No question. I MUST start making progress on my writing.

It’s obvious, isn’t it?

I’ve messed up by pushing myself to write on a specific book instead of letting my interest guide me. But I’m now at a point where I HAVE to finish this book I’ve been working on. Really, I have to finish it. ASAP.

But trying to force myself to work on only one story is killing my word counts and my momentum.

I’m going to have to back off and just write, something, until I’m past the resistance that’s keeping me from getting started again. History tells me that I’ll find my way back to my book and finish it sooner than I would otherwise. It worked for my last book; I bet it’ll work for this one.

All I know for sure is that a streak of zeros certainly isn’t helping me reach my goals. At least if I’d written something, I’d have more books closer to done.

So, today, I’m going to focus my time on whichever book I’m most interested in working on, in one hour sessions.

Goal = 3,933 words

(Why do I even bother with that? My goal is always 3,933 words except on publishing days. I’ve got to come up with a better way to use this blog for a bit of accountability. What I’m doing sure isn’t working.)

Excuses: too hot, too tired, and too little focus

Hours Words Session WPH
1 1071 1071 1071
1 1728 657 657

1,728 words total in 2 hours of writing. If only I’d put in more hours! At today’s pace, I would have made my word count goal easy.

Here are the reasons why I didn’t reach my five hours of writing goal. Or, let’s just call them excuses.

First, it reached 82 degrees Fahrenheit in here today and stayed there for most of the day. It’s still 80 as I type this at 9:20 pm. I’m wilting in the heat. I can only boggle at how people without A/C make it through the summer around here. I couldn’t do it—not without feeling like I’m suffering great distress. The laptop gets too hot to get comfortable with, and my wrists get sweaty against the frame around the keyboard. Sure doesn’t make writing fun or interesting.

Second, I didn’t get enough sleep last night, because, of course, I started reading a book at bedtime. I knew better and I did it anyway. I was ready to kick myself today for that mistake, but alas, it was too late to do any good.

Because of #2, and possibly #1, I had no ability or interest in staying focused today when the normal interruptions that come from having kids at home interrupted me. I gave in and didn’t write almost every time I sat down to try. I spent most of the day procrastinating.

So instead of a really good day of 5 or even 6 hours of writing, I got 2.

Still, I wrote something, and that’s always a win. Hell, I almost made it to 2,000 words, and there was a time when I would’ve considered today’s word count a good day’s work.

I LOVE this new faster pace I seem to have settled into. I haven’t changed my writing at all, so I still don’t know how or why I’ve gotten faster. My only guess is that it’s because I’m doing my best to put my writing time to use writing what I’m most interested in writing at any given time. (Although that’s not strictly true for today’s writing, because I really should have let myself write a bit of something else for a while—that might have been enough to get me past some of today’s procrastination.)

Tonight I really do have to get a good night’s sleep. I know I’ll do better with my goals tomorrow if I do, even in the heat.

I’ve written half a book in an effort to avoid writing half of another book

Friday was the first zero word day I’ve had since April 20th. I recovered yesterday, sort of, doing 1 hour in the morning, but then only managed to restart at nearly 7 pm. Can I explain what happened? Really, no. I just didn’t want to get started again.

I came very close to reaching my goal word count last night despite that by jumping into another story instead of continuing to fight for words. I ended the day with 3,618 words in 3.8 hours, a pace of 952 wph.

I’m now beyond 28,000 words on that story, mostly from writing on it when I’m not interested in writing on something else. My goal is about 50,000 words for that book, meaning I’ve written half a book while trying to avoid writing the second half of another book. There can be no doubt that working on multiple stories is helping me beat my usual issues with low word counts.

This is the breakthrough I’ve been looking for. It just proves that the best way to find what works is to keep trying, in every variation possible.

I thought I’d tried working on multiple stories as a way to increase my word counts, and I had, in a sense, but not in this exact configuration. 1 hour blocks, switch at will, stick to the stories that interest me but at least try the others once in a while to keep them fresh in my head, ignore deadlines, ignore the part of my brain telling me write this today, and get started on anything, because as long as I start, I’m getting somewhere.

Finally, I’m feeling the lack of a heating unit this morning. The temperature in here is 66° F. Not bad, honestly, but I don’t like being cold, and sitting at the computer and typing doesn’t keep me warm. My fingers are already feeling stiff.

Still, I have a ridiculous number of words to write today, and also need to download some images from my Dreamstime subscription before I cancel in a few days. Another month’s renewal is going to be a waste of money, because I have credit for 294 images to download already. I have no idea how I’m going to download so many images over the next few days and get all my words written and deal with getting another of my books ready to publish to meet a May publishing deadline and deal a bunch of personal things this week.

I really don’t multitask well and I don’t handle switching my focus all that well either. I’m already feeling overwhelmed.

Best way to get over that is to pick something and just do it. I’m going with writing. Here’s to a good day. I’m going to try to break my 6k word barrier again. Post coming up for reporting today’s progress on that. :D

New plan, same goal

I haven’t been writing much lately. I’m just not happy with this book I have going and I’m going to have to choose to move on soon before I lose every bit of enthusiasm I have for writing. :o

On that note, I made a new schedule for myself today. I decided that although daily writing is still the routine I want, I know when publishing time comes, I won’t be writing, so I need to allow for that in my daily writing goal. I decided 5 days a month is a good estimate of the number of days I usually spend obsessed with publishing tasks.

1,180,000 ÷ 12 ÷ 25 = 3,933 words

I can’t write 3,933 words in 4 hours. I’d love to be able to, and maybe someday I’ll get there, but right now, if I aim for that, I’m setting myself up to fall short every time. I can write 3,933 words in 5 hours. It’ll require a bit of the “less time, more words” mentality, but I can do it consistently enough that I don’t believe I’m setting myself up for failure. :)

So, I split 5 hours into 4 blocks of 1.25 hours apiece. When I was drinking coffee and tea, this would have been a really bad idea, but I’m thinking I can do it now. Might as well take advantage of some of the benefits of being coffee and tea free, right?

Back when I had found what I believed was my ideal schedule, I started my writing day at 9 am and kept my lunch break as short as possible so I didn’t feel like it was an interruption. I decided to revisit that idea, and used it to hone my schedule. I want my midday break long enough, but not too long.

9:00–10:15 (need 984 words)
30 minute break
10:45–12:00 (need 984 words)
1 hour break
1:00–2:15 (need 983 words)
30 minute break
2:45–4:00 (need 983 words)

I usually get up between 6 and 7 in the morning. That gives me plenty of time to ease into my day, which I much prefer to rushing around and sitting down as soon as possible to write. I don’t like getting started first thing in the morning unless I’m really struggling to hold in some thought I woke up with. I remember really liking my 9 am start time. So I’m going back to it.

On the other hand, I would love to write through the evening, but I need to be done with my daily writing by 4 because I just can’t count on getting more words in later. So 4 is the cut off. Of course, if I want to write outside these times, I certainly won’t stop myself from doing it just because of the schedule.

Finally, I know a schedule isn’t something a lot of people need or want. I don’t even want it. (I really don’t.) But I do need it. I’m not good at visualizing how much time I have left in a day, and I’ve definitely found that without the schedule, I get lost in my days.

I spend more time making schedules than following them. I let myself down a lot when it comes to these things I don’t really want to do.* I don’t really know how to change that, because I want to but nothing I do seems to give me the push I need to actually change.

Heavy thoughts for the day, and I’m ready to end this post. There’s the schedule and I’m going to start tomorrow trying to stick to it.

Today I’m going for a shortened, modified version that starts at 4:30 pm. See ya when I get some writing done.

*I want to write, so I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean, but it’s how the thought came out so I’m leaving it. Or maybe it’s that I want to want to write, but I really only want to write what I want and since I’m bored or otherwise unhappy with what I’m working on, I don’t want to write it. I usually stop myself from writing anything else when I’m going through this kind of thing with self-talk about how if I’m going to write, I should just push through what I’m working on and get it done. Then, of course, I avoid writing altogether because it all feels too damn hard.

A few days of thinking and here’s where I am

I’m not getting enough quality sleep and I’m reading too much fluff. Fluff is forums, blogs, NPR, articles about procrastination (it’s a running joke around here that I often procrastinate by reading articles on how to stop procrastinating).

I’m going to find some good books and stuff fiction reading into every spare moment I have in my day (unless I find myself writing, then I’ll dump everything but writing, because hey, I’ll be writing again!).

Still no decisions about accountability. I think it’s because I don’t trust myself. I mean, how often do I say I’m about to get started—or I’m going to write some awesome number of words—and then I just don’t get started at all?

Yeah.

{frustrated!}

Today’s goal: constructive procrastination

I had intended to write today. And a lot of it, too. Here it is 9:16 and I’m not feeling like it at all. I want to want to write, but it’s not happening, not yet anyway. So… I’m going to try something different so I don’t end up spending the day reading silly articles (some aren’t so silly but I don’t need any more advice!). I’m going to let myself procrastinate, but I’m going do it constructively.

First up, I’ve been watching my “Publishing” folder on my computer grow too large, full of redundant files and backups—the most problematic being the excessive number of GIMP files I have. I’m going to clean it out so I can start backing up to my free Dropbox space again (I do also back up the folder to OneDrive which gives me 1 TB of space, but I like Dropbox and want to back up there too but my folder size had ballooned to the point that I can’t do that any longer.)

Second up, I have an office (upstairs) full of books and other junk that needs cleared out. I’m going to arrange the books on the shelves of the bookcases I moved up there last week, maybe sort them and choose which ones I’m going to take to McKay’s the next time I head that way. (Trade is the way to go—I get enough for books and DVDs that I can then take back and trade again if I discover they’re not keepers.)

I have a lot of books. Some of them I keep for sentimental reasons, most because I still haven’t read them yet. The plan is to turn that office space into a library (and office), and convert my current library (what’s supposed to be the small formal living room in my home) into a study and reading room. I’ve been using it for that anyway ever since I moved a desk into the room, and the office upstairs is more suited to a lot of bookcases and doesn’t have the problems with bright morning sunlight that the room I’m sitting in right now has. The sunlight has already bleached the spines of many of my books, and I really should have moved them out of here a long time ago.

Third, I have access to my 1099s now and most of my other tax documents. Although I’m waiting on a few more 1099s, I can definitely start my tax filing for 2015. I keep excellent records and there’s no reason not to start if I feel like starting. I might reserve today for creating my 2015 file folder and copying all relevant files into it.

And you know what? I think I’m also going to go ahead and run my master backup. It takes a while since it basically copies my entire hard drive and uploads it to OneDrive, but I figure the computer will be plugged up most of the day, so why not? I’ll start that right now, in fact. :D

So, that’s how I’m going to procrastinate today.

I’m actually looking forward to it. I love digging into projects of this kind. I enjoy organizing things. :D

And if something happens and I decide I’d rather do it later, maybe I’ll procrastinate by choosing to write instead of work on one of these projects. ;)

Time spent on post: 9:16 to 9:54

More reading—productivity tips for artists

I’ve been procrastinating again—or, really, I never stopped. I’ve pretty much spent the entire day reading articles about productivity, flexible schedules, fixed schedules, procrastination, and tiny habits. Today’s most interesting find was “How to be Productive When You’re Lazy – A Guide for Artists” at rubberonion.com.

I do just about everything mentioned already, but it set off a few thoughts that I’m still trying to follow to their endpoint.

The thing is, I have huge aspirations for the next 12 months. I want to write a great many books this year, and I’m not off to a strong start. Frankly, in the bluntest of terms, I haven’t started at all this year.

I obsess too much about how productive I’m being (or not being), and I don’t give myself enough real* downtime, which usually sets off a cycle of procrastination that eats up significantly more time than I might have if I’d just given myself permission to be lazier. ;) These aren’t points of the article/post but they’re the thoughts that came into my mind while reading the post.

Anyway, more to think about as I try to get myself back to writing every day.

*TV watching is not real downtime! (Something I’ve only recently accepted.) When I watch television/videos, I don’t ever end the time feeling better, more rested, or more energetic than I was when I started. Comparing it to something else: reading often makes me want to start writing, but TV almost never does.

I am procrastinating, but I used the opportunity to make a decision

I’ve been looking for a good case for using sentence case instead of title case for my post titles, and I’ve finally found one.

I found Are you Team Title Case or Team sentence case? today, and although I should totally have been able to say to myself, “Self, it’s okay to use whatever case you want to use,” I haven’t found it to be as easy as all that. I have continued to waffle on the issue, as a look through my archives could prove. (This is a pattern in my life in so many ways, I tell you.)

My favorite reason from the post?

4. Sentence case mirrors human-to-human communication style

Human beings don’t send each other texts, social updates and emails written in title case – that’s the mark of a corporate voice, someone trying to sell us something or make an official proclamation to a mass audience.

It’s sentence case for my titles from now on.

Off to a slow start today

I’m off to a very slow start today with writing, but I do have another chunk of my Christmas shopping done and am feeling a lot of relief about that!

I don’t know if I’ll be able to break a record today, because it’s now 1:02 pm, but I am going to aim to get my 4,558 words done. I’ve decided today is a restart for my 1,144,000 word goal for the next 12 months, and I don’t want to end up behind on my first day back at it.

I’m restarting because playing catch up is nothing but a sure fire way to end up procrastinating the rest of the year away.

What Am I Doing?

I thought I was going to come home today, take a short nap, and then get started writing on one of my books. I haven’t, though, and I’m seriously thinking of reading a book instead. I spent about two hours at the library (online) and checked out eight books after deciding that I’m going to start reading more books every week. I had this moment where I thought maybe I just don’t read fiction enough these days and that’s why I’m not writing more. Now, of course, I’m wondering if this was just a super clever way for my brain to trick me into procrastinating because that’s always a possibility.

Why’d I go to the library instead of just read one of the many, many books I already have—books I’ve bought for ridiculous sums like the copy of Copper Beach I have that cost me $14.99 and which I still haven’t read 2 years later?

I do not know. Please don’t ask again.

Thanks. :D

My Internal Critic & Tonight’s Writing Goal

See previous post. I have a kick-my-ass, soul crushingly strong internal critic that turns writing into hard work that’s not nearly as fun as it should be. Therefore I spend a lot of time procrastinating when I should be working writing.

What that all means is that I have about 4,200 words I need to write tonight and I haven’t even started. It’s 7:55 pm. It’d be no problem if I was one of those writers who could sit down and pound out 2,000 words an hour (or even 1,000 words an hour). I don’t begrudge them their abilities, but I do wish I could figure out why I have so much—nevermind, I think I answered that in the second sentence of this post. :o The internal critic makes me second guess everything I put down, and also pushes me to seek perfection (when we all know perfection doesn’t exist). Sigh. Downer moment here: Sometimes it just really feels like such a hopeless battle fighting perfectionism. Ah well. Moving on.

However long it takes me tonight, I’m going to have to get these words out. Maybe this will be the night I kick perfectionism’s butt and start pounding out my own 2,000 words an hour. Wouldn’t that be nice?

On that note, I think I’m going to have to pick up the planning posts again. As soon as I stopped with the planning posts suddenly writing started to get hard again, and that was after me reaching some really great word counts. So those planning posts might be coming back, if not here, then at least in Evernote. :)

Holy crap. I dropped in at one forum, wrote two posts, and bam, it’s 9:34 pm now and I still have this post sitting here waiting on me. @o_o@ Those are my fists raised in aggravation.

Time to get to work. I really do have to write those 4,200 words tonight, unfortunately, even if it means I don’t go to bed until … tomorrow. Ouch. Really wish I had some regular coffee in the house. :o

Hacking My Motivation

Well, it’s time to get into some nitty-gritty motivation hacking, because if I don’t, I’m very much afraid I’ll be finishing this last 10,000 words of my 2014 novella #1 sometime in, say, 2015.

Not what I want!

So … last night I spent a lot of time reading about motivation and procrastination and I found some good, actionable advice I plan to make use of.

What I Read

I’ve read a lot of stuff over the years about procrastination, but I’ve got to say, these particular posts and books really gave me some new stuff to think about. I loved being able to diagnose the reasons I procrastinate instead of having to slog through trite advice that I’ve heard so many times that I’ve just started ignoring it. There’s only so many times someone can say, “Just sit down and do it,” before I realize they really have no clue what I’m facing when I start down the path of procrastination. No clue whatsoever. If they did, they’d know I’D ALREADY BE DOING IT IF I COULD JUST MAKE MYSELF SIT DOWN AND DO IT.

Ah. Sorry about that. ;) This subject hits a nerve.

Anyway, I’ve come up with some small things that I think might just help me and I’m so excited to say that I’ve already had my first success!

I decided, after a conversation with a pal on a forum, that today was going to get off to a good start, with something small and completely doable that wouldn’t tax my brain or send me fleeing in fear of having to actually work this morning.

I implemented impulse pairing, where I added something I enjoy to the thing I keep procrastinating on. I enjoy my morning tea, a lot. I enjoy relaxing with it and drinking it slowly.

So … I got up and started a new routine: I had tea at my desk and did 1 Pomodoro’s worth of writing. 25 minutes, no pressure, just a way to enjoy my morning tea before breakfast. Since I have tea every morning, this isn’t a drastic change in my habits.

It felt fantastic! And even though I barely made it to 163 words in that 25 minutes, there was no expectation of a particular word count that I needed, so I didn’t mind. It just felt really good to get going with a minimum of fuss. I didn’t have to do anything before I got that first session in: no cooking breakfast, no reading forums, blogs, books, or email—nothing.

I’m very much planning to turn this little ritual into a firm habit by tracking this and turning it into a streak. :D

The only other thing I plan to attempt at the moment is a small change in how I think of my goals. Instead of thinking of my goals as daily, I’m going to go even smaller. For some people, saying they need to write 3,000 words a day might not be a big deal. But to me, knowing that I can write that many words in a day doesn’t negate the low expectancy of reaching that goal because I know I often don’t write that many words in a day, even when I set out to do just that. In a sense, I have a lot of learned helplessness associated with my writing that I’ve let creep in over the years and it’s hurting me.

I made notes as I read, and here’s what I came up with for myself when I got to the part about setting goals.

Set smaller goals. My daily word count goal is good, and so is my daily time writing goal. But I can break it down further. I could use my schedule and have goals for each session. Or I could have a simple goal of finishing 1,800 words before lunch, and finishing 1,800 words after lunch. The goal looks smaller (but isn’t) and that’s plenty of words for what I want.

1,800 seems so small in comparison to 3,000. And yet, 1,800 + 1,800 is actually 600 more words than the 3,000. Perception of the size of my goals is an important factor here. I have very few doubts that I can write 1,800 words before lunch, because I have a spreadsheet that shows I did just that for an entire month last February, with very few missed days. But 3,000? 3,000 is a big number, and I don’t often get 3,000 words in a day, so it just feels harder to reach.

This could also easily shift to fit time goals instead of word goals, but I’ve had to accept that time goals and writing don’t mix for me. Saying I need to get in 3 hours of writing before lunch still feels more difficult, and there’s no reward for being more efficient and getting done sooner, because the goal is a fixed time goal.

Finally, after thinking about it some more last night, I decided it might be even better to start out with a goal of getting in two 900 word writing sessions before lunch and two before supper. This way my goal appears even smaller and can be split up easily if I need to make time for something besides writing in my day. :D Or I can do it all at once if I’m on a roll.

And that’s it. I’ve rambled to the point that I don’t even remember half of what I’ve written here, so I’ll go.** I’ve really put off getting started with my 1,800 before lunch way too long! Might have to skip that one today. I got up quite late after staying up late last night and I’m already hungry for lunch and ready for a nap. Wet hair, cold weather, and too little sleep… Not my most productive combination. But hey, I’ve already done some writing today! Yay! :D

*My time was limited and I didn’t want to still be in the middle of reading these books instead of doing something, so I stuck to the samples. I’m very likely to purchase these and finish reading them, but not today!

**Plus it’s kind of depressing to see I’ve written over 1,000 words on a blog post but could barely eek out 163 words on my book. Someone save me from myself…

Procrastination and Promises

So. I promised I’d shut off my internet tomorrow if I didn’t write 3,600 words before I went to sleep tonight. It’s 8:19 pm and I haven’t written any words at all. I’m starting to realize I actually, really might not have any internet tomorrow. Holy crap.

What does that mean?

I won’t have tv, because…

I won’t have wifi, which means…

I won’t have email, and…

I won’t have forums … or blogs to read … or hangouts with my sis, because I have absolutely no cell phone service where I live.

Holy CRAP.

I’ve got to get writing.

I’m going to try to use this post to keep me motivated to finish my 3,600 words tonight. 3,600 / 600 an hour = 6 hours. So I’d be done at 2:30 am. Holy crap. I don’t want to stay awake that late. If I can push myself to write 1,200 an hour I can be done in 3. So how about I just assume that’s possible and go from there?

8:40 pm: Ready, set, go…

 

My “Ten Hours In a Day” Challenge

I’m writing this on Saturday evening. I’ve been sitting here listening to some really great podcasts from Writing Excuses and I had the realization that I’ve just been using these great little fifteen minute podcasts to procrastinate again. :o *

So I’m setting a challenge for myself. I want to write for ten hours tomorrow. I’m not talking about setting aside ten hours and writing with breaks during that time. I’m talking about timed writing sessions that add up to ten hours. That’s a huge challenge for me because I don’t know that I’ve ever written for ten hours in a single day.

As far as I know, I’ve not written for more than seven hours in a single day. I go back and forth on tracking my time so I don’t have good records on this but my word count output and my usual habits would say anything over those seven hours is unlikely to have ever happened. The only real possibility I can think of is one weekend in August 2012 when I wrote so much that my forearms and hands hurt for a week afterward. That hasn’t happened since, and had never happened before, so it’s possible I wrote for more than seven hours a day that weekend. It’s also possible I just didn’t take a break when I should’ve. ;)

Anyway, that’s the challenge for tomorrow. I want to write for ten hours.

Why?

Because the end of January is coming up soon, and I really don’t want to end the month at nearly 60,000 words from where I should be in the One Millions Words in 2014 challenge and that’s about where I’m sitting right now.

Also, I need to train myself to write longer hours and resist distraction. I’m not sure this is the best way, but I doubt it’s the worst, so I’m doing it.

This is going to be fun. I can do this. I know I can. If I stall out on this 2014 Novella #1 I’m working on, I’ll just switch to one of the short stories or novels I have going (and need to finish ASAP). No one said I had to devote all ten hours to the one book (although I’ll love it if that’s what ends up happening!) :D

Now, gotta go write for a few hours before I call it a night because today has been a bust so far! Too many podcasts, youtube videos, and vlogs! :D

*That was totally fake shock, because I really don’t think any of us are shocked by the revelation that I’ve been procrastinating again. If you are, then welcome to my blog! This must be the first post you’ve read. :)