Mid-month progress check-in for March

I decided early in the month that this is it, I’m finishing my next book this month. I set out a schedule and I’ve been doing my best to follow it. I like it, too, so that’s a plus.

Three days ago, I started having massive back pain and I think it’s a kidney stone.

I’ve had my best word counts for the whole month since the pain started. :-o (What?)

Silver linings and all that, I guess! I’ve found that the only comfortable place to sit in my house at the moment is at my desk because it keeps my back straighter, and a straighter back seems to be a lot less painful for me than the alternative.

I’ve written more words in the last three days than I wrote in the entirety of February.

That’s not to say I didn’t do any writing in February but it was writing related to working out details for another book that wouldn’t leave me alone and stuff like that. It was just part of the process I’ve found myself repeating time after time. I write a lot, then take a break, then struggle to get back to writing, and then do it all over again.

Sometimes it takes longer between books than others, apparently.

Also, turns out I did not make a wrong turn in my story. I rewrote (redrafted) sections of chapter 9 and chapter 10 for my current book but overall everything is the same and I’m taking the same path in the story that I thought I would be taking. What changed was how I got to where I am through the characters’ dialogue and some of the narrative. What was there just wasn’t working for me, and what’s there now has changed the way I view the characters, so there was a definite point to it. Basically, I just needed to keep working that section until things felt right and I wasn’t doing that. I was looking for some big thing that wasn’t there. In other words: the problem was the bugs in the trees, not the trees in the forest. :D

Looking back and I see a pattern

I was looking back at my most consistent year (based on variations between monthly word counts) and randomly reading some journal entries and blog posts that I did around that time and it seems all of them were about schedules (those that I picked at random, not all my entries). But I came across this one and it really brings back memories and seems like the perfect accompaniment to my current thinking: “Reasons matter: a rambling essay.”

I think it’s an interesting coincidence that scheduling my writing were the topics of those posts and entries, considering how I’m revisiting a schedule now. And the post linked above really does still apply. I could write the same things today and it would be just as true. Added to the things about a daily schedule that I wrote a couple of days ago, I see a path to success if I can just keep reminding myself that detours are okay as long as I always make my way back to the main path.

Perfectionism has no place in my life.

On that note, it’s past time to get started with the daily writing, so I’m going to leave this post here. :)

Today it’s back to the schedule

It feels like such a waste of time that I have to do this, but the daily progress posts are back. I just do better when I’m accountable for what I do, even if that accountability isn’t all that real (it’s a mind game).

(No one who reads this blog cares one whit if I write. Frankly, I’m pretty sure I’m the only reader this blog has. :D But it’s a mind game that works, so what do I care about reality?)

So anyway. I didn’t reach my goals yesterday on my current book but I did write more than the day before. Yay! for that. I’m not sure why I ended up with so few words, because I don’t remember any big distractions, but the fact remains that I just didn’t get much done.

Today it’s back to the schedule I’ve set up to try to get me back into the rhythm of daily writing. It hasn’t really helped so far, but I also haven’t been making myself stick to it. Today I aim to do that.

It’s writing time from 11 to 5 and I’m going to stick it out even if I spend a lot of time staring at a blinking cursor.

(I started this post right before 11. I’ve sorta cheated already, gone for coffee, and come back to finish this post before I actually start writing fiction.)

Revisiting what worked to get me started writing again

My hiatus after my last book is stretching out into a third month now and I’m not too happy about that, so I’ve decided to revisit something that worked in the past to get me started writing again: a temporary schedule.

The one thing that I won’t be doing is revisiting the timers. I am confident in saying that I really am done with timing my writing. It didn’t make a difference in my output in the long-run and it stole some of the joy of writing from me. My monthly word counts might have fallen over the last couple of months, but that is pretty clearly because of the funk that came on after finishing and publishing my last book.

This is the getting started again phase and I’m obviously still having troubles with that.

One day I’ll conquer it. Until then, I’ll keep trying whatever it takes to get me writing again.

11 am to 5 pm is going to be my daily writing time for a while. And if I like it and can stick with it, maybe for a little longer than a while.*

I’ve just about decided that perfectionism is the reason I hate schedules. I made a note about this in my catch-all journal. Let me see if I can dig it up.

Found it! I’m just going to quote the whole bit I typed into OneNote so I can finish this post quickly (I’m practicing that too). I highlighted the part that really resonated with me the most when I read back through it.

Type up my thoughts from last night about discipline and a plan and how I don’t have to let perfection hold me back from having a plan.

Maybe, just maybe, I have to stop believing that anything anyone else has to say about how to work has nothing to do with me and no bearing on my life.

What do I want for myself? And stop thinking an inability to be perfect at whatever it is means it can’t or won’t work.

When I imagine myself going through my ideal day, the routine is very schedule-like. I get up, get coffee, do stuff, sit down and write, then do other stuff. I can picture it all really clearly. Having a writing day all broken up and spread out is not the ideal.

My days are calm and split into parts. Reading and writing and leisure and TV and some other work. Maybe a project or two sometimes but always this core routine. So that’s what I should do—for me, my way. Whatever time(s) of day I like best.

This was the point at which I decided 11 am to 5 pm was best for me. I’ve been having sleep cycle issues and getting up later and later, and 11 am keeps me from stressing about what time I get up in an effort to “stick to the schedule”.

This schedule is a little more ambitious than the one I used last time because it blocks out six hours a day for writing time, although I’m not expecting myself to actually write nonstop for the duration, just do as much writing and thinking about writing as I can around necessary, and hopefully short, breaks.

The most important thing I realized was that sometimes I just get stressed because I can’t stick to the schedule, but the reality is that there’s not ever going to be a schedule I can stick with better than any other. It’s all about accepting that I won’t stick to it some days but that some days I really will—and those are the days that will add up over time and keep me working and keep my word counts going up and keep me from having excessively long stretches where I fall into the habit of not writing.

*Update

I’ve since adjusted this to 11 am to 3 pm and some days I do move it later in the day instead of strictly enforcing the start time as 11 am. This works because I can’t stand the idea of missing the time just because I’ve decided I have to start at 11 and end at 3. That feels too much like a straitjacket and very detrimental to my long-term success with the schedule. But I do try not to change things every day and I do try to start at 11 as often as I can.