March 2024 accountability

Accountability? Progress? Summary? I honestly just don’t know what to call these posts. So for the moment, I’m going to stick with accountability because that was what I called the last few I wrote.

In March, about mid-month—or actually, at exactly mid-month on March 15th—I decided to start writing every day again.

Usually, I avoid setting a word count goal for that, but this time, I knew I wanted to see real progress, and I wanted it to add up to something. So, I set a goal for > 200 words a day. No more of this “one word counts” or “negative words still mean I did something that day.” This was intended to be a goal that would get me some real forward progress on my stories and get me back into some semblance of a writing routine.

I’m not good with routines. Past posts on this site are littered with the proof of that, so feel free to go looking if you want. :)

Maybe because I was also posting about this goal on a Discord server of fellow writers (it’s a small server of writers from my state), I found extra motivation to keep going even when I might have normally said forget it because it was 2 am and I still hadn’t written 200 words, but I did keep going.

In March, I wrote 9,259 words, and more than doubled my February word count.

506 of those words were from March 1–14, and 8,753 of those words came during March 15–31.

My year started off weird because my daughter was home a lot longer than planned, and I really needed this push to get started writing again. :D I’m glad I did it.

I decided not to change anything for April, because it’s working, and I don’t want to blow it up just when it’s picking up steam. ;D

The only small, teensy little thing I’m hoping to do different in April is start earlier in the day. But it’s not a requirement, and it’s not a real goal. Just a hope.

Having fun and reaching goals

I came across some draft posts that should have been published to the blog a while ago. Here’s one that still has something important to say, even if it doesn’t reflect my current state of mind. At the time, I was having difficulty having fun. Revisiting the posts mentioned below might even have helped me get to where I am now. :)

Today, I sat down to try to remind myself why it’s important to keep writing fun. I went looking for some old posts, and reading them did help.

The posts reminded me that focusing on productivity when I’m writing takes the focus off my enjoyment of the process and turns it into a self-critique. Sure, there are benefits to that if it keeps me focused on criticizing my speed and output instead of on the story.

But as is often the case, once you start criticizing yourself, it can be hard to rein it in. Spillover happens. It’s better to stay focused on enjoying the entire process of writing, including the part that gets the words out.

Simplifying in October: a daily accountability update

It seems as if I’ve forgotten my daily accountability challenge, but the truth is it’s still going strong. I’m just not prioritizing posting on the blog here over writing fiction. :)

I tend to fall away from blog posting when the writing is going well. I’ll post another update soon about what’s working to keep me writing and what’s not, but as of now, I’ve written 5,718 words from October 1–4, and that is a 1,429 words a day average so I am quite pleased with that.

Day 22 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/30/23

Yesterday was basically a no writing day, even though that wasn’t my intention at the start of the day.

However, I didn’t have a zero word day. No, sir. I had a -3 word day. I am disappointed, but it’s a fact that some days you’re just not going to feel great and things you wanted to get done aren’t going to get done because of that. That was yesterday. Moving on now.

Today, I’ll be back at the multiple stories challenge which I’ve since given its own page.

I’m starting the new month with renewed vigor!

Days 16, 17, & 18 of the daily accountability challenge

When I started this post, I thought I was only two days behind. Guess not! Here’s a catch-up post.

Accountability for 9/24/23

I wrote quite a bit on Sunday. I spent most of the day writing, in fact. My total word count appears lower than it is because of the way I count words day to day. I deleted some notes and little bits I’d written ahead in my novel as I came to them, and then a big chunk at the end of a scene that I didn’t end up writing.

I gained a lot of momentum early in the day from some easy wins on my goal word counts for a few of my stories, and that helped me when I got to my more troublesome novels. :)

This was a good day overall. I would love it if I could pick up some speed, but it was a win for the 1,300 words a day goal, and for the multiple stories challenge. When I ended the day, I had added 1,847 words to my grand total, across 5 stories.

Accountability for 9/25/23

Monday was a very busy day and I had a lot to do away from home. I finally got to sit down and think about writing at around 10:45 pm. That was the extent of my attempt to write on this day: zero words.

Accountability for 9/26/23

Yesterday, I had some more errands to deal with and a lunch meeting with a family member. We’re dealing with some final things for a death in the family a while back, so these were really very necessary errands that have gotten in the way of writing. Another zero word day.

I even had a few things to do this morning, but I am hoping to settle in soon for a return to writing today. :)

I definitely don’t want to have too many of these zero words days in a row because it will kill my momentum and ruin my averages—and I’m already struggling to get the 1,300 words a day I need, whether as an average or a daily minimum! :o

Day 14 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/22/23

Yesterday was just one of those days I’d rather not talk about. :o

I wrote only 6 words, on 2 stories.

Two, because I made a few fixes in the short story that reduced my word count to a small negative, and then I wrote like two lines on the novel.

I stayed very busy with some publishing stuff, and that’s all the writing I got around to before I called it a night.

Day 13 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/21/23

Yesterday’s total words should have been better, but I got hung up on that short story I finished the night before.

I ended the day with 454 words written, on 2 stories (but barely).

I’d done a few continuity checks with the connected series that same night and found my timeline was off a bit. I started correcting it yesterday, went too far, then had to backtrack to the original story and start again.

The story was really good as it was, and I didn’t want to mess it up.

I don’t always realize it when I’m writing, but sometimes I write things that need to be shifted around once I’m done. Sometimes I’m not even sure where a part needs to be shifted to until I realize something’s missing. Once I write it, everything falls into place, as if that was how it was supposed to be all along.

All in all, I added a few hundred words to it, and that’s the majority of the words I wrote yesterday. :o

Day 12 of the daily accountability challenge

You may not have noticed, but I had to go back and change the days of the challenge in the titles for the last two posts. Somehow I got off on my numbering and had two day 7s. :D

Oops. It’s fixed now.

I also accidentally dropped “daily” from the post title starting at day 7. LOL. It makes for a shorter title, but I’d really rather not leave it out! The daily part of this is what’s keeping me honest. :)

Accountability for 9/20/23

Yesterday, I worked on multiple stories, so I’m now firmly back into my multiple stories challenge.

I like working on multiple stories concurrently, instead of focusing on only one project until it’s done. This works best for me, most of the time, as I’ve said in the past. My word counts go up, and my motivation stays high. I need both of those!

Before I called it a night, I had written 2,448 words, across 3 stories.

That means I again reached my goal of 1,300 words a day. I’m hoping to stay there for a while. Winning my September on-track challenge depends on it. If I want to stay a full-time writer, I do have to write more than I have been. No question.

Most of the new words were for one story (a novel I want to finish soon), but I did finish a short story I started a few days back and do some minor corrections and get back into another novel that I’ll soon be working on more diligently, if all goes well with the current novel. :)

Day 3 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/11/23

Yesterday, I continued working on multiple stories for my multiple stories challenge.

My word count dropped below 1,300 words, which is a bummer.

Most of my day was spent working on a cover and title for a short story I finished the night before. I’m not a great cover designer, not gonna lie about that, but as I’ve said before, I don’t really want to let other people do my covers. Since I self-publish, I get to do what I want. :D Since so much of what I do when I design covers is just play around until I get something I’m satisfied with, I can end up spending a lot of time on it.

That’s what happened yesterday. That and the title issue. This story needed a title and I had a really hard time coming up with something I was happy (enough) with. Still not sure it’s the best, but it will work. Time to move on. The story will either sell or it won’t, and I plan to be working on something else when I find out.

Late last night (sometime after that last post I made), in an effort not to go to sleep with a big fat zero in my spreadsheet for the day, I wrote 621 words, across 2 stories.

Only two again? Yes. I was too tired to get to work on another one. :)

And you know what? Despite not reaching 1,300 words for the day, I feel like it was a win. :D

Day 2 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/10/23

Yesterday, I worked on multiple stories for my multiple stories challenge. My plan is set up around working on multiple stories concurrently, instead of focusing on only one project until it’s done. This is still something that seems to work very well for me.

I’m happy to have found that out. The creative dry spell I’ve been stuck in really felt like it was never going to end, but this has really sparked my interest in all my in-progress stories again.

Something I’m realizing from this (and probably not for the first time, but I never seem to remember the first time, or the second, or third) is that my interest is tied very closely to how often I am active within a particular story. The longer I go between writing days, the more my interest in that story wanes.

I finally reached 1,300 words in a day.

Before I called it a night, I had written 2,286 words, across 2 stories.

That’s my best single day word count since 12/16/2021. It felt like it took all day (and looking back, it really did for the most part), but I’m probably rusty. ;D

The reason I was focused so tightly on just two stories is because I was pushing to finish a short story I’d started a while back (May, I think?). I also wrote a chapter for the serial I have going. These were the specific goals I set out to reach yesterday, and I’m so happy I finally had a win. :D

Day 1 of the daily accountability challenge

Accountability for 9/9/23

I was going to write a big post detailing how I’ve decided to tackle the goals I’ve set myself going forward. But no. It’s a waste of time. :D Best just to sprinkle it in a little like backstory. Info dumps never do anyone any favors. They kill momentum, and drag out the pacing.

Yesterday, I worked on multiple stories. I think I’ll call this my multiple stories challenge. It’s simply that I have set my plan up around working on multiple stories concurrently, instead of focusing on only one project until it’s done. This works best for me, most of the time, as I’ve detailed extensively in the past.

I haven’t yet reached 1,300 words a day. But before I called it a night, I had written 844 words, across 6 stories. Some of those were just corrections I needed to make, most were new words.

Time to get comfortable

Last night, I sat down and played with some numbers. I really wanted to see what it would take to get myself to a point where I am earning a really comfortable living from writing my fiction, using somewhat conservative numbers but not so conservative that it is depressing.

The outcome wasn’t unexpected.

But as usual, even though the numbers are hopeful and seem realistically possible, they are the same numbers I keep coming back to—and that I have yet to be able to reach and sustain for more than a few days in a row.

To make a living, I need to write about 1,300 words a day if sales stay about the same for the number of words written based on historical earnings for 2022–2023. To live very comfortably, I need to write about 3,600 words a day. Both these numbers are rounded up to the nearest 100 words.

I’ve tried in the past to reach and sustain a 3,600 words a day streak and failed at it even though it only requires about 600 words an hour for 6 hours a day. I can write 600 words an hour, and it’s not a terrible stretch for me. But the 6 hours a day, or even the routine of maintaining daily writing, is where I hit a wall.

All that said, I am here today, writing this, because I want to give it another go. I really want to live more comfortably than I do now and anything averaged out long term between 1,300 and 3,600 words a day has the potential to get me there.

Today’s overarching goal: write 3,600 words.

Today’s specific goals:

  • Finish a short story
  • Finish a chapter in a serialized WIP
  • Finish about half of another short story

Plans for the year—2022

I’m just pasting this from my year in review post so I don’t forget I’ve already planned this out. :D

Here’s the plan.

1) Start a 1,000 words a day streak. That would get me about 183,000 words before the end of the year.

2) Focus on finishing each book quickly instead of jumping between projects.

3) Work on more than one project at a time. This doesn’t contradict number two, because it is based on working on the same multiple projects each day. I have two pen names. I also have three types of stories under one pen name (novels, short stories, and my experiment with a serial). I also have different series. I will settle on a way to choose which projects get worked on and then I’ll work on them until they’re done.

False starts and reconfigurations

I’m recovering from a few false starts this year, the first of which began in November of last year. I’m trying to settle into writing again, regularly, after a long stretch of not writing much at all.

I still don’t know with absolute certainty what caused that, although I have several theories. I worry that it’ll happen again, but since I can’t be sure of the cause, there’s not a lot of point to that worry. It happened, and now it’s time to move on. That’s the way of life more often than not anyway.

Despite the false starts, I’ve continued to improve. But we all know the saying, two steps forward and one step back, so I’m not surprised by the path I’m on.

I’ve made a few changes. I decided to ditch writing every day in favor of writing every weekday.

I don’t like schedules, but I realized I really need some regular downtime.

If I was facing burnout, and that’s just as possible as my other theories, I need to guard against future burnout. Since most people I know and interact with have weekends off, I chose to have weekends off, too. I need to visit family more often, spend more time with friends, and that’s a good time to do it.

So far, I have loved it. To a degree far greater than I expected. So I’ll be keeping that going forward.

But yes, I have had a little more trouble getting back into routine writing, but I’m working on it.

This is my accountability post to say that although I’m working on it, I’m still a ways off from true success and I need to keep working on it.

My intention is to be a prolific writer. Prolific writers keep writing. :)

Ah, the critical voice

Critical voice is that part of yourself that wants you to be perfect. Since perfection doesn’t exist, that voice will win any argument it starts.

The trick is not to argue with it.

It’s that person at the party that you can’t have a discussion with because they aren’t really listening, they’re just thinking ahead to their next rebuttal. But, but, but…

You can’t argue with those people (why are you trying?) and you can’t argue with your critical voice.

It knows all your secrets and it knows all your weak spots.

It knows mine.

I’m going through my own battles with critical voice right now. I recognized today that something I thought wasn’t even related was, in fact, just a sign that my inner critic had gotten the best of me.

When the critical voice is winning, it’s hiding from you. It doesn’t want you to realize it’s there, because you might fight back.

But you can’t attack it directly, with words, with reason. It’s not reasonable. And it will win.

You have to put it in a closet, or in the ground. You have to bury it, and ignore it, and pretend you don’t see its ghost out of the corner of your eye. It will hide in the shadows and it will claw at your brain. The moment you look at it and say I know you’re there, it will go into hiding again, to wait, to lurk, to sulk.

Face it and it will hide. Ignore it and it will lose.

Give it a voice, and you’re the one who loses.

It can feel like an unending effort to ignore something buried so deep inside you that you can never cut it out.

It’s worth it. Writing is never more fun than it is when you’re completely, unabashedly ignoring your inner critic.

I see critical voice as one facet of perfectionism. Perfectionism will destroy your soul. It will kill every creative thought you have. So guard against it. Fight tooth and nail to keep it out of the light and out of your head.

Here are some of my favorite links about critical voice for further reading. Some address critical voice directly. Some talk about things that are a sign that your critical voice is making trouble, even if you don’t recognize it as such.

Back to the drawing board

After several days of the 20 minute writing blocks, I realized I was having a lot of trouble with the getting restarted part of this. Every session ends with the need to restart, unless something (usually a person in a sprint room on discord) was keeping me from taking a break.

Even though I kind of knew this going in, I thought the sets of blocks might be enough to keep it from being a problem. I am ever the optimist, unfortunately. It’s part of my problem with planning—I can’t be realistic to save my life.

I also kept trying to schedule the sets, because to reach the word count I’m aiming for (3,000 words) I would need three or four sets (possibly more). I knew there was little chance of success if I waited until bedtime to try to do four sets of these.

But schedules really don’t work for me, even if I make a point of allowing myself to stay flexible. There’s just something about them that triggers all the wrong thoughts in my head. I didn’t have even one success at starting when I had scheduled a start.

After several days of failing to do the number of sets I need, I realized last night that there are just so many points of failure that this plan makes no sense for me.

I reevaluated and came up with a new plan.

Today I’m going to try to eliminate as many points of failure as I can by using a timer for one long block of 3 hours.

As soon as I finish this post and close this window, I’m going to start that timer.

I won’t stop it for breaks, that way I’ll keep my need to get back to writing at the forefront of my thoughts and not get distracted.

After the timer goes off, I can catch up anything I was tempted to do during the breaks.

If I feel like today was a successful trial run (even if I don’t reach my 3,000 words), I’ll add a rule for tomorrow to get started within an hour of waking up. :D I’m tracking my successes and failures with the Loop Habits app on my phone, and I’ll add that as a habit to track.

I’m only three hours behind today so that’s not so bad. It’s still early enough to be called an early start.

Well, back to timed writing!

My 2022 goals are off to a slow start. The plan is to publish something (novel, short, whatever) every month. I’ve lost some momentum into this new year because I got sick early in the month, and I’ve had a hard time getting moving again.

Last night, after the umpteenth time waiting too late to start (even though I stay up late sometimes, I haven’t been lately, and I haven’t had any willpower at all left once it gets late, so no matter how many times I tell myself I can just get started anyway, it doesn’t happen).

So, new plan.

I want to finish a book, but since “finish the book” isn’t really working for me as a daily goal, today’s is simpler: write 3,000 words (which will probably finish the book). So many mind games. It’s hilarious. But whatever works!

I’ll do 20 minutes 4 times, take a break (or not, depending how I feel), then repeat this a few times. That will get me between 3–4 hours of writing. Which might be enough time to get to 3,000 words.

(I want to write about 90,000 words a month this year, which is insane for me, but I’m seriously tired of dragging out the time it takes to write all these books I want to write. If I really want to write them, I’m going to have to speed up! And there is absolutely no good reason why I can’t write that many words. I am not physically incapable of it, and I have enough ideas to last the rest of my life and beyond. Mental hangups just do not count as real limits. I can do it. Once I break through this barrier, it will get easier. I just have to keep pushing until I crack the wall.)

So, anyway, that’s the goal today. 3,000 words. I’ll report back at intervals, much like I used to do, and keep myself accountable to getting these 20 minute sessions in.

Update #1

I finished the first set. 694 words and 1.333 hours (20 x 4) and I came it at 521 words per hour overall, with one session short actual writing time of about 4 minutes because of a phone call interruption. So it could have been better but probably not by much.

I did a lot of backspacing. My typing is atrocious, but this was mostly me having trouble coming up with a next sentence issue.

I’m going to try to do better with the next one. Think for two seconds before I type or something, I don’t know.

I’m still planning for two to three more sets, but I’m going to have to have a break, which I will need to keep reasonably short. So good luck me with that.

Update #2

Finished the second set and ended up at 980 for the day. I threw in an extra five minutes on the timer so my numbers would round better. :) 2.75 hours, 980 words, 356 wph. Not gonna lie, I’m disappointed with the wph number. This was new material and shouldn’t have been so hard to get up to speed with.

Getting stuff out the door before Christmas and a new year’s goal

Finished my story. Now on to publishing, writing an episode for the serial I’m doing on Kindle Vella, and finally getting back to editing those novel chapters. Trying to do it all today. Time will be short because of a family obligation but I’m going to try.

I wrote over 2,400 words yesterday. I will have to look at my spreadsheet and see when the last time is that I made it over 2,000.

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I’m trying to get my 7 day total up to 16,800 before the new year and keep it there. That’s a 2,400 words a day average, although I’m not talking in averages anymore since they really don’t fit my writing/work style.