September 2019 progress

September passed much too quickly. I wanted to finish more projects in September and it didn’t happen.

September words: 24,609.

I did keep my “no more zero word days” streak alive. Yesterday marked 62 days of daily writing. But there were a few days there when I’m not sure I like how I did it. I didn’t cheat, because my only rule is that I write something but I still don’t like the way I went about it.

On the other hand, I really don’t want to set a minimum, because it messes with my head when I know I need to delete stuff and don’t want to because it’ll leave me with a negative word count and I need a positive word count for some streak or other (like the 1,000 words before sweets rule I had for a while).

Maybe I’m going to have to set a minimum of some sort whether I like it or not. If that happens, I’m sure I’ll go with a time based minimum, because the word count is pretty much out of my control. Some days are productive and good and some days I struggle to move forward in my stories no matter how much time I devote to it. Time is a good compromise. In fact, as I type this, I’m becoming convinced I need to set that minimum time.

I stopped editing my work every day. I think mostly because I kept getting far ahead of my writing and there’s no point reading something twenty times! I just need to read for errors or things to fix, because I edit as I go when I write, and that meant I was often rereading stuff I’d read the very day before for the third or fourth time.

That said, I might pick it up again, because there were some benefits to it (it kept my stories very alive in my mind).

October is already passing quickly, so I’m hoping today to regain some momentum I lost at the beginning of the month because my refrigerator died on me and I had to deal with that and get it replaced when the repairs didn’t fix it. :)

It’s just been one thing after another lately but I am determined to get back on track and have a 50,000 word month! I want to make October–December all 50,000 word months. April and May were my last two 50,000 word months and I was disappointed when I didn’t make June another one. But it did set a new personal best for me, because I’d never had two 50,000 word months back to back.

Now it’s time to set another personal best and have three 50,000 word months back to back. :D

Day 51 of no more zero word days

Yesterday was day 51 of my challenge not to have another zero word day. :)

I wrote 1,873 words.

Right now, I’m trying to get to a comfortable 3,200 words a day. Which I know sounds like a lot, but even for me, with an average pace of 500 words an hour, that’s not a ridiculous amount of daily writing, especially when distributed between multiple stories (giving me plenty of time to refuel the muse per story).

Here’s the math, again, just for show.

3,200 ÷ 5 hours = 640 words an hour

Five hours of focused work is a lot. Most research shows that people working an 8 hour job typically do between 3 and 5.3 hours of productive work. There’s nothing more productive for a fiction writer than writing fiction. :-)

But I’m happy to give writing 5 hours of my focused time each day if I can manage it. :)

That’s the biggie for me. I tend to be able to get 2-3 focused hours of timed writing and that’s where it all kind of falls apart. Long breaks, distractions, and the desire to read all end up keeping me from getting more time in. I’m working on it! :D

Also, I ran across a little something this morning that has me convinced that I shouldn’t bother experimenting with timer lengths any longer. I use 20 minute timers most of the time, although I do try longer and shorter ones sometimes, but according to this: “Attention span begins to decay significantly after just 20 minutes. Therefore, after 20 minutes of intensive study, stop.”

I didn’t follow up with the sources, but I’m willing to take it at face value because of my personal experience and experiments with timers of varying lengths.

I am apparently fully within the group of people this applies to. I’ve been using 20 minutes as my preferred timed writing sessions for years now, ever since I discovered that they don’t cause me to feel so interrupted as a 15 minute timer does and that I don’t find myself glancing at the time left before the timer dings.

(Confirmation bias, I know. If you know of a source that reputably disputes this, feel free to drop it in a comment, otherwise, I’m perfectly happy to accept this as true.)

:D

Active streaks update

Active streaks:

  • Day 20 of writing fiction every day
  • Day 19 of editing my in progress fiction every day (typo hunts and continuity checks that aim to make finishing my books easier and the last read through more likely to go quickly). I really do prefer to do this away from my computer, so I’m more likely to notice missing words and other embarrassing mistakes. :D (A clock and a cock are very different things, and yet spell check doesn’t care about that at all. :D)

A follow up on the inactive stuff at this point:

I’m going to stop reading every day. I’m a binge reader and I started to notice after 3 weeks of daily reading, my reading breaks were getting longer and longer. Eight hours of reading a day is not what I had in mind when I started this streak!

I do think the regular little doses of fiction reading have helped me tame my perfectionist streak but sacrifices must be made. I have to do what I can to limit the things in my life that stop me from writing. I love reading. I would read all day every day if I could.

If I fall into a binge reading cycle now, I’ll be lucky to write a page a day for however long it lasts. In fact, these reading binges are usually what lead to my long zero word day streaks. I’m crying a little inside about that but it is what it is.

I have to start the 1,000 words a day streak over, so it’s not a streak at all yet, because I had two days where I barely wrote a thing. I don’t know that I’m going to try to get any other streaks going at this point. I think two is enough for now.

The 24 minute sprint every day before noon is dead, if only because I’ve decided I need longer sessions if I want to get into flow. And I do. And if I want to get in more writing time every day, I have to do longer sessions, because for some reason a 10 minute break for me usually ends up being more like an hour (or 6 hours of reading (told you it was a problem)) and I can’t have that either.

So, longer sessions, fewer breaks, more flow.

That’s where I’m at right now, and it’s time to get back to writing. I’ve used this to put off my second 50 minute session long enough. :)

I need my anti-perfectionism practice today

:D

What a way to start a post. Anyway, I read an interesting interview today and feel energized to get started early despite being more than two hours short on sleep.

For the last few days I’ve been using 24 minutes timers and a scribbled time log to keep me focused on writing, although yesterday I forgot to start the timer more often than not. However, it all has helped because my word counts are up and I’m feeling both productive and like I’m getting some free time to myself that doesn’t involve me feeling guilty for not writing more.

As of three days ago, I’ve started a streak of 1,000+ word days that I’d like to keep going for a while. My last 1,000+ words a day streak ended in March 2013 (you can see it in the sidebar) and lasted for 27 days. It would be nice to set a new record for 1,000+ days since it’s 6 years later now. :)

Active streaks:

  • Editing something every day (typo hunts and continuity checks that aim to make finishing my books easier and the last read through more likely to go quickly).
  • Writing fiction every day
  • Reading fiction every day
  • Writing more than 1,000 words a day

New one I’m aiming to start today: Finish at least one 24 minute sprint every day before noon.

I actually plan to go for three today but the streak I’m aiming for is just to make myself get that one sprint in every day before noon no matter what else I do.

And now it’s time to start writing fiction. My fingers are limbered up and my brain is firing nicely and I’m clear-headed. Away I go. :)

I’ll do a progress post later today with word counts! I don’t want to deal with that right now. :)

No more zero word days—day 12

Notes on the challenge:

  • Only true zero word days count as zero word days, meaning—
    • Negative numbers aren’t zero word days because they just indicate that I deleted more than I wrote.
    • I don’t want oodles of negative word days, because forward progress matters a lot more than just logging a number that isn’t a zero, but I also don’t want the same issues that I had with my “no sweets before 1,000” to crop up either—the issue of needing to delete something but hesitating because I wanted to get my 1,000 words in so I could have a treat!

All that said, things are going well! I just need to get my daily word counts up to where I would like them to be, 1500-3000, and I’ll finally be satisfied. :D (Really? Who knows! But I’m going to pretend.)

Yesterday, I helped my daughter move back to college and now I can’t be blaming other people for my lack of concentration and writing. It’s all on me.

Today is a super quiet day here and I plan to enjoy it by writing the day away.

Days 1–11: 7,104 words*

Day 12: in progress!*

* Edited because I had those days and word counts all wrong. What the heck?! I have no idea how I messed that up. Never mind. I totally forgot this wasn’t a monthly update but was for the challenge only. The numbers were right the first time!

April 8–20 progress

I am definitely on to something with the “no sweets before 1,000 words” thing. April has been a great writing month so far and I’m putting the credit for that entirely on that little rule I’ve been following.

Yeah, I’ve had one or two days overall where I’ve not reached 1,000 words and gone to bed without any sweets at all, but that’s it. And yeah, it sounds like a phenomenally bad idea to give myself sweet treats for writing, considering how bad too much sugar is for a body, but I would have eaten the sweets anyway, and more of them, frankly, because I have a serious sweet tooth. This little rule has tamed it quite a lot.

It’s amazing what I’ll push myself through to get a cup of cocoa. :-)

April 8–20: 22,103 words.

April-to-date: 33,792 words.

Unfortunately, my current book has gone long. I’d have been done with it 18,000 words ago if it hadn’t. Now I’m just pushing to get it finished so I can start in earnest on the other book that’s desperate to get out of me. :-)

One thing I’ve noticed lately is that I really don’t like to blog or journal when the writing is going really well. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so ready to get started with the actual writing of the story that I don’t want to waste time doing this other writing, or if it’s that the journal and blog writing actually steal some of my motivation to write. Don’t know. Don’t actually care. I’m just glad to be writing my fiction regularly again.

On that note, I’m going to get back to the writing.

The “no timers” thing

When I revisited getting rid of my timers, I thought the beginning of 2017 and the middle of 2017 was the last time I’d addressed the issue. But I was wrong. As I published my last post and checked through it as I usually do, I clicked the “corrective action“ tag.

It showed me a post I wrote in November 2017 called, appropriately, “Done with timers” that kind of shocked me. I had forgotten all about writing it.

First, no more timers. I’m not even talking about temporarily. I’m doing away with timers.

I know that didn’t work for me at the beginning of this year, but that was because I was using timers in conjunction with no schedule and no goals either. That was a mistake.

I know what I need as far as word counts: 500 words a day minimum, 3,000 words a day goal.

The goal is there to help make a particular dream I have a reality. I want to move. I want a new house. I want a pool. I need money to make that happen. :-)

I really don’t need to track anything else. Those are the numbers I need, each day. One is easily accomplished, the other is a stretch. Tracking my daily words is the only metric I need to know if I’m doing what I need to be doing (500 a day) or want to be doing (3,000 a day).

Swap out that 3,000 a day with my 2,000 words a day plan and this is pretty much what I’m doing now. I didn’t set a 500 a day minimum this time, but now that I’m reminded of that, I think I will.

I’m not going to forget and I’m not going to go back. I am done with timers. I mean done done done.

That 500 word minimum has the benefit of making yesterday’s word count an important success (I wrote 571 words, after all) and gives me something to push for tonight that’s more realistic than 2,000 words, because I’m not even going to pretend I’ll be able to go from the 53 words that I have to 2,000 words before I call it a night considering how late it is. But 500? Definitely possible.

And to top it off, this also means I have a 500 words a day streak going that I won’t want to break tonight. I mean, it’s only two days, but it’s two days in a row!

Day 13 of 500 words a day

619 words. It was easy enough yesterday that I thought I would end the day with a whole lot more but I was tired after not getting enough sleep the night before and it showed in the latter part of the day. I watched an episode of Rizzolli & Isles on DVD when I stopped for dinner and then just kept watching…

But today I’ll do better. I’m going to aim for no less than 5 hours of writing and see where that takes me. :)

Day 12 of 500 words a day

I made it. I wrote 526 words and kept my streak alive for another day. I didn’t think I would, to be honest. It’s 2:32 am and I’m dead tired.

I started out at a negative word count of hundreds of words because of deletions and it took hours to catch back up and get above 500 words. I did too much editing and not enough fresh writing. But I didn’t want to jump ahead, so I persevered.

I really need to learn how to write a little more freely. And those thousands of words I was thinking about deleting today didn’t get deleted but I’m seriously thinking they might go in the next session.

Day 11 of 500 words a day

Yesterday I wrote 524 words. That brought my daily streak of 500+ words to day 11.

Today is looking dicey. It’s 5:53 pm and I’m sitting at -305 words right now, meaning I’ve deleted significantly more words than I’ve written, and I’m toying with the idea of deleting even more. I’m just really not sure how to handle days like today because if I delete thousands of words, as I suspect might happen, to end up with a net positive I’ll have to write thousands of words if I want my spreadsheet to show 500 words for the day.

Not great.

It’s just something I’m going to have to figure out and then stick to as a general rule.

Day 10 of 500 words a day

My 500+ words a day streak is alive and well. I wrote 563 words on day 10.

As for today, I haven’t done well avoiding distractions. It wasn’t that I got distracted during writing time so much as I just took a break for lunch and never came back.

Except that’s not exactly right, because I did come back at about five o’clock this evening, only to end up in a discussion with a family member that pulled me off track for nearly two hours.

As I said yesterday, I need to take away the potential for distraction if I want to stay focused.

That brings me to my new plan.

No more posting while I’m trying to write, because it leads me right into an area that’s rife with potential distractions. I’ll save the posting for after I’m done trying to write.

Since I’m often not in the mood to post once I start shutting down for the evening, I’ll probably end up doing a lot of morning posts, but that’s okay, as long as I do them before I start trying to write my daily quota of fiction. :-)

Also, it’s time I try a little harder to get my writing done earlier in the day. I prefer daytime writing, to be honest, and there’s just no reason I shouldn’t be doing it when I like doing it best, most of the time.

So yeah. New plan.

Day 9 of 500 words a day

Yesterday was day 9 of my 500 words a day streak. I wrote 2,626 words.

My daily average since beginning this effort is now 803 words. This just goes to prove that it doesn’t take much more than the 500 words a day on a few days a week to really improve my long-term average.

Through day 8, 575 words was my daily average.

Add in day 9 and my daily average shot up to 803 words, which is 188 words above my all-time daily average. Meaning that if I maintained this pace, writing mostly 500-520 a day but having 1-2 days where I write quite a bit more, I would write an additional 68,620 words in a year. Or another entire novel.

It’s something to keep in mind, for sure. For someone like me, who finds it difficult to maintain a consistent pace, having a low set minimum appears to be a great way to at least ensure a minimum of production, while increasing the chances of producing more. I’ve already talked about the benefits I’ve been seeing, so I won’t go into that, but suffice to say, I’m feeling really good about this new plan to write 500 words a day. It’s going better than I ever expected, to be honest.

Six days now

I’ve extended my daily writing streak of 500 words or more to six days now, squeaking by with 503 words.

Here’s my log of word counts since I began the 500 words a day minimum.

10/31/17 – 517
11/1/17 – 533
11/2/17 – 520
11/3/17 – 1,004
11/4/17 – 515
11/5/17 – 503

As happened the day before and the day before that, I waited until so late last night to get started that I was falling asleep with my computer in my lap and kept having to rouse myself to write the words. It was tough, to say the least.

I’m going to try not to do that again tonight.

In fact, I want to try for 3,000 words today, and I’m going to do it by focusing on writing 600 words at a time.

(600 x 5 = 3,000)

Or, you know, I could just finish the book before I reach 3,000. I’m perfectly happy to do that too. :-)

Focus on action and small wins; a new daily minimum

Today I’m starting work on my book much later than I planned. Mostly because I’ve spent too much of the day thinking about a decision I made a couple days ago and trying to decide if it’s the right one. I’ve finally decided it is.

Tuesday, I decided to lower my minimum word count for a day to 500 words. That was a good call, I think. My average daily word count is 614 words. Since I have a complete record of every day’s word count since mid-2012, this isn’t a guess. This is my actual daily word count average for more than 5 years of writing.

That said, just because I’ve averaged 614 words a day for 5 years doesn’t mean 500 words a day should be a no-problem, no-trouble, easy daily goal for me. Averages are just that: averages. And averages never tell the whole story.

Consistent daily writing is still a major problem for me. I do not do well with long term daily writing. My longest streak to date is 122 days and I had to count many days of less than 100 words to even get that.

Writing 500 words a day, every day, will be a considerable challenge. But I don’t think I can go any lower than that, just because it doesn’t feel reasonable and it doesn’t feel like a challenge. It feels like giving up.

Daily, it’s only a small win, but 500 words a day will get me a book of average size (50,000 words) in 100 days. Meaning even if I totally fail at all else and ONLY write the 500 words a day every day and never one word more, I’ll write more words in the next 12 months than I wrote in the last two years combined by a little more than 40,000 words.

That’s a win, no matter how I look at it.

And my hope is, as always, that this small win will drive me to write more and reach some of the bigger goals I have.

Every time I write more than 500 words a day, it’s going to push my average up, and I’m going to get that much closer to my long-term goal of being a prolific writer. I can’t ask for much more than that considering where I’m starting from.

But I have to start somewhere and becoming a consistent daily writer is where I’m choosing to start.

The fact is, a small win is better than no win, and I have to start focusing on action if I want to change.

This isn’t just a post about intentions; this is a post of action! I made this minimum word count change two days ago on Tuesday. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, I successfully met this challenge with 517 words and 533 words, respectively.

Yay! I have a new writing streak going. :-)

Now, it’s time to go write and keep this thing alive.

Update: Yep, I did it. 520 words for the day.

Tomorrow I resume the challenge to reach 6000 words in a day

Today I haven’t written any fiction. I have a daily writing streak I could keep alive by writing something now, but I don’t think I’m going to. I might, when I finish writing this post, go write a little something, but I might not. I’m tired and I’m not really seeing the need.

Tomorrow I resume the challenge to write 6000 words in a day. I was SO close a few days ago but I just couldn’t get those last 200 words. I’ve been staying up too late and when you’re falling asleep at the computer, it’s time to put the computer up. ;)

I’m just about there now.

There’s a caveat to the resumption of the challenge for tomorrow though. I have to start working my way back into good sleep habits. I’m paying for the lack of them in so many ways. Increased appetite, cravings for sweets, tired eyes, that kind of thing.

Anyway, the point is that I’m still very interested in reaching 6000 words in a day but I also want to not have to work so hard at it. :D

First thing: I need to make sure I’m in a place in my head where I can write freely. I just can’t do this without a better pace. 10 hours and 33 minutes is how long it took me to write the 5,816 words that broke my previous record of 5,758 words in a day. That’s just too much time.

I don’t want to have another 10 hour day anytime in the near future. Seriously, it was rough and I felt very much like all I did was get up Sunday, start writing, and write all day long until I gave up at about 10:30 that night. I know I had times when I was away from the computer, because I only clocked 10 hours and 33 minutes, but I sure can’t remember any of them. It was write, write, write, all day.

Anyway, enough of this ramble. The TL;DR for this is I’m still chasing 6000 words a day, but I’m setting some limits. :)

Goodnight!

The last writing streak ended yesterday

I ended yesterday with zero words written for the day. I had a full day away from home and I just didn’t have the energy to get started. I actually consciously looked at my writing streak in my daily word count log, said, “Neh,” and closed the computer.

Wondering what that big number is in the image? That’s my cumulative word count since I started tracking in 2012.

Anyway, on to make today the beginning of a new streak. I both want and need to make some significant progress today on this book I’m working on.

Today is the first day this year that both of my kids are back in school. I have no reason to put off getting back into this book and fixing the problems it’s giving me. I’m ready.

The writing streaks are dead—sort of

I’ve let the writing streaks end. Last night, I wrote, but I deleted and then wrote and then deleted, and I had a negative day and just couldn’t climb out of it before I was too tired to continue. I’ve been staying up way too late and 1 a.m. last night did me in.

However! There is a however. :D

I wrote. So technically I have a new writing streak to replace the old two.

148 – 12/30
172 – 12/31
203 – 1/1
209 – 1/2
246 – 1/3
277 – 1/4
345 – 1/5
470 – 1/6
(35) – 1/7

 

  1. I’ve written fiction every day

I’d love to know how much I wrote yesterday, because I have a feeling my >100 words streak would still be alive, but that’s not how I count words and I’m not going to change that. It’s not necessary anyway. I have no goals, am using no timers, and following no schedule. A broken writing streak isn’t breaking any kind of commitment to myself.

I’ll just let a new one happen.

The writing streaks live on

Yesterday, at the twelfth hour, I did some writing and managed 470 words.

Another small win and another day to add to my streaks.

148 – 12/30
172 – 12/31
203 – 1/1
209 – 1/2
246 – 1/3
277 – 1/4
345 – 1/5
470 – 1/6

The streaks are:

  1. > 100 words each day
  2. increasing number of words each day

At some point, the increasing words per day streak will end. There’s no way around that, because I do want to write a lot of words on a daily basis. But for now this is a great motivation to keep going.

I’m finding the challenge of doing better every single day not to be much of a challenge at all. Part of that is probably because I’ve let myself write on a variety of stories (all stories I hope to finish writing and publish within the first three to four months of this year assuming I eventually reach four digits with my daily word count). That’s led to me having no trouble at all getting out some new words each day.

I don’t know, it’s kind of making me rethink my ban on writing concurrently on multiple stories.

I’m not sold on backing off the ban yet, but I do notice my motivation to write everything increases when I’m writing on anything. That matters when I’m having a tough time getting myself started. I’ve said it before: Getting started is the single most difficult thing for me when it comes to writing (or anything else).

Anyway, off to work on paperback formatting for some books and then to do some writing.

(By the way, I love this font. Firefox says it’s Libre Franklin, and I’m seriously considering downloading this to my computer and using it for my notes.)

(And I did, and yes, it definitely wasted some time, because I got lost looking at fonts. But I’m away from there now and clicking publish here! Time to get to work.)

Another day goes down in favor of the streak(s)

And another day goes down in favor of the streak(s).

148 – 12/30
172 – 12/31
203 – 1/1
209 – 1/2
246 – 1/3
277 – 1/4
345 – 1/5

  1. > 100 words each day
  2. increasing number of words each day

Although I thought I would write more today, in the end, I’m pretty satisfied that at least I wrote something.

Maybe tomorrow will be the day I break out and write lots of words.

Now, I must go to sleep. It’s 12:55 p.m. and that’s already much later than I wanted to conk out tonight.