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

Not a strong start today

I’ve yet to do the edits I talked about in my previous post. I’m disappointed that I’ve been at the computer most of the afternoon and have nothing to show for it other than… well, this post.

Oh, and a journal entry, because I’ve been doing those again. I have a notebook for that, and I’ve taken to handwriting my thoughts again, because of the supposed benefit that you remember more if you hand write things.

I need all the help I can get remembering this stuff. I’ve gone back and forth with writing down my thoughts into the note keeping software I use, but when I go back through my notes, I’m always amazed that I’ve had this thought and that thought and that I should really remember those thoughts but haven’t.

On that note, I think it’s time I make an effort to put in my 15 minutes before I regret letting more of the day slip away on me. Maybe it’ll lead to some real writing today!

All I can do is hope, anyway. This creative dry spell has to end sometime.

15 minutes a day: day 1 results

Yesterday I managed to do really well not writing. I did, however, finally give in and sit down at my computer. I wrote a few words, deleted a few others, then decided I’d be better off just using the 15 minutes to make myself read what I’d already written, or at least the relevant parts of it.

So I did that instead. I timed it, too, so I didn’t try to cheat. I read on my Kindle, and I was obviously in a mood, because I highlighted massive sections for deletion and “fixing.” I put that in quotes, because it deserves to be in quotes. I don’t like editing my stories once I’ve moved on to other sections of the story*; it doesn’t often help strengthen anything and does quite often flatten everything, turning it dull and lifeless. (*I edit as I write. I don’t know if it can be called editing, but it’s an integral part of my writing process. I write from one scene to the next, in a very linear fashion, but I write scenes, paragraphs, and even sentences out of order, in a very non-linear fashion. Much the way I write my blog posts here.)

Hindsight tells me that if I would have deleted the last 2 to 4 thousand words, I could have written something else many times over in all the time I’ve wasted avoiding this book.

I just… don’t know where to go with this story. I’ve lost all enthusiasm for it.

I meant to read through what I’d written a while back and that never happened. I just haven’t gotten to it, but reading the story from the beginning and getting right to work on it afterward, with no wasted time between, is the only hope I have left for regaining any of that enthusiasm.

So using those 15 minutes last night to force the issue felt like the right move. I think it was. I’m thinking about the book again, and I’m ready to spend today’s 15 minutes going through those highlighted passages and making a decision about the direction of this book.

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.

Summer work slump

I’ve finally just admitted to myself that I’m in the middle of a summer work slump. Too much change around here and none of the time to myself that I’m used to in the summer has made it impossible for me to concentrate on my stories. The creative parts of my brain have dried up.

The only advice I have for anyone going through something similar is to be easy on yourself, because being tough sure doesn’t work. The more I’ve chastised myself, the worse the situation has become. I’ve finally just given up trying to pound my psyche into submission; the reasoning part of my brain refuses to be cowed.

On the other hand, I haven’t given up. I’ve just accepted that castigating myself over my lack of forward momentum is not motivating me to do better.

I’ll get out of it. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but I will break free.

Day 1 of the 2k a day plan

Okay, it’s really a 2,192 words a day plan, but 2k a day is catchier, right? :D I thought so. (Ignore the fact that you could think I’m talking about dollars instead of words here, because we all know I ain’t talking dollars—not that I wouldn’t love it if my words per day average was actually a dollars per day average. Hell yes I would.)

Although I have nothing to report for the day, other than the fact that I wasn’t even able to start reading my books as detailed in my last post, I’m still calling July 31, 2016, Sunday, the official beginning of this plan.

So, my progress on July 31: 0 words written toward my daily goal of 2,192.

The reason I couldn’t read my book was because for some reason the Kindle app on my phone (which is the only gadget I took to bed with me) glitched out with an error on the download of the first book in the series. All 3 of the other books downloaded fine, but the 1st book wouldn’t. :o Instead of going back for my Kindle, I took it as a sign and went on to sleep. ;)

Today is day one, because yesterday wasn’t

I need to give this new plan of mine a short and spiffy name so I can come up with a short and cute acronym. In reality, I’ll probably call it something ordinary and boring, like “my new plan,” because it fits and doesn’t require any thought.

Yesterday should have been day 2 or 3, or, at the least, day 1 of the new plan.

It wasn’t.

So today is day 1, even if I end up with 0 words, which it kind of looks like I’m headed toward at the moment.

I don’t want today to be a 0 word day, but I’ve been thinking I might want to read the previous books in the series before I start digging into the writing again. Maybe it’ll fire me up with ideas and renew my enthusiasm for this story.

If reading the entire series helps, I’m going to make this a priority for future books (reading the previous books each time before I start on the next). If it doesn’t help, at least I’ll have my head full of the series details again so I don’t make a really big mistake (almost did that, yes I did, with a particular piece of tech I’d invented for the series).

I wonder if I can get through all four books by tomorrow afternoon? Ooh, sounds like a challenge! ;)

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.