Word count post(s) for Sept. 21–25, 2016

0 words.

164 words.

(12) words.

0 words.

778 words.

And that sums that up. This hasn’t been the restart I’ve been hoping for, but last night I seem to have finally started to get somewhere. That 778 words falls in the low word count day* range, but it’s still a massive improvement over zero. :)

Daily average since 9/19: 116 words.

I have a ways to go to reach my new goal of fewer low word count days, but I’m not restarting this one and I’m not giving up on it.

*Scale:
1,000 = low word count day
2,000 = average word count day
3,000 = moderate word count day
4,000 = high word count day
5,000 = record breaking word count day (always, because 5k is such a push for me)

Now, despite today’s late start (jury duty and a lot of other interruptions today), I’m aiming for a moderate word count today.

New goal: more average and moderate word count days, fewer low word count days

I have to stop reevaluating my daily word count goal.

It’s kind of stupid really, all this number crunching I do. I’ve approached it in so many different ways that it doesn’t even make sense to keep redoing the calculations. I already know about where the numbers are going to end up.

I guess I keep hoping I’ll discover I’ve done something wrong and I’ll be able to write 500 words a day and make a killing and finish all the books I want finish in as little as a few months or a year at the most. :D Totally unrealistic, honestly, but I keep trying anyway.

I need to write…

  • 2,085 words a day to earn my ideal income.
  • 2,192 words a day to write 4 books in 4 series each year (16 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 1,644 words a day to write a book a month (12 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 2,466 words a day to write a book a month for one pen name and a book every other month for a second pen name (18 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 2,164 words a day if I write for 4 hours a day at my average 541 words an hour pace.
  • 1,623 words a day if I write for 3 hours a day at my average pace.

See where I’m going with this?

I have to stop reevaluating these numbers! It isn’t helping me in any way that I can see. None. It’s nothing more than a way to pass the time and distract myself from what I really need to be doing: writing.

I need to just write as much as I can each day, but that attitude never seems to work out for me. I need a bit of structure, but not too much. I don’t want another schedule, and I hate the arbitrariness of picking one of these numbers as a daily quota. How do I decide? (I’m remarkably indecisive. Impulsive too, but that’s another post.)

After a bit of thought, I’ve come up with a possible solution.

I’ve created a scale to help me keep things in perspective. :)

1,000 = low word count day
2,000 = average word count day
3,000 = moderate word count day
4,000 = high word count day
5,000 = record breaking word count day (always, because 5k is such a push for me)

My goal is to have more average and moderate word count days, sprinkled with high and record breaking days, and as few low word count days as possible.

I can track this by monitoring how I’m doing keeping my average daily word count at or above 2,000 words a day.

Easy, right?

Okay, maybe not so much easy as simple. :D

The concept makes sense, anyway. :)

That means today’s goal is to reach 2,000 words, and this week’s goal is to keep it there. And the month’s goal is the same, and so is the year’s goal. Like I said, simple.

Wish me luck.

Exporting OneNote sections to Word

Here’s something I discovered about exporting from OneNote today: To export both pages and subpages of a section from OneNote to Word, expand the pages first.

I did some reorganizing of my Journals which are set up as Section > 2016, Page > September 2016, Subpages > September 16, 2016 & September 15, 2016, etc, and had them collapsed so the sidebar wasn’t too long (365 pages is a lot of pages for one section and I wanted some white space in that list!).

What happened, though, when I did my usual export to Word to back up my entries by section (year) is that most of the subpages didn’t export. Only those that were expanded were included in the Word docx file. :o

That wasn’t good, so I went back and expanded everything, then exported again, and it worked exactly as I expected.

I tried to find mention of this online, but I couldn’t find anything. So here it is, a tip for anyone who might be wondering why OneNote doesn’t export subpages to Word when exporting. See if your pages are collapsed and if they are, expand them before you try to export again.

I’d rather it not be this way, but as long as I have a workaround I’m satisfied.

Sometimes I still miss Evernote, but one of my favorite things about OneNote is how easily I can export pages, sections, or notebooks directly from OneNote to Word. I couldn’t do that in Evernote, and exporting to HTML wasn’t really what I wanted. I do it to back up important notes in a format I can access easily if my OneNote files were to become corrupt.

I’m not where I wanted to be

It’s been four years since I started self-publishing. I published my first story in July 2012 and I’ve never looked back. I quit my job in September of that year, lived on savings, and wrote as much as I could. I had a ridiculous amount of faith that it was going to work out, even when it really didn’t look like it was going to work out.

But it has, and I’m making a living on the money I earn from my fiction.

But now I feel stuck.

It’s been four years and I’m not where I wanted to be at this point, with either income or output. I know what to blame: My inconsistency. I don’t meet my word count goals. I can’t stick to a regular production schedule. I don’t have a regular publishing schedule.

The only thing I’ve done with any consistency is spend weeks and months struggling to keep myself writing when the doldrums hit. My latest zero word day streak ended today after 35 days.

I’ve had 145 zero word days this year. That’s already more than in any other year, and this year has 4 months to go.

I’ve got a problem, and I’m not sure how to fix it.

On the other hand, my output over the last four years is eerily consistent considering how irregular my writing schedule is.

2012: 146,821 (tracks to 291k for the year)
2013: 268,191
2014: 217,641
2015: 250,011
2016: 137,080 (tracks to 205k for the year)

Of course, if I continue to fail to write, this year could be the first year I dip below 200k for the year. I really can’t let that happen. I already feel disconnected from my writing, and I don’t like that feeling. I’m just not sure what’s going on.

I want to change this, to improve my output numbers, but at this point, I’m just not sure what it’s going to take, or if I’m capable of it. As you can imagine, this is a very frustrating time for me. I’m at a low point, and I’m very much feeling like I just don’t have that something special that drives people to exceed their limits and achieve great things.

Conclusion: daily word count is more important than time spent writing

After many experiments detailed here on this blog over the years, and much reading of articles about processes and systems versus goals and quotas, I’ve decided that forevermore I will consider working daily toward a word count goal more important than how much time I spend writing.

Here’s why.

No matter how I look at it, it’s all metrics. A system that says I need to write for a certain length of time (daily or weekly) is no different to me than having a goal to write 2,192 words a day or 15,344 words a week or 66,667 words a month or 800,000 words a year.

A daily word count goal and a daily time goal are exactly the same in all the ways that matter to me and they require exactly the same amount of mental energy from me.

Finally, I’ve concluded after a great many experiments detailed here on this blog, that I prefer to work to word count goals, not time goals, because, one, I have difficulties perceiving the passage of time, and two, I like numbers that reflect progress in a form I can visualize. What does it mean that I’ve spent three hours working on my book? I can’t see my book’s progress in time invested, but I can certainly see it in words written. YMMV.

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

Monday updates (Or 18 days later!)

Let me just say that I didn’t intend for it to take anywhere near this long to finish this little project of reading my series from the start. It was supposed to be a quick detour to help me get back into this series so I can finish this last book, which only needs (guessing here) about ten to twenty thousand words to complete it.

My perception of time is warped, I know, but this failure can’t be blamed only on that. Thursday I read a book, then started several others that I couldn’t quite bring myself to finish. By the way, Dead City is a good book, not one you want to think too hard about, but one that keeps up a nice pace and is fun reading. Plague Year, one that I started reading Thursday but haven’t finished, has slower pacing, but drew a much more visceral reaction from me. I’m going to get back to it, but first I want to finish reading my own book, get into a steady rhythm with my daily writing again, and read the sequel to The Last Policeman, which I read a week and a half ago and loved.

Funny how I just move on to reading other stuff when I forbid myself a book because I should be doing something else instead. :o I told myself I couldn’t read Countdown City until I finished reading my book and got back to writing. Instead, I spent time reading stuff I wanted to read much less than Countdown City and didn’t make progress on anything.

The weekend turned out to be time off, and that leaves me here. I started this morning at the 45% mark in book 4 (still) and have made some progress.

Goals today include (1) finish reading this book, (2) read/edit 18 chapters of book 5, and (3) write chapter 19 of book 5. (I’m giving something different a trail run, and I’ll post my draft on that topic as soon as I get to call this post DONE.)

11:23 (AM) book 4 62% read

Sometime in the afternoon book 4 87% read

Wednesday updates

Well, I got sick. I’m doing this update because I promised myself I’d update my word count spreadsheet every day, especially when I’m not writing, to help me stay aware of the passage of time.

Friday updates

It’s Friday, I feel better, and I’m going to finish this thing today, twenty-two days from the day I started this project. Yes I am. :)

Tuesday updates

DONE. Done, done, done, done, done!

Now on to the next phase. :o

Let’s not discuss the fact that this is many days after the day I was absolutely certain would be my last day at this.

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.