No more coffee—a lifelong challenge to ditch coffee for good, forever

I’ve quit and restarted my coffee habit many times over the course of my life. It’s finally time for me to commit to making a lifelong change. I like coffee but the caffeine and even the coffee itself isn’t doing me any favors these days.

This post is my written commitment to ditch coffee for good—forever.

No more coffee.

I’ll check in on this once a week or so for a while, then once a month, then only if something changes.

As an aside, I’ve also committed to eliminating as many sweets from my diet as I can. I’ve been doing pretty good with that. I use the Android app Loop – Habit Tracker to keep up with my success rate, and it seems to help.

Sweets-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

I’m being pretty strict about what counts, so although I had only a few semi-sweet chocolate chips, they were enough to stop me from marking yesterday and the day before as sweet-free days. I think it’s best that way, because I don’t want half-measures to eventually derail my effort in this.

I already have a habit set up in the app for coffee-free days, but as you can see below, I haven’t made much effort at all up to this point to avoid coffee. That’s going to change going forward. :D

Coffee-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

 

You think you got this and then you don’t do the work

That title there? Basically the exact thing that’s happened today. I was sure I was on track after having two successful days of writing—successful in that I sat myself down and managed to write for four complete hours each day, even if it took me much longer than I’d have liked. But then today came and I let myself slip up.

I’ve done four sessions of the twelve I need to do to reach that same four hour goal and it’s already 7:45 pm.

To finish my 8 remaining sessions by a reasonable hour (say, 11 pm) I’ll need to do as many of the remaining sessions back-to-back as I can, and that’s just the truth. Because here’s the thing. I am accountable to me and I’m not going to let myself get away with not doing the work.

Not today. Not tomorrow. Not anytime soon.

I’ve said it before: To be the kind of writer I want to be, I need to change.

Missing a goal once in a while is no big deal and doesn’t feel anything like failure. Missing a goal every single time is not a good thing. There are repercussions to that kind of repetitive failure. I’m done with that. I just can’t be that person, that kind of writer, any longer.

If I miss today’s goal, it will be a 1:3 failure rate. That’s no longer good enough for me. I’ve set my boundaries and 1:3 ain’t it.

But I’m lucky, because this day isn’t over and there’s no reason to accept failure.

Getting back on track is as easy as saying it’s time to start writing again.

(I originally started a new post for today’s session log but I changed my mind and I’ve moved it here instead.)

Daily Accountability

Session 1: 307 words
Session 2: 217 words
Session 3: 48 words
Session 4: 20 words

Sessions are 20 minutes long and my goal for each is 250 words. Not there yet. Working on it. :)

Next day update: Well, shit. I didn’t do any more sessions. I had good reasons, but if I’d done my writing early like I should’ve done, this would not have happened.

1,063 words and time ended 7:13 pm

Today was better than yesterday and that’s good enough for me!

DAILY ACCOUNTABILITY

Session 1 : 234 words
Session 2 : 92 words
Session 3 : 174 words
Session 4 : 244 words
Session 5 : 46 words
Session 6 : 177 words
Session 7 : 7 words
Session 8 : 80 words
Session 9 : 8 words
Session 10 : 149 words
Session 11 : -320 words
Session 12 : 172 words

For 1,063 total words.

As with yesterday, all sessions were 20 minutes.

I’m not surprised it’s taking a while to relearn how to focus on writing. Focus in quantity has always been difficult for me. I do seem to have episodes of hyperfocus, but to be honest, they almost always accompany things like reorganizing my file system or troubleshooting a problem I want fixed right now.

One thing I have noticed: It’s funny how often I don’t notice my bladder problems until I sit down to write and end up with my sessions constantly interrupted.

Removed duplicate text

I followed up on last night’s plan to do at least half of the minimum number of writing sessions before I allowed myself any internet access. I did six!

DAILY ACCOUNTABILITY

Session 1 (20 min): 119 words
Session 2 (20 min): 37 words
Session 3 (20 min): 103 words
Session 4 (20 min): 2 words
Session 5 (20 min): 98 words
Session 6 (20 min): -240 words
Session 7 (20 min): 71 words
Session 8 (20 min): 26 words
Session 9 (20 min): 128 words
Session 10 (20 min): 69 words
Session 11 (20 min): 96 words
Session 12 (20 min): 185 words — Of course this was my highest word count of the day. And I’m too tired to keep it up because it’s 11:58 pm and I need sleep!

My aim for all these is 250 words each. So yeah, I’m a little off the mark.

Today’s blog post title is from a note to myself on the last session I did before I broke for lunch.

The note refers to the fact that I found a 332 word chunk of text that I needed to delete, half of it a portion of a scene I copied instead of moved to an earlier place in the story. I must have forgotten to delete it after the fact, but I usually just move the text, so I’m not sure what I was thinking when I did it.

The exciting thing is that to end up at -24 words, I had to have written more than my 250 words in that last session so here’s hoping I can keep that up now that I’m back from my late (2 pm) lunch.

Well, that’s a bummer. I realized after the fact, once I’d finished session 7 that -24 was a misprint. I should have written -240!

It’s been proven a sad fact that four hours of writing takes me all day and I have no idea why or how that happens. Writing everything down doesn’t even seem to help. I can find the big things; it’s the little bits of time that just seem to disappear.

11:23 pm and too few words again today

I’ve managed only 2 of my 12 sessions today (20 minutes each). Part of the blame goes to my panic at realizing I had ruined the opening of my book by overworking it. I had to pull up backup copy 9 to get the old opening back. I’m currently at backup copy 20, and backup copy 9 was made on 6/11 (today is 6/24).

This all came to my attention last night when I sent my document to my Fire and read through what I’d written. My first thought was uh oh. So I pulled up the old version that I just happened to have sent to my Fire a while back and read the opening of it.

The old version was much better than the new. Miles better. Leagues better.

I was not happy to realize this.

I got up this morning knowing I’d have to fix it.  I’ve obsessed over things I didn’t need to obsess over today in an effort to avoid thinking about this.

I did a “compare documents” in Word to see just how bad it was. It was bad. More red than black, and ouch, I didn’t really need to see that.

It’s 11:59 pm and I should really go to bed, but I think I’m going to try to do a few more sessions so I don’t have this hanging over my head tomorrow. Then again… it’s late and I just want to put this day behind me, so maybe I won’t.

As for tomorrow, I think I’m going to forbid the internet until I’ve done at least half my minimum sessions. That’s only 6 and at 20 minutes each, comes to only 2 hours. I can surely hold out that long!

Now, time to get out of my own way and write this damn book without agonizing over every word. :D

DAILY ACCOUNTABILITY

Session 1 (20 min): -25 words (meaning I deleted more than I wrote)
Session 2 (20 min): 8 words

June 23 session notes

So today hasn’t been the kind of writing day I’d hoped.

At the end of session 5, I am sitting at 12 words for the day. It hardly seems possible but the problem is that I spent so much time reworking what I had for chapters 1 and 2 that I went through four sessions before I dug myself out of negative numbers (I deleted more than I wrote).

Then I left for a while. I stayed gone longer than I meant to but I needed to get away for a while, because I was starting to hate this story.

Prioritizing my daily writing is a commitment to myself I need to keep, so I can’t let this happen again tomorrow. But tomorrow I hope to be up and about earlier after a good night’s sleep. I definitely won’t be staying up until the early morning hours tonight.

1 hour and 40 minutes of writing today isn’t great, but it’s a start.

I’d stay up and do the rest of the sessions if I didn’t need so badly to get my sleep patterns back into some kind of order so I can start early each day.

As much as I hate to admit it, because I do like staying up late, I am a morning person. I wake up before 7 most mornings and staying up until 2 am just doesn’t give me the kind of sleep I need to be at my best the next day, even if I manage to go back to sleep. It’s never truly restful once I’ve woken up to the sun.

So that’s the update for today.

Sessions logs are below.

Session

Words

WPH

1

-87

-261

2

2

6

3

9

27

4

12

36

5

76

228

A plan for the future

I’m tired of lowercase titles. And yet, I continue to use them. :)

Today I have a plan.

20 minute blocks x 12 of them @ ~750 words an hour = 3,000 words

Yep. That’s my plan.

In fact, it’s my plan for every day for the indefinite future. I’ve been giving some thought to the need for change and some direction for the rest of my year. Those thoughts led me to realize I need to expect more from myself; it’s the only way to grow. I don’t want to be stagnant. A moribund life is not the life I want, despite the fact that my brain is all about strolling down easy street.

I made a note to myself last night. It’s important.

Write for fun! Do more than that though. Make time for other stuff. Don’t drag it out.

I need to write with focus. I need to focus on writing. I need to meet my goals early so I can do other things. Then as a reward, if I want, I can write more later. But always, I need to remember that the only way to meet my goals is to actually prioritize writing and do it first. I get to do it first and save all the stuff in my life that I don’t really want to do for later.

What I’ve typically done, though, is dawdle until I feel pressured to do these other things at the expense of what little time I’ve left myself for writing, because there are immediate consequences if I don’t. (Bills! Dishes! Laundry! Talking to relatives and friends! All of these have consequences for me that I’m not willing to accept if I don’t do them.)

I’ve always felt as if writing daily is a priority, and therefore I feel all the guilt one feels when one doesn’t do that important thing one should have done, but when it comes down to it, I haven’t treated it that way at all.

That’s the big thing I need to change about myself. That’s what I’m going to be focused on changing.

Write in the morning

Reach my word count goal

Or at least do the number of sessions I’ve decided I should be doing at a minimum each day

Then worry about the rest of life and whatever I want to do with my time after that, even if it’s just more writing

Simple. :D

Too much time reading for clues

The blog post titles are a lot easier to come up with now, and they aren’t any more obscure than they were before, so that’s a win. :)

Today’s word counts

Session # Words WPH
1 46 131
2 84 240
3 32 91
4 99 283
5 57 163
6 61 174
7 166 474
8 239 683
9  72 206
10 0

Today’s title comes from a note on my session log. In it, I’m laying the blame for my low word counts in my first three sessions on the fact that I spent a lot of time during them reading through my previous books looking for clues to characterization and plot.

Yes, that’s my handwriting. Could be better, but it is what it is! :)

Unfortunately, my word counts didn’t improve a lot after I stopped doing that.

I don’t record session logs in my spreadsheet—there’s really no room for it—so writing them down seems like a good way to start paying attention to just how often I’m meeting my goal number of sessions.

I could put them in OneNote, and I have in the past kept up with sessions in my journals, but I really don’t like that. Also, the logs get kind of lost in the midst of all my ramblings, so… this seemed like something I wanted to try.

I’ve devoted one of my favorite notebooks to tracking them and I’m loving how accountable it makes me feel to write down the number of sessions I want to do. I can’t stand the idea of wasting that nice paper, so I’ve felt compelled to fill those slots today! Only two more to go before I call it a day.

Also, yesterday I didn’t find time to write a post because I actually got started writing really late and didn’t use timers. I wrote 813 words yesterday—on the wrong book.

Okay, so I’m planning to write that book next, so it’s not exactly wrong that I spent time on it, and I admit, I’ve needed a breakthrough for the opening of that book for a good long while and I had one last night, but I really need to finish this other book first so I do feel a little unhappy that I managed to write 813 words but that none of them were for the right book!

4:52 pm and a 2,800 word goal

Today started off well enough. I finished organizing (cleaning out) my music directory. Doing that was a better use of my time than (re)organizing my email again, but that’s not possible any more because sometime last month I deleted all my email. I saved a few particular pieces of interest to a few relevant folders and I absolutely did delete thousands of emails. They’ll never be seen again. I kept only one backup, stored in an inaccessible location, with the intent to delete it at year’s end. I don’t doubt that I will too.

But that’s all beside the point. The point is that I need to write some real words today and I’m really getting tired of failing.

So I’m not going to fail anymore.

Missing a goal once in a while is no big deal and doesn’t feel anything like failure. Missing a goal every single time is not a good thing. There are repercussions to that kind of repetitive failure. I’m done with that. I just can’t be that person, that kind of writer, any longer.

So, despite the fact that it is now 4:59 pm, I’m going to sit my ass down and I’m going to write 2,800 words this evening.

To make it easy, I’m going to break it down into 21 minute sessions. I’ll do as many as it takes, but I’m planning for 10.

During at least one of those sessions, I want to reach the best word count per hour I’ve ever reached, and I’m going to reach it by having fun with this damn book. I love the characters. There’s no reason it should be so damn hard to have fun.

Now, I’m going to go trim my fingernails so I can get my first session started.

Session # Cumulative Words WPH
1 29 82.85714
2 54 77.14286
3 72 68.57143
4 82 58.57143
5 142 81.14286
6 251 119.5238
7 285 116.3265
8 0
9 0
10 0

Okay, so I’m calling it a night. It’s 12:29 am and I’m disappointed at my speeds tonight. I spent a lot of time redoing a chapter but I’m glad I did it, because I like what I’ve got now better than what I had.

I’m 3 sessions short of the 10 I wanted to do. I’m also short a ton of words. On the other hand, I totally don’t feel like a failure, because I literally did the best I could tonight. I took short breaks when I had to, and I focused hard when I wrote. I just can’t always predict what kind of writing day I’m going to have. This was one of those days.

So all in all, I’m satisfied. But one thing for sure: I’m going to do better tomorrow, because I’m going to start a lot earlier and I’m going to put in the extra sessions if I come up short on word counts like I did this evening.

But 12:33 pm is too late to keep going if I want to get some sleep tonight. The one thing I can count on is waking up at 7 in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep. I need to go to bed before it gets any later.

See you here again tomorrow.

F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit

I have no idea how to craft blog post titles, so for the foreseeable future I’m going to input whatever I happen to be thinking or whatever I see on my notebook beside me as my title. No one reads these things anyway, so yeah. I get to do what I want. :D

The titles I was using before sucked anyway. I’ve only rarely been able to go back and find something I wrote in a post based on my recollection of the title. I have a few posts that make sense, most are just notes about my writing progress for the day and random thoughts that collected and found their way out of my head and onto the page as I made those updates.

So why “F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit?”

Simple really. I installed Lubuntu on a slow netbook and an old Pentium D desktop formerly running Vista. Gotta stay on top of those security issues since everything I do to make a living is stored on my computers. Vista was alright as far as I’m concerned, but Windows has stopped supporting it with security updates so it was time to move on. The computer still has a lot of life left in it for the kind of use I give it, though, so I decided Lubuntu would be just the ticket after having installed it on the netbook. It’ll run Libre Office, which is relatively compatible with Word. It’ll also run Sigil, GIMP, Jutoh, Calibre, Firefox, Thunderbird, and VLC, so I saw no reason to go with a heftier install since I actually quite liked the Lubuntu interface. (More than quite liked, to be honest. I think it’s great.)

Of course, all that meant I needed to go into BIOS on the machine in question and update the boot order to get the new OS installed. Hence my note to myself on the tablet sitting beside me: F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit has Boot Override option.

The update went great. Both computers are running like new machines. Fast and responsive, and I’m really liking that. Next up: figure out how to get my new Lubuntu machines back on the network so I can make backups to them from my Windows 7 baby. :-)