Trying again for my first 2,000 word day in a while

Yesterday’s attempt at writing 2,000 words was a bust. Of all the legitimate things that got in the way, none of them were significant enough to physically stop me from sitting down and writing 2,000 words. My inability to focus came from my mental reaction to the day’s events.

A lot of little things just got in the way in my head and really made it difficult for me to concentrate on writing.

I don’t want that to happen again today.

I actually started off strong this morning. I’ve already written 357 words today.

But… it’s now apparent that the air conditioner might not be fixed, and that’s really got a hold on my brain, and my kid is leaving for college this weekend and is packing and interrupting me at regular intervals, and that’s distracting in a big way.

The fact remains that I still need to do my writing today. I’m behind on this book, and I need to finish it so I can publish it and move on to the next book. I also really need to publish a few books this year for the sake of my bank account. :)

Things are going well with the story and I think I can make a lot of progress today if I can just stay focused on writing the book. I also need to get that first 2,000 word day to start off that 2,000 words a day plan of mine.

I’ve used this little break to clear my head, I hope, and now I’m going back to writing. My book is sitting at 19,756 words right now. I’d like not to stop for lunch until I’m above 21,000 words.

Update: It’s 9:08 pm and I’m sitting at 890 words for the day.

I wanted to be at or above 2,000 words by now, but that hasn’t happened. Obviously. :) But! The air conditioner is working again (repairman came) and that worry is gone and I’m finally feeling able to concentrate again.

Since I don’t want to end tonight without reaching 2,000 words, I’m here at the computer to write another 1,110 words.

Update: 1,506 words. Man, this is getting hard. I’m sooooo sleepy. It’s 12:01 and I have 494 words to go. I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

Update: I settled for 1,685 words. I was too sleepy to continue. This morning, looking at that, it’s easy to say I should have kept going, but last night? There was just no way.

On the bright side, that number of words is above the lower limit I’d set for myself in some calculations I did when I decided to write 2,000 words a day. I ended up settling on 2,000, which is between the two values.

50,000 75,000
1,644 2,466

Some things to keep in mind about using WordPress for your author site

After reading another post in a forum where someone has had a WordPress site hacked, I felt compelled to write this post.

Lots of authors let others set up websites for them and have no clue how they work, and the designer/developer decides to use WordPress to build the site because WordPress makes it easy for inexperienced website owners (authors) to post content and it’s free software.

But WordPress is not that easy to run for an inexperienced user, nor is it a set-it and forget-it solution, and that’s often totally forgotten.

I have a lot of WordPress-based websites and there are some key factors to keeping them safe you need to understand before you let anyone set up a site for you using WordPress.

  1. You’ve got to keep the thing updated. If the person setting up the site isn’t going to be doing that for you, you have to learn how to do this. It’s super important. If you don’t, you’re going to get hacked. Just no way around that.
  2. You need to be able to make backups of the WordPress site and media files on the server and the database that your WordPress site stores your content in. If the person maintaining your site doesn’t do this, you need to do it. Just like with your books, you need backups. Things can happen to databases and files can get corrupted or changed and need to be replaced. You need to be able to make these backups.
  3. You have to stay away from old plug-ins, or any plug-in that isn’t well-maintained. The best bet is to always only use plug-ins you absolutely need and make sure they have a reputation for being safe. There are plug-ins out there that are just back doors for hackers. You have to be careful with plug-ins.
  4. Highly customized and complicated themes are not good choices when the site is being run by an inexperienced WordPress user. WordPress code changes, security flaws get exploited, and depending on a designer/dev for updates and fixes can get really expensive. It’s safest to stick with customized child themes based on common, well-maintained themes, such as the core themes that come with WordPress.
  5. Using the default “admin” username is a big no-no and yet lots of designers/devs still set WordPress up with “admin” as the main user. Don’t let them!
  6. You’ll need to use a long (and I mean really long) password for your username. Brute force attacks are an issue with WordPress so you need a long password.

I’m sure there are even more things to keep in mind if you’re letting someone set up a WordPress site for you, but these are the biggies that come to mind.

If you’re not comfortable with web stuff, using WordPress is not going to be a safe option for your website unless you have a designer/developer you can rely on and you’re not afraid to spend some money making sure things stay updated and safe.

WordPress is great. I love it. But I also know my way around a database, can do some light php coding, and have been building and running websites since 2001. There are definitely costs associated with WordPress-based websites, including real money and time. It’s a trade off. You learn to do a lot of things yourself and save the money, or you save the time and pay.

Anyway, if you ended up here because you’re thinking about letting someone set up a WordPress site for you, I hope this helps you make your decision with your eyes open.

:-)

I want to make today my first 2,000 word day since last year

Ouch. I knew it had been a while since I actually wrote 2,000 words in one day, but it was all the way back into last year on November 29, 2017. I wrote 2,291 words that day.

Today I just want to write 2,000 words. I need to write more, but I really just want to get over that 2,000 words hump so I can officially say I’ve started working on my 2,000 words a day plan.

I can do this!

10:16 am – I had a repairman in for some work on my air conditioner, but he’s gone now and I’m going to start writing now, sans timer and timed sessions, sans schedule, and sans resistance. ;-)

I’d like to reach 500–1,000 words by noon. Let’s see if I can make that happen.

7:30 pm update: Things aren’t going well. I’ve written exactly 19 words so far.

Ending total: 114 words.

Ouch.

August 14, 2018 writing post

The only part of my list of want-to-dos I accomplished yesterday was to write something for my new book and work on my paperback for my last release. I’m not going to dwell on the failures though. I’m coming at today with the attitude of a fresh start and a new commitment to my daily word count quota.

That quota is 2,000 words. (Of course.)

I’m writing this new book much too slowly and I need to finish it sooner rather than later if I don’t want to go broke, so I’m going to push for more than that.

I’m just saying. Reality is about to smack me in the face if I don’t start writing more, very soon. My last 12 months word count (September to August) is 78,051 words. That doesn’t sound like the end of the world but add to that my last published book came out late last year. Money is an issue.

Dreams will buoy you through tough times, but you don’t want to set your sail in an ocean of them.

The life of a writer isn’t one of steady paychecks and Castle-esque wealth. If that’s what you’re hoping for, well, keep hoping, but plan for something quite different. Those plans might be the only thing keeping your fridge full.

On that note, I’m off here to go write some fiction. Time is short and I have a book to write.

Update: the day was a bit of a fail (okay, a lot of a fail). I had air conditioner troubles, and so many interruptions, but mostly, I just failed to start the writing. I did get 177 words, but it was on one of my book projects I’m not even sure when I’m going to get around to writing. I have so many other projects to finish first.

August 13, 2018 writing post

Today’s to-dos

Touch all of my main stories, but focus on #1 (the book I want to finish first).

It’s fun for me to write on multiple stories. I also usually end up with more words at the end of the day than I would otherwise.

Then, work on my last published book’s paperback today. I’ll do it in LibreOffice so I can take advantage of the more robust widows and orphans and hyphenation settings.

Once it is done (focus on finishing!) I can try it in Word 2016 if I feel I must. Don’t even bother with Word 2007, the hyphenation is horrible.

Word produces really decent print books for me. I think LibreOffice Writer will probably do just as well, and will definitely be easier on me with the extra hyphenation options and finer control over widows and orphans. I don’t mind first lines of new paragraphs ending a page (orphans); it’s the last lines of a paragraph beginning a new page that I try hardest to eliminate (widows).

Read back through ALL of today’s writing, looking for stuff to fix so I can safely ignore it all tomorrow and just start writing from wherever I left off (and not feel like I’m leaving things undone).

In-progress Finished writing

Word count check-ins

Time Words (book) Words (today)
11:56 am 19,070 words 84 words
12:35 pm 19,173 words 187 words
11:01 pm 19,285 words 299 words

That’s it! I’ll update my word counts as the day goes on but anything more than that will probably end up in its own post. :D

August changes

A few things have changed since my last writing post.

I’ve decided:

To ditch timers and timed writing for good.

It feels weird to sit down and write without the timer. I still look for it in the corner of my screen as I type. I still look for the column on my spreadsheet and feel a little startled when I realize it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I wrote those 187 words.

To erase my record of my timed writing and words per hour calculations.

I did make a backup of the original file with those numbers because I couldn’t not do that.

To stick to word count quotas.

To STICK to word count quotas, for real. I do need some type of structure to keep me working.

Structure is useful for me.

But going back and forth between time / word counts / WPH anxiety isn’t useful to me at all.

I can’t control my daily word counts as easily I can control my time spent writing but I never (seriously, never) seem to reach the time quotas I set for myself either.

Since word count quotas are so much more meaningful to my income, they win. :-)

The day after I made this decision, I wrote more words with less effort than I’ve written in a long time. I reached 671 words for the day and hardly felt like I’d done any writing at all. It felt great.

Then stuff happened, delays and distractions, and I didn’t write very much for the next two days. Now we’ve come to today, and the writing is again going easily and I hardly feel like I’ve done anything at all. I’m already up to 187 words for the day.

Those timers really did make writing feel too much like hard work. Getting that out of my system might take a while, but I’m sure it’s the right path forward for me. I need to like writing or I won’t do it, but lately, I just hadn’t liked it very much at all. That changed so quickly after making the decision to ditch the time keeping and WPH calculations that I really feel it was hindering my enjoyment of writing and interfering with my ability to keep going with this for the long-term.

The hours and WPH are just demoralizing anyway most of the time. Average words per day is the only number that really matters in the long run.

It’s just a renewed focus on actually getting the word counts and not wasting time worrying over anything else to do with productivity.

To stop trying to make my book perfect.

I know better than this. But I’ve fallen into some bad habits this year and my inner perfectionist is making life difficult again.

To keep using OneNote.

I have decided I’m just not leaving OneNote for certain types of notes until or unless I have to. I need software for note-taking or I never would have started using Evernote, way back when, even before I migrated to OneNote several years ago.

I did move the rest of my notebooks to OneDrive so I can keep using OneNote the way I like once my Office 365 subscription expires in September. And, it’s a little hard to admit, but my notebooks are actually a lot more useful since I moved them.

The local notebook issue was more a principle thing than a practical issue for me. I decided to bend on this one.

It’s time for me to get back to writing fiction now. I have a quota today and I’d like to see how close I end up to it. That 2,000 words a day plan is still something I’ve got in my sights.

The new Gmail interface makes me miss Yahoo

I don’t know who it is that Google’s designing for, but the new Gmail (and Contacts) site as viewed on my computer screen reminds me of a large print book. For babies. Maybe that’s who they’re designing for! I don’t know. But the colors are blindingly bright and the white space is so excessive that it makes me miss Yahoo (which I pretty much hated).

First it was Google+, then Calendar, and now Gmail. I’m seriously ready to abandon them all. Actually, I did abandon Google+. I also avoid visiting the Google Calendar website unless I have to now, after using it for my homepage for years. Trust me when I say it is not my homepage any longer. I stick with my phone’s Google Calendar app, because at least they did that right.

Anyway, I’m just venting. I’m so frustrated by all the design trends that are ruining website usability for actual computer users. I realize mobile is huge these days (I myself spend a lot of time online on my various devices!), but there’s just no need for designers to ruin the screen versions of websites to make a mobile site work well.

Sigh.

08-07-2018 writing

Writing today ~ I’m planning 2 x 53 minutes before noon.

Wish me luck. I want to do more writing than editing but I do still need to get through a troublesome chapter 6 during this time block.

I’ve decided 100% that I need to adhere to some kind of schedule even while trying to write as much as possible. I might, in fact, need a schedule more than ever for that kind of writing because it’s easy to sit at the computer all day and think I’ll have plenty of time to get started.

But getting started is the hard part and I don’t do it well. :)

Today the schedule is this:

10 to 12
1 to 3
4 to 6
7 to 9

I’m trying to write as much as possible right now because I really needed/wanted to get this book out last month and didn’t and this month is already zipping away. It’s the 7th for goodness sakes.

And if that “goodness sakes” bothers you, just think of it as a regional thing. No one actually says “for goodness’ sake” around here, even if that’s what they really mean.

July 2018 progress

I’ve had another dry spell with the writing but I’m trying to get things moving again. It all started with the space bar failure and snowballed from there. I had several things happen around that time that that kept interfering with my daily routine and distracted me from writing.

I relocated the stray cat and her three litters of kittens/cats to a cozy barn where they can live in peace and so can I. I’ve had to heal from that burn on my wrist that might not leave a scar after all. I don’t know. I seem to be healing well, just have some weird sensation around the edges of the new skin that twinges.

But all in all, several things have really taken my focus off writing and it’s taken me this long to get going again.

So in the end, I didn’t do nearly as well in July as I’d hoped to do.

Words written in July: 6,478.

That’s definitely a slowdown from June. Still, it’s better than nothing, and I’m trying to do better in August. I’m also trying to finish this next book of mine. Wish me luck.

Office 365 issues, OneNote, and my local notebooks

So… I mentioned canceling Office 365 and uninstalling? Turns out it wasn’t as easy as that. I still use OneNote, so I reinstalled it after uninstalling Office 365.

OneNote is supposed to be a freebie these days, although who knows for how long, but right off it started giving me little error-like messages about my local notebooks and how I needed an Office 365 subscription to keep using them. Most of my notebooks are local notebooks, meaning they’re stored on my computer’s hard drive instead of on OneDrive.

These local notebooks and the free version of OneNote are pretty much incompatible. It was allowing me to use them, but only when I twisted its arm. In trying to diagnose what might be going on, because at that point I didn’t know, I chose to “switch” my license. I didn’t realize that meant that the entire Office 365 suite would reinstall itself on my computer in the background, but that’s exactly what happened.

The next day, I clicked on one of my spreadsheet files and Excel 2016 opened. At which point I said: “What the hell?”

I did a little research but didn’t turn up anything to explain why it had reinstalled itself so I uninstalled Office 365 again.

Then I closed one of my OneNote notebooks—a local one. Then I changed my mind and tried to reopen it. The freebie version of OneNote absolutely would not let me reopen the notebook. The error-like message was back, telling me I needed to sign up to Office 365 to use that notebook. It was the same message as before, only before, I could close it and still access my local notebooks. But I absolutely could not reopen a local notebook, at which point I realized it wasn’t a glitch at all but an actual limitation of the freebie version of OneNote. Local notebooks aren’t supported.

At that point, I thought about the licensing issue and what it might have meant and how I might be stuck with Office 365 if I wanted OneNote to work the way it had worked before.

So I “switched” my license for OneNote again, assuming I would wake up to the entire Office 365 suite on my computer again, but at least I’d have the ability to open my local OneNote notebook.

That happened, and I successfully reopened my closed (local) notebook.

So yay for that?

I’m still going to allow my subscription to expire, and I’ve left the recurring billing turned off. What I’m hoping will happen is that my OneNote install will continue to work normally even after the other programs deactivate themselves. I’m not at all confident that this is what will happen, but that is my hope.

There are three reasons why I don’t want to stop using OneNote for my notes.

  1. I can paste bits from my spreadsheets into a note and have it retain formatting as a table with no extra work at all. Everything just works. I don’t want to embed the spreadsheet because I delete the bits that I’m pasting. That’d be useless. I just want it for reference. That’s all.
  2. All my notes are consolidated in one location and accessible from one file (essentially).
  3. I can search through all my notes easily at one time.

I debated the issue with myself but ultimately I decided to move my local notebooks to OneDrive so I can keep using OneNote for most of them, with the exception of my journal. I exported that to a Word .docx, imported it to Writer and saved a copy as an .odt file.

I’ve already started using it for my journal. There are some definite benefits to it being an .odt file and I’m happy that I did it.

There’s also one drawback: I can paste bits from my spreadsheets into LibreOffice Writer, but I have to paste it in as HTML formatted text and then manually apply table styling to it so that it looks like a table. I tested it a few times and I can imagine getting really good at it, but it’s not instantaneous like it is in OneNote.

So that my notes continue to look the same, I added a few styles that are easy to apply.

  • Note Title
  • Note Meta
  • Note Paragraph
  • Note Indent
  • Note List

That seems to be all I need for most of my entries. But I like how neat it all looks. And now I have text statistics. My journal for 2015–2018-to-date is just over 93,000 words. That makes me sad. I just barely managed 126,000 words of fiction last year!

I have to say, it definitely makes me feel like I’m falling down on the job.

But the beauty of this is that if I get tired of one font (it happens!) or a particular layout style, I can easily change it for my whole journal with a simple style edit. :-) Doing that in OneNote is pretty much impossible without some kind of weird hack, because changing the note font even in options doesn’t apply to old notes.