Finding the Right Schedule for 2014

So, after giving it a little more thought, but not wanting to veer too far from the plans I’ve already worked out for the one million words challenge, I’ve made myself a new schedule for 2014 that’s turned out to be a bit different than I expected. Better, I hope, but not quite what I laid out in the previous post about it. :D

7am–9:36am
11am–1:36pm
4pm–6:36pm

There’s a somewhat complicated reason for the odd numbers that I won’t bore you with, but I like it. I’ve tried it out today and it’s working really well for me. (Except that I’m getting about an hour and a half of a late start on the last session.)

On the weekends, I’m just going to eliminate the middle session and move the last session to 7pm (8pm when needed). That means most of my weekend days will be completely free from around 9:36am–7pm for getting out, reading, or taking up a new hobby if I want. :D And of course, if I have other plans, I’ll just pick the two most convenient session times for the day.

This is actually going to lead to more writing time in a day than I usually ever come close to, so it’s going to be interesting to see how much actual timed writing I get.

Theoretically, this schedule could allow me to average about 24,700 words a week. That means I could not write for eleven and a half weeks out of the year and still make the one million. So … breathing room! Which we all know is a definite necessity.

I am sincerely hoping this schedule will help me stay on track in 2014.

I’m making a commitment here and now to stick to this schedule in 2014—no rethinking, reconfiguring, recalculating—getting rid of all the baggage that comes with having to make decisions every single day* about how and when I’m going to get to my writing. This is a near perfect schedule for what’s going on in my life right now. I think this is going to be grand. :)

Still, I’m very afraid this goal is way too huge for me, and I’m not going to allow myself to feel like a failure if I only get partway there. :D But boy, I love this huge goal!

*I struggle with this kind of thing all the time. 2014 is the year I tackle this head on! I plan to come up with more rules for myself and my life this year to eliminate as much of this needless, repetitive decision-making as possible. I’m actually thinking of setting alarms on my phone to trigger me to do certain things at certain times—you know, train myself, lol. :D I’ve already set the alarms for the writing times. :)

One Million Words

So, in 2014, I’m planning to attempt to write one million words of fiction. I’m not sure why I’ve decided that quadrupling my word count’s a good idea: oh, the pressure! But I have decided to try and I’ll probably know after a month if I have any chance whatsoever of accomplishing such a thing.

I have a plan.

I’m going to write for 5 and a half hours on weekdays, and 4 hours on weekend days. Based on my average word count per hour, I can make it to one million words writing that many hours each week. If I push myself during my writing time or improve my ability to let go of my perfectionist tendencies, I’ll probably be able to scale back those hours. If I don’t, I might need the 5 and a half hours on weekend days too.

My biggest obstacle is going to be butt-in-chair time. I have a distinct aversion to it! :D

I’m working on honing my ability to focus and stay in flow, but it’s hard. It doesn’t take outside distractions to distract me; my mind can flit from one subject to another without any warning at all, and that’s not good for focus or for staying in flow!

I have rules that I hope will help me.

I’m turning off WIFI on my laptop at night before I shut down (and blocking it on my phone and Kindle and NOOK and anything else I might use to access forums, blogs, and email) and I’m making it a rule that it doesn’t come back on until I’ve reached 3 hours, then I’ll allow myself a WIFI break of no longer than 30 minutes (while I do some light exercise to keep my blood flowing to my brain!), and then off again until I finish my time.

That’s it.

I want to keep this simple so it’s easier to remember the rules and easier to follow. There’s not a lot of gray area here and I don’t want it to require a lot of thought to make it work. Discipline is hard enough without making it complicated.

I followed a similar rule set back in February of 2013 and I wrote 51,396 words that month. While my daily goals were in word counts back then, I remember quitting at about lunch time every day and rarely writing for more than 3 or 4 hours a day (which makes sense because I was tracking my time and my word counts daily during that period and that’s a big chunk of the data I have about my average words per hour).

I’m excited and nervous and terrified by this 2014 goal all at the same time! It’s going to be fabulous. :D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 15, ??, ??

The holiday has thrown me, and I’ve completely lost track of what day this should be in my Finish the Book! Challenge. Considering that the challenge should’ve been done ages ago, I’m taking this as a hint to retire the challenge. This book is at 140% of my projected/hoped for word count and it ain’t done yet. That really wasn’t the plan when I started the challenge.

I’m going to finish the book, and I’m going to finish it in the next couple of days so yeah, moving on.

Also, I’m keeping this short so I don’t waste time that should be spent writing fiction. :D

Oh, and even though I fully intended to keep the writing streak going until at least the end of the year, even though I gave myself permission to miss Christmas day, I messed up last night and fell asleep with only 10 new words written. So time to start that one over!

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 14

Okay, I’m getting  a late start today but this is it. I’ve gotta finish this book today or—today. Yeah. Today. If I go any longer, I’m going to be in trouble with my no-so-tentative-anymore release date. I’ve committed.

There’s definitely a part of me that says I can’t finish today. Maybe not, but I better get really close. :D I can handle being 1,000 or 2,000 words shy of the end. Right now though, I don’t even know where that end is and I’m already 19,721 words past my target. And despite being sick from 12/1 to 12/10, I’ve still managed over 13,000 finished* words in December.

12:50 pm: 0 words to start

I’m going to do about 10 minutes of exercise first to get the blood flowing to my brain and then I’m digging in for an afternoon and evening of hard core writing of 1 hour blocks with short 5–10 minutes breaks between.

Update #1: I haven’t timed my sessions because I can’t seem to get going on this, and I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with the scene. I mean, nothing wrong, wrong, but something about it just isn’t right. Might be time to delete a chunk and start over? I’m at a net gain of 28 words so far and that’s just so wrong. I must hunker down and daydream harder.

Next to last Final update: I give up. It’s been a sad little day. Nope. I just realized I can’t give up because I haven’t written 100 words yet. I’m not breaking my streak; I don’t care how much of a sad little day it’s been.

Final update: 117 words. Whew. The streak lives.

*I cycle through my writing as I go. I try to do as little after-the-fact editing as possible because I hate it. I don’t usually move on until I’ve got the actions/feelings/thoughts across on the page the way I want them. Works for me! This is the method that started me finishing stories. :) All the other things I tried (especially fast drafting through the first draft) just overwhelmed me and left me with a lot of unfinished stories. It took me over 25 years to figure out this was how I needed to write, assuming I started writing when I was 12. I actually think I was younger but I’d have to dig out stuff in storage to prove it, so I’m going with 12. :D Right now I’m working on eliminating the perfectionism that makes me rewrite sentences twenty times apiece before I end up right back at the same sentence I started with. (Yes, I’ve started paying attention and that’s invariably what happens. Yikes, all that wasted time and effort just to end up back where I started!)

Entertaining Article Link

Probably completely inappropriate for a Sunday morning, but yeah, I found the following article a fascinating read, and hilarious to boot.

MONSTER PORN: Amazon Cracks Down On America’s Latest Sex Fantasy  via @YahooFinance

My opinion? The problems come from authors trying to use internet marketing tactics and stuff keywords into the descriptions and titles and covers, and since it’s erotica, well guess what? That leads to taboo words being used in public, because Amazon’s storefront is very much a public place.

I checked out the “Alien Seed” book mentioned, and wow, nice cover. Very classy for the genre. If all the monster erotica books looked like that—and managed similar, understated but effective descriptions of the content—I doubt there’d be half the outcry that’s happened. The sample I sent to my Kindle, well, totally for research purposes for this blog post. :D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 13

Still not done. Day 13. Why oh why won’t you end, you darn book?! It is official. Longest manuscript I’ve produced yet for one of my independently published works. And still not done.

(Quick aside. The weather is crazy out! The wind is up and gusting, the house is cracking and popping, and the lights keep flickering and I’d worry about my computer shutting down except I’m using my laptop and I have a UPS for my modem and router. So I’m good.)

So, today’s count so far: 383 words
Ended with: 521 words

Staying focused today has been a nightmare.

I started reading a good book today during supper, though. Maids of Misfortune. I picked it up as one of those Kindle loans you can do once a month as a Prime member. It’s only the second book I’ve ever borrowed but I decided I should start trying to take advantage of that perk of Prime. I do borrow R.E.A.D.S library books on my Kindle sometimes, but that’s because I like browsing the library site more than Amazon. (Sorry Amazon! I love ya, but R.E.A.D.S is more browse-able.) (Here’s a link to the book: Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery. I’m not that fond of the cover, but so far the story’s good and I’m enjoying it, so who cares, right?)

Anyway, I’ve decided I have to make reading more often a priority. I’ve always read a lot of books and letting myself use writing as an excuse to skip one of my most enjoyable pastimes is crazy. I didn’t have to skip reading at the end of a long day when I worked the day job, so why should I have to give it up now? I refuse! :D

What’s that saying? Work hard, play hard.* Reading is my “play hard.”

*Oh the irony! I typo-ed that into “word hard, play hard” first time through. LOL. Maybe I should’ve left it alone. :D

End of the Year Thoughts

Now that it’s only a little over a week until the new year, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done in 2013 and how I want to improve in 2014.

Things I want to do

Write one million words in 2014 (and publish most of them).

Put out a new book every 6–8 weeks.

Find someone to re-cover all my novels.

Find a first reader for my books.

Find someone trustworthy to copy edit my books so I don’t have to worry so much about errors slipping through. (I can already tell you, I’ll still be doing the final read-through copy edit, because I’m just that kind of person. :D)

Stop writing so many plot holes into my books.

Make more writer friends.

Become a better writer/storyteller—the learning never stops.

Make a lot of money. :D

Difficulties I’ll face

To write one million words I’m doing to have to write for about 5 hours and 30 minutes every day.

That’s every day.

I still haven’t succeeded in writing four hours a day, most days.

I don’t see plot holes.

I’m a cheapskate when it comes to paying for services I think I can do myself. Handing over that money? It burns!

I don’t want to pay $350 for someone to read my book and mark up a few typos. (That’s a real quote.) See above comment about my cheapskatedness. (I claim dibs on that word!)

I don’t make friends easily. I’m honestly not sure how likable I am. :D

It’s hard work to make a lot of money. Sales are out of my control. I don’t market. I don’t discount. I don’t—never mind that one, I just added a mailing list. Yay for me. Sales are still out of my control though. :)

And that’s about it for now. This post took way too long to write, because I mostly wandered and then wandered away before coming back. If I think of anything else, I’ll update.

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 11, 12

There are two versions of today’s numbers.

The short story:

Day 11: 1,914
Day 12: 226 (Streak’s still alive. Since 11/17. Yay.)

The long story:

Yesterday, I got a few more words but I still missed the mark on my four hours. I came in around three to three and a half hours. I don’t really know because I quit counting after three.

Today … well, it’s probably best not to talk about today. I’m still not sure where the day went. I did some non-writing publishing things for a change, and I also finally updated the files at Amazon for 2 of my books that I’d slowly been fixing typos in whenever I ran across one as I reread the books during the research for my current book. I end up rereading a lot of material this way, but there’s just no way around it.

Apparently I really got twisted up with one particular word, where I knew the difference but still used the wrong word a lot. And then didn’t catch it during editing. Usually if I find an error, I fix it, save the file, and just wait until I’m about ready to upload another book. But today I wanted to update back matter—and there were enough usages of the wrong word that I thought getting the new editions uploaded now would be nice. I mean, I’m hoping to get the next book in that series up in early January, so having the lead-ins be as clean as possible can only help. :) But I still need to do that same back matter update for multiple other books and then make sure all the vendors have the latest versions. Ugh.

I really wish I had a better way of tracking updates, so that the editions are the same across all platforms, because I just don’t ever seem to be able to start and finish a full-on, across all platforms update in one sitting for any particular book.

A better tracking system something I need to think about, I guess. My current master publish list (a spreadsheet) doesn’t really have the right columns for it without making the sheet unwieldy. Sigh.

Publishing is not quite as fun as the writing most times, although on days like today, I’d say it had to be a bit more fun or I wouldn’t have used it to procrastinate on the writing—and there’s just no way I can deny that that’s what I was doing. There’s still time to write a bit more though.

However, there’s a blog post flitting around inside my head that I want to get out, and I think I’m going to do that first. :D

“Finish the Book!” Challenge Revisited—Day 7, 8, 9, 10

Today is day 11 and I’ll do a wrap-up for this day in another post. This is just a quick summary of the days I didn’t bother with a wrap-up because to be honest, these posts aren’t as important as writing and  I keep finding myself distracted every time I log on!

Sun, Day 7 = 247
Mon, Day 8 = 1,274
Tue, Day 9 = 914
Wed, Day 10 = 1,969

I wrote for 4 hours only on Wednesday (yesterday). The other days I fell short, and it shows it in my word counts. Even today, I sat down with the intention of getting right to work, and thought about the summary posts, felt a smidgen of guilt and decided to update. Here it is 1 hour and 50 minutes later!

So, off the internet I go and back to my Finish the Book! Challenge. :D