Counting Words Before They’re Written

I’ve had more than one occasion in the last week or two where I’ve implied I was about to write a bunch of words—but it never happened.

Kind of like counting my chicks before the eggs crack. ;o

And yet, here I go again.

Although let me just say now that unless I update with a glowing post about how much writing I got done, it’s probably fair to assume I didn’t get all that much writing done. ;)

I’m making an effort to get back to writing today. But first I’m going to try a few more pages of a book I’m thinking of reading. I’ll be back, whether sooner or later, but let’s not count those words before they’re written. :D

Update: I’ve written 746 words—on the wrong story!

I have no idea what came over me but I got into this scene in a book I started a few days ago, really just messing around, and although it’s going in a bit of a different direction than I expected, I’m really liking it. :D But, I’m starving. Gotta go for some lunch before I get back to writing.

Update deux: I didn’t get back to writing (except for a teeny tiny amount while my food cooked) because I let myself get sucked into a book instead. :) Unfortunately, it’s a long book! It’s taking quite a while to read and I’m debating stopping. But if I do I might not go back to it,  and it’s actually an entertaining book and I’m not sure I want it to be just another book I didn’t finish and then moved on from. ’Cause that happens all too often—it’s how I end up with so many unfinished good books lying around!

But, I was supposed to finish that novella in October. Oops. I really have to get on that. I mean it. This weekend. Seriously.

Not sure exactly what I’m going to do the rest of the evening, but I do know that I’ve got to start spending more time writing each and every day (with few exceptions). I’m a binge reader and a binge writer, can’t deny that, but right now for the next few months, I really need to concentrate on learning to be a better binge writer.

If I binged often enough and kept at it long enough (in a day), I could write enough that I wouldn’t have push myself toward being a daily writer. Honestly, I think that’s what I want. I’ll detail this crap in another post though. This one’s running long. ;)

Reading Binge; Why I Write

So I’ve been in the midst of a reading binge this week. I decided I needed some time off from the pressures I’ve been putting on my writing and reading felt like the thing I really wanted to do. So I’ve been reading. A lot.

Too many books to keep up with! I’ve added those I’ve finished to the reading log. I’ve also read several of my own books again and some of my fan fiction too. Counting the started but unfinished books off in my head, there are more of them than I’ve finished. And I was pretty far into some of those books.

I can feel the binge slowing though. I’ve spent more time today looking for something to read than actually reading. I’ve read some good books that have made me crave other books that are similar but just a bit different, with this thing or that, and I’m kind of stuck in that place where nothing’s satisfying now, because nothing’s just what I want.

Meaning I’m feeling the urge to write my own stories, ones that satisfy me exactly. Last night I put down 300ish words on new story, trying to get a feel for it since it’s a bit different than my other books. Although truthfully I’m not sure it’s going to go anywhere. I start stuff a lot that never goes anywhere.

And I left my novella characters in the middle of a foot chase, so there’s that too that I need to get back to.

Another thing I realized while reading my own fan fiction though (something I finished days before I turned to writing original fiction again) is that I still feel like I’m trying too hard with my current stuff, having a hard time enjoying myself because I’m just not relaxing into the writing like I should. Ego or not, that fan fiction was good. I remember a few issues I had with the beginning of the story and how I had to do some edits on it to get it the way I wanted it to feel as I read it, but I certainly didn’t agonize over it and it reads as good as or better than some of my most recent stuff as best as I can tell.

The fact is, I can’t be objective, and I know that, but I know how it makes me feel when I read it and I’ve said it before, I love my own stuff the way a reader loves those great stories that make you want to re-read a book over and over again. I won’t ever let myself put out a book that I don’t love that way. But it’s possible I’ve come close.

When I go over my books in my head, there’s one that I haven’t re-read but a few times—many fewer times than any of my others. It’s not my worst selling book, not by far, but it’s book two of a series I have and when I think of it, I don’t get flashes of scenes that I remember that are just so juicy they make me want to go back and read them again just to feel the feelings those words make me feel. Even writing this I’m struggling to remember any one scene in the book that just makes me go—oh, wait. Maybe I’m forgetting something here because now the ending is coming to me and I’m realizing that I have read that section of that book quite a few times. I can remember the way one of my characters looked in that scene, wearing a t-shirt, belt and gun, even visualize how his hair looked and how he was standing, and how it surprised another character to see someone they’d never thought of as dangerous looking quite a bit less harmless than usual. It was a good scene. So never mind. Maybe I just need to read the book again from the beginning. ;)

The thing is I want to remember my stories. I want to remember every little detail of each one, and I enjoy going over bits and pieces of them in my head like a movie on an automatically replaying loop.

This is why I have trouble with the idea that writing is a way to get a story out of my head. Because that’s not how it is for me. Writing is the way I get a story into my head. Reading has exactly the same purpose for me.

This is also probably some of the reason I’ll never be able to write to market. I don’t control the stories I write. I write to passion. It’s the only way I can write. Some of those good books I’ve read this week have made me wish this book or that had had just a bit more of this or less of that, just missing the spot for me and in the process giving me lots of intriguing flashes of ideas that I’d love to be able to take and write stories to them. But I can’t write in most of the genres I’ve been reading in. I don’t know how to create a good story out of the daily trials of a normal life. I like big, and bad, and over the top, and what ideas I get, I don’t know where they come from, but the small moments, the tension of a slow story eludes me in my writing.

I guess it’s time I made myself try one just to push myself as a writer. I honest to God didn’t think I’d be able to write the third book in one of my series because it went somewhere I wasn’t sure I could go as a writer—a character had to change significantly from the start of the book to the end. I remember conversations I had about that book with my mother where I worried I wouldn’t be able to make that change, turn a fairly unsympathetic character into a good guy. A hero.

And it worked out. I am really proud of that book. But I definitely had to push myself—step out of my comfort zone—to write that story. Maybe it’s time to do that again very soon.

Anyway, just some thoughts I’ve been having this afternoon. I think I’m going to let this be my cue to get back to writing now since I don’t have another book I want to read queued up. :D

Early Start!

I’m getting an early start today. I finished reading a book this morning (yes, it’s 6:44 am as I write this). I woke up at 5:55 and started reading after falling asleep trying to finish the book last night. I pushed to finish because I was intrigued by the story enough that I knew I’d have trouble getting and staying started with my writing this morning if I didn’t get it out of my system.

But now I’m up and I’m ready to make sure I don’t get derailed before I start writing. I do well writing early in the morning when I can get started and keep myself from wanting to take a nap (usually a side effect of thinking too much and not moving around like I should early on). I need breakfast and then it’s right to finishing the novella, then on to my in-progress novel and a short story. I’m planning to write on 3 stories today. Of course that plan might change depending on what ideas start flowing but that’s still the plan!

I’m hoping to write quite a few words today (my definition of quite a few is anything over 3,000 because those numbers are so much rarer for me) although I’ll take what I can get if I actually stay focused and write. So truly if you were to say I had a goal today it would be to spend as much of the day writing as possible.

Trade-offs

I’m going to see The Maze Runner movie tomorrow, if nothing happens to make me change my mind between now and then. I haven’t read any of the books of the series, although I have The Maze Runner on my Kindle and I’ve been meaning to read it. We know how that goes! Coulda, shoulda, woulda, as they say.

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

Why am I going to see this movie? Because I like the star. Dylan O’Brien is a stand-out actor in Teen Wolf (yeah, I know, but I love it) and I like science fiction and dystopian fiction. My daughter has been asking to go since we heard about the movie being made.

What I’m worried about? In the description of the movie on Amazon, there’s a quote from EW.com that compares The Maze Runner to Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost. There’s not a book or show in that list that I like. In fact, I despise Lord of the Flies, and I really didn’t like the bit of The Hunger Games I read and I thought the movie was only so-so. I watched one and a half episodes of Lost before giving up. I might get back to it, but after what I’ve heard about the ending of the series, I don’t know if I’ll ever overcome my reluctance to put that much time into the series for very little payoff. Seems unlikely.

Here’s hoping that The Maze Runner is interesting enough that I don’t regret the wasted reading time. I read 25% and 5% of two books today that I’d like to finish quickly. Considering how far I have to drive to get to the theater (over fifty miles), that’s a lot of potential reading time! :D

UPDATE: I actually did like this movie. I don’t think I want to wait a year or more just to get the answers to all those unanswered questions though, so I’ve added the books to my TBR pile.

Bored!

I’m bored with my routine. So, so bored. Which is funny, because I don’t even know if I can call what I have a routine.

I’m not sure what to do about it.

I’d like to write about 190,947 words more by the end of the year. That would get the books I want done done. I feel like I need some kind of routine to make sure I make it, because right now, I’m not writing. I have five 0 days behind me now, and if I don’t do something about that today, it’ll be six.

I read something today about productivity that I thought was interesting. It was the only post under “productivity” on the site—I went there looking for a discussion of widows and orphans and somehow wound up reading about productivity. It made me wonder if the reason for the unwanted throttle on my productivity is because I care too much about being productive.

On the other hand, if I let myself go and just create, I don’t create as often as I should to keep food on the table, lol.

Quite the quandary and one I’m not sure how to tackle. It’s going to take some ruminating.

Derailed By a Continuity Error

So, I think I’ve mentioned that I read my own books for fun, yeah? Well, day before yesterday, I did that with my newest release. Just wanted to check something and before you know it, I’d read half the book. And then I hit a continuity error that I had written into the book, and it was trivial in a way, but oh so obvious in another. I mean, I noticed it.

Usually I don’t bother fixing things in my already published titles until I have enough things to fix to make it worth my while. That’s actually only happened a couple of times, and usually when I want to do something like when I added in my link to a new email list I created. That was when it became worth the effort for me.

Not so this time. This continuity error bugged me. I thought hard about not making the change, but I couldn’t let it go.

So I did it. I deleted half a sentence and changed five or so words in another, and then I regenerated all the formats and republished the book everywhere with the corrections. I’m still in the process of formatting the paperback edition, so that’s not a concern. But I don’t really feel better for having done it.

The fact is, the level of goof in this continuity error is about what you’d see on a television show—noticeable if you’re really paying attention but not that big a deal. And there’s also the fact that I actually like the visuals of the original bit best but had to change it because of the continuity issue and there was no way around that.

Still, I fixed it and I’m not unhappy that I did. I just … actually don’t like knowing there are two different versions of my book out there now. That is where I’m having my issues.

It sounds silly, but there you have it. Part of me really wishes I’d just left the error in there and done my day’s writing yesterday instead! :o

Oh, and to make things worse, my internet kept going out yesterday, so publishing the other book and re-publishing the fixed book? It was a pain in the ass. It’s obvious I cannot be objective about this at the moment. I didn’t get to write yesterday and I regret that more than the boo-boo.

Reading Log: To Catch a Spinster

I read a book this morning. :) This one was from my backlog. I’ve had the book since the early part of the year and just happened across it on my Kindle. I have so many in progress that I have no idea why this particular book caught and held my interest to the end. I haven’t been able to get more than 5% in on one book I thought I wanted to read, and I’ve been trying for two months to read it! Maybe the book just isn’t as engaging as it needs to be. More likely, the topic just isn’t what I want to read right now.

Nonetheless, this book caught me and I enjoyed the quick read. I spent about 2 hours reading this morning, and I was one chapter in when I started. (I read chapter one last night.)

To Catch a Spinster - Megan Bryce

To Catch A Spinster by Megan Bryce was fun. I really liked it and I could see myself reading some favorite parts over again. There aren’t so many books these days that do that for me.

LOL. Besides my own, but we already know I’m a bit strange in that regard. I re-read my own books for fun. :D

Some authors write books to get stories out of their heads. I write to create stories and remember them! That probably explains a lot about my attitude toward writing. I enjoy it tons when I’m moving along, but when I’m not writing, it’s not that easy to get myself to sit down and get started with it because there’s usually no story already pounding at my head to get out. I very actively sit down to create. I don’t create and then sit down to get it out…

Anyway, I’m moving along toward my reading goal, but it’s very likely I’m going to fall short.

NOTE: I decided to make an effort to read more books this year (fiction!). And since I have so many unread books, I set a goal to read at least 60 of the books in my backlog by the end of the year. I’m even keeping a log. :)

Today’s Goals and the End of No More Zero Word Days

Well, I looked at the 50 word minimum on my 123rd day of writing every day and I quit. I have no idea why, still, but it was a conscious decision. I stared at the page, knowing I would be writing the 50 words just to keep the streak alive and I very deliberately closed my document and set my computer aside and went to bed. That was a couple of days ago.

If you want me to explain why I did that, you’ll have to ask me another day because I don’t know the answer.

Yesterday, I proofed and began formatting a book I’m preparing to publish and I didn’t write. So now I have a two day 0 word streak that I plan to end today after I finish my formatting. My biggest challenge will be staying focused enough on the formatting not to get sucked into doing related but less important tasks. I’ve already slipped off track this morning and reformatted an older story (the book I’m preparing is a bundle of the short stories I’ve written over the last few years) that needed updating (two typos, back matter updates, etc).

Now, I’m off to heat up my tea and get back to formatting the new one. I’m trying to finish by 9:30 am.

Today’s goals

I’d like to write about 3,000 words and publish that book I’m formatting by 6 pm.

Today’s progress

Well, it’s 11:24 am and I just finished that formatting. I got my EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and Smashwords DOC all fixed up, and they do look fabulous if I do say so myself. :D I use Word and Jutoh, and to be honest it was the PDF that took all my time.

I forget how finicky Word gets when you start adding in headers and footers and set the layout options to different first page and different odd and even pages. That doesn’t work well when you don’t want extra pages added into the PDF (something that’s all right when you’re doing paperback formatting but when the PDF is for general downloading, not so much). It really makes those headers and footers tricky business! But as a struggling perfectionist, I can’t seem to help the compulsion I have to get those headers just right.

I’ll be working on paperback formatting for this book and three others the rest of the week and I can tell you now, I’ve heard a lot of self-publishers talk about how they can generate their paperbacks in an hour or two, and I can only guess that they don’t bother with hyphenation, widows and orphans, fancifying, or much else or they’ve done some fantastic systemization of their process because that stuff takes some serious time.

I usually spend about 15 to 20 hours on a book to get it print ready, although I’m thinking of taking a page out of some of these other authors’ playbooks and limiting what I do. I don’t make enough on paperback sales compared to ebook sales to put as much work into the formatting as I do. I go line by line looking for hyphenation and widows and orphans issues and let me say, that takes what feels like forever.

If you have tips for how to format for print efficiently, I’m all ears. Seriously.

Well, back to work. Time to do some writing before I start publishing later. 3,000 words is probably not going to be possible today by 6 pm since I’ll have to stop around 3 pm to start publishing but I’ll take whatever I can get! :)

HA HA HA HA!

As soon as it came time to write, I remembered a very important thing I needed to do today—shop for a replacement health insurance plan, because my current plan is ending at the end of the month. So there went my afternoon. I’m pretty sure the dude who was answering my questions about the healthcare marketplace hung up on me. :D In the end, though, I didn’t need his help and I found what I was looking for. I admit it took me from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm to narrow it down to 9 policy options and then choose one. But I feel good about my choice. Only now I have the issue that the healthcare.gov website went down (likely because open enrollment starts soon and they’re doing site improvements—that’d be my guess from the error message) and I either have to try to “confirm” my choice again tomorrow or call them. I really wish it was done but hey, at least I didn’t wait until the last day!

I’m going to fit in one hour of writing here shortly but that’ll probably be it for tonight. I’m actually kind of pooped right now. :)

Tomorrow, my plan is to start writing early-ish, but I’ll still probably go ahead and publish that book first since I meant to do that today. I estimate an hour and a half for the publishing. When I can get going in the mornings, I really do perform better and stay focused longer.

Somehow I think I need to figure out how to do that every day.

Today’s Goal Is a Work In Progress

1st: Write
2nd: Write some more
3rd: Write enough so that it approaches some quantity that passes for real writing
4th: Keep writing
5th: Finish the novella that was supposed to be finished in January so I can write another book that’s supposed to be finished by the end of this month

Seriously. I need to finish that novella. I don’t usually outline these days. I hate outlining. However, I do believe I am going to have to sit down and outline the rest of this damn novella. If I don’t, I’m thinking I will never finish it. Never, ever, ever.

Since I don’t want to set it aside again, I am going to figure out a way to finish it this time. :D

UPDATE: I’ve written 1,677 words in about 4 hours today, and although I’m about to take a break, I’m planning to try to write at least 2,600 words today … so I’ll be back! :)

UPDATE #2: I was wrong about making it back. I haven’t had time to add any more words to my daily total, but I’m okay with that as long as I have a good day tomorrow. Again, I’ll be trying to finish this novella! I’ve noticed that I only seem to have problems with the writing when I get in a hurry to end it. The book wants to take its time getting to the end and I’ve had to stop pushing and let it take as long as it takes.

See ya tomorrow. :)

Today’s Goal Is to Write 5,075 Words! (Fail!)

Holy crap. I needed to get started at 7:30 so I didn’t end up writing all day to reach this goal. It’s 9 am! :o

Still, it’s totally possible, if I can get going. I need a plan.

I’m going to try to squish my 7 hours down into 6, since I’m starting late, and that means I’m aiming for about 850 words every hour. I’m going to have to really push my writing to do this because I don’t write thousands of words every hour. Not even close!

I want to finish about 2,500 words (or 3 hours) of writing before lunch, and the same after lunch.

And later…

Yeah. I need a do over. :D I should also start taking these goals more seriously. :o