Writing Without a Plan Today

I’m writing without a plan today. Well, mostly, because saying I’m writing without a plan is sort of a plan in itself. :D

My only goal is to enjoy a leisurely day of writing, to have fun with it and see where my stories take me. I’ll be using the timer when I write, because I’m still tracking my WPH for … whatever reason. I like it. I’ve deleted it from my spreadsheet several times, but each time, I ended up pulling the data off my backups and adding it back. This time it’s here to stay. I’m not deleting it again.

Anyway, I’m going to start writing here in a few minutes, probably after I finish my Lipton Orange Jasmine tea, and—

Okay, it’s now about an hour later, and I can tell you how that went… I looked up the actual title of the tea I drink (Lipton Orange Passionfruit Jasmine Green Tea), then decided I wanted to see the nutrition info and found out a cup has 35mg of caffeine in it. (My other favorite flavors have 22mg and 20mg so I might drink more of them going forward and less of the orange jasmine.) That led me to look up info on caffeine so I would know if 35mg was a lot or a little and that led me to click the bookmark for my pen name’s author site, which I then decided to update with a post about my upcoming book, which I then decided to also write something about the book I’m thinking about writing and I decided to post an excerpt for it for a show of interest…

And now I’m back. I actually caught this diversion of attention a little early! So, yay me! I did lose some time, but … getting that update on my author site isn’t really a waste of time so much as it was bad timing. I could’ve done that when I was tired and uninterested in writing.

But what’s done is done, so moving on!

I just clicked the “Strict Workflow” button on Chrome (which blocks a lot of tempting sites I added to the block list), and now I’m going to finish this post, get a new cup of tea, and start writing.

I discovered an interesting thing when I was updating my author site. I have no objectivity with my writing. When I wrote those pages, I thought they were awesome. A week or two later, I read back through them and though they were utterly stupid and that I would have to abandon the idea. Today, I read through them (it’s been about a month since I wrote them), and I loved them again.

:o

Now, off for tea and writing. :)

Update (4 days later)—

All I know is that I have a big fat zero on my daily word count log for this day.

Ouch.

What Am I Doing?

I thought I was going to come home today, take a short nap, and then get started writing on one of my books. I haven’t, though, and I’m seriously thinking of reading a book instead. I spent about two hours at the library (online) and checked out eight books after deciding that I’m going to start reading more books every week. I had this moment where I thought maybe I just don’t read fiction enough these days and that’s why I’m not writing more. Now, of course, I’m wondering if this was just a super clever way for my brain to trick me into procrastinating because that’s always a possibility.

Why’d I go to the library instead of just read one of the many, many books I already have—books I’ve bought for ridiculous sums like the copy of Copper Beach I have that cost me $14.99 and which I still haven’t read 2 years later?

I do not know. Please don’t ask again.

Thanks. :D

It’s a Beautiful Day

At 8:30 a.m. I’m going to start writing, aiming for my 1,667 word minimum, and then the rest of my life is going to interrupt me. Family tradition dictates that my evening will be busy—tomorrow is Thanksgiving after all.

Now, I want to spend a few more minutes perusing a book that has interested me and drinking my tea. I’ll be back when I have an update on my word count.

Update (sometime the next day…)—

I’m trying to remember what happened, but I can’t. I didn’t get started writing, because I read that book, or half of it anyway, then I started skimming because it went from interesting to blah to really? in less time than it took me to flip two pages. It was so full of filler and utter useless garbage that I almost gave it a 2 star review on Amazon, and the 2 stars would’ve been because the author gave me the book and I’d have felt bad giving it a 1 star. I stopped myself. (I try not to review books unless I have something good to say or the book is pricey, nonfiction, and doesn’t fulfill the promises it makes in the description—other readers need to know they’re not going to get what they’re thinking of paying for.) I need to remember that these time management/procrastination cure/this is the way to fix all your problems books are a gimmick. I don’t know why I fall for that every time, but I do. I am swearing off these kinds of books forever. I’ve learned my lesson this time! I have!

Okay, probably not, but maybe!

Then I did something else for about an hour and I don’t remember what that was. Then of course it was time for everything else I had to do and I got home sometime around 9 PM and no, I didn’t even attempt to make up the words I supposedly wanted to write yesterday morning.

New Day, New Routine

Really it’s just an old routine, slightly modified. Write 1,667 words from 7 til 10 but keep going if I haven’t quite made it to my word count goal.

It’s almost winter, so getting up earlier is easier as long as I get to bed at a reasonable time and I started doing that two days ago. I woke up on my own at 6 a.m. this morning and I feel better than I did yesterday. I stopped the coffee again, because after two weeks of caffeine, I can say with certainty that it’s making no difference in how much I write: the first week on coffee again I wrote 10,251 words and the second week I wrote 21. Not a typo.

It’s 6:51 right now and I’m finishing breakfast quickly and making an effort to get back to a 7 a.m. start time. I usually have more energy first thing and then by 8 or 9 I’m sleepy again. If I’m already writing and into my stories, I can push that back. If I’m not, then I end up not writing until the afternoon usually, and then it becomes a struggle to get started at all. Such as with yesterday, when I wrote nothing but a blog post.

Today’s goals are simple. Finish 1,667 words before 10 a.m. if possible, definitely before lunch. Then write 1,333 words before bed. Also, work one hour on my paperback formatting. Now, it is 7 a.m. and it’s time to get to work.

Update (8:33 a.m.)—

I set up my timer with 3 hours on it. I’ve had to take 3 quick breaks so far (tea, phone, phone—school’s letting out early because of sewer problems, ack) so I’m sitting at 2 hours and 42 seconds left on my timer and that means I’m about half an hour behind. My word count at the half hour mark was a negative because I deleted some stuff, and now it’s at 57 words. But I feel like I’m gaining some momentum finally so maybe my next update will be a lot better. :)

Update (9:37 a.m.)—

I deleted more, meaning I ended up into negative numbers again, but now I’m almost caught back up. I don’t have anything else ahead of me that I can delete (there’s nothing but a blank page waiting for me!) so I’ll be moving forward from this point on. My timer’s sitting at 1 hour and 29 minutes but I forgot to restart it for almost half an hour after my 8:33 a.m. update so technically I’m not really behind this time other than the half hour I was already behind.) Still, since I was too busy deleting stuff instead of adding, I think I’m just going to go with the timer. No way I’m going to get caught up to 1,667 words in only one hour, but maybe, possibly, I can do it in the 1 hour and 29 minutes now that the sludge is cleared away and it’s all fresh writing ahead. We’ll see.

Update (10:59 a.m.)—

I’m down to 18 minutes on the timer and I’m up to 487 words. I’m also just about certain I just wrote a bunch of stuff that doesn’t need to be in this book but I think I’m just going to go with it for now. I’ve been working on that novella this morning and I’m just glad to be making progress. :) But now, I need another break before I finish those last 18 minutes. Be back soon.

Update (12:29 p.m.)—

I’m pleased with my progress. I didn’t make it anywhere close to 1,667 words but the novella’s story is moving along. I ended up with 3.75 hours and 591 words. And this is a great example of what I mean when I say I feel like I spend the entire morning working, focused and on task, and still end up with significantly less time writing than time spent.

I wrote from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. That’s 5.5 hours. And yet I wrote to a timer, logging 3 hours plus the time where I forgot to run the timer for about 30 minutes and then kept writing after the timer stopped for about 15 more. The difference between that 5.5 and 3.75 hours is 1 hour and 45 minutes of time lost to breaks that I can’t account for. My breaks felt significantly shorter than that, and sometimes I wonder if my ability to feel the passage of time is impaired.

Anyway, I’ll be back later today to work on those 1,333 words I’m hoping to get this afternoon (on the novel I started this month unless I have a great idea for the novella in the meantime).

Update (3:25 p.m.)—

This post has gotten very long and it’s about to get longer. I’m starting my afternoon session at 3:30 p.m. and the goal is to write 1,333 words before 6 p.m. if possible, but definitely before bedtime. Such as with this morning, I’m mostly going to stick to the 2.5 hours I have planned and hope that does it. If not I’ll try to go longer, but I don’t plan to go past 8:30 p.m. which is when I’m going to do that one hour of work on my paperback formatting.

Oh, and I watched an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which has shown up on Netflix. What a great show so far. I’m ready for episode #3 now. Quite a fun bunch of characters!

Time to get to it.

Update (5:07 p.m.)—

And I’ve had a few interruptions but nothing too time consuming. I’m at 1 hour and 25 minutes on the timer and 502 words, so I’ve been writing for just about an hour. I wish I weren’t behind at all, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes…

Update (6:29 p.m.)—

I’m not quite done. My timer is at 33 minutes left and that means I’m about an hour behind. I’ve had a lot of interruptions this last hour and a half, although an hour feels excessive when I try to recall them. The problem is that whether I can recall them or not, the time is the time and the timer doesn’t lie. At least not when I’ve remembered to start and stop it appropriately, which I’ve done. I’ve written for about 2 hours and I’m up to 815 words, with my total for the day coming in at 1,406.

I’m going to try to get to 1,667 for the day, since that’s the average I want to hit and hope that after a few days the writing will get easier so I can keep it up and maybe even make up some of the zero days since I started aiming at the 1,667 words a day average.

I just don’t understand why writing is so hard sometimes.

Update (9:37 p.m.)—

I just realized I’ve spent 3 hours watching YouTube videos. I’ve done this before, but rarely—like 5,000 words in a day rare. I have no idea why today had to be that day but I have just binge watched 3 hours of talent show clips. What. The. Hell. And now it’s past my bedtime and I haven’t even had supper yet. I cannot believe that was three hours. Seriously. Cannot believe it.

Wow. I guess I’m calling it a night at 1,406 words. I’m a little disappointed in myself but I can’t for the life of me figure out how I can stop this from happening again because I don’t know how it happened in the first place.(!!!!)

What Happened to My Momentum?

I have no idea why last week fell apart.

I’m sitting here with the sun in my face, already ready to go back to sleep, wondering what happened to my momentum.

There are a couple of possibilities. One stands out more than the others.

And I just wrote multiple paragraphs addressing that particular possibility, but I don’t think dwelling on negativity is the way forward. So I deleted them. :D

Today is going to be better. That’s about all there is left to say.

Is That Free Book Really a Sample?

Oh no! I’m thinking this morning. :D

I saw a post on The Passive Voice blog today when I should’ve been writing this morning.

The excerpted post quotes Craig Nybo as saying “always sell it — never give it away” about self-published books because “if you give it away, it cheapens the self-publishing scene.”

I have no idea if it does or not. I don’t give my books away because I’m not sure they’ll generate enough sales to make it worth it (I write in a very small niche with what appears to be a very finite customer base) and I’m in the situation where I need all the money I’m bringing in so I don’t have room to experiment with that. I think someday I will just because I want to see if it makes a difference, but at the moment I have people to feed and a house to pay for and kids who’ll be in college in less than 600 days. Agh!

However, it was one of the comments that made thoughts pop into my head this early in the morning, and here I am responding to it.

“Free samples are a good thing.” (Jim Self — note to Jim, if you ever see this, please, for the love of whatever you love, put links to your books on your website. I found a cute sample/excerpt for a story and tried to find a way to click through to Amazon but found no links to your books anywhere on your site. By the time I was done, I was so annoyed that I said f*ck it and closed the window without bothering. I’m just not going to go to Amazon and manually type in a search for a book when I’m annoyed. I’m very sorry.)

But what is a free sample?

Wouldn’t a free sample be like trying a bite of a pie (Kindle sample), then going on to buy the full pie (the whole book) versus eating the whole pie (free book) and going on to buy all the other pies by the same pie maker (the backlist).

Now, series books, if the series is tightly connected, would probably still qualify as a sample as far as I’m concerned, because a series book isn’t going to satisfy you the way a standalone book will. I mean, when I read a really great series book, I’m often left with questions I want answered, such as “Is Mary’s friend Jane going to find love with that asshole Bill?”

But for a freebie that’s not closely tied to any other books, I don’t know. I just can’t see them as samples. They’re not samples. They’re complete products that satisfy the consumer’s need, and how does that benefit an author?

I know, I know… You’re going to tell me that the reader will be so taken with the author’s writing style that they’ll run out and buy the backlist.

But if I want a coconut pie, getting one for free doesn’t really make me want all the other pies. It satisfies my desire for the specific pie I wanted, without me having to outlay any money. :) It’s a great deal for me, but really not so great for the pie maker.

So maybe a lot of people are giving away the pie thinking they’re creating a repeat customer, when in reality, that customer left fully satisfied and won’t be back until there’s another coconut pie.

I kind of want to go find a coconut pie now. ;)

No Celebrating? What…?

Dean Wesley Smith had a section in his latest blog post about (not) celebrating writing achievements such as finishing a book and I started to post a response, but I remembered my post about content on other people’s sites and I cut the response before I posted and pasted it here instead. :D I almost forgot about that little decision… and yeah I know, I’m really not surprised. I forget lots of things five minutes after I decide them.

I didn’t really see what the big deal was with celebrating until…

“You are telling your brain it is better to not be writing, to be finished, than to be writing.”

At which point my brain gave the inside of my skull a little kick and said “Ah! It’s a trap!”

And maybe it’s a trap I’ve fallen into more than once. I think I’ll skip the “oh how great it is to be done” talk when I finish this time. Maybe I’ll just say “yay! I get to start another book today” instead.

I’ve discovered over the years that self-talk is powerful stuff, and I wouldn’t put it past my brain to think that my excitement in finishing a project means that finishing, reaching the end, being done, is the reward for writing. And if that’s the reward, what does it making continued writing? Yeah. Punishment. Something incomplete. Something to be avoided.

I sure don’t want to internalize that attitude! (Although it’s possible it’s too late and now I’m just going to have to work on excising that attitude.) But I love it when I have these little sparks of realization. I just wish I could remember them all when I need to. ;)

A Prolific Writer…

“A prolific writer, therefore, has to have self-assurance. He can’t sit around doubting the quality of his writing. Rather, he has to love his own writing.”

—Isaac Asimov, I.Asimov

I’m still reading this book, bits and pieces out of order, because it lends itself to that kind of reading and when it comes to nonfiction, that kind of reading isn’t unusual to me. The book’s engaging and easy to read and I’ve found lots of interesting stuff in it worth bookmarking.

Asimov goes on:

“I can pick up any one of my books, start reading it anywhere, and immediately be lost in it and keep on reading until I am shaken out of the spell by some external event.”

I know that feeling. It’s what causes me to lose half a day’s writing when I start researching something I might have forgotten in one of my books. Ah well. At least I’m having fun.

Now, time for me to trim my fingernails and get some writing done today.

Today’s Writing Plan

I have a couple of things I have to do today, one of which is the kind of “have to” that doesn’t allow even procrastination to get in the way. Other than that, not so much. Unfortunately, I’m a bit under the weather, and I’m not sure how much I’ll get done.

I started out thinking I felt okay this morning, but that waned really quickly. Now I just want to lean over on the couch and go to sleep and that’s after having a cup of regular coffee and a cup of tea too!

My average daily word count is slipping because of some zero word days this week. I need to make them up quickly. To catch up all in one day today, I would need 4,752 words today. Not doing it. Not even going to try. I don’t think I can have another zero word day though and reasonably expect to make it up in the next few days, so I’m still going to try to write at least 1,667 words, with an eye toward hitting 2,000, and saving the catching up for tomorrow or Friday.

2 hours (goal: 1,000 words)

2 hours (goal: 1,000 words)

I Blame Twitter for This

Think I found the pen name that Lindsay Buroker launched last month. My insatiable curiosity sent me searching and she was right that it might not be hard to figure out (as she mentions in the post). I’m not going to say what I think that pen name is, of course, because that’d be rude and I didn’t search for it for that reason. Trust me when I say I would’ve given up if it had taken much longer. I have things I’m supposed to be doing.

I want to know who did the book covers for the series. I like them very much. If I’m right about this being the series of books Lindsay Buroker is talking about in that post, well, who needs custom illustration when collages turn out so well? She’s right. The covers are a cut above for the subgenre.

Even if I’m wrong about the pen name, at least I found a book I want to read. It sounds just like something I’d enjoy. I skimmed the reviews and one comment on the lack of games and drama between the hero and heroine has me super excited. I’m not a fan of a lot of romantic angst between the hero and heroine (or hero and hero for that matter) and it can be hard to find exciting books that don’t go overboard with it. :)

Anyway, now I just need to cut off the damn internet and start my writing for the day so I have time to do some reading tonight.

I never even got to that cup of tea I was supposed to get myself at 11 a.m. and now it’s lunchtime. If only I hadn’t checked twitter before I went for tea…

Gah.