Is the schedule improving my daily word count average (for real)?

I was ready to do a bit more analysis of whether or not my schedule is helping me write more. This time I decided to get real and use a formula to figure out if the change I noted previously was actually statistically significant. It’s been so long since I’ve had a statistics class that I had to turn to the web for answers. One web search later, I found THIS, which I adapted quite easily to work with my daily log of word counts.

I had noted the start date for the schedule in my daily log, so it was easy to make the formulas work with my own spreadsheet. Here’s what I came up with.

658 average value of data before change (daily word counts)
741 average value of data since change (daily word counts)
952 standard deviation of data since change
133 number of data points since change (how many days I’ve been on the schedule)
1.009489 T-Value
15.73% probability that the change is only due to chance

So, I wouldn’t say the change in word count is significant. After a bit of further reading on Wikipedia, the problem I’m seeing is that I have no idea what to set as the significance level. I can’t deny that it’s quite possible the increase in my word count was/is temporary and could have other causes. The truth is that my word counts often improve after I make a change. And honestly, if I look at a rolling 7 day average, I can’t see any patterns at all.

Other than the pattern that sometimes I write a lot and sometimes I don’t write anything! Consistency isn’t something I’m good at.

I did have several more 3,000 word days recently than usual (I’ve never had three of them so close together before), but on the other hand, it had to happen sometime, right? I now have 1,112 days worth of entries and I’m adding a new one every day.

All I’ve really done is give myself something else to think about, unfortunately, while I try to pull myself out of this funk and get on with the writing.

Yuck, yuck, yuck

I have no idea why I’ve been avoiding writing ever since my last good day of writing, but yep, that’s exactly what’s been going on. If I don’t get restarted soon, I’m going to be so far behind I’ll never catch up.

I have decided: it doesn’t matter why I stopped. Trying to find a reason is just another way for me to keep putting off getting started again, and getting started again is the only thing that matters right now. I don’t want this to drag out any longer. In the last 8 days I’ve written 690 words total.

I’ve been binge reading as a way to distract myself. I’m not sure that’s been a good idea.

Challenge: Friday, 8/21

The challenge today is to stay on schedule and write 1,000 words for each of the last three days that I wrote nothing.

The numbers 1–6 represent the 6 hours of scheduled writing from 9–12 & 1–4. The second number is where I should be at the end of the hour to be on schedule.

The true challenge is to stay ahead for all 6 hours.

1 503 221
2 1,007 364
3 1,510
4 2,013
5 2,517
6 3,020

11 am – as you can see from the numbers above I’m going to have to pick up the pace if I want to finish at 4 pm today.

I’m tired and my head feels like I’m sleep deprived. The truth is, although I’ve been getting about 7 hours of sleep time a night the last three or four days, I’ve been waking up during the night more than usual and losing sleep because of it. I probably had about 6 hours of sleep last night if I’m being generous. The days of me being fresh on 5 to 6 hours of sleep are long gone. These days 6.5 hours isn’t enough to get rid of the fuzzy headed feeling. It’s takes a solid seven hours of sleep before I don’t notice a difference in how I feel. Maybe a short nap is in order before I lose more time to this lethargy. I do believe I could write all my words between 1 and 4 if I felt more energetic. I’m not saying I will, just that it’s possible. All I know is that if I keep feeling this way, I’m certainly not going to make it to 3,000.

UPDATE: I didn’t return to writing after I stopped for that nap. It just didn’t turn out to be a good day for me and writing, although I’m glad I didn’t give in without at least trying. Two hours was certainly better than another 0 word day.

Today I need a challenge

A few days ago, I felt like a challenge and that worked out well for me. Today I don’t particularly feel like a challenge but I need one because I need to get writing again before I fall too far behind.

The last three days have been a mess. I’ve written a great big fat 0 words and I don’t know what to blame for that other than my own inability to get started. Getting started is really the hardest thing I do all day when it comes to anything that needs to be done.

The night of my great day (when I didn’t even want to stop because the writing was going so well) I read through what I’d written and made some notes of things to correct or adjust. I didn’t find enough to turn me off the story, so I’m not sure why the hold up. It might not be related, but I do think it’s worth noting.

I’ve also been working on a few of my websites the last couple of days. Kind of obsessively, tbh. I thought I’d gotten it all out of my system finally, but yesterday, right when I was supposed to start writing, I decided I absolutely needed to write something for at least one of the sites.

Trust me when I say that’s not true. The site hasn’t had an update in over a year. I doubt doing one then mattered at all.

I want to challenge myself to write 1,000 words today for each day that I wrote nothing AND to finish proofing a story I was supposed to have finished proofreading weeks ago.

So… at least 3,000 words today on schedule is the challenge. :)

 

Jeeves and Wooster

I’ve been watching Jeeves & Wooster and boggling over a young Hugh Laurie of House fame. :) He was such a cute young man, and of course, Bertie Wooster is nothing like Dr. House so that just makes it all so much more unbelievably fun.

Jeeves & WoosterI would have never realized this show existed if I hadn’t been reading P. G. Wodehouse of late, and then at my latest visit to my favorite bookstore within 200 miles (McKay’s) I came across a set of DVDs for the show.

Jeeves & Wooster covers ground that several of the stories in the collections I’ve read so far covers, but I don’t mind. Now every time I read more in the Jeeves and Wooster series, I hear Hugh Laurie’s and Stephen Fry’s voices. It’s not a terrible hardship. :)

I feel like a challenge

I have the intention of writing about 3,000 words today by 4 pm, but I’ve noticed I’m writing at a really nice pace (using timed writing, during my scheduled writing time) and I’m thinking I might like to try a personal challenge today.

I think I’ll try to write my 3,000 by 12 today and take the afternoon to do some proofreading I’ve been putting off.

The first set of numbers is cumulative, the second set is by session. I’ll update as I go.

words time wph words time wph
284 15 1,136 284 15 1,136

Ah! I slowed down considerably for the next few sessions, but I’m going to keep trying. I’m also about an hour behind after a few unexpected interruptions.

words time wph words time wph
284 15 1,136 284 15 1,136
466 30 932 182 15 728
638 45 851 172 15 688
802 60 802 164 15 656

Well, that didn’t work out. :)

words time wph words time wph
284 15 1,136 284 15 1,136
466 30 932 182 15 728
638 45 851 172 15 688
802 60 802 164 15 656
1,030 75 824 228 15 912
1,216 90 811 186 15 744

As you can see, I only managed 90 minutes of timed writing sessions during the 9–12 portion of my schedule today. I will need to improve that considerably to end up where I want to end up today.

My revised challenge is to keep up my pace and reach 3020 today before 4 pm.

The following chart shows where I should be at the end of each hour—not timed hour of writing, but the hour into my schedule. 9–12 comprises hours 1–3, and 1–4 comprises hours 4–6.

3,020
1 503 284
2 1,007 466
3 1,510 1,216
4 2,013
5 2,517
6 3,020

I definitely didn’t meet this challenge but I’m not too far behind where I should be at this time so that’s good. :)

I’ll be back after lunch.

I’m back! And… ouch.

words time wph words time wph
284 15 1,136 284 15 1,136
466 30 932 182 15 728
638 45 851 172 15 688
802 60 802 164 15 656
1,030 75 824 228 15 912
1,216 90 811 186 15 744
1,404 110 766 188 20 564
1,514 120 757 110 10 660
1,717 135 763 203 15 812
1,841 145 762 124 10 744
2,082 165 757 241 20 723
3,020
1 503 284
2 1,007 466
3 1,510 1,216
4 2,013 1,514
5 2,517 2,082
6 3,020

As you can see, my pace has settled around 700ish words an hour since lunch and that means I’m behind, mostly because I just cannot get my timed writing to match up to my scheduled time. I’m at 2.75 hours of timed writing even though I’ve been “on the clock” for 5. I have one hour to complete my words or I’ll end up writing past 4 pm (because I’m getting 3000 words today, one way or another).

Okay, final numbers for the day. I did make it to 3,000, but not before 4 pm. I stopped at about 5:09. However, 240 minutes is only 4 hours but I worked for 7. Not a great work/break ratio there.

words time wph words time wph
284 15 1,136 284 15 1,136
466 30 932 182 15 728
638 45 851 172 15 688
802 60 802 164 15 656
1,030 75 824 228 15 912
1,216 90 811 186 15 744
1,404 110 766 188 20 564
1,514 120 757 110 10 660
1,717 135 763 203 15 812
1,841 145 762 124 10 744
2,082 165 757 241 20 723
2,309 180 770 227 15 908
2,581 195 794 272 15 1,088
2,764 210 790 183 15 732
2,937 225 783 173 15 692
3,196 240 799 259 15 1,036

(Sorta) new and (slightly) improved

I’ve been back on the timers today. Although I have no intention of abandoning my schedule, I’m not going to pretend that it’s been doing much for my productivity lately. It hasn’t.

So today, I brought out my trusty timer and started running it.

It has helped a surprising amount. Over 3,000 words worth in fact.

There’s also the fact that I’ve had a bit of a mental shift when it comes to all these tools I need to get me to write. I read a (really) short book on procrastination yesterday that actually spoke quite loudly to me when it started going on about “loss of freedom.”

I realized at that moment that structure often makes me feel like I’ve lost my freedom.

I’ve decided that thought has to go. Frankly, it’s irrational anyway. Even with a schedule, I’m still in charge. In fact, it’s my schedule and I’m the one who wants myself to follow it, so I can do more of the things that are important to me, so how can it be a loss of my freedom?

It’s a paradox! And one I’m not willing to live with any longer. :D

A slow day for writing

At the end of the day I was writing only 216 words an hour. I did get up in the middle of writing and dust a few things.

I don’t have any idea why I’ve become so slow. I didn’t used to be anywhere near this slow, but lately (almost the entire last year in fact), I’m even having trouble cracking 500 words an hour. It’s… mind-boggling. Something has to be up. I just can’t see what that something is.

Oh, well. On to tomorrow. I worked the best I could during my scheduled time today. I’ll try to do better tomorrow.

The schedule and self-sabotage

I’ve dedicated myself to working with my schedule this week. Staying focused is hard for me. But this week, I’m going to push myself to write during my scheduled writing time. It’s 10:26 and I definitely let myself get distracted from my schedule this morning.

I have to be careful of distractions because I often forget what I was doing before I became distracted. This morning I got up a little late, showered a little long, and then still had to have breakfast even though as I was preparing it I was fully aware of the fact that I should be planning to eat at my computer. I chose not to because I had started reading an article I wanted to finish (big mistake) and then that article had several linked articles that I really wanted to read that I was afraid I’d forget to read later, so I kept pushing off my writing start time.

I have a decision to make right now: finish the articles or start writing, and I’ll be honest, I’m leaning toward finishing the articles and I don’t even know why. They’re about being prolific and maybe that’s it, maybe there’s a part of me that thinks I’ll learn something new and exciting that will suddenly make me break through the wall that keeps me writing slowly most of the time and I’ll totally make up for the wasted writing time just by writing faster.

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to see one’s self-sabotaging behaviors and yet still not be able to do anything about them?

Anyway, it’s 10:21 now and I’m going to skim through these articles and account for the time here just so I can face how much time I am wasting.

I’m back! I did that in record time, because it’s now 10:29 and I read three articles (found nothing new or exciting there at all!), deleted them from Evernote, and am back to this post.

Now, it’s time to get serious here. I have writing to do and I shouldn’t have let myself off the hook today to get started on time. I’m left with 1.5 hours until my break. I want to make them count.

My daily word count has increased since I began following a schedule

I had a theory that my daily word count hadn’t increased with my schedule because of how often I seem to be missing the mark when it comes to actually sticking to it.

I was wrong. :)

I wanted the numbers to back up my theory and they didn’t. I then found myself wanting to adjust the parameters of my analysis but realized almost immediately that this would be an attempt to make the numbers prove what I wanted them to prove. So I stepped back to give this some more thought.

I realized I was probably just looking for justification to abandon my schedule. I’ve since moved on (that post yesterday was written after I started this one). I’m glad I resisted!

Although my overall daily average is still down from 2012 and 2013, it’s better than 2014 and even the all time average up until the date I began following the 9–12 & 1–4 schedule.

Since I began the 9–12 & 1–4 schedule: 744 words a day average
All time before the schedule: 658 words a day average

It’s enough of a difference that I can’t ignore it. I wasn’t very productive in 2014 or the early part of 2015 and the schedule has clearly saved me from more of the same.

The only other thing of note is that my daily average for the time period during which I used the 5 minute sessions was just over 1,400 words a day. I was trying to hit a deadline during that time and I was scheduling my 5 minute sessions in one hour blocks and scheduling 5 or 6 of those hour long blocks every day. I take this to mean that if I can stick my current schedule more often and get in the 5 to 6 hours of writing, I can hope to approach or exceed these same numbers without the stress of the timed writing. :) I would still like to see myself reach a daily average of 2,000 words because that would fit with the life I want. :)