Conclusion: daily word count is more important than time spent writing

After many experiments detailed here on this blog over the years, and much reading of articles about processes and systems versus goals and quotas, I’ve decided that forevermore I will consider working daily toward a word count goal more important than how much time I spend writing.

Here’s why.

No matter how I look at it, it’s all metrics. A system that says I need to write for a certain length of time (daily or weekly) is no different to me than having a goal to write 2,192 words a day or 15,344 words a week or 66,667 words a month or 800,000 words a year.

A daily word count goal and a daily time goal are exactly the same in all the ways that matter to me and they require exactly the same amount of mental energy from me.

Finally, I’ve concluded after a great many experiments detailed here on this blog, that I prefer to work to word count goals, not time goals, because, one, I have difficulties perceiving the passage of time, and two, I like numbers that reflect progress in a form I can visualize. What does it mean that I’ve spent three hours working on my book? I can’t see my book’s progress in time invested, but I can certainly see it in words written. YMMV.

Current goal: plan to read entire series from beginning

I’m still struggling to get moving on this book I need to finish, so I’ve decided to put writing new material on the back burner until I’ve read the entire series from the beginning. I’m going to let myself count the reading toward my 15 minutes of writing today, simply because I think reading the series is the best thing I can do for myself right now; I just do not think I’m going to be able to start writing on this book again until I read those other books.

Here’s the plan.

Tonight: Read for about an hour, get 1/2 through book 1.

Finish reading book 1 by 10 AM tomorrow.

Read book 2 by 2 PM tomorrow.

Read book 3 by 6 PM tomorrow.

Read book 4 by 10 PM tomorrow.

Saturday: Read what’s written of book 5 by 12 noon. Commit to keeping or deleting the last few scenes.

I’m going to track how I do with this and update this post accordingly. :D


Uh oh. The reading is going slower than I hoped it would. At 11:22 I’m at the 18% mark in book 1. :o

Still, it’s working. I’m getting excited about this world again! I’ll continue to update with my progress throughout the day today. I’m hoping I’ll be able to catch up on the reading. :)

2nd update: I haven’t done well with the reading today. I’m going to try pushing for a little more self-discipline tomorrow and stay offline until I’ve read at least 2 books. Tonight, I hope to be able to stay awake long enough finish reading book 1. I’m afraid that’s going be difficult. I’m already very sleepy.

Saturday updates

Yep, I’m a day behind now. The goal is still to finish this read through as quickly as I can, preferably today with a bit of time left for writing. What I don’t want is to finish reading and not have time to write something right away.

10:05 book 1 38% read

12:17 book 1 56% read (I’m having serious trouble concentrating.)

10:44 book 1 67% read

Sunday updates

Too much time away and too many interruptions yesterday, plus a serious problem with concentration led to very little reading.

8:40 book 1 67% read (today’s starting point)

I’m going to try to stay on schedule today with my original plan.

9:58 book 1 80% read

10:58 book 1 100% read!

12:17 book 2 8% read (Again, I’m having trouble concentrating, but of note is how flat my stories feel to me right now. I’m trying to remember the last time I was truly excited about a book while I was reading it, and I can’t really remember. I know it wasn’t the last one; I gave up on that one about 200 pages from the end of the book’s 680ish pages. On the other hand, I feel better about the new book—if this is as good as it gets, the new book will fit right in.)

12:04 (AM) book 2 9% read

Monday updates

9:15 book 2 12% read

Tuesday updates

8:51 (PM) book 2 23% read

Thursday updates

9:29 (PM) book 2 44% read

Finally, the eldest is off to college. It’s been a stressful few days–weeks even–but I’m hoping things are about to settle down a bit. Too little sleep last night put me into a stupor today, but tomorrow I’m going to finish this.

Saturday updates

“Tomorrow” came and went yesterday, with very little reading.

I’m starting from the last update on progress I have listed above.

Sunday updates

This is it. I’m going to finish the reading today and start writing again before the day is done. It’s mind boggling how long this has taken, but the time for excuses has passed.

10:22 book 2 57% read

Dealt with a few interruptions, but it’s back to reading now.

3:03 book 2 67% read

4:02 book 2 71% read (I’m not enjoying these books the way I used to enjoy them. I read something else yesterday, hoping to perk up my interest in reading, but all that did was make me feel worse about my writing in these books, and I’m already feeling pretty bad about it. I honestly don’t know if it’s as bad as it feels as I’m reading, or if it’s just me. If I didn’t need to do this reading for continuity with the new book, I think I would abandon this effort. It’s really making me feel terrible about my skill as a writer!)

Aside: I’m either going to have to stay up very, very late, or I’m about to start skimming!

Monday updates

Okay, so I didn’t finish yesterday, but I’m making good progress this morning, and I’ve committed to making today the last day for this.

8:55 book 2 77% read

9:51 book 2 100% done!

Having a much easier time concentrating today and the numbers prove it. No, none of that was skim reading. I just found it easier to stay focused on the story and got through 23% of the book in a less than an hour. I’m taking a break for food and then I’m going to dig into book 3 and hope this improved ability to concentrate sticks around.

12:10 book 3 20% read

2:12 book 3 24% read

2:45 book 3 31% read

By the way, book 3 is twice as long as book 1. :)

4:55 book 3 33% read

6:33 book 3 36% read

9:30 book 3 41% read

It’s obvious to me that I’m not going to finish this tonight unless I stay up much later than I can possibly stay up.

Tomorrow it is then. But I do believe I can still finish this book tonight, now that it’s quiet again.

Tuesday updates

Unfortunately, I’m not yet reading book 4 this morning, because I conked out last night not long after I made the update above. Fell asleep with my phone in my hand and the book in face.

But what’s done is done. I’m very confident today will actually be the last day of this, and I’m somewhat confident today will be the day I get back to writing.

9:34 book 3 49% read

5:37 book 3 62% read

7:11 book 3 73% read

8:01 book 3 81% read

8:58 book 3 100% done!

9:17 book 4 9% read

Calling it a night. I will finish this tomorrow. The goal is to finish book 4 by 11 and what’s written of book 5 by 3. Then I’ll spend some time writing.

Wednesday updates

Last day, I know it. Really!

It’s 9 AM sharp and I’m ready to read. I’m starting just where I left off last night. I have 2 hours to read this book if I want to stay on track with my plan so I may do some skimming. I have read this book more recently than I had read the previous books so skimming may be adequate. :)

2:12 book 4 27% read

I’m still planning to finish this today but I am not where I wanted to be. It really looks like I’m going to just have to force myself to skim read. Skimming does not come naturally to me. I actually have a very hard time doing it, and that’s probably one reason why I ditch books so quickly when I get bored with them.

Which brings me to this: I am bored with these books. I’m hoping that’s one reason the first 3 books of the series annoyed me so much with their inferiority. (As in, I’m praying really hard that they’re not as bad as they felt as I was reading them.)

The book I’m reading now, though, book 4, is just as good, if not better, than I remember. Maybe I haven’t yet read it too many times. :o

2:56 book 4 34% read

6:45 book 4 37% read

9:12 book 4 45% read

Monday updates (Or 18 days later!)

Let me just say that I didn’t intend for it to take anywhere near this long to finish this little project of reading my series from the start. It was supposed to be a quick detour to help me get back into this series so I can finish this last book, which only needs (guessing here) about ten to twenty thousand words to complete it.

My perception of time is warped, I know, but this failure can’t be blamed only on that. Thursday I read a book, then started several others that I couldn’t quite bring myself to finish. By the way, Dead City is a good book, not one you want to think too hard about, but one that keeps up a nice pace and is fun reading. Plague Year, one that I started reading Thursday but haven’t finished, has slower pacing, but drew a much more visceral reaction from me. I’m going to get back to it, but first I want to finish reading my own book, get into a steady rhythm with my daily writing again, and read the sequel to The Last Policeman, which I read a week and a half ago and loved.

Funny how I just move on to reading other stuff when I forbid myself a book because I should be doing something else instead. :o I told myself I couldn’t read Countdown City until I finished reading my book and got back to writing. Instead, I spent time reading stuff I wanted to read much less than Countdown City and didn’t make progress on anything.

The weekend turned out to be time off, and that leaves me here. I started this morning at the 45% mark in book 4 (still) and have made some progress.

Goals today include (1) finish reading this book, (2) read/edit 18 chapters of book 5, and (3) write chapter 19 of book 5. (I’m giving something different a trail run, and I’ll post my draft on that topic as soon as I get to call this post DONE.)

11:23 (AM) book 4 62% read

Sometime in the afternoon book 4 87% read

Wednesday updates

Well, I got sick. I’m doing this update because I promised myself I’d update my word count spreadsheet every day, especially when I’m not writing, to help me stay aware of the passage of time.

Friday updates

It’s Friday, I feel better, and I’m going to finish this thing today, twenty-two days from the day I started this project. Yes I am. :)

Tuesday updates

DONE. Done, done, done, done, done!

Now on to the next phase. :o

Let’s not discuss the fact that this is many days after the day I was absolutely certain would be my last day at this.

Not a strong start today

I’ve yet to do the edits I talked about in my previous post. I’m disappointed that I’ve been at the computer most of the afternoon and have nothing to show for it other than… well, this post.

Oh, and a journal entry, because I’ve been doing those again. I have a notebook for that, and I’ve taken to handwriting my thoughts again, because of the supposed benefit that you remember more if you hand write things.

I need all the help I can get remembering this stuff. I’ve gone back and forth with writing down my thoughts into the note keeping software I use, but when I go back through my notes, I’m always amazed that I’ve had this thought and that thought and that I should really remember those thoughts but haven’t.

On that note, I think it’s time I make an effort to put in my 15 minutes before I regret letting more of the day slip away on me. Maybe it’ll lead to some real writing today!

All I can do is hope, anyway. This creative dry spell has to end sometime.

15 minutes a day: day 1 results

Yesterday I managed to do really well not writing. I did, however, finally give in and sit down at my computer. I wrote a few words, deleted a few others, then decided I’d be better off just using the 15 minutes to make myself read what I’d already written, or at least the relevant parts of it.

So I did that instead. I timed it, too, so I didn’t try to cheat. I read on my Kindle, and I was obviously in a mood, because I highlighted massive sections for deletion and “fixing.” I put that in quotes, because it deserves to be in quotes. I don’t like editing my stories once I’ve moved on to other sections of the story*; it doesn’t often help strengthen anything and does quite often flatten everything, turning it dull and lifeless. (*I edit as I write. I don’t know if it can be called editing, but it’s an integral part of my writing process. I write from one scene to the next, in a very linear fashion, but I write scenes, paragraphs, and even sentences out of order, in a very non-linear fashion. Much the way I write my blog posts here.)

Hindsight tells me that if I would have deleted the last 2 to 4 thousand words, I could have written something else many times over in all the time I’ve wasted avoiding this book.

I just… don’t know where to go with this story. I’ve lost all enthusiasm for it.

I meant to read through what I’d written a while back and that never happened. I just haven’t gotten to it, but reading the story from the beginning and getting right to work on it afterward, with no wasted time between, is the only hope I have left for regaining any of that enthusiasm.

So using those 15 minutes last night to force the issue felt like the right move. I think it was. I’m thinking about the book again, and I’m ready to spend today’s 15 minutes going through those highlighted passages and making a decision about the direction of this book.

15 minutes a day

It’s late, but I’ve just ended another 0 word day. So I’m going to try something a little different tomorrow and thereafter. (I certainly have to try something!)

15 minutes.

No matter what else I do tomorrow and every day thereafter, I will spend 15 minutes trying to write something for my in-progress story.

I’ll set a timer and just make myself sit down for those 15 minutes and write. After that, who knows what will happen, but—15 minutes. I will learn to be more consistent, even if it’s 15 minutes at a time.

Summer work slump

I’ve finally just admitted to myself that I’m in the middle of a summer work slump. Too much change around here and none of the time to myself that I’m used to in the summer has made it impossible for me to concentrate on my stories. The creative parts of my brain have dried up.

The only advice I have for anyone going through something similar is to be easy on yourself, because being tough sure doesn’t work. The more I’ve chastised myself, the worse the situation has become. I’ve finally just given up trying to pound my psyche into submission; the reasoning part of my brain refuses to be cowed.

On the other hand, I haven’t given up. I’ve just accepted that castigating myself over my lack of forward momentum is not motivating me to do better.

I’ll get out of it. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but I will break free.

Day 1 of the 2k a day plan

Okay, it’s really a 2,192 words a day plan, but 2k a day is catchier, right? :D I thought so. (Ignore the fact that you could think I’m talking about dollars instead of words here, because we all know I ain’t talking dollars—not that I wouldn’t love it if my words per day average was actually a dollars per day average. Hell yes I would.)

Although I have nothing to report for the day, other than the fact that I wasn’t even able to start reading my books as detailed in my last post, I’m still calling July 31, 2016, Sunday, the official beginning of this plan.

So, my progress on July 31: 0 words written toward my daily goal of 2,192.

The reason I couldn’t read my book was because for some reason the Kindle app on my phone (which is the only gadget I took to bed with me) glitched out with an error on the download of the first book in the series. All 3 of the other books downloaded fine, but the 1st book wouldn’t. :o Instead of going back for my Kindle, I took it as a sign and went on to sleep. ;)