Writing update post for Sept. 30, 2016

Yesterday was a total failure in terms of words written. The more elaborate the plans, the more likely I’ll spend all my time on the plans and not on the doing of the plans.

Today’s plan was simple. I set aside some time for writing only (using my calendar and schedule) and I wrote during that time. Finally, a day of (mostly) success!

The last several months constitute the worst string of months for my word counts that I’ve had since I started this gig in 2012. I felt a strong need to end today feeling like I’m finally getting back on track.

9:30 to 2:30

The goal was 200 words x 3 sessions of 15 minutes each hour x 5 hours = 3,000 words.

I wrote 1,766 words. I came up short 7 sessions. Not sure how I got so far off track, but I did have a lot of coffee and tea this morning and had to take very frequent breaks.

2:30 to 4:30

I wanted to get started proofing this book, so I planned to proof 4 chapters. I proofed half a chapter, short of my goal by 3.5 chapters. I was just not feeling it when I was reading this book this afternoon.

5:00 to 8:00

Became 5:30 to 8:30. Then 6:45 to 9:45. Then 7:30 to 10:30. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time getting started with this one. My bad night’s sleep last night caught up to me.

The goal was 200 words x 3 sessions of 15 minutes each hour x 3 hours = 1,800 words.

I didn’t do any writing at all during this time (except for this post) and finally just decided to spend the time with family instead.

 

Word count post for Sept. 29, 2016

28 words.

Kind of a joke, I know. Sometimes, unfortunately, my life does feel a bit like a joke gone wrong. ;)

Daily average since 9/19: 172 words.

And it’s going down again. Fantastic. >.<

Yeah. It’s not really fantastic.

Word count post for Sept. 28, 2016

1,101 words.

So. 1,101 words is a far cry from the 6,000 I wanted to reach yesterday. Was 6,000 a realistic goal after such a long dry spell? No. But I don’t really care that much about realistic goals. I’m always just interested in finding a way to overcome the natural tendency I have toward a lack of action. I like writing. I like doing things. But I have a really hard time with the getting started part of just about everything. Unrealistic goals sometimes helps, as long as I don’t let my failures get me down. Sometimes they do, and when that happens, I usually step back, drop the goals, and start over.

Daily average since 9/19: 185 words.

It’ll take a while for my daily average to recover even writing lots of words every day. :D I’ll suffer through it. I’m not resetting the start date for this.

Another WordPress bug to bug me: I can no longer delete tables in the visual editor

And today I discovered that no matter what I do, I can no longer delete tables in the visual editor of WordPress. This matters because tables that look quite small and should be able to be deleted with a simple highlight and delete are often a pain in the butt to delete in the text editor because the code for tables can be quite long on the page.

I certainly hope this one doesn’t hang around a long time. I absolutely hate having to switch to the text editor every time I need to delete a table. I paste tables into WordPress a lot and I’m grateful that at least I got that functionality back after it disappeared in one the previous WordPress updates. But still…

It’s not the end of the world, by far, but it’s definitely not my favorite thing. :(

Writing in progress post for Sept. 28, 2016

So, what to call this kind of post? I’ve decided on “writing in progress post” because it seems to fit.

Yes, I really do hope my stories come across as more creative than my blog titles. ;)

I’ve done plenty of these kinds of posts before, but I want them to be easier to pick out when I’m skimming the list so they’re getting their own special name, just like the word count posts I’ve started posting.

Now, on to today’s writing.

The plan and my session updates

3 × 15 minute sessions per hour, with a goal of 250 words a session

HOWEVER, if I haven’t reached 750 by the end of the hour, I’m going to consider that hour not finished. An hour must reach 750 words before I can move on to the next hour. I’m hoping this will only actually take 8 hours of writing, but… wishes and horses, you know? ;)

Spreadsheet tracking my sessions

Updating at the end of each hour… or so. :D

End of hour goal
1 750 38 218 433 530 719 774
2 1500 835 915 1101
3 2250
4 3000
5 3750
6 4500
7 5250
8 6000

It’s very, very obvious that I’m not up to speed. I’m not actually at new words yet because I started with the chapter I left off at when my progress stalled. It’s okay. I’ll be past it soon and on to all new stuff. I just have to figure out what the heck is supposed to happen next (which is possibly part of the reason I’ve been avoiding this book)!

Halfway through hour 2, I had to change how this table was set up. It wasn’t working at all easily with my word count spreadsheet.

Something that’s really bothering me today (and it could just be a today issue) is that the 15 minutes isn’t giving me enough time to get into the zone. I’m taking advantage of too many breaks, and they’re taking too much time away from the writing. I should have finished significantly more sessions by now than I have. Possibly time to reevaluate.

Alrighty. I did some reevaluating. For the moment, the 15 minute sessions just aren’t working. I don’t know why, exactly, but I have thoughts on it. So, for the moment, and maybe for more than the moment, I’m going to switch the 3 15 minute sessions an hour to a 45 minute session. That’s the only adjustment I’m making right now. Since the whole point is the scheduled writing time, my session lengths are the least important part of the plan and I’m not the least bit put off that I’ve already needed to make changes to that. It’s all about the trade off between how long I need to get into the zone and how long I can stay focused and keep my writing pace high enough to get me better word counts. :)

It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t seem to stay on schedule today enough to get in all the hours I wanted. All I can assume (because I wasn’t tracking it precisely) is that the breaks were just significantly longer than they needed to be and that it added up to a huge chunk of wasted time. Not feeling well for the last couple of days has also made me drag a bit, so I understand some of that. Anyway, on to tomorrow. I have high hopes I’m picking up some momentum. Now all I need to do is get a better night’s sleep.

Self-discipline: a necessary evil–and possibly the key to my happiness

So… I’ve been thinking again. We all know I favor thinking over action as often as I can. ;)

I was writing my word count post yesterday when I realized that I really have become the kind of writer I don’t want to be: unreliable, undisciplined, and full of excuses for why my books are languishing unwritten.

Even knowing how badly I needed to produce words yesterday, I put it off and ended up wanting to pull my hair out over my own resistance to doing something I like to do (write). I ended up here, writing that post.

What I realized is that I’m going to have to change, whether I want to or not. I’m not going to be that kind of writer. Or person. Or whatever. :)

I have the ability to self-discipline. I just really don’t like doing it and I talk myself into the mindset that life shouldn’t be about schedules and discipline, especially if I’m doing something I like. But that’s just not true. Maybe it should be about discipline and schedules because it’s something I like.

Anyway, I’m here only to say that I’ve made a new schedule. It’s one I’m going to start following today, and it’s not a guideline this time, it’s a rule.

I’m going to adjust it as needed to make sure I meet my writing goals. What set this off yesterday wasn’t actually me realizing I was putting off what needed done, again, but a conversation I had with my sister about needing to lose more weight and what I was going to do about it. I told her I was going to go back to counting calories in a spreadsheet I have, because that’s what really works for me because I’m very numbers oriented.

That made me realize that for my writing, this probably explains why my spreadsheet is so motivating to me, and also made me realize I need to utilize that more. I had at one time included deadlines on the spreadsheet but decided they sucked the fun out of writing. But I’m not so sure about that. There’s definitely fun to be had figuring out how many words I need to write to meet that deadline.

I think the problem was thinking of those deadlines as set in stone while I kept underestimating the word counts for book length on most of my books. As long as I keep in mind that adjustments are perfectly okay and not a flaw in the system, I can see this working for me.

On the other hand, I really only want to do that for the books I’m behind on, so I can get them out ASAP, and then settle into my goal for more 2000+ word days. :)

This is not an experiment so much as it’s a challenge. I’ve told myself I can’t drop this plan or decide I don’t need to follow a schedule after all because it’s too restrictive—what silly nonsense. I made the schedule based on my own needs. No one is telling me what to do here; I’ve just figured out that these are the best times for me to do what I already want to do, for the benefit of both my future and current self. Being schedule-less just isn’t working out well for me and my sinking numbers for this year are yelling at me to make changes or risk losing the future I most want (continuing to write fiction for a living).

I’m going to do my best to follow the schedule. Some days, like today, I’ll have to make adjustments right off, but it’s a plan and I plan to keep on it.

7 to 12: writing, 3 sessions of 15 minutes, with a goal of 250 words per session (on publishing days I won’t be writing)
1 to 4: currently needed to catch up to where I need to be on several projects, writing some days, same as above, more likely doing publishing stuff, such as proofing chapters of whatever I’m working on

Because this is a 7 day a week schedule, the 1 to 4 won’t continue indefinitely. That’s 56 hours a week, and I don’t want to work that many hours every week unless a story is driving me to it. It’s just that right now I’m really behind on some stuff, so I need to work until 4 if I want to get this stuff done. By the middle of October, if I can stick to this, I’ll be in a much better place and will be able to adjust my schedule accordingly, for shorter hours. 5 hours x 7 days a week is a much more comfortable 35 hours a week, doing something I really like doing. And if I show that I can meet my goals and work fewer hours, I’ll take advantage of that.

However things end up, the plan is to have regular hours for my writing and publishing, so I can settle into a strong routine and actually start being productive in one way or another most days. I’m done ending every day feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile.

Now, I’m late starting my work today, because of writing this post, so I’m going to call this post done.

Word count post(s) for Sept. 21–25, 2016

0 words.

164 words.

(12) words.

0 words.

778 words.

And that sums that up. This hasn’t been the restart I’ve been hoping for, but last night I seem to have finally started to get somewhere. That 778 words falls in the low word count day* range, but it’s still a massive improvement over zero. :)

Daily average since 9/19: 116 words.

I have a ways to go to reach my new goal of fewer low word count days, but I’m not restarting this one and I’m not giving up on it.

*Scale:
1,000 = low word count day
2,000 = average word count day
3,000 = moderate word count day
4,000 = high word count day
5,000 = record breaking word count day (always, because 5k is such a push for me)

Now, despite today’s late start (jury duty and a lot of other interruptions today), I’m aiming for a moderate word count today.