Aiming for a record

I’m taking aim at a record tomorrow (Feb 1). My own record, but it’s still a record. I’m going to be trying to break through the 6000 word ceiling I seem to be stuck under. Since I’ve written lots of blog posts in a day before and still managed some fiction too, I’ve probably broken this record at some point with mixed writing and just don’t know it. But tomorrow, as usual for me, fiction’ll be the only thing that counts. :)

Here’s the plan I’ve come up with.

10 hours x 673 words each hour.

I’m really not planning to use a timer tomorrow so I’m not sure how to monitor my progress, except by sheer accumulation of words. Without a timer, I won’t know if I’m on track, and without a schedule, I won’t even be able to use time markers as an alternative gauge.

How about I just take tomorrow as it comes? I’ll get up, start writing first thing after breakfast and see where I am at my first break.

I’ll definitely be scribbling my times down on a tablet for good measure every time I stop for a break, so that might be enough.

The truth is, for this to happen for me, with my track record, I’m going to have to start writing early and stay writing way past my usual mental fatigue point. I’m usually desperate for a break or distraction after ten minutes, but if I can really get into it, an hour will pass super fast and I’ll realize I’ve been tweaking the same sentence for half that time. That’s not going to cut it tomorrow.

I also can’t avoid becoming distracted during breaks and stretching the breaks out much longer than I need to, so I’ll have to be very watchful for that tomorrow. Ten hours out of about sixteen doesn’t sound like a lot, but if one spends thirty minutes in breaks for every hour writing, that’s fifteen hours right there.

No way I can tie up fifteen hours for ten hours of writing and still have meals and a life. It just won’t happen and I know it, so I have to be very careful to get started early in the morning and stick with it.

Of course, I could also write a lot faster than usual and really cut that time down. You know I’m going to be trying! :) In all honestly, what I’m hoping is that as I get into flow, the writing will start to come easier and I will in fact write a lot faster. So no joke there.

See you bright and early in the morning.

Why am I writing this post instead of writing my book?

I wish I knew the answer to the question in the title of this blog post, but I do not.

I have a suspicion, though, and it’s a bit unnerving to think about.

I don’t think I’m having fun with writing at the moment.

Not with this book, not with writing fiction in general, not with publishing and the biz.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I think I know why but I’m having trouble getting past it.

I worry too much about writing a good story. I worry too much about perfectionism. I worry too much about the procrastination I do and feel guilty because I do it instead of writing.

I worry about what other people will think of my story when it’s finished and finally out in the world. Even though I really don’t care what people think of it. Except obviously I do. But I don’t! But I must.

Too much worry!

How can one have fun when it’s all worry, worry, worry?

Anyway, time to go do some writing, because I’ve been feeling guilty for not doing any. And because I really need to finish a book and I’ve let myself get into a situation that I’m not sure I can get out of.

I’ll let you know if it works out.

Oh, and by the way, I updated this site to use HTTPS but I’ll be honest, part of me really regrets even having thought it was necessary. I’m really bothered by the idea that older browsers will throw a certificate warning with my particular set up (a free Let’s Encrypt certificate and no unique IP because this site earns $0 toward its own upkeep). I mean, I like having this site and I do throw the occasional affiliate link up for a book or product I feel good about, but earnings to date? Still $0. :)

The reason the certificate warning bothers me so much is because I personally still have and use occasionally two older Vista computers, an Android phone using Android 2.3.4 (as a media device, because it’s not my primary phone anymore), and a laptop running Windows ME (I know, but yes, it really still works! Believe it or not, it will load Word and Excel faster than any other computer I have, although they are the 2000 versions). I checked out my site on the old Android device and sure enough, error, error, error with the certificate. I tried Vista, and same thing, error, error, error. I don’t get online with the Windows ME computer, just because it requires a cable and I’d hate to see what kind of trouble the outdated browsers would get into if I did. ;)

But I really don’t like knowing people using older software are going to get scary warnings when they visit my website.

Finally, the site is just slower on first load. It really speeds up after that, but frankly, if I was a visitor to a random site that took that long to load at first, it’s very possible I’d have already hit the back button.

All that to say I’m this close to just scrapping the whole project and going back to HTTP.

It wouldn’t be that difficult. I’d just reverse what I did to set it up.

First, I changed the General site settings in WordPress, changing my site url from http://perpetualized.com to https://perpetualized.com.

Second, I ran a couple of SQL queries on my WordPress database to change out the http for https where it was needed.

Third, I’d need to take out a few lines I had to add to my .htaccess file.

I could undo it all in half an hour or less.

Gah. I’m really considering it.

Anyway, time to go write and get this crap off my mind. It’s driving me bonkers.

 

Feeling the need for some accountability tonight

I’ve managed to make it until 8:28 pm without writing a word and I’m not even sure how. But no, that’s not really true. I know how, but I don’t understand how what I’ve done today added up to about 10 hours of distracted time.

I started messing around with my email set up this morning and BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Not going to waste time going down that rabbit hole. Just typing that out distracted me and sent me off to fix something else and it’s now 9:50 pm. >:(

Holy crap! I did it again. Now it’s 10:29 pm! And unfortunately I’m in the middle of moving a bunch of email to a different account so I’m not actually done enough to be able to close Thunderbird and move on!

I have literally not even managed to finish this post and publish it.

Anyway, I’m going to finish this email thing ASAP and I AM going to work on my book before I go to sleep tonight.

I’ll be updating this post before I shut off the computer tonight, one way or another.

Okay, I did it! Streak is still alive.

Now, tomorrow, I absolutely need to stay away from every distraction I can imagine!

Even passive time tracking is just a distraction

I mentioned ManicTime in a previous post but said I had uninstalled it. I did. I also went back and reinstalled it, making a setting change that allowed it to get much closer to the kind of passive time tracking I wanted. I changed the “away” time activation from 10 minutes to 1 minute. Every time I stepped away from the computer for more than 1 minute, ManicTime recorded me as away and didn’t record time on whatever window I happened to have in focus on the screen.

That was great.

Until about an hour ago when I realized I really don’t need this distraction. And yes, it’s a massive distraction, even running completely in the background, simply because I know it’s there and I’m tempted to check my time log every time you turn around.

So earlier tonight, I uninstalled the program, again.

The truth is, I have only one plan for this year, and that plan is this: write more.

I hope to accomplish that by writing every day.

As of the 20th of this month, that’s been true. I’ve written something every day. Some of the entries on my word count log for the last six days are minuscule because of this read through project, but they’re there, and I know I’ve put in effort.

Maybe not as much effort as I hope to build up to putting in, but we all have to start somewhere. Muscles take time to grow. ;)

Web reading challenge: day 4

I started this challenge on January 23rd, making today day four.

I haven’t cracked once since I started it, but it sure hasn’t been easy. I seek out distractions when my brain gets tired of focusing on one thing and it’s been interesting to notice just how often that really is.

That said, I think this is a powerful and important challenge for me and I have every intention of sticking it out until the end of February.

Revising is not a good idea; how to fuck up a story

I had to make a few changes to my book. I try not to do much when I go back to already written material, but in this case, I had an issue I couldn’t work out and when the solution came to me, it meant adding a few things. I don’t know what it is about how I write, but it’s almost impossible for me to write something and just plop it into the middle of an already written scene. It just never seems to fit in and I have to work to make a place for it.

So I did that with the fix and probably tweaked a bit more than I should have.

Yep, I know I did. How do I know?

Because I got through chapter 13 last night, and when I reached 15, I had some stuff that totally didn’t make sense anymore because I’d gone back and put stuff in related to it thinking I’d skipped that issue altogether and yet there it was, fully fleshed out in a later chapter.

Ugh.

This is where I just leave it, fix chapter 15 so it won’t matter and KEEP GOING.

Like I said, I try not to get caught up in making the kinds of changes that count as revising. I cycle through my document as I go, building and growing the story, and most of the time I do end up cycling from the beginning at least once, but it’s best if I do it when the story is fresh—not when I’m trying to get the story back into my head.

When the story isn’t fresh, I’m much more likely to make mistakes like this and end up in revision territory, and I do not like revision. I can’t keep the various versions of a story straight—all the bits and pieces float around and I get confused about which ones are really there and which ones I’ve deleted. It’s best I stay as far from that as possible, because that’s the kind of stuff that makes me hate writing. And feel blocked and have to move on to another story for a while or just not write.

So anyway, yes, I’m still working on getting through this story to arrive at all fresh blank empty pages, but I’m a lot closer now than I was. To be honest, if I don’t finish it today, I’m going to—

You know what? It doesn’t matter, because I’m going to get through it today. I’m going to do it and that’s that.

My new favorite tool in Word

I’ve just discovered a new favorite tool in Word. Despite how long I’ve been using the program, I still come across simple features I just haven’t noticed before that turn out to be extremely useful.

I had highlighted a word in my book (on my Kindle) that I thought maybe I’d been using too often, so I went to my document in Word, opened Find and Replace (Ctrl + F) and noticed the Reading Highlight button. I swear I’ve never noticed it before, even though it’s right there and I use Find and Replace all the damn time.

Here’s a pic.

So I clicked it, chose “highlight all” and then realized it also showed me how many times the word was highlighted! So now I have a quick way to count words in my document if I feel like I’ve been using one way too often.

And if you didn’t know about this little feature, now you do too! :D

Turns out I had not used the word nearly as many times as I felt like I had (not “yelled”) and so I don’t even need to worry about it. :D

I also checked for a few other words I do use too frequently and yep, definitely like that F-word. 155 times in all it’s variations.

Doubt I’ll change a thing! :D

But I really like this little tool. Very handy for the odd words you don’t want to repeat too often.

Still making progress, but still much too slow

I’m making progress on this book, still, but it’s still too slow. I mean, really, way too slow. Yesterday, I ended with a net gain of 274 words. Today I’ll spend as much time on the book as possible, so we’ll see where I end up.

As of this moment, I’m on chapter 9 and it should be nothing but a basic read through fixing typos until I hit a specific scene where I need to add in some stuff that goes along with the fix I made several chapters back. Then at chapter 17 stuff gets kind of messy. I have several scenes written that went in one direction before I doubled back to 17 and took off in another. We’ll see if they eventually join up. I’m hoping. I really like them.

It boils down to just needing to make sure I actually get the time in that I want to spend on the book today. That has been my biggest issue the last few days, not writing too slowly. (Just a little of that. :D) Mostly it’s just a factor of time. I need to get started, stay focused on it, and do that for most of the day.

I really believe I can do it. The only thing stopping me is me.

Too bad I’m not still drinking coffee. It’d come in really handy right about now.

How many hours did I work last year on writing?

I figure about 40 hours per book for publishing tasks. I can double that to 80 if I want to include every last thing I do like studying book cover design and process tweaks like creating new Word style sheets and so on.

I wrote 220,071 words.

My speed range is 250–1200 words per hour, with the vast majority coming in between 400–600. My all time average back when I was tracking that was 541 wph.

That’s 407 hours for the writing.

I wrote 3 novels and 2 novelettes last year. I’m going with 80 hours each because I don’t want to undersell the effort I put in.

That’s 400 hours on publishing.

That’s 807 hours total.

That’s 15.52 hours a week for 52 weeks, or 16.14 hours a week for 50 weeks.

So 16 hours a week.

Holy crap. I’m barely working a part time job.

The numbers make me feel pretty good about the money, but it shouldn’t. I mean, no matter how much I earned per hour, I still only worked about 16 hours a week. My gross income is nowhere near where I want it.

Then there’s this: There are so many books I want to write, and I’m not getting them written at my current level of effort.

Next year, I’m going to revisit this calculation.

This year I’m going to be trying to level up. :)

We’ll see how it goes without timers, schedules, or goals to direct that effort. Honestly, I haven’t done all that well in years past using them, so I’m not that worried it’s going to hurt anything. I expect it will help (in the long run).

I’M NOT YELLING

Yesterday was a bit of a letdown. Sure, I wrote, but my net word count came in at 9 words. I spent some time working, but I also spent A LOT of time doing I don’t know what, because I didn’t do any web reading except for a single visit to DWS’s website yesterday morning and some late evening searches. I didn’t read any fiction, except my own book, and I didn’t do much of anything else either.

So where’d the time go? I have no idea.

One thing I know: I don’t believe I worked as much on my book as I wanted to. I think if I had, I’d be further along.

I made it to chapter 6 at 12:56 PM (from my notes) and finally reached chapter 7 at 4:36. Yes, I did some minor deleting and redrafting in that scene, but I can see it wasn’t very much at all now that I’ve looked over it this morning. Just a few lines here and there, definitely not 2.5 hours worth (the missing hour and a half is lunch). Except, yes, it probably was 2.5 hours because I tend to get lost in that stuff, tweaking and rewriting sentences until I finally hit on one that just feels right.

It’s not the best way, that’s for sure. I wish I didn’t do that kind of thing. I can’t tell if it’s perfectionism, or if it’s just the way my brain works.

As of this morning, I am still only halfway through chapter 7, which means I know I didn’t do much after 4:36 PM. I know that because I read through this chapter a few days ago, and I remember thinking there wasn’t a lot to fix here. Maybe one or two lines. So I should have gotten through this section quickly. Yet I’m still there.

Anyway, all that said, today I have things to do that mean I won’t be home for a chunk of the day but I still need to make some SIGNIFICANT progress on this book today.

Last night, at about 7:02, I installed RescueTime. 12 minutes later, I uninstalled it. Then I installed ManicTime. I loved it, really, but it didn’t do the ONE THING I wanted, which was record only active time in a document. I don’t care how long my document is open and in focus on my screen. I need to know how much time I spend working on that document—writing time. So I uninstalled it too.

Then I found Timekeeper for Word, which could give me the exact info I want. Except it’s for Word 2016, 2013, or 2010. I don’t write in my Word 2016 install. I tried to, for a while, but I couldn’t stop hating it. I use Word 2007. I opened Word 2016 anyway, just to see if I could convince myself it would be worth going to if I could have this awesome record of my time spent writing.

Nope. Couldn’t do it.

So I’m back to basics. I’m just going to jot down my start and end times today in my notebook and leave it at that. All I really want is something to tell me how much time I’m spending on my writing, since I’m not using timers, schedules, or explicit goals this year to tell me what I should be doing and how badly I’m failing.

I just need a rough figure so I can aim to do better. :) Getting better is important to me, and I want to write a lot of books this year, because life is short and who knows when my time will run out. I don’t want to look back from my deathbed (if I’m given that moment) and think about all the time I didn’t spend writing when I could have. And I will, because that’s me.

*I’ve been using all caps as emphasis in email and text since the late nineties and I’m sick of holding back because some other people have decided it means I’m shouting at them. If you don’t like all caps in text, I suggest you not read my blog. :D