Timed reading while I’m working on my book

Today’s writing plan was simple: time myself as I read through what I already had written (chapters one through four) and then use my timer for some 45 minute writing sessions.

I use the timer when I’m doing my proofreading check at the end (for publishing).* I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about that here before. It really helps keep me focused on reading and not getting distracted the way I used to do when I did my final read through.** This is one of those coping mechanisms I’ve come up with over the years to deal with the fact that I don’t always find it easy to focus, even when it’s something I want to do.

Today was the first time I’ve tried the timed reading thing while going back to read through and fix things during actual story creation.

I liked it. I think I’ll do it again when I need to.

But there was a definite difference in speed. My proofread usually takes 15-20 minutes per chapter. This was much more time consuming! I ended up spending most of the day on this. Focusing is hard work (for me), no joke!

Now that I’ve done that, I’m going to go off and write for a few minutes, then pack it in for the night. I just don’t think I have it in me to do any 45 minute sessions. It’s 10:48 pm and I’ve been at it all day.

I do think I’ve cleared out all the deleted stuff in my head so that when I really get into the next scene I’m not going to be confused. I do hope so.

Maybe I’ll reread on my Kindle in bed tonight where I can’t touch it except to highlight errors and just try to settle it more firmly in my thoughts.

+=+=+

* I have a spreadsheet for this stage. I have a column with my chapter number and I sit down with that chapter, turn on my stopwatch timer, and read. I record the time. I move on to the next chapter. Breaks are optional.

** I used to just keep up with my percentage read based on my Kindle locations in the final manuscript (after sending it to my Kindle). I tried to read in long stretches of time, sometimes setting hour long goals for myself to read as much as I could in that time. Trust me when I say that I really like my current spreadsheet method much better. :)

Procrastinating like a pro

So I’m writing today. Or I’m supposed to be. I know the real pros never go through this. They write and write and write and curl their noses up at…

Wait a minute. This is what I do for a living. That means I’m a pro, right?

Crap.

I should probably try to save me from myself here, but I’d rather procrastinate today. I’ve spent an hour writing and added, wait for it, 84 words to my new book.

There are days when it feels like a nap would be a better use of my time.

Pen name ethics

There’s been some grumbling on Kboards about pen names and personas that has struck a chord with me. I use pen names and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I don’t have a problem with anyone choosing to use them, for whatever reason they want to use them.

But I do have qualms about the use of personas. They ring of sock puppets and scam tactics to me, and although maybe that’s not how the authors who use them think of them, I can’t help but find it distasteful and deceptive.

On the one hand, making up a name doesn’t seem so different than making up a dog you don’t have. But to me, I do think of those things differently. When I interact with people, that fake name doesn’t really mean anything. I still interact with people as myself, even if it’s only using select attributes of myself.

Say I’m shy in real life (I’m not that shy, mostly standoffish, which is actually quite different). But say I am. I might dig deep and pull from the part of me that isn’t as shy and give myself permission to be more outgoing and brave with other people while interacting under the name of my pen name.

That kind of thing just doesn’t feel deceptive to me. That’s me behaving differently because of who I’m interacting with. I could choose to interact that way as me or as my pen name and no one would think much of it.

But if I give myself a fake dog, when I interact with others, if I choose to use my real name, then the people that know me are going to know I’m lying. Just because I choose to interact under a different name, a pen name, doesn’t mean I’m not lying any less.

So, no, I’m not supportive of authors who create entire personas that are fake. I just don’t think it’s right to do that kind of thing and present it as fact. It’s lying. It’s deception. It’s lying and deception meant for personal gain.

The thing about author bios is that it’s not generally accepted that they’re going to be fake. People, in general, expect bios to be genuine. When they’re not, it breaks a trust with the reader. I care about that. I don’t want any readers of mine to ever be able to come to me and say I lied to them or deceived them about who I am.

I hold back a lot in my bios. That’s because I’m not willing to lie about who I am, but I’m also not willing to give everything about myself away to people I don’t know. Personas are a way of trying to have it both ways.

There are authors I’ve read and loved in the past that I don’t read anymore because of this kind of thing. I have no interest in supporting people who enjoy deceiving others or who are willing to deceive others because they think it gives them an edge in whatever market they’re in. The thing about those kind of people is that they don’t care. They’ll probably never care. But I don’t have to like or support them.

Marketing has a bad reputation because of people who’ll do anything to make a sale. In my mind, I have no doubt that authors who adopt actual personas with made up details about their lives are some of those people.

June 19–29 progress

Hey, maybe I’ve found a title format I like for these posts. :)

I feel like I’ve been stuck in a vat of Elmer’s glue. I have been making progress almost every day. I’ve had only two zero word days for the entire month of June. Those are the only two days I didn’t sit down to write.

That said, I have stalled out on the book. No doubt. I started chapter three four different times, then gutted it. Then I incorporated some of those words back into a different chapter three and pushed some more off to chapter four. Then I deleted those words. Now I’m looking at incorporating some of them into chapter four after all.

But I need a thorough read through today. I started doing one yesterday but got stuck on fixing the first scene of chapter one. Which I had honestly thought I was done with after the last time I revisited chapter one and gutted it then swapped out scenes one and two and found myself pretty pleased with how that went.

I again think I’m done with that first scene in chapter one. In fact, I’m happier than ever with it and hope it is actually better and not just imaginarily better.

(Imaginarily isn’t a word? I don’t believe it. Using imaginatively instead just doesn’t feel right. Moving on.)

The lack of actual progress has been frustrating though. My book’s word count hasn’t moved much at all in the last week. Friday the 22nd, I ended the day with a word count for my novel of 11,017 words. Today, I’m starting at 10,890 words.

Words written June 19–29: 2,692

My June-to-date word count: 11,034

I’d like to get to 15,000 words by the end of today but it’s going to take a whole lot of writing to get there. And I have to get out of whatever funk I’ve fallen into with this story.

June 16–18 progress

Here’s an update. These updates are one of the several ways I’m trying to stay accountable to the writing plan I’ve made for what’s left of 2018. (Especially important considering how I let the year start off.)

June 16: 715
June 17: 193
June 18: 259

The goal each day has been at least 2,000 words, but I’ve gotten bogged down in the current chapter I’m writing and having no luck writing my way out of it.

I started out this chapter in one way, then began again, and again, and again, but didn’t want to lose what I had. Big mistake. I’ve tried to stitch it all together, but that’s where I end up bogged down.

I don’t tend to think I write out of order, but I when I try to look at things objectively, I know that sometimes I do. This may be one of those times. It’s also possible I should have just deleted everything in the chapter and started completely fresh, but I didn’t think that was going to be necessary. I did end up deleting a lot, and rewriting a lot, and wishing I’d just deleted to start with, but missing every little bit I ended up losing. It’s still a bit of a mess, but I did manage to put all of it back together. I have some thoughts about things I missed that I need to fix, but I am hopeful I can get in there and do that without going off on a tangent again that changes everything that comes after (which is what tends to happen and is the cause of a lot of writing grief for me).

It may also be that I’m a little too worried about what I’m writing (perfectionism rearing its head). It’s hard to tell. I can’t seem to let go of the idea that things just aren’t right yet.

If I bog down again today, I’m going to have to lower my expectations for this story, because I want to finish this book within a six week period, and I’m already approaching the end of week four since I began working on this book in earnest.

You know what? I read back through that last paragraph and it’s obvious why I’m bogging down. I’ve put expectations on this story and I’m going to have to let them go, now, not later.

So there you are. This is where I am with the writing as of this morning. Hopefully, I’ll have better progress to report the next time I do a progress post. :-)

June 1–15 progress

Today I’m writing. I’ve written something every day for seventeen days now, in fact. Some days, of course, were longer than others when it comes to how much time I spent writing. On the whole, though, I’ve stuck to my 12–4 schedule and created a bit of a routine for myself.

The fact is, I need to start finishing books again. I’ve had way too much time off on the whole over the last couple of years and it’s time for me to start pushing myself again to do more.

I can’t really explain why I hit such a bump in my productivity. I have children, and they’re definitely in a transitional phase since they’re both in the 18-20 year old range now (and were in the 16-18 year old range when I started to fail a bit at keeping myself writing). Their transitional phase translates into a transitional phase for me, and I’ve just now accepted that despite the societal expectations I grew up with, my kids aren’t leaving home any time soon. So my own transitional phase isn’t quite the one I was expecting, and I need to find a way to work through it.

At this point, it’s like having adult roommates who don’t pay rent. I’m sure of only one thing: I don’t like it. On the other hand, I’m not exactly rushing to kick the kiddos out on their tushes. :D I do love them and want what’s best for them. Neither are in a position to take on the real world just yet, no matter how ready I am for them to do it.

Too bad, so sad for me. :D I will cope though, and I seem to be getting my writing mojo back. Not that I have any way of knowing for sure that their transition to adulthood has been my problem, but hey, I need a scapegoat and the kiddos make for a good one.

The biggest issue, really, has just been the changing routines. No school days to count on. College has different expectations for them and their schedules, and work too, for college students tend to have the kind of work that has variable schedules.

All this means that my schedule feels in limbo more often than not. But no more. That’s the reason I set my 12–4 schedule and why I’ve been sticking to it. I just really need some routine in my days. If I can hang to it for long enough, I’m hoping it will counteract all the unpredictability I’ve been dealing with for a few years now.

Now, on to the writing update.

June 1–15: 7,175 words.

Playlists help me focus when I’m writing

This is my current music playlist, using Amazon’s Prime Music (except for one song on there that I purchased from Amazon a while back).

I’ll probably end up purchasing several of these songs eventually.

My favorite find of the bunch is Best Shot by Jimmie Allen. Love it, really.

I never pick songs for their words when I set up these playlists, I pick for mood. And repeatability—because I put the playlist on repeat and keep it going until I’m either sick of it, or the book is done. :-)

I usually just plug my headphones into my computer and play through the browser at music.amazon.com. When I’m playing offline (my music only), I use Windows Media Player, because it’s easy. I like it best, but I do like to take advantage of Prime sometimes. And other times, I use my phone, but my playlists there have to be recreated because my phone uses Google Music as a player and it’s kind of awkward setting up my offline playlists.

I use the computer to play my music because it’s the easiest to start and stop and mess around with while I’m writing, and most often I purchase the songs that keep my attention, and then end up making my playlist offline so I can play music when I’m on battery and not waste the battery streaming over WIFI.

Music is an important part of how I do this writing thing. :-)

 

Not so bad? WTF

I was reading this blog post on book stuffing this morning (and it’s a good one) and came to the screenshots that included comments someone had made in the Chance Carter Diamond Group.

Mind blown.

Why? Because I don’t understand who would look at that list of instructions on how to do the KU Flip and actually think anyone is worth that kind of time investment.

I understand there are people out in the world who feel entitled to steal other people’s time while providing nothing of real value in return, just so they can make a few extra dollars off each one. I do.

But I don’t understand why people value themselves so little that they would actually let it happen. It’s worth it for a free book? A chance at a prize? You’ve got to be kidding me.

And then to think that this character—this person—is already making thousands every month and these readers are giving up time—something that you never, ever get back—to give this person another $12-15 for a KU read? Ugh. Fuck that.

Inherently selfish people have no trouble taking advantage of givers. These poor givers are giving and giving, and this dude is just taking and taking and taking.

The only way this makes sense to me is if it’s all just a big pyramid scheme and the used are hoping to become the users at some point and recoup their investment. But that’s not what I’m hearing. These are readers, who’ve been drawn in by this person’s persona, and who choose to let themselves be used in this way.

I’m sad that I don’t really believe in karma in this life. Maybe in the next.

The break is over

I’ve managed to sit down at my computer for 10 days in a row. My word counts aren’t anything to get excited about, other than in a general “whoa, I’m writing again” way, but I’m happy at this point to take what I can get. My net word count is 465 words.

I’ve had good days (638 words, 628 words) and bad days (-1117 words) but it’s a net positive, something I’m pretty happy about considering the effort I’ve had to put in to get this story moving.

Since I’m just getting started today, I expect my net word count for this 10 day period to rise. I finally settled on an opening for this story. It took 3 tries, but yesterday I went back to my original, shuffled the order of the two scenes I had, and voila! Things started to fall into place.

And that’s where things stand at the moment.

Time for me to go write. The break is over.

I scheduled writing time and finally got started writing again

After months of having trouble getting started writing again after finishing my last book, I went to bed one night with the plan to sit down the next day from 12–4 and write.

Nothing else had been working to get me started again and this really was a last ditch effort to just put in some time at the computer. I admit, the first day, I spent the majority of my time doing writing related things and very little writing. In fact, that’s still what’s happening after nearly two weeks, but I’ve maintained the schedule and have finally got an opening for my new book written and hope that I’m finally putting that terrible creative dry spell behind me.