Won’t let a late start slow me down: I’m going to write 3,000 words today

Caveat: I’m trying to finish a book, so if I finish it before I reach 3,000 words today, I’m calling it a win, full stop. :D

I meant to start writing much earlier today. I’m very happy with my progress now that I’ve gotten into a groove with the 500 words a day challenge (let’s just call it that for ease of reference), but I have goals and that 500 words a day isn’t a goal. It’s a daily minimum requirement. Not the same thing at all.

Because I want to finish this book ASAP and move on to something new, I’m planning to write 3,000 words tonight, despite the fact that I’ve put off starting until now, at 4:50 p.m.

:-D

I went into this whose spiel about how I was going to do this, but axed it.

It doesn’t matter how I think I’m going to do this. I’m just going to start writing and do it.

I’ll be back later to post updates, because I love posting updates. :)


Updates

#1 – Not going well. My word counts are terrible because I’ve spent most of my time rethinking/rewriting/redrafting the scene I should have finished already. It’s kicking my butt.

#2 – Well, I’m up to 332 words. I stopped counting the time and I’ve just been writing, trying to get this pain in the butt scene right.

Final – I made it to 503 but it was hard! I deleted so much stuff that I had to write a lot more than 503 just to get there. But I did. :-)

Now, to stop this rewriting bullshit and get this book done tomorrow…

A little motivation to finish early

Earlier, I said I was hoping to write 3000 words tonight. That still stands. But I’m setting a deadline to finish this by 9 p.m. I’ve stayed up too late too many nights in a row (and can’t sleep late to save my life) and I need a good night’s sleep tonight.

As long as I make an effort, when 9 p.m. comes, I’m going to stop and spend the hour before bed relaxing instead of trying to keep myself awake to write.

I definitely need an early night tonight. :-) It should be a nice little reward for a productive evening. (And I will not let myself watch hours of TV the way I did a few nights ago! Maybe a simple one hour documentary on something I can use in one of my stories.)

Anyway, I’ll track my progress here, so I can have some accountability as tonight’s deadline approaches.


Progress reports

7:34 p.m.

I’ve done four 15 minute sessions and have added 469 words to my story. Wish it were more but overall I’m pleased with my progress.

8:19 p.m.

Did some chatting with family on Hangouts and now I’m staring at the time wondering how I’m going to find the energy to write from now until 9 and knowing I can’t just give up yet. I’m not at 500 words yet and I really wanted to get a lot closer to 3,000 than this tonight.

Alrighty. Time to regroup. I’m just going to take a quick break and then write until 9 with the timer timing me instead of counting down. I’ll be back at 9 for a final report.


I reached 505 words by 9:08 p.m. and called it a night.

Focus on action and small wins; a new daily minimum

Today I’m starting work on my book much later than I planned. Mostly because I’ve spent too much of the day thinking about a decision I made a couple days ago and trying to decide if it’s the right one. I’ve finally decided it is.

Tuesday, I decided to lower my minimum word count for a day to 500 words. That was a good call, I think. My average daily word count is 614 words. Since I have a complete record of every day’s word count since mid-2012, this isn’t a guess. This is my actual daily word count average for more than 5 years of writing.

That said, just because I’ve averaged 614 words a day for 5 years doesn’t mean 500 words a day should be a no-problem, no-trouble, easy daily goal for me. Averages are just that: averages. And averages never tell the whole story.

Consistent daily writing is still a major problem for me. I do not do well with long term daily writing. My longest streak to date is 122 days and I had to count many days of less than 100 words to even get that.

Writing 500 words a day, every day, will be a considerable challenge. But I don’t think I can go any lower than that, just because it doesn’t feel reasonable and it doesn’t feel like a challenge. It feels like giving up.

Daily, it’s only a small win, but 500 words a day will get me a book of average size (50,000 words) in 100 days. Meaning even if I totally fail at all else and ONLY write the 500 words a day every day and never one word more, I’ll write more words in the next 12 months than I wrote in the last two years combined by a little more than 40,000 words.

That’s a win, no matter how I look at it.

And my hope is, as always, that this small win will drive me to write more and reach some of the bigger goals I have.

Every time I write more than 500 words a day, it’s going to push my average up, and I’m going to get that much closer to my long-term goal of being a prolific writer. I can’t ask for much more than that considering where I’m starting from.

But I have to start somewhere and becoming a consistent daily writer is where I’m choosing to start.

The fact is, a small win is better than no win, and I have to start focusing on action if I want to change.

This isn’t just a post about intentions; this is a post of action! I made this minimum word count change two days ago on Tuesday. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, I successfully met this challenge with 517 words and 533 words, respectively.

Yay! I have a new writing streak going. :-)

Now, it’s time to go write and keep this thing alive.

Update: Yep, I did it. 520 words for the day.

A new goal for 2017: turn my worst year into my best year

The end of the year is approaching and I’ve decided to pursue a goal. My goal is to make this year—on track to be my worst year of production since I began tracking—into my best year, by 10,000 words.

The math.

Best year 268,191
This year 104,676
Difference + 10,000 words 173,515
Words to write every day to get there 2,169

It is without a doubt beyond my current skill level to write 2,169 words every day. On the other hand, it’s a short-term goal, because this is mid-October and this will all be over on December 31. So it’s possible I could average a high enough word count to do this.

Since it’s possible, I’m going to try.

The fact is, I believe I can do it. The problem is, I haven’t ever done it before. But—and there is a but!—I have record of the following numbers.

February 2003: I averaged 1,836 words a day for the month.

November 2015: I averaged 1,761 words a day for the month.

April 2016: I averaged 1,908 words a day for the month.

To make this year my best year by 10,000 words, I only need to average 2,169 words a day for 81 days. Then I can flake out and go back to 500 word days and it won’t matter at all for this particular goal.

Writing 2,169 words a day isn’t something I’m going to stew over every day since I’m already trying to write 3,000 words a day. My daily minimum remains 1,000 words. But now I have something to explain my desire to write more each day and that’s going to be helpful when my contrary self rears up and demands to know why I’m pushing myself so hard to write more.

There you go contrary-self. I have reasons. :-)

How fast can I reach 1,557 words today?

My first goal for today is 1,557 words (which is my normal daily goal). Let’s see how fast I can reach it.

Fast? Maybe not. But…

Progress—

10:51 am: 13 minutes, 87 words.

11:35 am: 30 minutes, 214 words.

12:25 pm: 29 minutes, 175 words.

2:34 pm: 7 minutes, 78 words.

3:28 pm: 11 minutes, 127 words.

Too many interruptions today, but that should be behind me now. Let’s see if I can stay focused on writing the rest of the day.

Total so far is 1.5 hours exactly and 681 words written.

5:30 pm: 44 minutes, 351 words.

8:22 pm: 44 minutes, 320 words.

9:04 pm: 13 minutes, 180 words.

I’m running out of steam! Total so far is 1,532 words. I’m so close to my daily minimum that I have to finish it. But somehow it’s become 11:22 pm and I haven’t gotten back to my writing yet. And I can’t quit yawning.

12:22 am: 22 minutes, 115 words.

Final tally: 1,647 words and 3.55 hours of writing.

A challenge for this second day of August to perk me up

Since I did so poorly yesterday, only 123 words and 15 minutes!, I’ve decided a challenge might perk me up today.

It’s a simple challenge. Finish my 1,557 word minimum before I stop for lunch. :) I’ve finished breakfast and there’s nothing standing between me and lunch but time to fill. :D

I’m going to fill it with writing.

I’m just going to do 50 minute sessions until I get there.

Updates will follow below. :)


Well! That was unexpected.

I got in one 50 minute session then had to run off to a dentist appointment I’d forgotten about! So that blew this challenge. I was gone nearly 4 hours. I’ve found it difficult to get started again, mostly because it’s now so late in the day. Maybe I’ll try later, but at the moment, I’m thinking of taking the rest of the day off. There’s a movie I want to watch and I don’t like the idea of making up work time in the little bit of leisure time I’ve planned for myself in a while.

Big plans for today

Okay, I haven’t taken the opportunity to push for a record day in a while, so I want to do that today. It’s a perfect day for it. The house is empty and I have no one here to distract me, only myself (who is, let’s be honest, the biggest problem), but I’m going to overcome that by turning off WIFI for at least a few hours.

My best word count for one day is 5,816. So today I’m going to take aim at 6,000 again and see if I can get there.

My plan is simple if tough, because I don’t focus well for long periods of time.

I’m going to do 45 minute sessions and I’m hoping for an average of 800 wph for each of them. I know! My average on this book hasn’t been anywhere near that, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. And I have done 800 wph plenty of times (just not many lately) so I know it’s not out of my range.

After 2 sessions, I’ll evaluate whether or not I’m going forward with this plan today. I’m not going to set myself up for a frustrating day of failure, so at that point I might scale it back if things look dire. I’ll know within a couple of sessions if I’m able to write fast enough today to make this possible.

Now, off for breakfast, so I can get started with this as soon as possible. I’ve somehow managed to spend all morning doing spreadsheet calculations and thought experiments. Time for some action!

Practicing writing faster in 40 minute intervals

*And was derailed by a kid emergency. I’ll have to save this one for tomorrow. Ugh! Nothing serious though. Well, nothing serious for ME. Kiddo sure thinks differently. :)*

Tonight I’m working in 40 minute sessions. I have quite a bit of writing I wanted to do today and somehow I put it off until now. I’ve completed three of what I wanted to be nine sessions today. Nine was a stretch I could have hit but definitely won’t after starting this late.

I’ll be lucky to finish six now. Probably won’t, to be honest, because staying up late and messing up my sleep rhythms again would be dumb.

I’d rather not do dumb things. :)

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about me trying to practice writing faster. First thing I need to do is write more and stop less.

Currently, I stop, backup, and start over A LOT. I need to stop that. Or at least cut back on it significantly.

So I’m going to try to write as constantly as I can during this next session (which is probably going to be my last of the night) and see where that gets me. It’ll be a challenge to be sure.

Here’s wishing myself success! You can wish me success too, if you’d like. I need all the encouragement I can get. ;)

(You’ll notice I’m specifically not saying “luck” up there. Time to stop cultivating that mindset, I think! There’s a post in that explanation but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.)

Training myself to write faster—step 1

Here’s the thing: I write fiction pretty damn slowly. My average pace is about 500 words per hour and it seems to be getting worse. You’d think after nearly 20 books that I’d be getting faster, not slower, but that’s not what seems to be happening.

Now maybe it’s just this one book. Maybe it’s just the last few stories I’ve chosen to write. But I don’t think so. These stories haven’t been the kind of stories that push me into new places as a writer. So the only thing I’m left with is the worry that perfectionism has gotten hold of me again, and that I’m having trouble recognizing it in the moment.

I came across an article today that expressed really well how I’ve been feeling: Write FAST and Furious! Learning to Outrun “The Spock Brain”.

What I particularly liked about the article was that it helped me see that I’ve started holding back in my story. I’ve kind of felt it a few times in this book and another that I worked on a few weeks ago, but I thought, nah, I’m just having second thoughts…

But truly, it isn’t second thoughts so much as fear. Honest to God, flat-out fear that a particular angle I’d taken on something in the book might offend someone.

I really need to think about that for a while, because that’s not the kind of writer I want to be and I’ve always told myself I don’t let other people in my head when I write. Turns out it might not be true.

Here’s the quote that gave me this realization:

Many writers hold back emotionally when writing. Why? They aren’t going fast and hard and so Spock takes over and he wants us to use a seatbelt and our blinkers. He isn’t the guy you want in charge if you’re going for the GUTS and breaking bones.

And another:

Spock Brain is a perfectionist and wants us to take our time, make sure we follow all the rules and put the commas in the right spot. He’s seriously uncomfortable with “suspending disbelief” and he tries to explain everything so others don’t get confused.

It probably helped enormously that I’m a die-hard Star Trek fan, and I’m particularly obsessed with ST:AOS and ST:TOS right now. So this article kind of hit me at the right time with the right message using the right metaphor. ;)

However or whyever—that article gave me something to mull over.

And that brings me to this: I’m going to start trying to train myself to write faster.

Step 1: Accept that I want to write faster and believe that it’s possible.

I know I can write faster if I just let myself.

It’s time to put Spock to bed for a while. I’ll just put Bones in there to keep him company while I use Kirk to get this book of mine moving again. ;)