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. ;)

No more coffee—a lifelong challenge to ditch coffee for good, forever

I’ve quit and restarted my coffee habit many times over the course of my life. It’s finally time for me to commit to making a lifelong change. I like coffee but the caffeine and even the coffee itself isn’t doing me any favors these days.

This post is my written commitment to ditch coffee for good—forever.

No more coffee.

I’ll check in on this once a week or so for a while, then once a month, then only if something changes.

As an aside, I’ve also committed to eliminating as many sweets from my diet as I can. I’ve been doing pretty good with that. I use the Android app Loop – Habit Tracker to keep up with my success rate, and it seems to help.

Sweets-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

I’m being pretty strict about what counts, so although I had only a few semi-sweet chocolate chips, they were enough to stop me from marking yesterday and the day before as sweet-free days. I think it’s best that way, because I don’t want half-measures to eventually derail my effort in this.

I already have a habit set up in the app for coffee-free days, but as you can see below, I haven’t made much effort at all up to this point to avoid coffee. That’s going to change going forward. :D

Coffee-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

 

An experiment and a challenge: 6,000 words today

I had a plan for today.

Aiming for 3, 7, 7, 3 x 21, 300 words every 21 m

Then I realized I was getting started much later than I needed to for my original plan to work the way I wanted. It’s 11:03 am.

I need a new plan.

I’m going to stick with the 4 blocks but swap up the number of sessions for each one.

5 1,500
5 1,500
5 1,500
5 1,500
 Aiming for: 6,000

This is both a challenge and an experiment. 21 minute sessions seem to be a good length for me and doing a few of them in a row doesn’t feel like a push I can’t handle. Doing four blocks of them might be, but I’m not going to know if I don’t try.  I really want to reach this 6,000 words in a day milestone.

In fact, it’s part of a bigger challenge I want to set to finish this book I’m working on in 9 days. Today is the test to see if I’m anywhere near ready to take on something like that.

I’d say I need to work up to it, but I binge write and take very long breaks between books, so it just isn’t realistic to expect me to work up to it by writing every day a little more than the day before. I’m ready to accept this about myself and try to make the most of my ability to dive into something wholeheartedly and become a little obsessed until I’m done. That’s my real strength and I’m ready to work with it instead of against it. :)

My next post will contain my updates on today’s challenge.

Taking a break from the big challenge

I’m just updating to mention that I’ve put the challenge to reach 6,000 words in a day on hold for a while. I might try it out on specific days, but as a daily thing, I’m putting the brakes on it. I need to concentrate on getting back into a daily writing habit and that takes a more relaxed attitude than I have when I’m chasing something like 6,000 words in a day. :)

Made it to the end with the web reading challenge

February has come and gone, and I’m pretty happy with how I did with my web reading challenge. I cut out a lot of infotainment reading for more than a month.

Here’s what I think I learned. It might not be what I actually learned, but I don’t have any real way to distinguish. ;)

I didn’t write more fiction.

I didn’t read more fiction.

Not being able to read anything I wanted frustrated me.

I enjoyed writing more without all the other writers’ voices in my head telling me how I should run my career.

I got up earlier some days, but some days it didn’t seem to make any difference at all. I just found other things to read in bed.

I realized I mostly did the clicking and refreshing when I needed a break anyway. I didn’t concentrate better, or make better use of my time.

Habits take a ridiculously long time to break and if I want to break them I’m going to have to find an alternative behavior to cultivate into a habit instead of just trying to stop doing something.

That’s it, really. I don’t think it benefited me in the way I had hoped.

So come March 1, I ended the restrictions and I still managed to finish the work I needed to finish just fine. Some of it took a lot longer than I planned but clicking and refreshing articles, forums, blogs, and news sources had nothing to do with it at all.

In fact, I haven’t noticed anything different at all since I ended the restrictions, except a marked lowering of my frustration levels. (I was getting pretty frustrated there in the last few weeks of February.) Part of me wonders if this mindless reading is a coping mechanism for me, when stress starts to get to me. Possible, I think.

Here’s one other thing I learned but only after I let myself go back to clicking and refreshing: if I’m in a working mood, the clicking and refreshing stops. What this all means is that the clicking and refreshing is a symptom of whatever it is causing me not to want to write, not the cause.

That’s something worth knowing. :)

Anyway, consider this challenge done. It was a success, but not in the way I hoped.