Journaling my way to success?

I started an experiment four days ago on Friday (see the post).

Fri: 198 (deleted a chunk of words that knocked this down by about 300)
Sat: 2,088
Sun: 1,185
Mon: 1,544

I’ve had a few times where I just forgot to journal at my break but overall, it is keeping me focused. On the other hand, I admit, I went back to running my timer as I worked, not because I’m going to agonize over my words per hour numbers, but because I just feel less at loose ends when the timer is going. And it doesn’t hurt to look back at a less than stellar word count day and see that I put in a decent amount of effort so I shouldn’t be criticizing myself for it!

(Honestly, it’s the first step of reform for me. I have to quit being so hard on myself all the time. I’m not talking about what I expect from myself, because I think it’s good to push for more than my average as often as I can. I’m talking about how I talk and think about myself and my efforts. Talking down to myself is just not a viable long-term happiness strategy.)

Okay, okay, okay, enough of that

Thinking is not doing and doing is the only way to get words onto the page, so time to start writing.

Starting within the next five minutes, I’m going to write 1,557 words as fast as I possibly can and still have it be coherent. In fact, I’m practicing that kind of fast writing right here right now. I am trying not to stop and just let the words flow out of my brain as fast as my short little fingers can type them out.

We’ll see how well that translates to fiction here is just a few short minutes.

Time to go so I can make this happen. :D See you shortly. I think I’ll do 45 minute sessions. I have a scene in my head (that nap really helped!) and I need to get it out while it’s fresh.

Update #1

That’s didn’t work out the way I’d hoped. You know how your speed is your speed is your speed? I’ve got that going.

Last 13 days average WPH:

618
379
367
419
484
117
375
431
459
489
475
462
415 – Today’s, after one 45 minute session of writing

Update the end:

1,073 words and at midnight I just didn’t feel close enough to fudge it and keep going. This midnight cutoff is really helping me not go too far with staying up and sabotaging the next day’s writing, but I’m not doing a great job of seeing it as the limit it’s meant to be.

The sad part of this is that I spent nearly an hour with this story in the morning, bits and pieces floating in my head until I have what I think is a pretty good idea of what’s happening next (that doesn’t happen to me often) and I still bogged down in the writing.

I do think perfectionism is messing with my speed right now. I’m going to have to figure out how to get rid of it for at least a little while so I can get out of this slump!

And since I’m writing this a couple of days later, in fact, I can tell you I didn’t have any luck with it yesterday (the next day) either! I wrote 201 words. So two more days where I didn’t finish my minimum.

I really don’t want to do that again so morning writing is going to have to be a priority.

That experiment didn’t last long

I like writing posts here while I write. I don’t know if it helps keep me focused in on writing or not, but I like it. So I’ve decided to end this latest experiment of mine early. I’d rather write less fiction than have to restrain the exuberance I feel and ignore the compulsion to talk about it. :D So—I’m back!

I’ve done pretty well with my other big writing experiment though. The non-negotiable 1,557 words a day is working for me. It helps that it’s a number I can look at and imagine myself completing in a little over an hour. Now, I don’t usually complete that many words in an hour, not by far, which makes the whole thing funny in a sad sort of way, because it exemplifies my problem with grandiose thinking. BUT, I’ve finally found a way to make that work for me, it seems, because 1,557 words a day feels so easy when I think about doing it, that I don’t find myself hampered by resistance at all.

It’s kind of an amazing feeling, really.

I’ve already told everyone who’ll listen to me not to ever let me set a huge goal for myself again. :D

One reason I think this is different than previous attempts? I usually say one thing but mean another. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually accepted that maybe this is the upper limit for me and that it’s okay. I don’t have to write more than this because I can make a good living (barring catastrophe) and my books might come slower, but consistency will get me there much faster than my usual patterns.

In fact, 1,557 words a day is actually more than 2x my current all time daily average of 618 words. See what all that inconsistency has gotten me, chasing after ever growing goals I never seem able to reach? I can double the number of novels I put out in a year just by writing a small number of words every day.

I’ve known this for a long time, but I think, now, finally, I’m ready to embrace it.

Now, to figure out how to kill perfectionism once and for all…

Using the stopwatch instead of the timer—and epiphanies

So today I’m writing with my little timer software set to the stopwatch instead of the timer. I’ve started each session with the intention of writing until something distracts me. Surprisingly, my session lengths have been pretty regular.

This is an experiment, really, because I’ve tried straight-up timing my sessions before (versus using the timer to limit session length) and I didn’t have much luck with it. It was time to give it another try, and I’m pleased with how it’s working out.

Session 1

30 minutes. 384 words. 768 wph. I stopped because my phone dinged with a message in Hangouts.

Session 2

36 minutes. 214 words. 357 wph. Too much cycling and editing of session 1 words.

Session 3

25 minutes. 98 words. 235 wph. Way too much editing of the words from sessions 1 and 2.

Session 4

20 minutes. 106 words. 318 wph. I stopped because I’ve been drinking too much tea this morning and I had no choice. :D

Sessions 5–7

43 minutes. 399 words. 557 wph. Frustration with my plot stopped me this time. I had to have a break or I was going to break something. :D

35 minutes. 281 words. 489 wph. More plot frustrations!

16 minutes. 212 words. 795 wph. Stopped by the phone ding again.

I’ve reached my day’s minimum word count.

It should not have taken me all day to do 3.4 hours of writing, but it really did. I made a note of the start time in my journal, and it was 11:19 am. I ended session 7 at 6:52 pm. So for 3.4 hours of writing, I used about 7.5 hours of the day. I wrote out a (ridiculously) long summary of where my time went and it made me realize my expectations of how much actual, focused time I can get out of 7.5 hours in the middle of the day might be unrealistic.

Getting my expectations in line with reality might go a long way toward keeping me from coming up with ridiculous plans for myself that I have no hope of following through on. Grandiose plans, I think that book The 7 Secrets of the Prolific called them. (It was a good book, if you haven’t read it.)

Yes, I make grandiose plans. I use math to support those plans, and I never build in the time I need for writing these posts, making my notes by hand, or anything else that probably uses up significant chunks of untracked time.*

I’d like to come up with some ideas of how I can stop that from happening, but the only things coming to mind are things I’ve tried a thousand times before and found completely ineffective. And I’m not willing to make myself stop these posts. Although I should probably give some serious thought to trimming them down to basics. I ramble. A lot. And talk about stuff that doesn’t really matter. Mostly because I think better when I’m writing things out, and it’s also easier for me to remember things I’ve written out.

Anyway, I should end this post, because I’ve actually been at it since (*holy shit) 9:04 pm and it’s now 10:04. There you go, an answer to the question of what happens to all that time I lose during the day when I’m writing.

These posts really do use up significant chunks of time. This could explain why my best month ever of writing consistently was February 2013, where there’s a distinct lack of posts here on this blog (as in, none) because I wouldn’t let myself get online before I’d finished my day’s writing and by the time I was done, I just didn’t want to write anymore. (See this lone March 2013 post for February’s numbers. Ignore the rest of the post for the sake of my pride. :D)

Anyway, I now have more to think about than ever. It’s starting to look like the more I write here, the less I write there, and that’s not a good thing at all. In a sense, I’m using up my writing energy writing everything except my books.

I need new habits that prioritize my fiction writing. So tomorrow I’m going to start a little experiment. No more wordy blog posts for a while, and not even an unwordy one unless I’ve finished my day’s writing. I’ll give it a while (a week, maybe two) and see if it makes any difference, good or bad.

Session totals

  1. 384
  2. 214
  3. 98
  4. 106
  5. 399
  6. 281
  7. 212
  • 1,694 words
  • in 3.4 hours
  • for a pace of 498 wph

In fact, looking at this post now, it’s 724 words long! Seriously, ugh.

Adopting a new post style for session updates

I’ve decided to adopt a new post style for session updates, something I’ll (try to) use each day (that I feel compelled to write about my writing). :)

Sample

Session 1

I’ll write out any comments I have about the session.

I’ll mention my word count, my session length, and any other details I want to post.

Then at the end I’ll post a list of session word counts and my average wph (when I have it).

We’ll see how this works out. I’ve tried using tables and other formatting in the past, but sometimes it doesn’t paste well from Excel or I don’t have the numbers in excel and have to type them in.

Session totals

  1. 247 words
  2. 144 words
  3. 336 words
  4. some more words
  • 1,557 total words
  • in 3 hours
  • for a pace of 519 words per hour

I like it. I think I’ll give it a try. :D

F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit

I have no idea how to craft blog post titles, so for the foreseeable future I’m going to input whatever I happen to be thinking or whatever I see on my notebook beside me as my title. No one reads these things anyway, so yeah. I get to do what I want. :D

The titles I was using before sucked anyway. I’ve only rarely been able to go back and find something I wrote in a post based on my recollection of the title. I have a few posts that make sense, most are just notes about my writing progress for the day and random thoughts that collected and found their way out of my head and onto the page as I made those updates.

So why “F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit?”

Simple really. I installed Lubuntu on a slow netbook and an old Pentium D desktop formerly running Vista. Gotta stay on top of those security issues since everything I do to make a living is stored on my computers. Vista was alright as far as I’m concerned, but Windows has stopped supporting it with security updates so it was time to move on. The computer still has a lot of life left in it for the kind of use I give it, though, so I decided Lubuntu would be just the ticket after having installed it on the netbook. It’ll run Libre Office, which is relatively compatible with Word. It’ll also run Sigil, GIMP, Jutoh, Calibre, Firefox, Thunderbird, and VLC, so I saw no reason to go with a heftier install since I actually quite liked the Lubuntu interface. (More than quite liked, to be honest. I think it’s great.)

Of course, all that meant I needed to go into BIOS on the machine in question and update the boot order to get the new OS installed. Hence my note to myself on the tablet sitting beside me: F2 to BIOS: Save and Exit has Boot Override option.

The update went great. Both computers are running like new machines. Fast and responsive, and I’m really liking that. Next up: figure out how to get my new Lubuntu machines back on the network so I can make backups to them from my Windows 7 baby. :-)

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.

How I’m building my new pen name: Eighteen months (and two books) in

I have a pen name I’m hoping to build into a nice second earner. Some diversification if you want to call it that to keep me from relying on only one genre to keep me afloat and happy as a writer.

The only problem is that I’ve written so much slower than I had planned to write that the pen name has suffered—a lot.

My main focus has always been my main pen name, and I don’t ever see that changing. Those are the books I most want to write. I really want to write this pen name series too, but the drive just isn’t as strong as it is for some of my other series. And there’s the fact that the other series pay the bills, so I also have to take that into consideration.

Since I don’t do promotions* as a general rule, my promotion of choice has always been to write more books. It’s a great strategy if you have a series, and I have multiple series. Every time I release a new book in a series, I get sales of the previous books and some crossover sales of my other series too. So it works.

But you’ve got to release books!

I’ve released exactly two books for this pen name since I began this experiment back in June 2015. :o

I released book two a full year after book one. It looks like book three is going to be eight months behind book two. Releasing this slowly isn’t going to generate momentum. I know this, and my earnings for the series prove it.

On the other hand, I have earned some money on these two books even if it’s not a lot, and I’m quite happy about that. I do believe if I could speed up releases, the series might do all right in the long term.

So that’s something I’m hoping for in 2017. To write more of these books and see if it helps earnings. I love this series and I don’t want to have to ignore it just so I don’t go broke.

The details

I pulled the first book out of KDP select the moment I knew about when I’d be releasing the second book.

When I released the second book, it was DOA on Amazon. I was disappointed. I’d hoped for more.

Going wide with both books at once did generate some momentum on Apple and I sold a few copies there.

I really did intend to experiment with price on these books when I started this experiment but I just haven’t done it. I might still do it when I release book three.

The numbers

(I’ll have to consolidate all my reports of individual title sales into one, which I haven’t done yet, because it’s going to be so much work. I really never thought I’d need that much detail…)

*** I’m back! That took a long time! (Two entire days, to be exact.) I’m not breaking sales down by date, just by title, because anything more is just more trouble than it’s worth when working with so many different vendors.

*** In fact, adding up sales for the titles is more trouble than it’s worth—because I’m not really interested in those numbers even now that I’ve done it through the end of 2016. I don’t think I’ll update the spreadsheet going forward. I just don’t care about title sales. Nothing in the report surprised me. My brain has obviously been doing just fine consolidating the information I see in my sales reports and keeping me informed in a general sort of way about the profitability of my various series.

Sales of the pen name books for 2015 & 2016

Book One 984.29
Book Two 371.70
Series Total Earnings 1,355.98

There are a few numbers that aren’t in yet, but any changes to these numbers for the end part of 2016 will be minor.

As for expenses, all I have invested in these books are my time and skill, some stock art, and the domain fee for the pen name website.

Not sure I’ll bother with another update unless (until) the pen name takes off (a thought I haven’t given up on at all). I just need to write more to get there!

*I hate promoting. If it ever becomes 100% necessary to success, I guess my writing career is going to bite the dust, because I’m just not interested.

I have two writing streaks going!

Addendum to the aside about my writing streak: I have two writing streaks going now.

  1. >100 words a day for three days
  2. increasing words per day for three days

So—awesome?! start to the new year. ;) (Stop laughing! *evil glare*)

Not only that, but I don’t feel feverish today, don’t feel sick, and don’t feel all that tired either. So good health too.

I think I’m losing weight but since I’ve abandoned my scale (it’s in the closet) I can’t say for sure.

I’m pretty happy with abandoning all these metrics of success and failure and the goal setting stuff. I feel free.

I need, now, to translate that into more writing and some real weight loss. 2017 seems like just the year for it. :D

Happy new year, everyone!

Coming up next: a new year’s update on the progress I’ve had building a pen name. Spoiler! I should’ve just written more books for my main name.

New year, no plan

Today begins the new year. On the other hand, my plan hasn’t changed. In case I haven’t done a good enough job of laying out that plan, here it is again.

There is no plan.

Here’s what I wrote in one of the Google+ communities I’m in.

2016 words written: 220,071

Definitely want to see some improvement in 2017, but this is the year of no goals and no timers! I’m ready to fall in love with writing again.

I’m hopeful a little less focus on goals and a little more focus on just writing as much as I can will prove to be a winning combination.

In fact, I just told my daughter I’m making year 2017 the year I quit trying stuff I’ve already tried (goals, schedules, timers, sprints, etc). My word counts have actually gone down, not up, since I started in 2012 and I’m done with beating myself over the head with this stuff.

I think the best shot I have for writing lots and lots of words is making sure I’m having so much fun doing it that I can’t stop myself. :)

Truly, no joke, that is my plan. That’s this year’s big experiment. It came about because of yesterday’s thinking about goals, and how much they haven’t helped me progress as a writer.

Here’s to a happy 2017 and lots of words written. :)