Facing resistance and adjusting the plan

You know how you make a plan and then immediately feel resistant to actually following through? Yes, well, that’s been happening to me.

So instead of letting myself get too far down that hole, I’ve decided to make a few adjustments to the plan.

I wrote a long post about this and then decided to cut most of it. Suffice to say, I’ve decided I might be better served to have a minimum daily plan that is, to be honest, a little more minimum.

That’d be 1,557 words, every day. Yes. I know some days life will interfere. I still want to write 1,557 words every day, even if I have to switch projects to get them done, or write something quick and ugly just before bed to do it.

I can do this in 3 hours or less most days (based on the fact that my real, I’ve-tracked-it average is about 550 words an hour). It might take longer some days but I’m confident in these numbers—they’re real, they aren’t overly optimistic, and this can be done.

It’s really all about training myself to write every day, because I am not good with habits once I start letting them slip. Seriously, it’s the way I’m wired or something but there ain’t a lot of middle ground with me. The only habits that stick are the ones that I make non-negotiable.

Not gonna lie. This is going to be hard as hell to get embedded in my brain: writing daily is non-negotiable. 1,557 words a day is non-negotiable.

All I have to do is show up and stay the course.

I think the thing I’ll have to remember is that if the writing is going badly, I’m going to have to write shit and just accept that. Some shit is better than no shit, right? :P

Now that I’ve thought this all out, I’m ready to get started with this TODAY. :D I have 412 words written and I need to write another 1,145 words.

I like this more reasonable plan. It’s one I can start working on late in the day and still expect to get done. Here’s hoping that will stop the excuses!

(Have I mentioned that a lot of these posts are totally me just writing out my thoughts and trying to make sense of them? Because, yes, that’s what I’ve just done.)

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.)

You think you got this and then you don’t do the work

That title there? Basically the exact thing that’s happened today. I was sure I was on track after having two successful days of writing—successful in that I sat myself down and managed to write for four complete hours each day, even if it took me much longer than I’d have liked. But then today came and I let myself slip up.

I’ve done four sessions of the twelve I need to do to reach that same four hour goal and it’s already 7:45 pm.

To finish my 8 remaining sessions by a reasonable hour (say, 11 pm) I’ll need to do as many of the remaining sessions back-to-back as I can, and that’s just the truth. Because here’s the thing. I am accountable to me and I’m not going to let myself get away with not doing the work.

Not today. Not tomorrow. Not anytime soon.

I’ve said it before: To be the kind of writer I want to be, I need to change.

Missing a goal once in a while is no big deal and doesn’t feel anything like failure. Missing a goal every single time is not a good thing. There are repercussions to that kind of repetitive failure. I’m done with that. I just can’t be that person, that kind of writer, any longer.

If I miss today’s goal, it will be a 1:3 failure rate. That’s no longer good enough for me. I’ve set my boundaries and 1:3 ain’t it.

But I’m lucky, because this day isn’t over and there’s no reason to accept failure.

Getting back on track is as easy as saying it’s time to start writing again.

(I originally started a new post for today’s session log but I changed my mind and I’ve moved it here instead.)

Daily Accountability

Session 1: 307 words
Session 2: 217 words
Session 3: 48 words
Session 4: 20 words

Sessions are 20 minutes long and my goal for each is 250 words. Not there yet. Working on it. :)

Next day update: Well, shit. I didn’t do any more sessions. I had good reasons, but if I’d done my writing early like I should’ve done, this would not have happened.

A plan for the future

I’m tired of lowercase titles. And yet, I continue to use them. :)

Today I have a plan.

20 minute blocks x 12 of them @ ~750 words an hour = 3,000 words

Yep. That’s my plan.

In fact, it’s my plan for every day for the indefinite future. I’ve been giving some thought to the need for change and some direction for the rest of my year. Those thoughts led me to realize I need to expect more from myself; it’s the only way to grow. I don’t want to be stagnant. A moribund life is not the life I want, despite the fact that my brain is all about strolling down easy street.

I made a note to myself last night. It’s important.

Write for fun! Do more than that though. Make time for other stuff. Don’t drag it out.

I need to write with focus. I need to focus on writing. I need to meet my goals early so I can do other things. Then as a reward, if I want, I can write more later. But always, I need to remember that the only way to meet my goals is to actually prioritize writing and do it first. I get to do it first and save all the stuff in my life that I don’t really want to do for later.

What I’ve typically done, though, is dawdle until I feel pressured to do these other things at the expense of what little time I’ve left myself for writing, because there are immediate consequences if I don’t. (Bills! Dishes! Laundry! Talking to relatives and friends! All of these have consequences for me that I’m not willing to accept if I don’t do them.)

I’ve always felt as if writing daily is a priority, and therefore I feel all the guilt one feels when one doesn’t do that important thing one should have done, but when it comes down to it, I haven’t treated it that way at all.

That’s the big thing I need to change about myself. That’s what I’m going to be focused on changing.

Write in the morning

Reach my word count goal

Or at least do the number of sessions I’ve decided I should be doing at a minimum each day

Then worry about the rest of life and whatever I want to do with my time after that, even if it’s just more writing

Simple. :D

And that answers that question about my paperback covers at CreateSpace

Got this just a short while ago:

Congratulations!

Your interior and cover files for xxxxxxxxxxxxx, #xxxxxxxx meet our technical requirements for printing.

The next step in the publishing process is to proof your book:

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO GET STARTED:

Which I assume means the embedded fonts in the paperback cover are A-okay.  There was no additional message about corrections made for me, on my behalf, or anything like that, so this answers the question of whether or not the PDF cover files would be accepted by CreateSpace with fonts embedded instead of being flattened into the image. Should’ve guessed, really, but I just wasn’t sure.

I’ll be ordering a proof to check this out and compare the quality of print to the covers I didn’t embed fonts for (sending only a flattened image PDF to CreateSpace), and scouring over the digital proof from CreateSpace. If the quality of the text appears better, I’ll definitely be doing this extra step from now on. If it isn’t any better, then I’ll just use GIMP, and only add Elements into the mix when I need to use a font that brings out that unfortunate GIMP text rendering (?) bug.

Also, I discovered something with this round of paperback creation. I’ve consistently had a problem with my PDF cover as exported from GIMP having a transparency that CreateSpace fixes for me. I’ve not had that problem this time. The difference? This time when GIMP popped up the little message during the PDF export, I unchecked all the little boxes for things GIMP was offering to do for me during the export. And now, no transparency warnings from CreateSpace for the three covers I exported directly to PDF from GIMP. Pretty happy to have figured that out. I was exporting a completely flattened image to PDF so there shouldn’t have ever been any transparency anyway, but obviously something GIMP was doing during the export on my behalf was creating it.

New text justification bug in GIMP is bugging me

I think I’ve found a bug in GIMP’s text justification feature. I thought about reporting the bug, but I do not have an account and don’t want an account and don’t have a spare email address where I’d enjoy getting spammed even if I did. The create a new account page warns of that possibility and I chose to take that warning seriously. (Updates below.)

So I’m just putting it out here because I’m frustrated. I spent all day yesterday trying to fix an issue with an installed font that I used for a book cover that turns out isn’t usable in Word for my title page headings because of some bug. If I’d known at the time, I’d have never used the font in GIMP for the book cover.

Lesson learned: when using a new font I haven’t used in Word before, test it in Word. Save the file. Reopen. Is the font still there? If it isn’t, delete the font, because I don’t want to run into this problem again.

I’ve been buying more font licenses lately,  but I still have a pretty big selection of fonts from fontsquirrel and Google fonts on my system that had the right kind of licenses for what I do and I guess I should have expected to run into a problem like this eventually, but I didn’t. I honestly thought fonts just worked or they didn’t. I didn’t realize they could actually be buggy with only certain software. :o

But back to the GIMP bug. Here’s what’s happened. (Update: Definitely a bug. I’ve figured out why it’s happening and I am sure it’s a bug.)

Yesterday I noticed that some of my back cover copy was getting cut off on the right side when I justified the text. I scaled it down a bit from 12 pt to 11.7 pt and it fixed it. This was with Adobe Garamond Pro. Today I have a different book cover in the works and I’m using Adobe Caslon Pro. I tried the same trick when I noticed it was also getting cut off on the right side but scaling it down hasn’t worked to fix this one. I’ve tried every pixel/point size I can in the range I’d be comfortable having this text and it just won’t stop cutting off the very right edge of the fonts.

It’s very frustrating! I definitely haven’t noticed this previously and I updated a few weeks ago to the 2.8.20 version of GIMP. I’d go back to the older version but I truly don’t know if it would fix it, because I’m so behind on putting out my paperback books and I haven’t created one in more than a year until I started doing these.

I don’t know what version of GIMP this issue started in or if it’s been there all along and I just didn’t notice because I wasn’t using these fonts. :(

Maybe I should be doing my paperback covers in Scribus or Inkscape but I do a lot of tweaking of stuff and I don’t want to learn another program with a steep learning curve.

So I guess I’m going to be using a different font for this book cover’s back cover copy.

UGH!

FYI: I’d still recommend GIMP but this kind of thing does make me rethink whether or not it’s worth it to keep putting off converting to Photoshop. I just HATE subscription services. I’ll almost certainly deal and just find a way to work around this problem, but I have to ask myself why I’m being so damn stubborn about it. I do not know.

Update: I figured out why GIMP is cutting off a bit of the right edge of the fonts. It has to do with fonts that have edges that are supposed to fall outside of the margin, in the same way some punctuation is supposed to fall outside of the margins. For example, in my specific case for this text block I was trying to use, the first letter of the paragraph is a “J”. The scoop that makes the bottom of the letter should hang over the edge just a teeny tiny bit (it does in Word and in Scribus and in Photoshop elements. It doesn’t in GIMP. In GIMP, that little effect causes the entire block of text to shift a minute amount to the right, making all the edges of those final letters susceptible to being trimmed by that same minute amount because they’re falling outside the bounds of the text box. And because this is happening no matter the size of the text or the text box, there’s no way to counter it, other than using a different font.

For me, what it meant was that I created my cover in GIMP as usual, saved as a tiff file, opened it in Photoshop Elements 14 (which I had honestly nearly forgotten I had), and added the text for the back cover there. Saved as a PDF, and realized at that point that Elements saves the text as embedded instead of flattened, and decided I’d try that out.

(Scribus did the same. I did get it to work, finally, but it was a PITA, and I don’t like using it. That was when I remembered I had bought Elements last year when it was on sale and that it was on my computer, ready to be used if I wanted to.)

If embedding the fonts produces crisper text on the cover, I might do all future books this way even though it adds another program/step to my workflow.

On the other hand, I don’t know if Createspace will even accept this, because I’ve never submitted a completely non-flattened PDF before. I flatten everything in GIMP, text and all.

But the reason I decided to give this a shot was because I read a paragraph of a page today on the Createspace website that says to make sure your fonts are embedded in the pdf file for the cover. So obviously it’s an expected thing, right?

We shall see.

Nope, one more day

I got up too early this morning and I don’t want to write. I want to finish the project I sort of started yesterday but bailed on because it felt too damn tedious to continue. :D

Today I’m feeling much more up to finishing it, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Paperbacks, here I come.

I had planned to reduce the font size on my future paperbacks to 11.5 pt to make them less expensive, but I’m just not feeling it. I really think I’ll stick with the 12 pt. I like the 12 pt and I can’t imagine a reduced price of $1 is enough to make that much of a difference in sales.

I’d have to make some drastic adjustments to margins, leading, and font size to reduce the price more than that, or move to the larger 5.5 x 8.5 trim size, and I don’t like those ideas at all. In fact, I considered it a while back and decided I just didn’t want to change trim size. My pen name book has a 5.5 x 8.5 paperback that’s priced $3 less than my average for the books under my main pen name, and sales of it haven’t been notable at all.

The thing is, the paperbacks are a different market, but POD doesn’t compete well in that market anyway. So they’re mostly for people who like the books and want paper copies. Agonizing over formatting to get the lowest price at the sacrifice of what I want my books to look like just doesn’t feel like a good use of my time. :)

So I’m moving on, using the fonts, margins, leading, and trim sizes I like best, and not worrying about the price. Heck, half the time, Amazon reduces the price anyway. :D

Challenge day five (a renewed focus)

I need to make this quick, so I’ve let myself have WiFi on my computer for this one post. Nothing else.

I’ve looked at my previous day’s efforts and concluded that for me to meet this challenge today I really need to pass 2,000 words before I stop for lunch, if not sooner, so that will be my morning’s priority.

I think I’ve given the writing too much focus and the challenge not enough and I’ll try to shift that around today. What I mean by that is that I’m too focused on the writing and making it “right” instead of trusting my gut with this story. (I have yet to decide if my gut is trustworthy, but for me to meet this challenge, I have to assume it is.) If I focus on the challenge and what I need to do to meet it, I can leave my subconscious unobstructed and free to work the story while my active brain fritters away the time worrying about words per hour and other numerical calculations.

So that’s the plan that aims to make today different than yesterday and it’s why I believe I have a chance of succeeding at this today. :)

Yesterday I had several instances where I forgot to start or restart my time tracker app, and that, too, I think make it easy to stop what I was doing (because it wasn’t recording anyway, right?) and interrupt myself with distractions that stole time from me and ruined my flow.

Seriously, I’m a huge fan of Gleeo, but I’ve always managed to make the whole thing much too granular and burdensome and every time I quit using it before I’ve really had a chance to collect enough data to be useful. This time, I set up one Domain for one Project with only one Task and it’s working great and giving me just the information I want.

(Writing→Fiction→Writing)

It’s repetitious, but it gets the job done and doesn’t distract me with minutia. ;) Today will be day five with it, and I don’t see a need to stop using it into the foreseeable future.

I’ve had cereal, have water beside me, and I’m ready to start. It’s 8:20 am.

Challenge morning three

I’m just going to keep trying until I get there. Yesterday I fell far short of 6,000 words, so here I go again. (A phrase that totally just played through my head with music.)

I’ve had breakfast and I have my hot honey lemon water beside me and my WiFi off.

Estimated time to completion is again 10 hours. The last two days I’ve clocked in at just under 7 and enjoyed most of them so I can do this!

Also, it became very clear to me this morning why I’ve been writing so slowly but I’ll have to explain that later. Typing on my phone is much too slow.

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.