Had a plan; how about this summary instead?

On Tuesday the 11th, I decided to set a daily minimum word count and start writing 1,557 words every day. I began following that rule on the 12th. Overall, this is one experiment that seems to be working out well.

Here are my word counts for the last 7 days, beginning with July 12.


That’s an 80% completion rate, which is pretty damn good in my book.

The reason for today’s title is this: today’s word count sits at 402 words and it’s 10:15 pm. I had a plan for today, but I didn’t follow through. I don’t have a good reason for that, but I’m sitting here thinking I might still have time to finish today’s minimum word count if I start now. In truth, this is probably a perfect example of the thinking I talked about in yesterday’s morning post.

But I really think I could possibly still make it. So of course I’m going to have to try now or I’ll regret it. And if I don’t, well, at least I can be somewhat certain I’ll end up with more words than I started with.

Doing 15 minute sessions back-to-back

Today’s plan is to do 15 minute sessions back-to-back and only take a break when I have to. Knowing me, I’ll probably have to much too often, but at least now that I’m writing in the dining room again, I seem to be able to get back to it pretty quickly when no one else is around (and no one else is around today). :D

I’m thinking 12 sessions would be a good number, since that’d put me at 3 hours, which is probably what I’ll need to get my 1,557 words today, because I’ve needed at least that long the last 4 days. So onward! I’ll update this post as I go. :D

I ended up with just over 1600 words for the day, although I can’t say exactly how many because I’m writing this update on my phone from my bed. :D I forgot to update last night and wanted to do it before I got busy with today’s writing. The exact number doesn’t matter anyway. It was another win and it feels fantastic. ;)

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.

Maybe I can get into flow and stay there

The title was a note to myself from my notebook about trying 60 minute sessions (yesterday). :)

Session 1

I wrote 535 words, which means I’m on track to finish today’s minimum word count in less than 3 hours of timed writing. Yay! I have 1,022 words to go. :)

Session 2

I wrote 380 words, bringing my pace down to 458 words an hour. :(

Also, I am not loving these 60 minute sessions. I thought I’d give them another shot today, but I’m done. The next session will not be 60 minutes. They’re just not working for me and I don’t want to sabotage the rest of the night’s writing. (Because, yes, somehow it became 6:49 pm while I wasn’t looking.)

I have 642 words left to write and it’ll take an estimated 1.40 hours to do it.

Session 3

Despite saying otherwise, this session was 60 minutes long. I wrote even fewer words this time than last—only 313 words.

I moved to the living room and did them on the couch, and although it’s helping me relax more, it’s not helping my writing! I just can’t get comfortable today for writing. {ugghhhh}

A lot of my problem is caused by a side-effect of that home maintenance project I did on Monday and Tuesday. I am terribly allergic to mosquito bites. And I have what feels like a bazillion of them, courtesy of that stupid project. And the itching is driving me up the wall. Feels like I’ve been in contact with poison ivy! If I’d thought for a moment mosquitoes were going to be a problem I’d have hosed myself down in insect repellent but it never even occurred to me to worry about mosquitoes.

Anyway, better get busy with those last 329 words I need. It’s 10:29 and I’ve committed to ending my writing days at the stroke of midnight. I might sometimes keep writing, but anything after 12:00 pm sharp will not go into the previous day’s count.

If I want to reach my minimum for today, I only have 1.5 hours to do it.

Sessions 4–6

I finally abandoned the 60 minute sessions. These sessions were 20, 20, and 13 minutes long. I wrote 400 words exactly for a total of 1,628 words today.

Which, whew, because I really wanted to finish my minimum word count for the day. :D

Session totals

  1. 535
  2. 380
  3. 313
  4. 67
  5. 217
  6. 116

Sessions 1–3 were 60 minutes, and sessions 4–5 were 20 minutes, while session 6 was 13 minutes.

  • 1,628 total words
  • in 3.883 hours
  • for a pace of 419 words per hour

The hell if I know why that number of hours took me all day, but that’s pretty much how it is the majority of the time, so I guess I should quit being surprised by this.

See you back here tomorrow.

“What’s this?”

Today’s title is brought to you by my journal and is nothing more than a note to myself of a line of dialogue so I’ll remember to add in something important that I appear to have forgotten about in yesterday’s work. :D

Session 1

So today I’m trying longer sessions. I’m in a position here in the dining room that makes it more likely they’ll work for me. I’m doing 60 minutes at a time, and I’m a little disappointed at my first session results of 327 words.

The low count could have been because of the scene I’m working through, or it could be that I end up slowing down with longer sessions. I don’t know. I felt like my mind wasn’t wandering, and that the writing sped up and slowed down in normal patterns, so who knows what it was. I’m going to let it ride for the moment.

I have 1,230 words left to write, and my spreadsheet says I’ll have to write for 3.76 more hours to do it at my current pace. (327 words an hour isn’t very fast!)

Session 2

I wrote 462 words in 60 minutes, bringing my pace up to 395 words an hour. So I’m still seriously under-performing, but maybe it’s just because I’ve been away from writing for so long.

It’s also much later in the day at this point than I wanted it to be. However, my spreadsheet now says I need only 1.95 more hours of writing to reach 1,557 words today and I know I can do that.

In the 117 days prior to the restart of this book, I wrote only 2,115 words of fiction in total. That’s almost 4 months of nada. It makes sense that I need to get myself back up to speed.

Anyway, back to it. I have 768 words left to write and after a break I’m going to do my damnedest to write them all in the next session!

Session 3

Well, this sucks. I’m exhausted (and in pain) from the project I started during my break between sessions. I wrote 146 words in 33 minutes, realized it was after midnight, and decided to call it.

I would’ve had time to finish this if that project hadn’t taken 3 hours instead of the 30 minutes I estimated (moving furniture, a computer, etc). Then I had to help out one of my kids with something and listen to said kid talk for nearly an hour about stuff he really should have talked to me about when I was on a break.

What this session made me realize was that I need a cutoff time. Midnight seems perfectly appropriate, so tonight and in the future, if I haven’t finished my words by midnight, I haven’t finished my words for the day.

It’s better this way. Otherwise I’ll guilt myself into staying up super late trying to finish and the next day will suffer.

Anyway, I’m disappointed in myself for not finishing these words tonight. No more big projects as breaks when I’m writing.

  1. 327
  2. 462
  3. 146 (not a full session)
  • 935 words
  • in 2.44 hours
  • for a pace of 368 wph

Knife is in which boot?

Sessions 4–5

These two sessions dragged down my pace, which is a bummer, because I’d really wanted to pull off a miracle, write faster than I’ve written all day, and finish my minimum words in the three hours I should be able to finish them. Didn’t happen.

I wrote 252 words in session 4 and only 154 words in session 5. My pace is now 378 words an hour today. Which is way below average.

So I’ll be doing more sessions. But first, dinner. All this brain work has made me hungry. ;)

Oh, and that title? Straight off the notebook page open beside me. I have no idea what’s going on in this book but I really need to figure it out soon. ;D

Session 6

So slow! I’m really dragging here. I don’t feel draggy, just the words aren’t coming easily and the plot is dragging me down. I think when I go back I’m going to move on whether my characters are ready or not because I sure am. I’m ready for some action! ;D

This one got me only 127 words closer to my minimum and knocked my pace down to 350 words an hour. Which stinks. Like a skunk.

I’m really going to have to push for this one to be the last because I don’t want to stay up late tonight for this.

Session 7

I wrote 274 words in 36 minutes and my pace is now 365 words an hour.

There’s not a lot else to say. My total is up to 1534 now and I’m going to write just a few more minutes to get to my daily minimum and then I’m calling it done. :D

Session totals

  1. 247
  2. 144
  3. 336
  4. 252
  5. 154
  6. 127
  7. 274
  8. 48 (not a full session)
  • 1,582 total words
  • in 4.4 hours
  • for a pace of 360 words per hour

You know what’s funny? I found it easier to go past 4 hours today, aiming for this smaller number of words, than it has been any of the times I’ve been aiming for 3,000.

Brain fog and a slow start

(Sometime earlier today…)

Today is one of those days where I just can’t seem to concentrate. I’m making typos left and right, and I can’t get comfortable. I can already see how challenging today is going to be for writing.

So I cleared off my dining room table and will be moving my computer in there for a while.

(3:41 pm…)

The dining room table helped a little. I think my typing is getting better. I’ve also made myself a cup of orange passionfruit jasmine green tea. It has caffeine, although not too much.

I also tried a different keyboard but that was a bust. It pushed my monitor (laptop) too far away for comfort and I didn’t like that at all.

I need a new desk, a new chair, and about 4 inches added to my height. :o Being so short is such a pain when it comes to working at a desk of any kind!

(5:21 pm…)

I can’t believe I still haven’t hit publish on this thing.

At this point I’ve got several sessions completed.

  1. 247
  2. 144
  3. 336
  • Total words: 727
  • Pace: 404 wph
  • Words left: 830
  • Time left: 1.2 (of the planned 3 hours)
  • Time needed: 2.055021 (if I keep writing at the average wph above)

Funny how negotiable non-negotiable is when you’re tired

Boy was I tired last night. I think I used up all my energy writing up that blog post about resistance because when I was done, I almost fell asleep holding my computer.

One thing led to another and I just gave up. I couldn’t even handwrite the notes I wanted to make about one of my characters. I need to do some brainstorming on that or something because I’m really not feeling the love for him and he is supposed to be a major player in this book. {grrr}

Anyway, not going to do that again, but if I do, I’ll forgive myself like I’m going to forgive myself now. I had an especially trying two days and a home maintenance project going that involved concrete and buckets and 85°F heat, and I didn’t get nearly enough sleep the night before. It’s no wonder I conked out.

What this all means is that although I wanted yesterday to be the first day of my newly refreshed plan, it wasn’t.

If I had it to do differently, I would have started writing a lot sooner in the day, even if it was just 15 minutes here and there.

It’s a lesson, in a long line of lessons, trying to teach me to start my writing day as early as I can.

Which I’m going to do right now. :)

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.)