June 1–15 progress report

Today I’m writing. I’ve written something every day for seventeen days now, in fact. Some days, of course, were longer than others when it comes to how much time I spent writing. On the whole, though, I’ve stuck to my 12–4 schedule and created a bit of a routine for myself.

The fact is, I need to start finishing books again. I’ve had way too much time off on the whole over the last couple of years and it’s time for me to start pushing myself again to do more.

I can’t really explain why I hit such a bump in my productivity. I have children, and they’re definitely in a transitional phase since they’re both in the 18-20 year old range now (and were in the 16-18 year old range when I started to fail a bit at keeping myself writing). Their transitional phase translates into a transitional phase for me, and I’ve just now accepted that despite the societal expectations I grew up with, my kids aren’t leaving home any time soon. So my own transitional phase isn’t quite the one I was expecting, and I need to find a way to work through it.

At this point, it’s like having adult roommates who don’t pay rent. I’m sure of only one thing: I don’t like it. On the other hand, I’m not exactly rushing to kick the kiddos out on their tushes. :D I do love them and want what’s best for them. Neither are in a position to take on the real world just yet, no matter how ready I am for them to do it.

Too bad, so sad for me. :D I will cope though, and I seem to be getting my writing mojo back. Not that I have any way of knowing for sure that their transition to adulthood has been my problem, but hey, I need a scapegoat and the kiddos make for a good one.

The biggest issue, really, has just been the changing routines. No school days to count on. College has different expectations for them and their schedules, and work too, for college students tend to have the kind of work that has variable schedules.

All this means that my schedule feels in limbo more often than not. But no more. That’s the reason I set my 12–4 schedule and why I’ve been sticking to it. I just really need some routine in my days. If I can hang to it for long enough, I’m hoping it will counteract all the unpredictability I’ve been dealing with for a few years now.

Now, on to the writing update.

June 1–15: 7,175 words.

Playlists help me focus when I’m writing

This is my current music playlist, using Amazon’s Prime Music (except for one song on there that I purchased from Amazon a while back).

I’ll probably end up purchasing several of these songs eventually.

My favorite find of the bunch is Best Shot by Jimmie Allen. Love it, really.

I never pick songs for their words when I set up these playlists, I pick for mood. And repeatability—because I put the playlist on repeat and keep it going until I’m either sick of it, or the book is done. :-)

I usually just plug my headphones into my computer and play through the browser at music.amazon.com. When I’m playing offline (my music only), I use Windows Media Player, because it’s easy. I like it best, but I do like to take advantage of Prime sometimes. And other times, I use my phone, but my playlists there have to be recreated because my phone uses Google Music as a player and it’s kind of awkward setting up my offline playlists.

I use the computer to play my music because it’s the easiest to start and stop and mess around with while I’m writing, and most often I purchase the songs that keep my attention, and then end up making my playlist offline so I can play music when I’m on battery and not waste the battery streaming over WIFI.

Music is an important part of how I do this writing thing. :-)

 

The break is over

I’ve managed to sit down at my computer for 10 days in a row. My word counts aren’t anything to get excited about, other than in a general “whoa, I’m writing again” way, but I’m happy at this point to take what I can get. My net word count is 465 words.

I’ve had good days (638 words, 628 words) and bad days (-1117 words) but it’s a net positive, something I’m pretty happy about considering the effort I’ve had to put in to get this story moving.

Since I’m just getting started today, I expect my net word count for this 10 day period to rise. I finally settled on an opening for this story. It took 3 tries, but yesterday I went back to my original, shuffled the order of the two scenes I had, and voila! Things started to fall into place.

And that’s where things stand at the moment.

Time for me to go write. The break is over.

I scheduled writing time and finally got started writing again

After months of having trouble getting started writing again after finishing my last book, I went to bed one night with the plan to sit down the next day from 12–4 and write.

Nothing else had been working to get me started again and this really was a last ditch effort to just put in some time at the computer. I admit, the first day, I spent the majority of my time doing writing related things and very little writing. In fact, that’s still what’s happening after nearly two weeks, but I’ve maintained the schedule and have finally got an opening for my new book written and hope that I’m finally putting that terrible creative dry spell behind me.

 

Fresh starts!

I’m still working on coming up with a plan for 2018.

I have some ideas though, and they start with a target number of hours spent writing every day. Five hours is the number I’m leaning towards. Every day, I think.

(5 x 7 = 35, so it’s not a crazy amount of time, by any means. The way my brain works 5 hours a day 7 days a week is much better than 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. Much, much better.)

This matters because I still haven’t figured out how to get myself to stick to writing daily and how to stop falling into a funk after I finish a book. I don’t want to go so long between releases. Nine months was too long. My current book is paying for that publishing gap.

In the past, the longest gap I’ve had between releases has been five months. Most of the time, that’s closer to four months. Now, I’m not talking about novels, or even books in my best selling series’. But I’ve tended to release something within a four to five month window.

Not this time.

Big mistake. My current release is struggling, to be blunt. Even though fans seem to be enjoying it, I’m not selling as many copies as I would like, not by a long shot.

So, time for another book.

Looking at the bright side, maybe this pressure is what I need to push me right back to writing. I had already planned to ramp up my writing, because I feel like I’ve finally pulled out of whatever state I was in this year that led to me writing so few words compared to previous years (barely more than half the number of words of my next lowest year’s word count: 125,712 versus 217,641).

That’s a significant drop, no two ways about it.

I debated requiring something of myself before I call it a night, but it’s been a tough day, to be honest. I think I’m going to get some extra sleep, get up at a decent hour, and start fresh tomorrow on this plan to write for five hours a day.

See you back here then.

Edits are almost finished for this one

It’s been an odd couple of days.

I spent a good deal of time on Thursday away, so I didn’t make as much progress that day as I wanted.

Then yesterday, I spent more time editing than reading, by a large degree, and I ended the night feeling like I was still stuck in some hypercritical state of mind.

After inputting all my edits for the day into the document, I loaded up my most recent version of the file onto my old Kindle Fire and took it to bed with me to read the next few chapters but was too tired to even look at it.

Then today came.

I woke up and immediately read three chapters before I even got out of bed. And found myself in the right frame of mind for this process—finally!

The number of corrections marked went way down between yesterday and today (not for actual typos, etc, those are about the same, I think). I think getting started so early caught me while I was more likely to read as a reader than a writer.

And it stuck.

Today’s progress was fantastic. I finished chapters 23–42 (43,792 words). I still have to input edits for all those chapters, but it’s only a few pages of highlights—nowhere near the level of edits I had to input for the first half of the book.

And I do think it was my frame of mind that made the difference today, not the quality of the material.

(I’m not counting chapters 5–7, because the stuff I fixed in those chapters has made a huge difference to the rest of the book. The fact that the rest of the book is better for it instead of needing tweaks to make it work shows that the fixing I did was necessary, not optional.)

I have to say, I am thrilled that I got so much done today, especially since I’ve felt a bit sick all week, and my kids are both sick now. :-)

Here’s the latest:

Screenshot of editing time log spreadsheet
The reading time for chapters 1 and 23–26 are guesses.

I deleted the editing time left estimate because it just wasn’t working for me. (I had added it to the sheet for this book as a test.) It’s been so far off the mark the entire time that there’s just no point to it. I like the fact that the reading time estimate is fairly accurate. The editing estimate was not.

I think I’ll be doing a black line compare as soon as I finish inputting the changes, to help me pinpoint areas that need a second read through, since I did so much more than correct a word here and there for some parts of this book.

I don’t want to get trapped reading the whole book again, but I can’t remember where a lot of those specific lines were. More typos or errors could have snuck in.

I also have a few items marked for continuity checks, since when I got to them, they felt off but I couldn’t remember for sure if it was an issue. (The hazard that comes of spreading the read-through out over several days.)

If I had it in me, I would read the whole book again, right now, but gah, I just don’t think my nerves could handle it. I want to be done, so bad.

Then I have my copy edit checklist, full of words I literally check one by one for mistaken usage. It’s/its. There/they’re/their. Phase/faze. Many more. Yes, it’s tedious. No, I actually don’t usually find many, if any, of these errors, but I like knowing I double-checked.

Then there are some specific errors I noticed in this specific book: tried for tired (I’ll check the opposite too), breath for breathe, anyone that (anyone who), two character names I somehow mixed up a couple of times, the were for they were, this for his.

Just a list of stuff that I messed up at least once, and could have easily overlooked, so I’ll check.

I might do a post when this is all done detailing out how I so this big self-edit. It’s a process, truly.

Now, off to finish this thing. I’m watching the Psych movie as my reward for finishing. As a huge Psych fan, I can’t wait. ;-)

(Affiliate link. My disclaimer: I’m just as likely to link to crap I hate and tell you I hate it, as I am to link to stuff I love that I tell you I love. I don’t care if I make money off recommendations or not, I don’t recommend shit that I don’t like.) :D

An improvement, but still editing…

So there it is, the current estimate of the time it will take me to finish this edit: 18.8 hours.

Screenshot of editing time log spreadsheet

The estimate is considerably better than the last, which was 44+ hours. On the other hand, I’ve gone from time logged of 8.83 hours to 18.8 hours. Because I’m literally halfway through the book, my time spent and my time left are a sad match.

I don’t want to spend another 18.8 hours on this edit.

I have a feeling I’m being hypercritical still and just can’t see it.

On that note, I’m going to get back to reading, because I still have half the book to read. It just doesn’t even feel possible, knowing what I know about the book and where it’s going!

Still editing…

A small update of how the edits are going.

Screenshot of editing time spreadsheet

See that outlined box (the one that says 44.16667)? Those are the hours my spreadsheet estimates this edit will take me to finish.

That’s all because the edits so far have been outrageously time consuming. I’m very hopeful that’s all about to come to an end though (maybe an hour to go) and I’ll be back to doing my normal style of proofreading edit, which will drive down the editing time to go and make this a more reasonable estimate.

The reading estimate, on the other hand, is very accurate, based on current reading speeds. So the only way to improve on that will be to start reading faster, which I won’t be doing, or highlighting less (because it takes time away from the reading flow and slows me down). The highlighting less could happen, if the rest of the book has fewer mistakes to be corrected. :)

No doubt about it though. I will be reading at least the opening one more time after this, which will add to the total time, because I can’t make these kinds of changes and not do another typo check. :D

Changes always introduce new errors. Therefore, I always try to reread anything I’ve touched for more than a simple typo correction before I claim the book is done.

Now, back to work for me! I have lots of stuff to do. :)

The editing continues

I went back to the book last night and dug in. Considering how I felt when I started, it went well. Overall yesterday, I added 385 words to the book, corrected some issues and left myself in the middle of a mess. :D

It could be worse!

I’m starting early this morning (relatively speaking, after staying up until 2 am). I’ve had breakfast and I’ve gone back into my hosts file and blocked some particularly distracting sites because I’m actually excited to get started again and I do not want to squander that feeling by scrolling through news and forums posts for a hour or more.

I’ll scroll through my document instead. :)

In actuality, I’ll start by reading what I added last night—stuff to tie in the ending better, really, and just some redrafting of a few paragraphs and sections, because just changing the wording around isn’t the goal here. I mean, I could, but it’s a waste of time and wouldn’t help the issues, and could make things a lot worse.

My problems with these chapters aren’t just issues about how I wrote sentences. That stuff is irrelevant at this point. This is something else, something deeper. Right here, in these places, the story just doesn’t feel right to me.

Since I’m my own reader, if it doesn’t feel right to me, it ain’t right. Period.

If I let myself fall into the rabbit hole of making this about the sentences, I’d probably ruin the book. I’ve learned my lesson on that.

It’s very easy to steal all the life from the words by massaging them into “something better.”

I believe that wholeheartedly because it has happened to me a few times, the most notably being when I smoothed out the beginning of the first book in this same series. I read back through it right before I went to publish and realized it was just flat—flat and lifeless even though it was an exciting scene. Or it was supposed to be. It had been. So I pulled up the original beginning, unedited, and plopped it into place. Since the edit of that had been all about the sentences and words, there was nothing to fix to make it work with the rest of the book. I published it like that a few minutes later. (Maybe hours, lol, because I did still have to format the book and that was back when it took me longer than the five minutes it takes now.)

That is still my best selling book and the opening is absolutely fine. I was being hypercritical of myself and the way I sound on the page and I almost messed up the beginning of that book, all because I didn’t trust myself. That was my breakout book. It’s why I’m able to write full time.

This situation is different. I am trusting myself here. The problems with these chapters I’m working my way through aren’t the fevered imaginings of a hypercritical reader. I’ve gotten pretty good at shoving that aside when I’m reading during my edits—sure, I may cringe occasionally over a real clunker, but I tend to recognize that for what it is. Maybe not all the time, but right now, for this, definitely.

There are problems here that need fixed.

So that’s what I’m going to do, get in there and fix them.

I’ll post the log of my reading and editing times when I finish this thing. :)

Here’s where it stands right now.

Screenshot of editing times

I went back to a different book to compare these numbers and for that one my reading speed was very close to 10,000 words per hour. That just goes to show how slow this one is going.

And just for comparison, chapter 4 is not a short chapter. It was just a good one and I was finally getting into a groove with the reading. Then chapter 5 hit.