I Hate Schedules So Why Am I So Determined to Have One?

So, I wrote this long post yesterday that I’m not going to post because it makes obvious my penchant for self delusion.

After wasting away my Sunday because I was tired (no explanation really but probably not enough vigorous exercise in my days!), I spent a lot of time reading about sleep patterns and decided I was obviously a night owl trapped in a morning person’s schedule. I made a new schedule for myself, and all these plans for the coming week, tried to stay up so I could start Monday off right by sleeping in … and then woke up with the sun at 6:20 am, bright eyed and completely ready to get out of bed. I looked up sunrise on Google. It came at 6:16 am.

So yeah. I’m not a night owl, no matter how easy I find it to stay awake when I’m doing something interesting. I’m a morning person through and through—with the caveat that the sun has to be up! I can’t get up without daylight, but I really don’t think that precludes me being a morning person. As soon as that sunshine comes through my window, my brain comes alive and it doesn’t seem to matter what time I went to bed. :D I’ve stayed up til 3 am and still had a really hard time sleeping past 7-ish, and I actually can’t remember the last time I slept past 8:30 am.

I guess one of the things that fooled me is that I have a spike of energy in the morning that wanes fast, usually gone by 9 and I’m ready to crash. Then I have another surge of energy sometime around late afternoon. And another around 7 or 8 pm. So I seem to have more energy in the afternoons and evenings. I never have trouble going to sleep (except for midday naps). As soon as I’ve decided I’m going to go to sleep (and put away whatever has my attention) I go to sleep. I often wake up in the middle of the night remembering that I have a thought I didn’t finish! :D

But I’ve decided I can add in a morning nap and forget waiting until the afternoon. Sleep when I want; that is definitely one of the perks of writing fiction as a job. :D

Why’d I Abandon Writing During My Morning Tea?

My morning tea session was working great except for one thing. I usually had my tea during or after breakfast, but because the tea session needed to be the first thing I did after my kids left, I got an upset stomach at least half the days I did it.

really don’t like how I feel when I wait to have breakfast in the mornings. That was ultimately the thing that derailed the morning tea writing session. The morning tea was delaying my breakfast for a variety of reasons by as much as an hour and a half some days, making the stretch between my last night’s supper and my breakfast about 14–15 hours. That’s just too long for me.

So Yeah, I Made a New Schedule

Couldn’t resist! I honestly feel like if I can just settle into a schedule, I’ll noticeably improve my productivity. These last two months have probably been my worst since I started my publishing career.

So here it is.

7–9 am
12–4 pm
8–9 pm

That’s 7 hours, which is  a little short of my 7.8 I originally started with for 2014, but … no, not really, because I originally started with the intent to write for 4 hours every day, before I came up with my “better” 2014 schedule.

I love my 9–12 break and my 4–8 free time and my 9–10 down time. LOL. Yes, I named them all and I named them each something different, just to keep them straight in my head, so my day doesn’t become this one big mess of write, break, write, break, write, break. It’s a mind game, but if it works, who cares, right? ;)

9–12 is when I’m most often tired and don’t really have much energy, but up until 9, I usually have quite a bit of energy and I should capture that for writing.

12–4 is a high energy time for me, as long as I rest at some point during the 9–12 stretch and have a good meal. It’s a great time for writing! Plus, I love writing in the sunshine, and this is good for that too. :D One thing I didn’t like about my previous schedule was trying to nap so late in the day. I always felt like I was wasting good sunlight.

4–8 is when I most often need to do things related to living and having a life. Plus, I have kids and they need me a lot during this time.

8–9 is just a quiet time and so that’s great for one last session before I stop for the evening. It also puts me to thinking about my story before bed and that can only lead to good things! :)

So really, this is my rationale for the new schedule and I’m hopeful it will work out. If not, well, it was just another experiment, and I’m sure I’ll get something out of it—failure is always an option! ;)

Monday’s Word Count Goal—3,000 Words

Trying something new today. I wrote a post (actually two) explaining stuff but then gave up on them. I need to be writing. Right now. So here’s the plan.

I’m going for 600 words an hour from now until 4 pm, then another 600 from 8 to 9 this evening. That’s 3,000 words.

12–1 pm: 139
1–2 pm: 0
2–3 pm: 307
3–4 pm: 0
8–9 pm: 0

Now off to write! I love my job! :D

Whoa. I totally didn’t ace my 12–4 writing time. I blew it. Writing has been a chore today and I’m not sure why. I guess I’ll just have to keep trying, but with only one more writing session today, the chances of me making 3,000 are slim. I could, possibly, maybe, get 1,000 or so if I can zone at 8, and maybe hit 2,000 if I kept going for an extra hour, but since I haven’t hit a zone once today I’m not sure how I’m gonna do it then…

Really feeling discouraged right now about my progress on this book.

Sunday Challenge—5,000 New Words of Fiction

Final tally: 140 or 2% of my goal.**

This one is something like yesterday’s plan without being quite so ambitious. Since my story is coming along easier now, I probably have a better chance of success with this one. :)

From 10 am to 10 pm I’m going to try to write 500 words every hour, excluding a 2 hour block somewhere in the middle (when I get tired). That comes out to 5,000 words.

I spent the morning reading the 20,000 words I’ve already written on my 2014 Novella #1 and the 500 words I’ve written on what is sure to be my 2014 Novella #2.*

I’m trying to finish Novella #1 today. I lack only about 5,000 words and it’s supposed to be done. Now, if only I can stick to that word count goal and not go 25,000 words over like I did with my last book. :D

Anyway, I have about 10 minutes until I need to be ready to write so I’ll be back later to update.

10 am: 140
11 am
12 am
1 pm
2 pm
3 pm
4 pm
5 pm
6 pm
7 pm
8 pm
9 pm
10 pm

*I stole one of my characters from Novella 1 and started writing a story around that character’s backstory when I got stuck a few days ago. Supposed to be a villain but ended up a pawn and that’s okay with me. The character was so fun to write it’s pretty much a given I’ll finish the story. I’m thinking it’ll be next in the series, possibly a very short novella—this series already has one such very short novella, so maybe I’ll make it a thing. Novella (series main character) – Novelette (different character) – Novella (series main character) – Novelette (another different character) … hmm, I think I like that idea! :)

**I’m claiming the fifth on this. :D

Saturday Challenge—10,000 New Words of Fiction

Final tally: 2,538 or 25% of my goal.

For every hour between 7 am and 11 pm I’m going to attempt to write 625 words. That comes out to 10,000 words. I’ll have to lock my perfectionist in a closet for this. I might also have to switch between stories if I get blocked on any one thing, so I’m going to keep 3–5 of my current projects open all day so I can jump to one or the other if I get stuck.  If I hit 2/3 of my goal all on one story, I could finish my current book.

For a lot of writers, 625 words in a hour is no big deal, but for me this is definitely a real challenge. My average hourly output is 500–600 words an hour and this winter I’ve not even been hitting that. I’m also rarely able to stay focused long enough not to lose significant amounts of time during a day. It’s time to try to break through some barriers here.

And the good news is that even if I fail spectacularly, it’s possible I’ll still end up with a dream day of 5,000 words!

I’ll update with my actual counts as the day progresses. Maybe this’ll even tell me something about when I’m most productive. Good luck, me! :D

7 am:  291
8 am: 61
9 am: 55
10 am: −673
11 am: 395
12 am: 191
1 pm
2 pm
3 pm: 421
4 pm: 502
5 pm: 313
6 pm: 638
7 pm: 115
8 pm: 221
9 pm
10 pm

UGH! So, I’ve been writing for 4 hours and losing very little time this morning. I’ve done ~3 15 minutes timed sessions every hour so far and this is what I have to show for it. −258 words net this morning. I made it through the rest of chapter 4, all the way through chapter 5, and then deleted the entirety of chapter 6.

Now it’s all new stuff going forward so I can only hope that I’ll do a lot better the rest of the day! And if not, I’ll find another of my stories to write for a while. Now it’s back to it—I’ve already lost 5 minutes in my 11 to 12 hour writing this update.

6 hours in, net 328 words in about  4.5 hours of timed writing, and I’m tired! Tired of cold fingers and a runny nose and low word counts that I can’t explain. It’s like I have this huge concrete block sitting right in way. I have no idea why I’m maintaining a pace of just 73 words an hour. When you look at the numbers it feels impossible to go that slow! If I could the entire 6 hours, it’s even worse at 55. That’s like … not even a word a minute!! Ugh.

I just don’t think today is the day for this challenge. I need a nap.

I was on the verge of calling this but I took a couple of minute to go out into the 60° sunshine and sit and I realized success isn’t about the numbers at the end of the day today. I realized that sometimes my creative brain just doesn’t run smoothly, but the only way to work out the kinks is to get in there and just try, and then keep trying until it loosens up. I realized I might be working at less than my peak because, yeah, I really am tired. I realized I might need a break so I can make the transition between the critical (cutting all that stuff this morning and fixing the problems with what was left) and the creative. I realized I didn’t want to give up even if my chance of reaching even 5,000 words today is so small as to be insignificant.

Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to take the rest of the 1 to 2 pm hour and all of the 2 to 3 pm hour out to rest, and then I’m going to come back at 3 pm and keep going.

I returned from my break feeling better. I started about 20 minutes late and still got 421 words. Then my next hour netted me 502. So things are looking up. :D I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m still not sure where this story is going, but it’s moving and if I get frustrated I hope I won’t forget that I can change stories for a while.

Yay! I’m now at my highest word count since 1/26. 2,202 words. 4 hours to go.

So, I’m cutting out a bit early. I’m exhausted. :D It’s been a productive but long day and I’m frustrated that I’m slowing down again, and this time there’s no reason for it other than plain old fatigue. I need a break. I’ve been up since 5:45 am.

I think I’m going to try something similar tomorrow, but with a few less working hours. We’ll see what I come up with! And I’ll definitely do this challenge again, but I have to have a whole day to myself to do it, so it’ll probably be a few weeks before I can try this exact challenge again.

Missed a day!

I missed my morning tea writing session today! I kept meaning to get to it, because why would I want to ruin an 11 day streak when it only costs me 25 minutes in the morning? But sure enough, I did. I missed it!

Last night’s storms left me tired and listless today. My power was out most of the night and I couldn’t seem to sleep, and when I did manage, I had vivid, ridiculous dreams about school buses and tornadoes. Yep. So today I’ve worked very hard to procrastinate. Being tired is always a risk factor for a day full of procrastination around here.

So, instead of writing, I started the day off reading one of my books, which I do occasionally for pleasure and for inspiration for the next book—they’re ongoing series, after all, so there’s some use to it, and when I finished it, I read another, and that’s how I spent the day.

Tomorrow, I’m getting back to the 25 minutes before I do anything else. Oh, and I have a great idea for a challenge tomorrow. :D

Slip Ups and Technicalities; Big Goals

Day 11 of my morning tea writing streak.

Yesterday, I had a successful day 10 but I’m only calling it a win because of a technicality. I’d explain but it would be a boring explanation that ends with me falling asleep on the couch yesterday morning while having my morning tea and getting up at 10:54 am for my second cup of morning tea.  But I did write for my 25 minutes while I had that cup of tea! Then I promptly frittered away the rest of the day.

Oops. I should be more dedicated to hard work.

Today I hope to get my minimum quota of 3,100 words so I don’t continue to fall behind, but last night I had a filling come out of a tooth and I’ll be hitting the road for a while today to get this tooth fixed. So … I’m not expecting big numbers, only hopeful  that I’ll eek out what I need.

I recalculated some goals last night so I could see what it’ll take to catch me up and the numbers look pretty stiff. I don’t even know if I can do it. I can do it. Easy peasy. :D What’s that they say about positive thinking? It’s not bullshit if it’s applesauce, right?* ;)

3,100 words per day for 1,000,000 by 12/31
3,642 adjusted wpd for 500,000 by 6/30
6,402 adjusted wpd for 250,000 by 3/31

Basically, it gives me three options, catch up by 3/31, 6/30, or 12/31. I prefer the idea of catching up by 3/31, but … well, you see the numbers! 5,000 a day is my dream goal. 6,402 a day would be like learning to fly overnight. But hey, if I’m going for a big goal, why not make it really, really big? Hard work is hard work, right?

*I totally made that up, and it makes no sense. Sorry!

Day 49 of One Million Words in 2014

Writing forecast … sunny!
Writing forecast … sunny!

As a motivational exercise today, I’m tracking my writing and breaks. It worked yesterday so I’m ready to go again…

Goal today? 3,600 words or 6 hours of writing

Day 49: In Progress

7:21 am: 219

Off to a grand start to today! No more negative numbers and the story is flowing a bit easier now, although I’m still redrafting chapter 4. Currently, I’m trying to bridge a gap between where I’m at and the scene that was the reason I didn’t want to just delete everything and start fresh. But I want to keep breaks short today, so toodles. Be back later with an update after my first session’s completed.

Alrighty. 6 hours and 27 minutes later I’m back to say that I’ve done no writing whatsoever since my morning 25. Never got started on my first session today because of a book I started reading at breakfast, a phone call that lasted almost 2 hours, and then the rest of the book. Book was good. :D I must be getting in a reading mood. Part of the reason I have no willpower today is likely because I stayed up last night / this morning until 2 am then got up at 6 am. That was a good book too. ;)

Amazon, this is all your fault! If buying books wasn’t so easy I’d have had to wait for that book I wanted instead of being able to buy it and read it immediately. For shame, giving us readers what we want just when we want it!

Now I want another book, just because I can. :D I must resist the lure! I have my own book to write.

Honestly, though, I’m going to be doing today’s writing later, because I really think I need a nap. I’m getting too old to get by on 4 hours of sleep.

Day 48 of One Million Words in 2014

It's sunny right now, despite the forecast, so as they say, I'd better make hay while the sun still shines!
It’s sunny right now, despite the forecast, but since I love writing in the sun and to the sound of rain, I figure I can’t lose today!

As a motivational exercise today, I’m tracking my writing and breaks. My goal is to write for as much time as possible between now and say 7-ish this evening.

Day 48: 1,553 DONE

7:33 am: 88
11:09 am: 350
3:45 pm: 839
5:59 pm: 1,553
10:03 pm: 1,553

Yay! Not a negative number after my 25 minutes this morning. That’s got to be a good sign for today’s writing. I got up with the intent to write as much as possible today, time-wise, so seeing a positive number right off feels like a good omen. :D

Between 7:33 and 11:09 I got in a single 1.5 hour writing session. My pace is 182 words an hour. Ugh! I’ve gotta improve the ratio of writing time to break time. That means I’ve gotta keep this break short. I can tell now that the rain’s coming, because the sun is gone and the wind is shaking the trees outside my window. But the story is moving along. I’m still working in chapter 4, but I hope to finish it soon. I like some of the stuff I’ve done so far so I’m still hopeful this is going to be a good writing day! This isn’t rewriting by the way; it’s more like redrafting. I’m not fixing prose. I’m fixing story. :D

Between 11:09 and 3:45 I finished another 1.5 session of writing. My pace is about 246 words an hour, so at least that’s an improvement, albeit not by much. :D Guess I’ll take what I can get! At this point, I’m up to about 5.03 hours of breaks and 3.42 hours of writing. Wow. Don’t know how that happened, to be honest. I’ve actually stayed on task much better than usual for me the last few weeks. Still, though, that’s a glaring difference from the 5–30 minute long breaks I imagined between writing sessions. Having the kids home for the holiday probably isn’t helping, but really, it’s mostly been me today that’s the problem.

And yep, I’m still working on redrafting chapter 4. Considering I’m deleting as I go and replacing with new text, I’m probably writing 2 times as much material at it appears for there to be a net gain in word count. Next goal? Stick with my entire 1.5 hour session without needing a break. I’m hoping to improve my ability to focus for longer periods of time over the next few weeks. Off to work on session #3!

Between 3:45 and 5:59 I managed another 1.5 hour writing session. My pace is increasing. It’s now at 316 words an hour and that’s the entire days words and time. I’m going to do one more session after a quick supper and then I’ll call it a night. :D But I’m pleased so far with my progress.


Between 5:59 and 10:03 I intended to write more but my daughter wanted some attention and I couldn’t resist watching a bit of my favorite Pride and Prejudice miniseries with her (now available on Amazon Prime, yay!). Ah well. :D I love spending time with my kids so more writing time will have to wait until tomorrow when I do all this all over again. :D See you then!

Why I need the extra motivation…

I started working on 2014 Novella #1 on Day 8. I had some good progress in the early part of the story, but as I made it into chapter 4, things started to slow down a lot. Chapter 4, 5 & 6 is where I’m at now. I switched out chapter 4 & 5 (not something I usually do, to be honest) and I’m massaging chapter 4 into something more fitting to the story. I really should’ve just deleted the whole thing but there’s a scene I really like and wanted to keep. It feels kind of stupid to be worried about that now, but we’ll see. I didn’t end up deleting the whole 5,000+ words of chapter 5 & 6 yesterday. Probably should’ve.

I just can’t seem to get into the flow of the story. The voices aren’t speaking to me so everything I write has to be thought out from actions to dialogue to the flow of the narrative… Nothing’s coming without a lot of effort. This isn’t how I remember the writing of the first book in this series. It was fun—and a lot of fun at that.

As you can see below, my progress on this book has been sporadic and my numbers are more than a little pathetic. :o I want to change that today, and get into a groove so the rest of the month flows more smoothly.

Day 8: 1,435
Day 9: 184
Day 10: 948
Day 11: 363
Day 12: 2,697
Day 13: 412
Day 14: 2,752
Day 15: 223
Day 16: 1,369
Day 17: 493
Day 18: 365
Day 19: 0
Day 20: 0
Day 21: 0
Day 22: 0
Day 23: 0
Day 24: 0
Day 25: 276
Day 26: 2,913
Day 27: 0
Day 28: 0
Day 29: 0
Day 30: 0
Day 31: 0
Day 32: 0
Day 33: 0
Day 34: 188
Day 35: 0
Day 36: 24
Day 37: 0
Day 38: 0
Day 39: 235
Day 40: 84
Day 41: 163
Day 42: 459
Day 43: -52
Day 44: -113
Day 45: 230
Day 46: 91
Day 47: -199

Making Writing a Habit

I’ve successfully completed seven days of my 25 minute morning writing session with tea. The impulse pairing has worked, and it seems like it might be a powerful way to build other habits. I haven’t hesitated once to start my writing session and I’m kind of surprised by that. I’m not known for my ability to form new habits. Of course, I won’t know the outcome for several months, probably, but it feels easy, so easy that it doesn’t even feel like a new habit* and maybe that right there is the key.

I’m brainstorming ways I can use impulse pairing to create other new habits I’d like to add to my days, but I haven’t come up with anything yet that might work. I also wish I had some other key habits* to attach writing to but when I try to think of any, I draw a blank.

If you have any thoughts on that, they’d be much appreciated. :D

*Keystone habits is something that’s talked about a lot in The Power of Habit. I liked the book when I read it, but I haven’t really thought about it much since. But then the idea of keystone habits rose to the surface as I was thinking about why the morning tea writing is going so well and why that new habit feels so effortless. So even though I didn’t recognize it at the time, it seems obvious now that my morning tea is one of my keystone habits.

My First Twenty-Five and Negative Numbers

The trend continues. My morning tea writing streak’s now seven days long. Yay!

But … I’ve had negative progress on almost every one of those seven days. Today I ended the twenty-five minutes at -189. Yikes! I think this is just because of this specific book and the problems I’m having with it and not a sign that I’m too critical of my writing in the mornings so there’s that. No way I’m giving up this streak unless I’m too sick to climb out of bed and actually have my morning tea.

I’m giving it to the end of my first one and a half hour writing session this morning and if I haven’t gotten through this tough spot, I’m going to delete the 5,462 words between where I am and the end and start over.

That’s a lot of words to delete but if I can’t get some momentum going with what I have, I’m going to assume there’s a bigger problem that I just can’t see and wipe the slate. :D I can’t take another week of agonizing over it all.

I’m starting another post with some motivational numbers-posting today. I want this to be a great writing day! It’s beautiful here at my desk, with lots of warm sunlight spilling over my hands and face, and I watched entirely too much television last night instead of writing—and oh, The Americans held my attention for six whole episodes before I got bored! I like it—but it’s time to get busy. I’ve let this book derail me from my goal for long enough.

I have one million words to write this year and by georgie, I’m going to do my best to write them. :D