Ready to edit today

screenshot of sunlit paper Today I’ll be editing. I have fresh coffee, my document on my Kindle Fire (the oldest one I have), and some fresh sunlit paper and a pencil for notes. I have tablets and journals and pencils and pens everywhere, to be honest. :)

It’s time to edit this book and I want to do it while the story is fresh in my mind. I know that’s opposite of what a lot of authors recommend to other authors, but I have my own way of doing things, for reasons that make sense to me.

Of course, I dated the page yesterday, so that’ll have to be updated, but other than that, I’m ready to go.

With as much sun as is shining onto my face, I’ll have to watch out, but I want the warmth of the sun right now. I find it motivating when it comes time to focus on reading. :)

So here is the plan.

Every chapter will be timed. (I do this to stay focused.) If I need to stop for a break, it’ll come at the end of a chapter. This is helpful so I can get a feel of the momentum in a chapter and pay attention to pacing. If I’m stopping three times in a chapter, I just get to the end and have no idea how fast or slow it felt.

After 3 to 4 chapters, I’ll catch up typo edits and the like, and save all other notes (highlights really) until the end.

This is so I don’t run into an issue with the Kindle losing my highlights. It hasn’t ever happened, but if it does, I don’t want this to be the day. Until I started doing it this way, I regularly ended up with 30+ pages of highlights to deal with all at the end. The horror of losing all that and having to start over is what led me to change my ways.

I’ll be using the notes page to make notes of continuity stuff and things I want to check at the end. I’ll be jotting down eye/hair/clothes/names and a small chapter summary of one or two sentences, too. But I might save that for the end of the chapter so it doesn’t bog me down as I read. This is something new I’m adding to my process so I’m going to have to work out the details as I go.

Anyway, I think I’m ready. I will definitely post a screenshot from my spreadsheet later. :) It’ll be interesting to see it all laid out. The spreadsheet tracks the reading sessions, and using it and the timer has worked really well to keep me completely focused on reading.

It’s also cut the time it takes me to do the read through by a significant degree. It used to take a week at least. Now it takes a day (or two).

This is the kind of thing I’m hoping to find with my writing someday. A process that just works.

I haven’t given up looking. But for now, it’s time to focus on edits. :)

 

Restarting my 500 words a day minimum

So today I thought I could not possibly write 500 words since I’m supposed to be reading through my book and all I’ve done is tinker with my ending a bit instead. I was sure I’d have to restart my minimum tomorrow, when there’s at least a chance I’ll be done with this read through and I’ll get to write some words on another story. But then I put in my current book’s word count for the day and, wow, I had written 615 words just tinkering.

So I guess the restart is today after all.

I’m pleasantly excited by this little surprise. :-)

So that three hours? More like twenty

It feels like Saturday. No idea why.

I’m still feeling a little under the weather here, and I’ve had so much coffee and tea today that I’m also wired up like a piano. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve drank too much too close together, because when I add up the volume, I realize I’ve actually had less than yesterday or the day before.

I did finish the book cover. Or the multiple book covers, I should say. Instead of taking three hours, it took about twenty. If I trim out the time for breaks and stuff once I stopped using the timer, I’d still say it took fifteen or more. I did not take breaks yesterday or this morning until I was so desperate for one I couldn’t have made it another minute without one.

This is one of the hazards of hyperfocus. I don’t enjoy it and it wears me out in a way flow (or being “in the zone”) doesn’t. Don’t ask me if it’s real; all I know is it feels real to me. I almost never feel good about it once I realize what I’m doing, because in the end I give up feeling like I’m in control of myself and my actions.

Maybe continuing with the timers would have helped—I don’t really know—but by the last three sessions I was just clicking OK + Restart Timer and going again the minute it dinged.

I wrote cover copy today, and spent almost four hours on it. It’s like I’m going for records for everything with this book, but in all the wrong ways. Cover copy is usually something I’m pretty quick with. Not today. I still don’t have it right. I can feel it.

But, on to other things for a little while. I have a book to read and edit that I should get started on, and I haven’t written 500 words a day in a couple of days, either. Ugh. Not feeling up to it tonight at all. I might just go to bed early.

Designing a book cover and fighting perfectionism

I’m working on a cover design today. I’m really not good at managing my time when I do this so I’m experimenting today in the hopes of keeping the time down to something reasonable.

Usually I just dig in and start playing with backgrounds, trying to come up with a composite I like. Today, I’m setting my timers up to work for me.

I’m going to design in half hour blocks. I’ve picked that length for the blocks because six of them make three hours, and each one is short enough that if I’ve let myself fall into a black hole of perfectionism, I can stop it before it consumes my entire day.

I really don’t want this cover to take all day. I have a headache, I’m tired and maybe a little sick, and I want to feel productive today.

I don’t feel productive when I get stuck in a loop of tweaks that almost invariably takes me back to where I started. :-)

I’m going record what I did during each half hour block so I can see if there’s something I can learn from this experiment.

Now, to be frank, my last few covers have taken significantly longer than three hours to create, so I’m not cutting myself off at three hours, just seeing how close I can get to done in that amount of time.

It’s not a lie that constraints and boundaries can boost creativity. I’ve experienced it firsthand many times. I’m hoping it will help today. ;-)

I’ll be using GIMP today. Version 2.8.22. It’s open source and free. I generally use stock photography, which I’ll most definitely be using today, and most of it comes from Dreamstime, all properly licensed. (I keep the license information, and if you use stock, you should too, because sometimes the stock disappears from the site and it can be challenging to find the license information after that—speaking from experience!)

First, I’m starting from the base of my last cover, which already has the fonts I need and the alignments for the typography in it.

Second, I’m going to start looking for a background I like.

Third, I’ll do whatever I have to do to blend some stuff together and make it unique and pretty and (hopefully) pop off the screen without being garish.

Fourth, I’ll try to get the type to look nice.

Fifth, I’ll crop and save the sizes I need.

I’m not allotting any of these tasks to any particular time slot, just laying them out so I can see what I need to do. :-)

Now. Time for that first timer.

 

A link about reading comprehension that’s worth sharing

The Passive Voice posted a link to a great little article about reading today, “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” that tempted me to comment. I wrote one, but then decided the comment went a little too personal for me to post it there, so I’m putting it here instead. :-)

“This was a great piece. I always did spectacularly well on the reading portions of standardized tests, but only after I passed the fifth grade, when I started reading stuff that I wanted to read, a wild collection of random things. Up until then, the school had kept me in the slow reading groups. I also started doing much better than my classmates on games like Trivial Pursuit at about that time, even though I really didn’t like the game much. I can almost bet that had something to do with the kind of reading I started doing at about that time. Not kids’ books, that’s for sure. :) In the end, I graduated third in my class and ended up with my picture on the wall because of my test scores on the ACT. It’s still there, unfortunately, and my poor kids had to live with it staring down at them all through high school. It was awkward that my daughter looks so much like me. She actually had friends ask her why her picture was on the wall and had to tell them it was her mother.”

I liked that this article gave me some interesting ideas about why I might be a “good reader” even though I actually read pretty slowly. I do tend to comprehend what I read, but there are times when I question how I think of myself when it comes to reading. Just yesterday I read an article online that required me to reread a paragraph about four times before I felt like I knew what the heck it was saying!

Sometimes I wonder why it can feel so hard to read some things and not others—even when the words aren’t any more challenging in one piece than another. (In fact, I was thinking about this just yesterday.)

Maybe it’s simply that I’m trying to make connections with knowledge that’s full of gaps.

The article is good reading. Go read it. :D

So that didn’t work

Saturday: 105 words.

Sunday: 849 words after a solid 5 hours and 25 minutes of writing.

Yes, I’m back to running a timer while I write.

Why? you ask.

Because I can’t seem to get started, focus, stay focused, and keep going without one.

It’s necessary, like a beating heart or something.

It’s been impossible to stay focused without that timer running. I need it. I’m just going to have to face that and stop trying to pretend otherwise.

Taking another run at “The End”

It’s the day after the day after Thanksgiving and I’m disappointed to say that I really didn’t get much done yesterday when it comes to writing.

I’m taking another run at “The End” today. The last time I tried, I was still using timers. Today, I’m not planning on using any timers. Can I stay focused without them? I actually don’t know, but it’s important to me that I try to learn how.

The plan for today is simple.

500 words minimum.

Finish the book.

First up, as soon as I hit publish on this, I’m putting my Word doc front and center.

Second, I’m going to use willpower and stay off the internet until the book is done.

Third, today is the day I start trying to write more. I really want to get my daily average above 1,000 in 2018. I’ve been trying for years to improve, but the numbers just keep getting worse. The less often I write, the harder writing feels. Gotta fight that the only way I know how. I have to write more. It starts with a 500 words a day minimum and an effort to always push for a little more.

Fourth, I can no longer care about the quality of my work. I have to focus on having fun writing stories. Typing fast. Finishing fast. I can’t let another book take this long to finish. Each of these are part of my effort to bury my inner critic. That critic is killing my desire to write fiction, and since writing fiction is how I want to keep making a living, the critic has to go.

How do I train myself to write freely? Not sure! But I have to try. Otherwise, I’m going to give up writing. I can’t keep going the way I have been. I remember when writing was FUN.

That truly is the worst part. Being able to remember the fun of it makes it impossible to accept that I just have to do it, whether it’s fun or not. Because I don’t. I can choose another job if this one loses its appeal.

But I don’t want to. I want to write. I just want it to be fun again.

Thanksgiving!

Today is the Thanksgiving holiday! Happy Thanksgiving, whoever you are. If you don’t celebrate, well, I do. :) It’s a tradition to go eat with about 30+ other people at my Mom’s house and that’s what I’m going to do. Since it only takes about 5 minutes of travel time to get there, I should have a nice chunk of time left for myself today, for which I’m grateful.

Because I have to write today. But I also have lots of Thanksgiving things to do, so although I’ll do some writing this morning, most of it will happen this afternoon, if I can resist the lure of a nap or the television.

At least for a little while.

The thing is, I kind of have to finish the book today, or by noon tomorrow, to reach the goal I’ve set for publication of this particular book. So I’m going to finish it even if it means I am very unhappy with the finish I give it.

I’m not sure any finish is going to make me happy at this point. I have the start of 7 different endings already and none of them work for me. Obviously my self-critic is on high-alert, and nothing is getting through.

That is why I’ve decided to finish it even if that means writing something that feels off. I can’t trust those feelings right now, because I can’t shake the self-critic.

(I had a book I did something similar with several years ago. I’ve since gone back and read some of the drafts that I had, and they were going along fine. There was no reason for me to keep deleting and restarting those sections, because they all could have led to a great story, and yet… I couldn’t stop doing it until I just made myself. That’s what I’m going to do here, today. Make myself move forward and stop the second-guessing.)

(The next afternoon… Yes, afternoon.)

Well, I guess I should have seen that coming. I added 5 words to my latest book yesterday. Just too much to do, then too apathetic to do anything else.

Becoming apathetic about one’s writing is not the key to success as an author. :-|

The time I did spend on the book all happened before I left the house for my family’s annual Thanksgiving get-together.

When I got back, I watched a couple of episodes of Ghosted, and then started cooking my Turkey. I’m just not even sure where all the time yesterday went. I do know that by 10 PM, I was very tired and decided to watch Killer Floods on PBS and nearly fell asleep several times before the show was over. Without a doubt, I missed a few bits of it.

As a writing day, yesterday was a disaster.

Today hasn’t been any better. I want to blame someone other than myself, but I can’t. I’ve had time—I have time right now. Yet, here I am. Instead of writing fiction, I’m writing this.

Big plans for a busy day

Today is the day I finish that book I’m working on, not because I feel it, but because it has to be. I’m not going into the holidays with this book unfinished. I want to get started on another and actually challenge myself to finish a full book in December, from a fresh start. I can’t do that if I end this month with an unfinished book.

So. I have shopping to do today (food for the holiday) and a meetup with my sister. I also have a kid coming home from college this afternoon.

Despite all that, I’m challenging myself to do whatever it takes to finish this book today by 10 PM.

Gasp. I know! But I stayed up way too late last night and I just cannot keep doing that. I HAVE to stop. I originally set a 9 PM end time for writing (a few weeks ago) but I’ve since reconsidered. I would feel fine if I got to sleep regularly at 11 PM, so ending the writing day at 10 PM is totally reasonable.

I have just a little time before I have to get busy with the first batch of stuff that isn’t writing, so I’m going to write now. Updates will follow!

(Two days later update)

I netted 6 words and didn’t finish the book.

I could claim to have spent a lot of time on those words or to have deleted a lot of words and written many more, but all that would just be a story.

The truth is that when I got home (later than I wanted to get home) I was tired and I didn’t feel good enough to do anything, much less write this ending that’s being a pain in the butt.

I’ve been sickish for two days since so I’m going to assume that’s why I didn’t (and don’t) feel well and don’t seem to be making any progress.

Done with timers; wrote more last night but can’t use any of it

So last night I had this idea that maybe what was bothering me about this story was the way I handled the climax. I took my notebook up to bed with me and made a few notes, and then before I knew it, I’d written two pages of new material (and it’s a big notebook with narrow lines).

This is the notebook I’m talking about. I love this notebook. However, I’ve since realized that for long-term preservation of my notebooks, I’m going to have to abandon the metal spirals because of the potential for rust. Ah, well. I have three more in aqua and two in charcoal. I won’t leave them unused. I just won’t buy more.

Of course, the plan this morning was to get it entered and add the word count to yesterday’s total.

Only when I looked back at the scene I’d written in the climax where I would need to insert this (and go in a somewhat different direction) I realized I have a decent scene there and that the new material just wasn’t going to work.

On the other hand, I like the new material, so as far as I’m concerned it still happens in the book, just without the intervention of my main character. It’s part of the hidden story and I’m going to use it in the next book. Probably as the opening. In fact, just typing that has made me feel certain that, yes, the stuff I wrote last night (at least a chunk of it) will be the beginning of my next book in this series. :-)

(Hidden story is the part of the story that isn’t revealed in the story but that must occur within the time frame of the story for the other things to occur—not to be confused with backstory, which occurs before the start of the story.)

Hidden story in this book could easily become backstory in the next book, but since I’m thinking this little bit of hidden story is going to become the opening scene of the next book, it won’t be hidden story or backstory. It’ll just be part of the story. :-)

So, now I just need to get to work on today’s writing and finish this story.

First, no more timers. I’m not even talking about temporarily. I’m doing away with timers.

I know that didn’t work for me at the beginning of this year, but that was because I was using timers in conjunction with no schedule and no goals either. That was a mistake.

I know what I need as far as word counts: 500 words a day minimum, 3,000 words a day goal.

The goal is there to help make a particular dream I have a reality. I want to move. I want a new house. I want a pool. I need money to make that happen. :-)

I really don’t need to track anything else. Those are the numbers I need, each day. One is easily accomplished, the other is a stretch. Tracking my daily words is the only metric I need to know if I’m doing what I need to be doing (500 a day) or want to be doing (3,000 a day).

Update #1

My internet was giving me troubles this morning so I had to delay finishing this post, but that’s okay, because I spent the time writing.

I’ve written 405 words this morning and I need another 95 before I can stop for lunch. I’ll be back with an update when I have them. :-)

Update #2

Time for lunch! My word count is now 559 words.

Update #3

And I’m at 545. Yes, I’m going backwards. Except I’m not because I’m closing in on my ending. Consider it the cost of nearing the end. I clean up as I go.

Update #4

623 words were it for the day, but it is the official restart of my 500 words a day streak—if I can do it again today! Life happened, and I had a big chunk of time between 5:40ish and midnight that I didn’t get back to writing. I did a little more until I went to bed oh so late and was really sad that I didn’t push for more writing so I could finish. But I didn’t finish. Now it’s time to get started with today’s writing, so moving on.