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.)

Session two better than session one, so… incremental improvement?

Session two’s attempt has also failed.

I wrote 358 words (537 wph). I did improve over session one though, so there was some incremental improvement.

But—oh, and there is a but—not only did I not write faster than my average (600 wph), I wasted a bunch of writing time when a shiny video caught my eye on YouTube and I watched a bunch of videos about traveler’s notebooks (which I don’t even have nor do I want!). I haven’t been on YouTube before last night in months. So I have to ask myself: Why now? Am I really so desperate to avoid writing that I’ve turned to YouTube to sabotage myself?

Frankly, I’m a little off-kilter anyway because looking at my notebook, I see that I ended session one at 10:58, yet I didn’t end session two until 12:40. Where’d that extra hour go?

UGH. I have no idea!

My plan was to finish three sessions before lunch, but now I’m starving and it’s 2:32 so I’m going to go ahead and stop for a moment.

When I come back, I’m going to do sessions three to six.

And… this ended up being my last session. I just flaked out, no real explanation why I couldn’t bring myself to finish the day.

Didn’t get there in session one

Session one for the morning is over. I did not write as freely or constantly as wanted to. I hesitated a lot. I backspaced more than I’d hoped. I second-guessed myself many times.

I wrote 313 words (470 wph). That’s not even my average pace (600 wph), so I have to admit  session one’s attempt was a failure.

On to session two, after I stretch my legs.

Yay for that, at least

I ended yesterday with 384 words. Considering I was up to 468 after two of my 40 minute sessions, that seems impossible, right? But nope, not impossible. I completed another 40 minute session but before I started it I deleted 349 words.

Boom, just gone.

I must have written a few hundred words there in that last session or I’d have ended the night with a lower word count than I did, so yay! for that.

On another note, today I plan to begin substituting the word “plan” anywhere I might be tempted to use the word “goal.” It’s a mind-trick I want to try out. We’ll see how it goes.

Also, today I will definitely be picking up the challenge I set out for myself last night but was unable to follow through on. I’m going to try to write as constantly as I can during my sessions, and stay away from the backspace or delete key as much as possible!, and see where that gets me. It’s going to be challenging, but if I don’t practice, I won’t improve.

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.)

Training myself to write faster—step 1

Here’s the thing: I write fiction pretty damn slowly. My average pace is about 500 words per hour and it seems to be getting worse. You’d think after nearly 20 books that I’d be getting faster, not slower, but that’s not what seems to be happening.

Now maybe it’s just this one book. Maybe it’s just the last few stories I’ve chosen to write. But I don’t think so. These stories haven’t been the kind of stories that push me into new places as a writer. So the only thing I’m left with is the worry that perfectionism has gotten hold of me again, and that I’m having trouble recognizing it in the moment.

I came across an article today that expressed really well how I’ve been feeling: Write FAST and Furious! Learning to Outrun “The Spock Brain”.

What I particularly liked about the article was that it helped me see that I’ve started holding back in my story. I’ve kind of felt it a few times in this book and another that I worked on a few weeks ago, but I thought, nah, I’m just having second thoughts…

But truly, it isn’t second thoughts so much as fear. Honest to God, flat-out fear that a particular angle I’d taken on something in the book might offend someone.

I really need to think about that for a while, because that’s not the kind of writer I want to be and I’ve always told myself I don’t let other people in my head when I write. Turns out it might not be true.

Here’s the quote that gave me this realization:

Many writers hold back emotionally when writing. Why? They aren’t going fast and hard and so Spock takes over and he wants us to use a seatbelt and our blinkers. He isn’t the guy you want in charge if you’re going for the GUTS and breaking bones.

And another:

Spock Brain is a perfectionist and wants us to take our time, make sure we follow all the rules and put the commas in the right spot. He’s seriously uncomfortable with “suspending disbelief” and he tries to explain everything so others don’t get confused.

It probably helped enormously that I’m a die-hard Star Trek fan, and I’m particularly obsessed with ST:AOS and ST:TOS right now. So this article kind of hit me at the right time with the right message using the right metaphor. ;)

However or whyever—that article gave me something to mull over.

And that brings me to this: I’m going to start trying to train myself to write faster.

Step 1: Accept that I want to write faster and believe that it’s possible.

I know I can write faster if I just let myself.

It’s time to put Spock to bed for a while. I’ll just put Bones in there to keep him company while I use Kirk to get this book of mine moving again. ;)

Saying is not doing

You know how you sometimes say you’re going to do something but then when it comes to actually doing said something, you just… don’t?

Yeah. That happened. I was determined yesterday to get in my time and reach 3,000 words. I wrote it down in my journal. But nope, I didn’t do it when it came time.

Yesterday’s word count was 49 words. I did finish one complete 40 minute session, but at that word count, it was more of a disgrace than anything else.

I’m trying harder today.

At least I’ve managed two complete 40 minute sessions so far and have 468 words to show for it. Of course, that’s nowhere near the goal I had for them, but gah, it’s been hard to get moving on this book. GRRRRR.

Yesterday was not great; thoughts on rewriting

Yesterday was not great as a writing day. The details are there and there.

I ended the day with 354 words, which is better than none, I guess, but WOW. I think I like the scenes I rewrote better now than before, but the truth is, I’m not objective and I have no way to know if they’re objectively better. I meant to read through them last night but fell asleep before I even started, and I thought about rereading them this morning but decided that might not be a good idea AT ALL if I want to actually write a lot of words today (which I do).

What I did gain from this was a reminder that slow writing and rewriting both seem to introduce more errors and things in need of more rewriting than just writing something fast in the first place.

Not that I ever believed any different but the reminder was warranted. I have bad habits I need to overcome and sometimes I forget what those bad habits are.

Unfortunately, I can’t always write fast. I try but I get hung up on not knowing what to write next, or what I write next doesn’t feel right, so I start tinkering, and whammo. There I am, writing slow, or rewriting, and I’m stuck in the mire. Even when I realize that, it takes me a while to get my momentum back.

I don’t really know how to fix that. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out.

How to write only 90 words per hour—a primer

Start with a goal. Know that you really need to make this day’s writing count.

Goals 500 750
Session Words WPH
1 57 86
2 138 207
3 -72 -108
4 118 177

Add in rewriting, then delete a few paragraphs that really don’t sound like they belong, add in some perfectionism—okay a lot of perfectionism, and throw in a dash of what-the-fuck, and there you go!

My average words per hour over 2.667 hours: 90.

At least I have a few sessions to go so maybe today won’t be a total loss. :o

Six sessions might be the magic number

I’m doing 40 minute sessions today, that means six sessions, which feels like a Goldilocks number: not too many, not too few.

In fact, I did two 40 minute sessions this morning and both of them felt like they went by so fast that I couldn’t believe either of them was over when the timer dinged.

I definitely feel like I needed to leave myself more time to get into the zone and extending my session length to 40 minutes seems to have helped. I might even go longer now that I’m seeing the benefit. Now that I’m not drinking coffee and teas all the time while I’m writing, I’m handling the longer sessions just fine.

The only thing is that my word count per hour doesn’t benefit that much from the longer sessions.

In the past, there’s even been a negative effect. Shorter sessions definitely give me a better wph. On the other hand, I do think I enjoy writing better with the longer sessions. And since I need to like writing again more than I need an awesome wph, I think I’m just going to enjoy the trade-off.

July’s average words per day (not counting today because I’m still writing) = 838 words