I fail a lot

I fail a lot. I think the overwhelming number of posts I’ve put on this site where I candidly admit that I haven’t reached some goal I’ve set for the day tells that story well.

Night before last, I failed again. I didn’t write 500 words or 2,000 words, and I didn’t end up staying awake for a night of writing.

Yesterday, I didn’t do any writing at all. I’m not sure why, because I intended to write, but it didn’t happen.

But here’s how I see failure: it’s a chance for a fresh start.

Today, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve given myself a fresh start.

⇒ I will write a minimum of 500 words (255 already written and 245 to go).

⇒ I’ll do everything I can to write at least 2,000 words.

However, I have also come to the conclusion that I do have to start taking my stated goals more seriously. I’m not doing myself any favors by constantly failing to meet them. This easy acceptance of failure has set a bad precedent and become a habit I didn’t want to cultivate.

On that note, I’m going back to my writing. I have a book I haven’t given up hope of finishing this month and I need a lot of words for that to happen.

Update: I wrote 565 words. Not as many as I wanted but beyond that minimum. That’s an okay result. Definitely happy to have stuck to my resolve to get that minimum.

It’s time for a late night writing spree :)

First, does it count as a late night writing spree if it starts at 9:32 pm? That doesn’t feel like late night to me. However, this is likely to take a while, so I’m predicting a late night here.

I have a 500 word daily minimum to hit. I didn’t hit it yesterday or the day before and I don’t want to let that streak get out of hand.

My reasons for not writing that daily minimum of words is the usual. I just couldn’t get started yesterday at all.

I looked at my story before I wrote this, so I’ve gotten a head start, technically. In actuality, I deleted the last few paragraphs of chapter 9 and lost 97 words, starting me off in the hole. It doesn’t affect any of the opening of chapter 10, so that’s okay. I won’t be getting sucked into any revision because of that decision. In fact, I’m pretty sure that might be a sign that I needed to get rid of those paragraphs all along.

I seem to get stuck a lot and I’m not sure why or what that says about me or my writing process.

Now, it’s time to go write. I’ll be back with updates.

Update 8/25/18

And… that failed spectacularly. As soon as I settled down and stopped moving around much, I got sleepy. So sleepy that I finally just gave up, hibernated the computer, and went to bed.

So I accomplished almost nothing last night.

My ending word count on my book: 21,161.

Meaning I didn’t even write enough to cover the 97 words I deleted.

August word count update

August word count to date = 7,258*

That’s a far cry from where I wanted to be by now when I started August. I’ve had a few good days, though. Specifically, the 16th and the 20th.

8/16 – 1,685
8/20 – 2,198

The rest of the days of this month have been mediocre at best.

Yesterday, I’d hoped for a repeat of my 2,000+ words day, but it didn’t happen. And today is looking even worse.

8/21 – 571 words
8/22 – 53 words (so far)

*Today is still in progress, although I’m not sure it’s going to get much better if I can’t find some way to convince myself to finish writing the scene I’m in the middle of. I just do not want to write the rest of this scene.

I’m trying very hard to decide if I want to delete the portion of the scene that I haven’t wanted to write today or to push on through. There’s also the fact that if I delete it and write, even though the words will be gone, I’ll at least be writing again. But it could lead me to end the day with in a negative position if I don’t write enough. However, the words aren’t doing me any good if they’re just getting in the way of my brain coming up with an alternative so getting rid of them could be my best way forward.

The best way to figure this all out is to start back through the chapter and just go with it, changing or deleting if I need to so the story can move forward again, but I’m just feeling very resistant to that and have been all day.

But… it’s time to decide and do something, because this book isn’t going to write itself and I’m trying to end the week with 14,000 words.

2198+571+53=2822
14000-2822=11178

(I really love how you can type math into OneNote and it solves it for you.) :D

I have 11,178 words still to write this week, and I should probably try to get a least a few (more) of them written tonight.

 

Trying again for my first 2,000 word day in a while

Yesterday’s attempt at writing 2,000 words was a bust. Of all the legitimate things that got in the way, none of them were significant enough to physically stop me from sitting down and writing 2,000 words. My inability to focus came from my mental reaction to the day’s events.

A lot of little things just got in the way in my head and really made it difficult for me to concentrate on writing.

I don’t want that to happen again today.

I actually started off strong this morning. I’ve already written 357 words today.

But… it’s now apparent that the air conditioner might not be fixed, and that’s really got a hold on my brain, and my kid is leaving for college this weekend and is packing and interrupting me at regular intervals, and that’s distracting in a big way.

The fact remains that I still need to do my writing today. I’m behind on this book, and I need to finish it so I can publish it and move on to the next book. I also really need to publish a few books this year for the sake of my bank account. :)

Things are going well with the story and I think I can make a lot of progress today if I can just stay focused on writing the book. I also need to get that first 2,000 word day to start off that 2,000 words a day plan of mine.

I’ve used this little break to clear my head, I hope, and now I’m going back to writing. My book is sitting at 19,756 words right now. I’d like not to stop for lunch until I’m above 21,000 words.

Update: It’s 9:08 pm and I’m sitting at 890 words for the day.

I wanted to be at or above 2,000 words by now, but that hasn’t happened. Obviously. :) But! The air conditioner is working again (repairman came) and that worry is gone and I’m finally feeling able to concentrate again.

Since I don’t want to end tonight without reaching 2,000 words, I’m here at the computer to write another 1,110 words.

Update: 1,506 words. Man, this is getting hard. I’m sooooo sleepy. It’s 12:01 and I have 494 words to go. I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

Update: I settled for 1,685 words. I was too sleepy to continue. This morning, looking at that, it’s easy to say I should have kept going, but last night? There was just no way.

On the bright side, that number of words is above the lower limit I’d set for myself in some calculations I did when I decided to write 2,000 words a day. I ended up settling on 2,000, which is between the two values.

50,000 75,000
1,644 2,466

August 14, 2018 writing post

The only part of my list of want-to-dos I accomplished yesterday was to write something for my new book and work on my paperback for my last release. I’m not going to dwell on the failures though. I’m coming at today with the attitude of a fresh start and a new commitment to my daily word count quota.

That quota is 2,000 words. (Of course.)

I’m writing this new book much too slowly and I need to finish it sooner rather than later if I don’t want to go broke, so I’m going to push for more than that.

I’m just saying. Reality is about to smack me in the face if I don’t start writing more, very soon. My last 12 months word count (September to August) is 78,051 words. That doesn’t sound like the end of the world but add to that my last published book came out late last year. Money is an issue.

Dreams will buoy you through tough times, but you don’t want to set your sail in an ocean of them.

The life of a writer isn’t one of steady paychecks and Castle-esque wealth. If that’s what you’re hoping for, well, keep hoping, but plan for something quite different. Those plans might be the only thing keeping your fridge full.

On that note, I’m off here to go write some fiction. Time is short and I have a book to write.

Update: the day was a bit of a fail (okay, a lot of a fail). I had air conditioner troubles, and so many interruptions, but mostly, I just failed to start the writing. I did get 177 words, but it was on one of my book projects I’m not even sure when I’m going to get around to writing. I have so many other projects to finish first.

August 13, 2018 writing post

Today’s to-dos

Touch all of my main stories, but focus on #1 (the book I want to finish first).

It’s fun for me to write on multiple stories. I also usually end up with more words at the end of the day than I would otherwise.

Then, work on my last published book’s paperback today. I’ll do it in LibreOffice so I can take advantage of the more robust widows and orphans and hyphenation settings.

Once it is done (focus on finishing!) I can try it in Word 2016 if I feel I must. Don’t even bother with Word 2007, the hyphenation is horrible.

Word produces really decent print books for me. I think LibreOffice Writer will probably do just as well, and will definitely be easier on me with the extra hyphenation options and finer control over widows and orphans. I don’t mind first lines of new paragraphs ending a page (orphans); it’s the last lines of a paragraph beginning a new page that I try hardest to eliminate (widows).

Read back through ALL of today’s writing, looking for stuff to fix so I can safely ignore it all tomorrow and just start writing from wherever I left off (and not feel like I’m leaving things undone).

In-progress Finished writing

Word count check-ins

Time Words (book) Words (today)
11:56 am 19,070 words 84 words
12:35 pm 19,173 words 187 words
11:01 pm 19,285 words 299 words

That’s it! I’ll update my word counts as the day goes on but anything more than that will probably end up in its own post. :D

Timed reading while I’m working on my book

Today’s writing plan was simple: time myself as I read through what I already had written (chapters one through four) and then use my timer for some 45 minute writing sessions.

I use the timer when I’m doing my proofreading check at the end (for publishing).* I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about that here before. It really helps keep me focused on reading and not getting distracted the way I used to do when I did my final read through.** This is one of those coping mechanisms I’ve come up with over the years to deal with the fact that I don’t always find it easy to focus, even when it’s something I want to do.

Today was the first time I’ve tried the timed reading thing while going back to read through and fix things during actual story creation.

I liked it. I think I’ll do it again when I need to.

But there was a definite difference in speed. My proofread usually takes 15-20 minutes per chapter. This was much more time consuming! I ended up spending most of the day on this. Focusing is hard work (for me), no joke!

Now that I’ve done that, I’m going to go off and write for a few minutes, then pack it in for the night. I just don’t think I have it in me to do any 45 minute sessions. It’s 10:48 pm and I’ve been at it all day.

I do think I’ve cleared out all the deleted stuff in my head so that when I really get into the next scene I’m not going to be confused. I do hope so.

Maybe I’ll reread on my Kindle in bed tonight where I can’t touch it except to highlight errors and just try to settle it more firmly in my thoughts.

+=+=+

* I have a spreadsheet for this stage. I have a column with my chapter number and I sit down with that chapter, turn on my stopwatch timer, and read. I record the time. I move on to the next chapter. Breaks are optional.

** I used to just keep up with my percentage read based on my Kindle locations in the final manuscript (after sending it to my Kindle). I tried to read in long stretches of time, sometimes setting hour long goals for myself to read as much as I could in that time. Trust me when I say that I really like my current spreadsheet method much better. :)

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.

Taking another run at “The End” today

I’m off to a good start. Only 49 words up after two 45 minute sessions, but I’m through the editing completely and back into new words territory now. (Just finished deleting a decent chunk of several hundred words. I was up 162 words after the 1st session only to lose most of them in the 2nd.)

The plan is to keep doing the 45 minute sessions until I reach either 6 hours or the end of the book. (Hoping for the latter!)

Anyway, off to make something to drink and then I’ll be starting session three.

Here are the sessions so far.

Minutes Words Session WPH
45 162 162 216
45 49 -113 -151
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0

(Sometime very much later…)

I’m sitting here staring at my results today and more than a little disappointed that I finished only two 45 minute sessions.

I wrote three pages in my journal about not writing (typical) and then went website hopping for self-help articles to validate my feelings (also typical). It was stupid and I really don’t understand myself sometimes. Writing fiction is important to me.

One, it’s my life’s work. Two, it’s my job. Three, it keeps me from having to work as someone’s employee and live a lifestyle I absolutely hate.

The self-sabotage I’m capable of just boggles my mind. I’m destroying my chance for happiness by not sticking to a writing routine of some kind and actually putting out the words I ought to be perfectly capable of writing.

I don’t want to write. That’s just all there is to it. I look at my book, think about the writing, and just do not want to do it.

I think I know why, but I can’t seem to fix it.

Writing is a chore because I make it hard. Every time I sit down, I spend loads of time redoing sentence after sentence, word after word, trying to find my way. Trying to capture a feeling or a scene that I can’t seem to capture no matter how hard I try. Second-guessing every decision, writing for everyone except myself, even though that is exactly what I do not want to do.

I didn’t used to be this way. I’m not sure what happened or when it changed, but writing has felt hard for a couple of years now. I’ve been publishing since 2012. It’s 2017 now. Somewhere in there, something changed. It could have been a slow slide or a sudden shift, but it happened, and I’ve been left standing on a ledge. The rocks under my feet are crumbling and I’m starting to feel a little desperate.

I need to find a way off this damn ledge.

I tried changing up my formatting on my book-in-progress to see if that refreshed my feelings for the writing, but it was a wasted effort. I tried multiple formats and ended up right back where I’d started: Times New Roman 12 pt, single spaced text, first line indent.

It was a band-aid anyway.

The problem isn’t how the text looks. It isn’t the fact that I can’t get comfortable. I can get comfortable enough to web-surf for hours on end and read online articles, or read forum threads, or read a book that takes all day long to read, but I can’t get comfortable enough to type words into my computer? Give me a break. My comfort isn’t the problem.

The problem is that I don’t want to write.

But it’s not just the writing. I don’t want to do anything. That’s the real problem. I just want to be, and let me tell you, that’s the stupidest thing in the world, because I know as well as the next person that you don’t make it through life that way with your self-respect intact.

Is depression something that can last for years? Because I’m seriously starting to wonder if there’s something serious behind this weird combination of worry, apathy, and lack of motivation I’ve had going on for so long.

Something’s just not right.

You know the funniest part of this all? This post is 669 words long.

I’m not laughing.