Reviews and comments about the new WordPress block editor

I wrote what I thought about the WordPress 5.0 update and the new block editor in my own previous post.

I’m not satisfied to be unhappy about the change all by my lonesome. So here are some links to other people’s reviews and thoughts about the new editor.

Reviewing Gutenberg: Is WordPress’ New Editor Up to Scratch?

Thorough and to the point. It addresses the topic from a viewpoint I share, but I am totally biased. I don’t like the editor.

Welcoming WordPress 5.0 And The New Editor

Mostly a positive look at WP 5 and the new editor, with a bit of a take-back at the end.

WordPress Gutenberg will be the end of WordPress

This one was written by someone who appears to have had so many of the same feelings I have about WordPress’s new update, Gmail and Google Calendar and their regression to a mobile first interface to the detriment of the desktop environment, etc, that I got sucked into reading lots of stuff there. (Gotta say, the article about the three-foot long erection was probably the highlight of my reading that day.)

I have a few more links that I want to post but I’ll have to get back to it. They’re on a tablet somewhere and I’m supposed to be writing fiction. Also, I’m hungry and the new WP editor has stolen enough of my time! :)

Feeling a little less alone today on this journey to improvement

I was going to respond to a blog post I ran across today but found the commenting system was using Disqus which I don’t use and realized I had too much to say for a comment anyway.

Here’s a link: Writing under the influence: productivity and motivation tips to help authors write faster. It’s an interesting post, but the thing that really stood out to me is that I’ve finally (finally!) come across someone with some of the exact same issues in writing and productivity that I have spent six years talking about on this blog.

A “successful” writing day for me right now – when I’m consistent – is 1500 words a day, with two big problems.:

#1. It takes me about 5 sprints to hit 1500 words, but I spread them out throughout the day. So even though technically they only take me about 2 hours, they actually take up my whole day (and I’m too mentally exhausted to do anything else).

I have done the numbers ten ways to Sunday and if I could consistently write for only 4 hours a day, I could put out a book a month.

I can’t do it.

I have tried and tried and tried and tried. I have been trying for approximately 6 years. 75 months. 2,264 days. What it always comes down to is that 4 hours a day of writing takes me all day and I can do that for a few days or even a week sometimes, but I cannot maintain that pace indefinitely. Even my best month of the entire last 6 years of writing (75 months of word counts!) had me averaging 3.83 hours a day. I reached 57,249 words that month, back in April 2016, and I am still trying to beat that number.

#2. I don’t stay consistent. Weeks or months go by without actively working on my books. But when I open, when I start, I can do 1500 words.

This is my bench lifting ability right now. But if I ONLY do this much, I won’t be building my muscles or increasing in stamina. I’ll be coasting, not improving. I WANT to be writing 5,000 words a day, though I’d be happy with 3000 words. That would give me a longish novel a month, plus editing – and I could finish shorter works of 50K in a month (or less!)

Yeah. I want to write about 2000 words a day. I have a 2000 words a day plan, in fact. I know I should be able to do it in a reasonable amount of time every day. And yet… see my comment above. 2000 words a day takes me about 4 hours (timed writing). 4 hours of timed writing takes me all day. I have occasionally done better, finished early, etc. That’s not something I have ever been able to keep up for longer than a few days.

I’ve tried schedules, and timers, and sprinting, and writing for the love of it. I’ve tried time boxing and time blocking and micro-managing my writing time. I’ve tried eliminating sugar and coffee and tea and I’ve tried more coffee and tea and enough sugar to make me sick. I’ve tried exercise and vitamins and candles and music and clear desks and Leechblock. I’ve tried so, so many things, and all I have to show for it is a string of successful days and failed days and no pattern at all to discern anything of note.

Right now I can do about 1200 words/day consistently. Sometimes 1600. The main problem is it takes me ALL DAY to do this; even though I space out the sprints, I procrastinate and avoid. Then I get behind on other work or projects, and get anxious.

This is a big problem: I can only hit my wordcount goals if I literally do NOTHING else.

And this is due to resistance. But why am I resisting the writing? Because I say stuff like “I’m slow, I’m no good at drafting, writing the first draft is HARD for me.” I don’t believe writing HAS to be a struggle, but it obviously is for me… so I’m avoiding it. How can I write and still have time and energy for everything else on my list?

See the similarities to my own issues mentioned above?

I hope the author of the post figures things out eventually. Maybe it’ll be something I can learn from and apply to my own issues.

And it was nice to feel less alone for a few minutes today.

In the meantime, I’m trying to brainstorm alternative paths to becoming the prolific writer I want to be. All the planning in the world hasn’t seemed to have helped me in the slightest.

Daily average for the first two months (July and August 2012) (no timers, no goals other than to finish a book ASAP): 904 words a day.

All time daily average as of today: 552 words a day.

Daily average this month (timed writing almost every day): 908 words a day.

Yeah. Not much else to say, is there? I sure hope I can figure out some way to put my strengths to work for me in writing and actually improve my yearly/monthly word counts. Because trying to fix my weaknesses hasn’t done much for me at all. I’m still sitting right where I started: inconsistent, slow, and full of resistance.

My turn to move paperbacks from CreateSpace to KDP

CreateSpace has been rolling out the migration from CreateSpace to KDP Print since sometime last week. I finally got the popup notice (although no email notifications) that I should consider moving my books.

I didn’t delay, just went ahead and clicked the “Get Started” button, because—

  1. I don’t sell oodles of paperbacks anyway, so if it messed something up I’m not losing much.
  2. I’ve heard that once the popup goes away, it’s gone for a long time.
  3. I’m impatient and I wanted it over and done with.

The migration actually seems to have gone off without a hitch. On the other hand, I haven’t examined any of the books in detail since moving them from CreateSpace to KDP.

I had to link two drafts to the ebooks, but all the other paperback books linked up on their own, matching to the correct ebooks without any trouble.

We’ll see later today or tomorrow if it actually went well, when I log in and check out the details.

I’m hesitant to do anything that’ll require me to approve a book at the moment, because if it leads me to needing to make cover or interior file adjustments, I’m not ready. I’m trying really hard to get this next book finished and don’t want to split my focus if I don’t absolutely have to.

Amazon has a help article up about the switch, and David Gaughran posted about the closing on his blog. And of course, it’s a big topic on Kboards.

Just an FYI, if you haven’t been paying attention, Kboards is under new ownership. I’m still considering how I feel about that and might use this as the push I need to cut Kboards out of my daily routine. I just need to find a replacement so I don’t feel especially cut off from news about big happenings in the SP world. Suggestions are welcome (but I don’t—and won’t—do Facebook). :D

(Facebook has rules about pseudonyms. I use pseudonyms for pretty much all my online activities. Furthermore, I have a unique name that makes it ridiculously easy to track my online activity when I don’t use a pseudonym, I hate being followed around online by Facebook, and I care about following the rules when it’s not something that’s going to hurt me. Enough said.) :-)

Just one more reason I’m so glad I don’t live or work in California

Recent Developments Regarding the California Consumer Privacy Act

It’s not that I don’t value my privacy, because I certainly do. It’s not that I don’t like California, because I’d visit, given the right opportunity. But I also value small businesses and think the burdens they bear are already excessive. Small businesses are being crushed.

I run a small business as a self-published author, and I often get overwhelmed with what I’m supposed to do to stay fully compliant with the laws and regulations I operate within, and that doesn’t even take federal, state, local, and international tax issues into consideration.

I sincerely hope other states don’t follow suit and we all end up with more of these burdensome laws in place.

It’s undeniable: every day, we lose another little piece of freedom to the bureaucracies of the world. From the moment society turned to civilization, we’ve been on the road to complete enslavement to each other. The day will come. Not even the wealthy will escape in the end. :D

Maybe I should write that book. Hm…

Not so bad? WTF

I was reading this blog post on book stuffing this morning (and it’s a good one) and came to the screenshots that included comments someone had made in the Chance Carter Diamond Group.

Mind blown.

Why? Because I don’t understand who would look at that list of instructions on how to do the KU Flip and actually think anyone is worth that kind of time investment.

I understand there are people out in the world who feel entitled to steal other people’s time while providing nothing of real value in return, just so they can make a few extra dollars off each one. I do.

But I don’t understand why people value themselves so little that they would actually let it happen. It’s worth it for a free book? A chance at a prize? You’ve got to be kidding me.

And then to think that this character—this person—is already making thousands every month and these readers are giving up time—something that you never, ever get back—to give this person another $12-15 for a KU read? Ugh. Fuck that.

Inherently selfish people have no trouble taking advantage of givers. These poor givers are giving and giving, and this dude is just taking and taking and taking.

The only way this makes sense to me is if it’s all just a big pyramid scheme and the used are hoping to become the users at some point and recoup their investment. But that’s not what I’m hearing. These are readers, who’ve been drawn in by this person’s persona, and who choose to let themselves be used in this way.

I’m sad that I don’t really believe in karma in this life. Maybe in the next.

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

Seriously, it’s time to end this thing

Alright, it’s time to put an end to my misery. I have to finish this book. Today.

Toward that end—:D—I’ve set a loose schedule and some time goals. (Time spent is really the only thing I can totally control when it comes to my writing. I’ve tried to make time quotas work in the past and they haven’t but I don’t think that changes the fundamental truth that if I want to create a daily habit of writing, I’m going to have to focus on time.)

From 11:00 – 3:15, I’m going to try to get in 3 sessions of 1.25 hours each.

I’m already late getting started because of the kittens (they think my deck is a litter box and I’m trying to break them of that habit as quickly as I can) and this post (I shouldn’t be writing it now but here I am), and there isn’t enough break time built in to make the time up easily, but I’m still going to push for it even if that means going past 3:15. If the book isn’t done by then, and I don’t really think it will be…

From 4:15 – 7:00, I’m going to try to get in 2 sessions of 1.25 hours each.

First note: As of right now, I’m planning all my future sessions to be 1.25 hours each, except on days where I might just need to write and be in a hurry and don’t keep up with time at all. I don’t want to feel locked in to the idea that I can’t write or work on my stories just because I don’t have 1.25 hours available. Those days should be rare, because I’m trying to get into a routine and this is the equivalent of my job and the work has to be done. If I can’t squeeze in a few 1.25 hour blocks of time a day for writing, then I have bigger problems. A person has to make a living somehow.

Second note: I did some reading and rereading of a few things and I’ve become convinced that pushing myself past the 4–5 hour range for time spent writing is a mistake. I deal with low motivation regularly after what I consider really good writing days, and there’s a simple explanation: burnout and need for extra rest after pushing too hard.

If I were used to longer periods of focus, it might be different, but I don’t think so. K. Anders Ericsson has some really good papers on deliberate practice and high performance. (Some other related links.) Considering the fact that I’m still under the two million words written mark for fiction (probably), I still feeling like I’m doing high-level practice every time I sit down to write. I’m not sure the good writers ever quit practicing, though, so it’s not something I expect to change. I will always be trying to get better.

One quote:

Elite performers in many diverse domains have been found to practice, on the average, roughly the same amount every day, including weekends, and the amount of practice never consistently exceeds five hours per day.

And from one of the linked papers:

Across many domains of expertise, a remarkably consistent pattern emerges: The best individuals start practice at earlier ages and maintain a higher level of daily practice. Moreover, estimates indicate that at any given age the best individuals in quite different domains, such as sports and music, spend similar amounts of time on deliberate practice. In virtually all domains, there is evidence that the most important activity—practice, thinking, or writing—requires considerable effort and is scheduled for a fixed period during the day. For those exceptional individuals who sustain this regular activity for months and years, its duration is limited to 2-4 h a day, which is a fraction of their time awake.

Going from my daily average word count and the fact that I average 400-600 words an hour during timed writing sessions, I average about 2 hours a day of writing time. Then I read and study and think. Publishing activities drive up the time I spend working even more. I’m going to stop feeling so damn guilty for not putting in even more time. If I ever make it up to 4 hours of writing a day, consistently, I am determined that I’ll be damn happy about it.

Anyway, I just wasted a huge chunk of time on this post and I must go write. This book is going to end today, one way or another. And yes, 5 x 1.25 = 6.25 hours. I’m pushing myself, but I’m tired of dallying with this book. I want it done.

What does it take to be a productive writer? A journal!

I read an article today that caused me to rethink the differences between my really productive Sunday and my less productive Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (and Thursday, so far). It was the title of the piece that drew me in—interstitial is just that kind of word.

Replace Your To-Do List With Interstitial Journaling To Increase Productivity: A new journaling tactic that immediately kills procrastination and boosts creative insights” promised not to be just another article on productivity journaling (boring) but something more and I decided I really had to know what the author of the piece had to say.

(Note: you do appear to need a Medium account to read the complete article.)

I wasn’t disappointed, even though I saw right away that this was exactly the kind of journaling I already do on my more productive days. In fact (from the article):

During your day, journal every time you transition from one work project to another. Write a few sentences in your journal about what you just did, and then a few more sentences about what you’re about to do.

The author talks about this as journaling in the “interstitial moments” between projects. For me, I journal when I take breaks between sessions. The example the author showed of this kind of journaling is very close to what I do in my private journal (even down to putting in the time) and I’ve also done it some here on the blog, although not lately.

It’s also very similar to what I did Sunday, and what I didn’t do Monday through Wednesday (or even Thursday, so far).

Since I journal in so many different places, it’s been hard for me to go back and check just how many of my more productive days involved this kind of journaling and how many didn’t, but my gut tells me this has been a significant determinant of whether or not I’ve ended up having a successful writing day.

The problem I have measuring this gut feeling is that I currently log all this stuff in any of three active paper journals (not counting my cheap spiral notebooks), this blog, and my OneNote journals. Some days I write in OneNote (today) and some days I write in my hardback journal, or my 5×8 softbound journal, or my BlueSky spiral notebook (that I adore). And some days I just post to the blog and do no other journaling at all.

I might have a hard time writing a lot of fiction, but let me tell you, I write a shit ton of everything else. ;)

In the “journal everything” section of the article, I saw so much of my own journaling habits that it was a little spooky. I also suspect that many of those days were the days when I successfully overcame procrastination.

From one of my own private journal entries (November 4, 2015):

9:49 am: Started my break. Although my numbers started out low, they’ve improved a bit and the goal of having a record breaking day doesn’t look out of reach so I’m going to keep aiming in that direction.

I’ve been yawning so I hope that doesn’t turn into a problem. But I need do only two more sessions before lunch so it’s not that bad! I can nap then if I really need it.

12:02 pm: 2,021 words

I’m disappointed I’m not further along but I did hit a bit of a wall when it comes to energy earlier. I got through it though. Now I need to have a quick lunch and get back to writing. I think the story is going well and I’m looking forward to where it might go.

My pace is only 622 wph this morning, and I’m 5 minutes short of 4 full 50 minute sessions. That means that I wrote for 3.25 hours out of about 4.25 hours. That’s an average of 20 minutes between every session. Not bad. Better than I have been doing at any rate! Improvement is good. :)

Caught up with Pulp Speeders, now getting to lunch! 12:27 pm.

1:28 pm. And of course, lunch took longer than I expected. My battery isn’t changed yet either. I think I’ll take a short nap. If I can. Just a quick little eye rest. :D

1:53 pm. My quick little eye rest didn’t turn into a nap, but I do feel better and ready to get started again.

3:48pm. 2,498 words

Of course, none of that ended up here on the blog as my only November 4, 2015 entry proves.

I’ll be honest, this article came at an opportune time. I’ve been wishy-washy today about whether or not I wanted to go back to using timers to keep me focused on writing, but I kind of really don’t want to do that, not yet at any rate. This journaling could be the key to keeping me productive during the transition, and could also explain some of my former productivity.

Even the month I posted nothing here and maintained my most consistent writing pace ever (February 2013), I wrote in my private journals. I’d love to go back and read them, but they’re the ones I deleted in late 2014 and I still could kick myself for doing that. I have a note to myself at the top of my OneNote journals notebook. It says simply: REMEMBER – Do not delete journals again!

Funny, but I dare not get rid of that reminder. I also moved to expensive paper journals for the same reason. I’m much less tempted to tear out pages and throw them away when the cost is $9+ for the journal versus the $0.25 I paid for the cheap spiral notebooks I used to use. :D

Know thyself, as they say.

The thing is, this is something I’ve been doing for a long time, but not every day and not deliberately. I think it’s time I give it a deliberate place in my writing day.

Since today hasn’t been great (so far), it’s the perfect time to put this into practice and see if it leads to me writing more words tonight. Because I really need to write, and the 315 words I have so far are nowhere near where I’d imagined this day ending up when I got started this morning.

So thanks, Tony Stubblebine! Your article has made a difference in someone’s life today. :D

Read a really lovely essay today on a random blog

I think I clicked a link to get to it from somewhere, but by the time I read the essay, I’d lost track of where I’d been. It doesn’t matter. The essay was lovely and I enjoyed it enough to want to share. :)

It warns you for politics, but it really isn’t political. It’s about being human.

Surviving trolls, extremism and other curses of modern life

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. ;)