July 2018 progress

I’ve had another dry spell with the writing but I’m trying to get things moving again. It all started with the space bar failure and snowballed from there. I had several things happen around that time that that kept interfering with my daily routine and distracted me from writing.

I relocated the stray cat and her three litters of kittens/cats to a cozy barn where they can live in peace and so can I. I’ve had to heal from that burn on my wrist that might not leave a scar after all. I don’t know. I seem to be healing well, just have some weird sensation around the edges of the new skin that twinges.

But all in all, several things have really taken my focus off writing and it’s taken me this long to get going again.

So in the end, I didn’t do nearly as well in July as I’d hoped to do.

Words written in July: 6,478.

That’s definitely a slowdown from June. Still, it’s better than nothing, and I’m trying to do better in August. I’m also trying to finish this next book of mine. Wish me luck.

Yesterday with the book went well, so what did I do today?

I spent the day messing with my fonts library, caused Word to screw up with some of my most useful fonts, spent way too much time deleting and installing one particular font that just would not display correctly after I’d installed newer versions, deleted my font cache again, (and again), and finally got things working correctly by digging out some files I’d put into a backup folder in case I messed something up.

I do appreciate that I had the foresight to do that.

Because boy did I mess something up.

At one point I had Word displaying everything in an italic font for what was supposed to be a regular font and I have no idea how that happened.

But what a waste of a good day. I can’t even understand why I did this.

I finally started writing at 11:24 and spent most of an hour and three minutes editing stuff that probably didn’t need to be edited.

Oh, and about mid-day, I reached across my kettle while it was boiling water for my coffee and steamed the crap out of my arm. Right where it touches the edge of my keyboard when I type. Those burns hurt! Of course it blistered. It’s a very ugly burn, in fact, and will probably leave a scar.

So “Yay” for today.

I’m ending my writing session with a negative word count. I knew when I sat down today that tomorrow was not going to be a writing day and that I really needed to make some progress today.

I did none of that.

It was just not a great day. I’m glad to see it over.

July 1-13 progress

Time for another progress post. (Progress on what? Go here.)

As usual, the moment I made a plan for myself, I backed away from it—not in thought but in action.

Little things tend to disrupt me in big ways. That’s what seems to have happened with the keyboard issue I had to deal with this week.

I have the new keyboard installed. I have the new fan installed. I’m not liking the new fan, because it’s noisier than the old one and there’s a weird static-y feeling sometimes as I’m typing, and I think it’s the fan causing it. But overall, my computer and desk are once again set up the way I prefer for them to be.

Yet I’m still feeling disrupted.

Yesterday, I spent some time getting my little netbook that’s running on Lubuntu up to date with the latest LTS distribution. That led me to test a new idea I had for writing away from my desk. I liked it. The keyboard is small but I have small fingers. I used my backup file that I send to Dropbox every day when I finish writing, opened it in LibreOffice Writer, renamed it immediately and saved it in a different Dropbox folder, then just started writing in it.

The big thing for me about working on the same book in multiple places is that I like to see what I’ve written as I work but I do not want to move my master document off my main computer or into Dropbox. Dropbox is for my backup files or for copies of files I want to access elsewhere. I just do not want my master book files stored in any cloud-syncing folder on my computer. I sync my files to my Dropbox folder using yCopy2 and that’s the way I like it.

This means I can’t edit the file I opened on the little netbook, though, or I’ll have a mess on my hands.

It’s one thing to just copy and paste some text from one file to another, but if I were to have to incorporate edited and changed text…? No way am I going to do that. On the other hand, I don’t mind being forced to stop editing and just write, because I do have a tendency to edit and rewrite a lot even when I don’t plan to.

I quite liked this other option for working on my books. It means I can get away from distractions of my main computer while not losing access to the whole document I’m working on, also without risking the integrity of my master document.

All that said, though, I need to be writing more. The disruptions I’ve dealt with this month hasn’t been good for the word counts.

I’ve had too many days this month where I just haven’t forced myself to sit down and write, even though I needed to.

My July-to-date word count: 4,968.

For the moment, I’m going to focus on my 2,000 words a day and go from there.

Today’s (writing) forecast

Today’s writing forecast: cloudy, stormy, but not without hope. ;-)

From the 7-Day Forecast at weather.gov

A rainy day always makes for a good writing day, as far as I’m concerned.

I need to write at least a couple thousand words today, or I need to just admit I’m not going to finish this book anytime in the next three months.

Low word counts are bogging me down again, and several days of interruptions that shouldn’t have been interruptions have distracted me. My focus is not where it needs to be, and my ability to concentrate has taken a sharp hit. But it’s nothing I can’t overcome. These distractions are to some extent self-inflicted and I have to ability to limit them.

Writing feels hard right now and that’s making it too easy to give up. So today’s primary challenge will be to ignore the hard stuff and just enjoy coming up with a fun story.

Challenge accepted.

 

My schedule is killing my productivity

No joke, my schedule is killing my productivity. The unfortunate truth is that I need a schedule. That doesn’t seem to matter. I can’t stop myself from constantly making changes to any schedule I create, and even when I leave it wide open for writing and just fill in the basics like lunch, supper, and the like, I still can’t stop messing with it.

It turns out that having a schedule is just a massive distraction I don’t know how to handle.

Is this that moment where I look back and realize I really should have seen this coming? Probably.

Why can’t I break the Kboards habit?

I’ve gotten myself worked up into a state again, one that isn’t conducive to being creative, and I have no one to blame but myself. I know not to visit Kboards when I’m already having trouble writing—in fact, I know not to visit  at all—but I do it anyway because… because… I don’t even know why.

I keep thinking I need more writer friends but then I read (and occasionally participate in) threads and discover that I really don’t like half the people there. There are nice people at Kboards, really, but they get drowned out by the others, the ones that cannot stand, in any way, for fellow self-publishers to go their own way or walk their own path.

Since I experiment and choose to do things my own way, I don’t usually find helpful business advice there. I visit for the camaraderie—and yet rarely find it. It’s a well-moderated board, but even the most innocuous threads turn divisive and you end up with one or two “successful” authors gently (and then not so gently) scolding  everyone for not doing things the right away—their way. And then their minions or people who just want to be like them jump in and it becomes an echo chamber determined to drown out dissenting voices. Anyone who’s found success on a different path is labeled an outlier and told their advice isn’t valid.

To which I say, massive success in publishing is rare and elusive, and anyone who has found such massive success is probably an outlier and should not be listened to. In all likelihood, they have no idea underneath it all what it was that brought them success other than the fact that they probably work hard and know how to write a good book. (I say probably because half the world will tell you that there are a lot of bestsellers that aren’t good to a lot of people and there is a certain percentage of people in life who do just get lucky and never have to work hard at all.)

I don’t begrudge anyone their success as long as it came honestly, but man, it would be nice if people didn’t wield their sales numbers like a razor-sharp sword and try to skewer everyone on the ladder below them.

Which brings me full circle really. I want to break the Kboards habit. I just don’t know how. I’ve tried blocking the site, even going so far as to block it in my hosts file, and I still find myself undoing all my hard work and going back. It makes me sick every time I do it. Especially when I end up in this same state of mind because of it. I don’t like conflict, but Kboards is a black-hole of conflict. It’s really not the place for me.

Update: Alright, I did it. I edited my hosts file and blocked Kboards completely. I had no choice. Mind the Time tells me that just today using Firefox I’ve spent 43 minutes there—and I probably spent twice as much time as that scanning threads on my phone. >:-{

10/18 update: I’m still visiting on my phone and tablets but I haven’t undone the hosts block on my computer. If I could just figure out something similar for my phone, that would be a huge help.

Update to the update: I use Firefox on my phone with the uBlock Origin add-on. I filtered kboards.com and it will no longer come up in Firefox. I could use Chrome to get around it but since I don’t like Chrome I probably won’t. :-)

Update to the last update: I removed the block from my hosts file and I took the block off my phone. I’ve had a rethink about habits and I don’t think this solution is the long-term answer. However, I have ideas and I’m giving them a go, so this fight ain’t over. ;-) I’ll update with a link to the post I’m currently writing about this rethink once I finish it.

An unproductive weekend

First, I love my kids, make no mistake about that. But this weekend highlighted just how disruptive it is to my routine when change is in the air. My daughter came home from college this weekend for the first time in three weeks. I had got into a certain routine and her presence pretty much destroyed that routine.

Not that I wish in any way that she had not come home. But I do need to start planning better for this kind of thing because this was the weekend that I really, really needed to finish my latest book.

Spoiler alert. It didn’t happen.

I wrote 81 words Saturday during 0.967 hours of timed writing. Ouch on two fronts.  Since I mostly did edits, it makes sense, but it’s still ugly.

Sunday (today)? 71 words after 22 minutes of writing.

So here I am at 9:06 pm trying to figure out if it’s feasible in any universe for me to write 4,264+ words before I crash tonight.

I’m going to say no.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on recovering at least a little. My daughter went back to college today and the house is relatively quiet again, and I’m going to write for the next several hours.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Update: I wrote 429 words. Although I tried to make it to 1,000, at 1:24 am I just had no willpower left at all and I gave up.

I’m stressed, so of course I decided to rename all my files

I’ve been feeling stressed this week, after a book release that’s going nowhere fast. I expected this one to do better and it hasn’t. So as usual, when feeling stressed, I turned to my computer for solace.

I decided it was imperative that I rename all my files.

Yes, I know I just renamed them all barely more than a month ago, but at least I’m not reorganizing email again. :)

I spent most of yesterday and all of this morning and early afternoon renaming 12,000+ files. I used a bulk renamer where I could, and then went through every directory and tidied up where necessary.

Basically, I abandoned Pascal case and went back to dashes between words. I also stopped putting the full title of my books in most of my supporting files in my publishing folder.

I really wanted shorter file names, if only because I found myself annoyed at the long file names in the file tab in Adobe Photoshop Elements and GIMP when I was working on those paperbacks. I want (need!) to be able to see the differentiating parts of the file name when I’m working with similarly named files and I couldn’t, but I also still wanted my files named in a logical order.

So I went from files named like this: MyBookTitle-Cover-PaperbackBackText.psd to this: cover-mbt-pb-back.psd

pb = paperback (everywhere)
mbt = acronym for My Book Title

All lowercase and dashes for ease of reading.

And I use that acronym in my daily word count log and a few other places so I recognize most of my books right off the bat from those letters. :)

Then, of course, they’re in folders named for the title of the book so there’s really no reason not to use the acronyms to shorten those file names.

I tested a couple of folders side by side with files named in various formats, and it was obvious at a glance which one I found easier to read. Skimming is easier when the first part of every file name isn’t the same book title!

It seems kind of silly that wasting all this time on renaming my files has made me feel better, but it really has. I feel lighter and less stressed now and I’m about to get started on a story.

By tomorrow, I expect to be ready to get back to my challenge to write 6,000 words in a day. But today is out.

I have a few obligations to deal with that preclude me being able to put in the time I’d need to even come close this evening to a high word count, so I’m just going to work my way back into a story and enjoy that—and maybe click through my folders a few more times and enjoy the neat and orderly look of my files. ;)