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.

Tuesday the 31st of October: the beginning of the rest of my life

Today is Tuesday the 31st of October. It’s also the beginning of the rest of my life. What I do today and tomorrow does not have to follow the pattern of what I did yesterday and the day before.

That’s my truth.

That’s my resolution.

Journaling my way to success?

I started an experiment four days ago on Friday (see the post).

Fri: 198 (deleted a chunk of words that knocked this down by about 300)
Sat: 2,088
Sun: 1,185
Mon: 1,544

I’ve had a few times where I just forgot to journal at my break but overall, it is keeping me focused. On the other hand, I admit, I went back to running my timer as I worked, not because I’m going to agonize over my words per hour numbers, but because I just feel less at loose ends when the timer is going. And it doesn’t hurt to look back at a less than stellar word count day and see that I put in a decent amount of effort so I shouldn’t be criticizing myself for it!

(Honestly, it’s the first step of reform for me. I have to quit being so hard on myself all the time. I’m not talking about what I expect from myself, because I think it’s good to push for more than my average as often as I can. I’m talking about how I talk and think about myself and my efforts. Talking down to myself is just not a viable long-term happiness strategy.)

Not going to give up without a fight

I’m trying to come up with my goal for today. I think I’m done with the catch-up attempt for hours because I’m further behind now than I was when I started yesterday. On the other hand, this morning, I’ve already written for 13 minutes and put down 87 words of stuff. It’s a start.

I’m actually very concerned that I haven’t gained any speed or momentum after what feels like a significant time investment over the last few weeks. I’ve spent 47.93 hours writing in the last 19 days and my cumulative word count for all that time is 3,982 words.

3,982 ÷ 47.93 = 83 words an hour. I type at about 60 words a minute. Typing isn’t writing, I know, but has my brain really slowed down to the point that I can’t write at even 10 words a minute?

I’m in uncharted territory, because I can’t recall ever spending so much focused time writing and ending up with so little progress. It’s obvious something is going on with my writing that I don’t understand because my word counts have dwindled to half what they used to be just three years ago and I’ve lost a significant portion of the excitement I used to feel when I write.

I kind of feel like I’m making progress on the last of that, but the first—obviously—hasn’t improved or it wouldn’t be 33 days since my last day of 1,000+ words.

The fact is I’m trying. I don’t know what kind of hole it is I’m trying to dig myself out of but I am trying.

I want this career, and I’m not going to give up on myself without a fight.

So off I go again today, trying to make progress, or recapture some momentum, or something, anything that will prove the creative part of my brain hasn’t up and died on me.

As for today’s goal? I think I’ll just start with the basics. 1,557 words. When I reach that, I’ll evaluate how much time beyond three hours I’m going to aim for.

Progress will be in my next post. It’s easier than revisiting an already long-enough post and scrolling down every time I want to add a line. :)

Funnily enough I feel good about writing today

After last night’s contemplative mood, I’m surprised by how well I feel today, about writing, about the future, about everything.

Well, except for the spider infestation I seem to be dealing with. Not so happy about that! But they’re little spiders, with feathery legs, and those kind don’t trigger my phobia the way most other spiders do.

Still, not that happy that one landed on my bed last night and started trucking it right up beside my leg. I couldn’t find any sign of where it came from, but I’ll be vacuuming my bedroom ceiling today regardless. Then of course I came down to find one tucked up in the corner over the breakfast room window and another in the corner of the hallway that leads to the garage. I vacuumed those ceilings just a couple of days ago. Let me just say, as a five foot one person with nine foot high ceilings, this has been a chore and a half! My bedroom has a tray ceiling and the middle section is ten foot high. That’s going to be fun.

So, on that note, I’d like to finish my writing before I have to go up and start vacuuming ceilings again. I figure when I’m done, all I’m going to want to do is crash on the couch and read a book!

Okay, on to today’s plan. I’m going to go with 45 minute blocks, because they divide evenly into 3 hours. I’m planning four of them.

I decided last night after some vague contemplation (I wasn’t forcing these thoughts) that 3 hours a day even if I reach 1,557 words earlier isn’t a bad expectation. I see no reason why I wouldn’t want to write for at least that long most days. So although I haven’t decided it’s a rule or anything, I think aiming for a complete 3 hours each day of writing isn’t asking too much of myself. Preferably I’ll do this in the mornings, but on days when I don’t, I’ll try not to stretch out my day to the point that I’m finishing an hour of writing at bedtime. Some authors do well writing late at night. I don’t. I give up much too easily when I’m tired. So I have to stop putting myself in that position.

Write early, write more later if I want.

Now to go write.

I don’t know

I let my streak of writing every day end yesterday. Technically, I did sit at the computer and write, but it was of such a small amount that it didn’t overcome a few minor deletions and left me with a net word count of -40 for the day.

So why am I not counting it?

I asked myself that last night when I consciously decided I just wasn’t going to write any more and I wasn’t going to count what I’d done. The streak was dead. I read a book yesterday, finished it even (not one I’d recommend so I’ll just leave it there), and I was tired. Not too tired to write at least a few hundred words. But a hundred or two words felt like a token number just so I could count it for the streak, and I had a moment where I just thought, that’s ridiculous. And it really felt ridiculous. Even now, it feels kind of ridiculous. So I let it die.

I’ve always had a lot of difficulty figuring out exactly what I want of myself when it comes to writing, because there are so many things I want and not all of them make sense when taken together. I want to be prolific and write every day and finish books unusually fast. I want to sit down in the mornings and write until I’m tired of writing and then get on with my day. I want to split up my writing throughout the day so I don’t feel trapped in a routine. I only want to write when I want to write, but I want that to be every day.

What I do know:

Writing every day isn’t as important as writing most days. (Is this self-justification for last night’s choice?)

Writing 1,557 words every day isn’t as important as averaging 1,557 words a day. (We all know every day just isn’t going to happen in the real world. Not with something that’s going to take over an hour even on the absolute best of days.)

Still, 1,557 words a day is a nice number. A magic number, if you will, because I always feel like I can write that number of words in a very short amount of time, even if that hasn’t proven to be true, yet, with this particular book.

Knowing how other people self-publish and market doesn’t interest me. I’ll do things my way until my way doesn’t work anymore. Then I’ll worry about figuring out how to do things some other way.

I write fiction for a reason that has more to do with lifestyle than money.

What I need to do is stop thinking so much about the why and how and when, and just write.

Routines bore me. But I’m constantly fighting the feeling that I need a routine. I want one. I daydream about having one, how my life would be so calm and awesome and I’d sit down in the mornings with a cup of tea or coffee (which I no longer drink) and I’d write my words, and then I’d get up and go for a walk, then sit down with a good book, have lunch, go out, and go to bed feeling accomplished and satisfied, then I’d get up the next day and do it all over again.

It’s a very detailed daydream. ;)

The only problem is that I have no idea how to make it a reality because every time I try to get a routine going, I bail on it. I can’t take it after a while. I feel like I’m suffocating. It’s horrible. I hate it. I get bored so easily and that routine, the one I daydream about, would kill me after about three weeks.

So what do you do when the life you imagine you want isn’t the life that actually fits your personality?

I don’t know.

So here I am. It’s 8:41 pm and I haven’t written any fiction today. I did read every article I had waiting for me in Pocket—quite a few actually. They’d been building up. I talked to my mother. I watched a few episodes of television.

Now I’m feeling contemplative, but I need to start writing.

I guess I’ll do that.

Oh, and here’s an essay I read this afternoon that I can recommend and it ties in nicely to my previous post: “Avoid News: Towards a Healthy News Diet” by Rolf Dobelli. Yes, I did seek out a few articles in support of my decision to cut out news and a few of them applied quite perfectly well to forums too. I was surprised by how closely the essay mirrored some of my own thoughts.

It’s time for a permanent reduction in distractive reading

I’ve started using the Mind the Time add-on for Firefox again, temporarily, to help me keep an eye on time I’m spending on things I need to cut out of my day so I have more time for reading fiction, watching TV, doing random stuff, all while still having plenty of time for writing.

See that number 1 in the picture above? Yeah. I’m not surprised, believe it or not. I know I have a problem with that site. And FYI, that 8:13 is hours and minutes not minutes and seconds!

Thirty-four percent of my time online is going to clicking through forum threads and reading them, and almost never engaging in actual discussion. It’s stressful. Maybe that doesn’t make a lot of sense, because why go there when I don’t actually enjoy it? But I do go there—every time I get a little antsy and start looking for a distraction.

I’m going to have to make it a rule that I can’t go there anymore. I really don’t know how else to stop this massive waste of my valuable time.

Same goes for news. Almost nothing I read has any relevance to my life at all, and yet, every time I get on my phone or tablets or my browser, I end up scrolling through the headlines, looking for something interesting to read. It’s like an addiction. I really don’t like feeling addicted to things.

Not only that, but I keep telling myself I’m going to watch more tutorials on design, I’m going to read more fiction, I’m going to study a language, I’m going to learn to draw, I’m going to write more every day, I’m going to go out more, I’m going to visit family more often, and yet I keep wasting vast amounts of valuable time reading news and forum topics that are just a repeat of what I read yesterday. It doesn’t make any sense to let it continue.

in light of that, I’m making a new rule for myself: no more trending news, no more NPR, no more Kboards, no more The Passive Voice. I already don’t watch news videos or television news, read newspapers, or news magazines, so I think that’ll cover it.

I’ve reduced my media intake before and I quite liked it. It’s time to make it permanent. It’s like that old adage of closing one door to let another open.

I will seek out the things that matter to me, and in the process, I’m sure I’ll come across other topics that I’ll feel are important enough for me to delve into in depth. No more skimming news items or forum topics looking for my next distraction.

Even writing that, I feel a huge sigh of relief just waiting to escape. It’s the right thing to do for me and I already feel better.

Ah… :D

4:52 pm and a 2,800 word goal

Today started off well enough. I finished organizing (cleaning out) my music directory. Doing that was a better use of my time than (re)organizing my email again, but that’s not possible any more because sometime last month I deleted all my email. I saved a few particular pieces of interest to a few relevant folders and I absolutely did delete thousands of emails. They’ll never be seen again. I kept only one backup, stored in an inaccessible location, with the intent to delete it at year’s end. I don’t doubt that I will too.

But that’s all beside the point. The point is that I need to write some real words today and I’m really getting tired of failing.

So I’m not going to fail anymore.

Missing a goal once in a while is no big deal and doesn’t feel anything like failure. Missing a goal every single time is not a good thing. There are repercussions to that kind of repetitive failure. I’m done with that. I just can’t be that person, that kind of writer, any longer.

So, despite the fact that it is now 4:59 pm, I’m going to sit my ass down and I’m going to write 2,800 words this evening.

To make it easy, I’m going to break it down into 21 minute sessions. I’ll do as many as it takes, but I’m planning for 10.

During at least one of those sessions, I want to reach the best word count per hour I’ve ever reached, and I’m going to reach it by having fun with this damn book. I love the characters. There’s no reason it should be so damn hard to have fun.

Now, I’m going to go trim my fingernails so I can get my first session started.

Session # Cumulative Words WPH
1 29 82.85714
2 54 77.14286
3 72 68.57143
4 82 58.57143
5 142 81.14286
6 251 119.5238
7 285 116.3265
8 0
9 0
10 0

Okay, so I’m calling it a night. It’s 12:29 am and I’m disappointed at my speeds tonight. I spent a lot of time redoing a chapter but I’m glad I did it, because I like what I’ve got now better than what I had.

I’m 3 sessions short of the 10 I wanted to do. I’m also short a ton of words. On the other hand, I totally don’t feel like a failure, because I literally did the best I could tonight. I took short breaks when I had to, and I focused hard when I wrote. I just can’t always predict what kind of writing day I’m going to have. This was one of those days.

So all in all, I’m satisfied. But one thing for sure: I’m going to do better tomorrow, because I’m going to start a lot earlier and I’m going to put in the extra sessions if I come up short on word counts like I did this evening.

But 12:33 pm is too late to keep going if I want to get some sleep tonight. The one thing I can count on is waking up at 7 in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep. I need to go to bed before it gets any later.

See you here again tomorrow.

I want to write every day

How can I say this and it not be a goal for the year, for the month, for my life? I don’t know, but I have and it isn’t. It’s a statement of fact. I want to be the kind of writer who writes every day. It’s not a challenge and I’m not making it into an experiment. I’m just throwing it out there so that I can hear myself say it because it’s true.

I want to write every day.

Disheartened by a bad book

I can’t make people like my books. I can’t really change what and how I write, or if I could, I wouldn’t want to, because then I just wouldn’t want to write. I don’t always enjoy the process of writing, and it’s the story, written the way I want it written, that carries me through when I’m feeling that way.

Writing is hard for me.

Sure, sure. There are people who’ll say that’s dumb, that writing isn’t hard, but those people? They don’t know how it feels to be me. I love making up stories, but writing them down, in some kind of coherent way, is really damn hard work. There are lots of days when I’d rather clean bathtubs all day than try to make sense of the stuff in my head and put it down in readable form.

I do the best I can with everything I write, and I do try to improve. And I recognize that not everyone is going to like what I write—especially because I write primarily for me.

All that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still disheartening when I realize I’m not writing things other people enjoy in the same way I do.

I’m pretty sure my last book didn’t hit the mark with a great many people. I had that realization after I accidentally saw a review I really didn’t need to see and went looking for evidence to support it one way or another—and it was an accident, because I never would have gone looking for it but one retailer in particular emails me reviews and I can’t stop them from doing it.

Probably not my best idea today.

What I found was that this latest book is my lowest rated book on Goodreads, by nearly a star. The thing I liked most about the book is the thing really not loved by most other readers. People do not seem to be liking this book. I’ve had a few 5 star ratings, but no reviews to go along with them, while the reviews I do have are all pretty negative.

Right now, I’m feeling like I’m just not that great a writer. My books have flaws, some of those flaws pretty major, but other than continuing on as I am, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do about it.

I’m doing the best I can. I just have to keep going, write what I write, and hope people continue to buy my books despite those flaws.