About the writing of my current book

I was looking at my word count spreadsheet today and realized that my “Worked On” column in my “Daily Log” sheet gives me the perfect opportunity to know things about my writing that I might not know otherwise.

Here are some things I found interesting about the writing of my current book (book 19).

3/9/17

I wrote a few words.

12/26/17

I wrote a few more words.

2/16/18
and
2/17/18

I tried to get started on this book in earnest. Didn’t work.

5/9/18

I wrote 100 words but I’m not certain they were all on this book.

5/25/18
to
Present

I started the real work on this book. I’ve had 23 zero word days since 5/25, but since I’m actively working on the book, I’m counting them in the total number of days I’ve been working on this book. :-)

What does that all add up to?

I’ve spent exactly 100 days working on this book (so far).

It’s been 537 days since I first started this book. And that means I’ve had this book in my head for 537 days.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I get bored when writing a book takes too long. I need to stop stalling when it’s time to start the next book—or just not allow myself to start writing until I’m ready to commit.  Even starting the book sets things in motion in my head that make me feel like I’m losing interest when I don’t continue to make progress.

Finally, ouch. It’s been at least 537 days since I put out the last book in this series (make that 685 to be exact). Sigh. This book is going to flop so hard.

And to tie this all up, I’ve finally found a title format I like for my accountability posts: Book 19, day 100. It ties in with both this post and the last. I can also imagine this being a nice way to keep up with just how long I’ve spent on any one book (or story) and how many books I’ve written. I like it. :-)

Book: Book 19, day 100.

Short story: Short story 13, day 2.

I only foresee one difficulty with this, if I don’t want to be doing multiple accountability posts when I work on more than one story on any particular day. I’ll just line them all up in the title or I’ll summarize at the top of the post for any I don’t want to do that with. :D

Book 19, day 100; Short story 13, day 2; Book 20, day—Oh no. That’s not going to work. I really don’t always know where some of these books are going to fall in line when I’m writing on them like this. Now I’m sad, because I really liked this idea.

Then again, I am trying not to overdo the multiple story trick. Until I can start regularly writing 2,000 plus words a day, working on more than one story at a time is just another way to take too long finishing any of them.

I’ll have to think about this some more.

Or maybe I won’t have to. I could just stick to only counting the current book as the one with a number, and list any extra work I’m doing on other books in the post sans number. Because truly, it’s only been once or twice out of all 30 titles I’ve written that I haven’t known which book I’m actively trying to finish first so I can publish it.

Whew. Crisis averted.

Now, on to finishing today’s minimum word count. I’ve really not been focused where I need to be today. Today has been a study in procrastination.

The “no timers” thing

When I revisited getting rid of my timers, I thought the beginning of 2017 and the middle of 2017 was the last time I’d addressed the issue. But I was wrong. As I published my last post and checked through it as I usually do, I clicked the “corrective action“ tag.

It showed me a post I wrote in November 2017 called, appropriately, “Done with timers” that kind of shocked me. I had forgotten all about writing it.

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).

Swap out that 3,000 a day with my 2,000 words a day plan and this is pretty much what I’m doing now. I didn’t set a 500 a day minimum this time, but now that I’m reminded of that, I think I will.

I’m not going to forget and I’m not going to go back. I am done with timers. I mean done done done.

That 500 word minimum has the benefit of making yesterday’s word count an important success (I wrote 571 words, after all) and gives me something to push for tonight that’s more realistic than 2,000 words, because I’m not even going to pretend I’ll be able to go from the 53 words that I have to 2,000 words before I call it a night considering how late it is. But 500? Definitely possible.

And to top it off, this also means I have a 500 words a day streak going that I won’t want to break tonight. I mean, it’s only two days, but it’s two days in a row!

Taking another run at “The End”

It’s the day after the day after Thanksgiving and I’m disappointed to say that I really didn’t get much done yesterday when it comes to writing.

I’m taking another run at “The End” today. The last time I tried, I was still using timers. Today, I’m not planning on using any timers. Can I stay focused without them? I actually don’t know, but it’s important to me that I try to learn how.

The plan for today is simple.

500 words minimum.

Finish the book.

First up, as soon as I hit publish on this, I’m putting my Word doc front and center.

Second, I’m going to use willpower and stay off the internet until the book is done.

Third, today is the day I start trying to write more. I really want to get my daily average above 1,000 in 2018. I’ve been trying for years to improve, but the numbers just keep getting worse. The less often I write, the harder writing feels. Gotta fight that the only way I know how. I have to write more. It starts with a 500 words a day minimum and an effort to always push for a little more.

Fourth, I can no longer care about the quality of my work. I have to focus on having fun writing stories. Typing fast. Finishing fast. I can’t let another book take this long to finish. Each of these are part of my effort to bury my inner critic. That critic is killing my desire to write fiction, and since writing fiction is how I want to keep making a living, the critic has to go.

How do I train myself to write freely? Not sure! But I have to try. Otherwise, I’m going to give up writing. I can’t keep going the way I have been. I remember when writing was FUN.

That truly is the worst part. Being able to remember the fun of it makes it impossible to accept that I just have to do it, whether it’s fun or not. Because I don’t. I can choose another job if this one loses its appeal.

But I don’t want to. I want to write. I just want it to be fun again.

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.

Read another book and learned something about writing

I didn’t write anything yesterday, after a really late start to the day, reading half a book, then going off to do stuff that has to be done when you’re running a household. But reading that book yesterday and today—which I really enjoyed, by the way—taught me something I know but seem unable to learn.

When writing, you have to allow yourself to write what comes naturally.

I keep trying to find a way to explain this but it’s not coming to me easily, even though I know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s about phrases and sentences and letting the words come the way they want to come and avoiding the urge to go back and fix them, when the truth is, they don’t need to be fixed.

I’m not talking about letting myself write sub-par prose because it’s good enough. This is nothing like that. I’m talking about writing good prose. Strong prose. Stuff that upon reading it creates vivid images in my mind, but that when I write it feels like bad writing. It’s not bad writing. That’s what I saw in this book. So many of the phrases I’ve taken to rewriting worked great just as they were in that book. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Those phrases would have come—do come—naturally to me, but then I change them for reasons that I’ve only now realized are problematic at best. It’s me trying to force a style on the words, a style the words don’t need. I had started to feel like maybe this was what I was doing, but I wasn’t sure. But I can see it clearly now after reading something that reminded me a lot of my own natural writing style.

This—this thing I’ve just realized, maybe not for the first time, probably not for the last either—is the main reason why I can’t stop writing slowly: I can’t write what comes to me naturally and leave it alone.

It’s just another way perfectionism has slipped into my writing and slowed me down.

I spend too much time parsing every word I write and trying to control every phrasing, every sentence, every paragraph break. This makes writing hard, and is it any wonder I don’t want to do it when I’m fighting myself the entire time I’m trying to write a story? Writing isn’t fun when you can’t let go.

After a few days of reading, it’s so easy to see this problem in my writing. The sad thing is that I know to watch out for this kind of thing, this second-guessing of myself as I write, and yet I still haven’t learned not to do it.

But at least for today, for now, I feel a little more free than I did yesterday, and I’m hopeful today’s writing will come easier because of it.

Now, it’s 5:11 pm and I have 1,557 words to write, and I’m going to do it. I’m not looking back at what I didn’t accomplish yesterday, but moving forward toward what I can accomplish today.

One hour sessions, starting now. I’ll post updates below.


Updates

Session 1: 60 minutes, 367 words

I’m just going to say right off, and hope I’m not wrong, that the reason for the slow writing in this session was that I just didn’t (still don’t) know where this scene is going. I actually felt I was writing pretty fast for a while, and I wasn’t second-guessing myself, but then I kind of hit a wall and my brain wasn’t ready to tell me where to go next. I can hope I’m right about that, anyway. Also, I did straight up delete 115 words. Still, that only improves the numbers marginally. I’d have liked to have written about two times faster than I did.

Session 2: 77 minutes, 260 words

After that, I gave up for the night. This scene is just kicking my butt and I don’t even know why.

Word count: 644 (added a few more words after I stopped counting the time)

I’m frustrated, but I’m not really sure what else I can do to get past this other than practice and push on.

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

No more coffee—a lifelong challenge to ditch coffee for good, forever

I’ve quit and restarted my coffee habit many times over the course of my life. It’s finally time for me to commit to making a lifelong change. I like coffee but the caffeine and even the coffee itself isn’t doing me any favors these days.

This post is my written commitment to ditch coffee for good—forever.

No more coffee.

I’ll check in on this once a week or so for a while, then once a month, then only if something changes.

As an aside, I’ve also committed to eliminating as many sweets from my diet as I can. I’ve been doing pretty good with that. I use the Android app Loop – Habit Tracker to keep up with my success rate, and it seems to help.

Sweets-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

I’m being pretty strict about what counts, so although I had only a few semi-sweet chocolate chips, they were enough to stop me from marking yesterday and the day before as sweet-free days. I think it’s best that way, because I don’t want half-measures to eventually derail my effort in this.

I already have a habit set up in the app for coffee-free days, but as you can see below, I haven’t made much effort at all up to this point to avoid coffee. That’s going to change going forward. :D

Coffee-free days as recorded in the Loop – Habit Tracker app

 

New year, no plan

Today begins the new year. On the other hand, my plan hasn’t changed. In case I haven’t done a good enough job of laying out that plan, here it is again.

There is no plan.

Here’s what I wrote in one of the Google+ communities I’m in.

2016 words written: 220,071

Definitely want to see some improvement in 2017, but this is the year of no goals and no timers! I’m ready to fall in love with writing again.

I’m hopeful a little less focus on goals and a little more focus on just writing as much as I can will prove to be a winning combination.

In fact, I just told my daughter I’m making year 2017 the year I quit trying stuff I’ve already tried (goals, schedules, timers, sprints, etc). My word counts have actually gone down, not up, since I started in 2012 and I’m done with beating myself over the head with this stuff.

I think the best shot I have for writing lots and lots of words is making sure I’m having so much fun doing it that I can’t stop myself. :)

Truly, no joke, that is my plan. That’s this year’s big experiment. It came about because of yesterday’s thinking about goals, and how much they haven’t helped me progress as a writer.

Here’s to a happy 2017 and lots of words written. :)

Why I’m (mostly) forcing myself to stick to writing one book at a time

I’m writing this down because I’m sure I’m going to forget it, just when I need to remember it most.

Taking too long to finish a book is a sure way to bore me! I have to start finishing my books faster, if I want to save my love of writing.

Because honestly, it’s starting to bore me. I’ve written a lot of books. There aren’t many things in life that hold my attention after I’ve finished—hell, half the time I can’t even finish.

I’m not a finisher by nature. It’s a real chore to finish.

But books aren’t books if they don’t get finished, and I sure can’t sell unfinished books.

If I lose interest in a story, the story loses out, and the quality does not improve, trust me on that. Writing slow causes me to lose the threads of the story, and to lose motivation, while writing fast keeps my brain in the story, excited and creative. This even applies at the micro level, because my sentences flow better when I don’t constantly tinker with them. I know this is true. I still have to fight that desire regularly. :)

I come up with more ideas, faster, when I’m writing a lot. And I enjoy writing so much more when I’m writing often and fast than I do when it’s a slog and I’m agonizing over plot decisions or worrying about word choices.

If it’s not fun, I’m not going to do it. That’s just the truth.

Blame it on ADHD or laziness, or whatever, but it’s true. If it’s not fun for me, I will do everything in my power to avoid doing it, and when you’re your own boss, that gets to be a problem.

Ah…

Well, I feel better having gotten that out. Now, on to the next post and the day’s writing.

If you have a similar issue, comment and we’ll have fun talking it out. :) Seriously, I love talking about this stuff.

New goal: more average and moderate word count days, fewer low word count days

I have to stop reevaluating my daily word count goal.

It’s kind of stupid really, all this number crunching I do. I’ve approached it in so many different ways that it doesn’t even make sense to keep redoing the calculations. I already know about where the numbers are going to end up.

I guess I keep hoping I’ll discover I’ve done something wrong and I’ll be able to write 500 words a day and make a killing and finish all the books I want finish in as little as a few months or a year at the most. :D Totally unrealistic, honestly, but I keep trying anyway.

I need to write…

  • 2,085 words a day to earn my ideal income.
  • 2,192 words a day to write 4 books in 4 series each year (16 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 1,644 words a day to write a book a month (12 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 2,466 words a day to write a book a month for one pen name and a book every other month for a second pen name (18 novels of about 50,000 words each).
  • 2,164 words a day if I write for 4 hours a day at my average 541 words an hour pace.
  • 1,623 words a day if I write for 3 hours a day at my average pace.

See where I’m going with this?

I have to stop reevaluating these numbers! It isn’t helping me in any way that I can see. None. It’s nothing more than a way to pass the time and distract myself from what I really need to be doing: writing.

I need to just write as much as I can each day, but that attitude never seems to work out for me. I need a bit of structure, but not too much. I don’t want another schedule, and I hate the arbitrariness of picking one of these numbers as a daily quota. How do I decide? (I’m remarkably indecisive. Impulsive too, but that’s another post.)

After a bit of thought, I’ve come up with a possible solution.

I’ve created a scale to help me keep things in perspective. :)

1,000 = low word count day
2,000 = average word count day
3,000 = moderate word count day
4,000 = high word count day
5,000 = record breaking word count day (always, because 5k is such a push for me)

My goal is to have more average and moderate word count days, sprinkled with high and record breaking days, and as few low word count days as possible.

I can track this by monitoring how I’m doing keeping my average daily word count at or above 2,000 words a day.

Easy, right?

Okay, maybe not so much easy as simple. :D

The concept makes sense, anyway. :)

That means today’s goal is to reach 2,000 words, and this week’s goal is to keep it there. And the month’s goal is the same, and so is the year’s goal. Like I said, simple.

Wish me luck.