July 9, 2018 Monday writing

Here’s another post about my writing day.

On the one hand, I’m pleased that I started off my plan to write 2,000 words a day somewhat successfully. I ended up with 1,825 words. Not 2,000, but close enough that it won’t drag my average down in the long run (I hope). On the other hand, I’m really disappointed that it took all freaking day to do it, and I didn’t even make it to four solid hours of timed writing. I clocked only 2.67 hours, in fact.

I’m going to say this up front. I have to take breaks between most writing sessions and that’s just the way it is. I pee a lot. I have to move my legs. I can’t sit still for long periods. If I don’t move, I can’t focus. If I don’t click away from my book when I get too wound up, I can’t focus. I need a lot of help focusing, to be blunt.

The most hours of timed writing I’ve ever logged in a day is just over ten and a half and that was the hardest day I’ve ever spent writing. I started early in the morning and I finished late that night. It’s also my record word count day at the moment.

I just cannot sit and write for four hours straight. It’s currently an impossibility for me. I don’t know if it always will be, but I suspect I will never be that person who sits down and doesn’t move until their daily word count has been reached. Well, maybe if my daily word count was like 500 words or something. I might make it. Some days. :)

But one thing I don’t expect is to end up with four hours of timed writing from a 12–4 writing schedule. That’s a completely unreasonable goal for me, and I know it.

But three would be nice. So I’m working on it. I’m going to really focus in on that 12–4 writing time and try to get a consistent three hours of timed writing out of it. The rest of the day? I don’t care. I’ll just do what I can do.

Now back to the post about my writing day. Here’s the log, which I wrote in OneNote yesterday but got too tired to post before I went to bed. It’s long! I recorded a lot of minutia.

  • Start at 12 pm and get as close to 4 hours of timed writing in before 4 pm as I can.
  • Do 20 minute sessions today to help me stay more focused on speed.

(Although the 60 minute sessions do work to keep me focused during them, I don’t like starting them, and so I always feel like I end up doing less writing in the end. I should confirm that with numbers but maybe some other time.)

12:23 – Just finished my first session of the day.

Session #1 didn’t go great. I ended the session at -22 words. Too much editing of yesterday’s words and no forward momentum at all. I will try to correct that with session #2.

To help limit the necessity of breaks, I had coffee earlier so I could move on to something less likely to force me away from my desk every five minutes. I’m having hot water over lemon and honey, instead.

Now, unfortunately, I do need a quick break. :D Be right back.

12:39 – I’m back and ready to start session #2.

1:00 – Session #2 done. 211 words. Total words: 189. Still in the weeds of yesterday’s work. However, I ended up expanding one conversation and that’s where the new words came from.

I posted an update to my CampNaNoWriMo cabin and to a small writer’s group I’m part of on Discord. Grabbed lunch and am eating at my desk today because I forgot to eat lunch before I started at 12.

1:25 – Ready to start session #3.

1:46 – Session #3 done. 156 words. Total words: 345.

2:06 – I had a short break to check the mail (real mail!) because I saw the postman put a package in the box, and sure enough, it was my keyboard replacement and the fan. I’m still waiting on the frame and I’ve decided to let that come before I dig into the computer for the repairs.

I’m actually liking this temporary keyboard quite a bit. I might continue to use it. We’ll just have to see. Now, time to start session #4.

3:02 – Finished session #4. 357 words. Total words: 702. Don’t know where the rest of my time went. I didn’t leave the computer. I think I looked at few reports or something, and time must have gotten away from me before I clicked “Start” on the timer.

3:36 – A cup of cocoa and coffee later, and I am back. I think the honey and lemon wasn’t such a good alternative to coffee, not for the reason I wanted it as an alternative. The lemon seemed to be just as big an irritant to my bladder as the coffee usually is! But at least with the coffee, I get a little caffeine high. So I won’t be doing that substitution again as a way to cut down on breaks, because it did not cut down on breaks. :)

Starting session #5.

4:00 – Finished session #5. 297 words. Total words: 999. About halfway to my initial 2,000 words goal.

4:17 – Starting session #6.

4:41 – Finished session #6. It was a good one! 388 words. Total words: 1,387. That was a pace of 1,164 words an hour. If I kept that up, I’d be done with my 2,000 in a snap. I’m not holding my breath, but it could happen. :)

4:59 – Starting session #7. Hopefully I’ll get a few of these in before I stop again. I’m wearing myself out here with all the jumping up and down out of my seat.

5:29 – Did not start session #7. I played a game of spider solitaire first. Now I’m starting session #7. I’m actually really kind of sleepy and tired. But I’m going to do at least this one more session before I take a dinner break.

5:58 – And an unexpected interruption derailed that attempt. Starting session #7 now.

6:39 – Finished session #7. 211 words. Total words: 1,598 words. My pace slowed, but yeah, no surprise there.

8:56 – I stopped after the last session for a dinner break. I would have preferred to get my 2,000 words first but time kept getting away from me so I decided to stop early enough to come back after. So here I am. Ready to start session #8.

9:54 – Or not. I played a game of spider solitaire instead, ran some numbers on my spreadsheet, and then dealt with an interruption. I’m going to finish my game of spider solitaire and then start session #8.

I’m disappointed that my 4 hours of writing have taken all day. And that I haven’t reached 2,000 words yet.

I’m giving some thought to what I can do differently but there’s not a lot, not while I have people in the house with me all day. I’m just too prone to distraction and I tolerate too many interruptions, from others and myself.

It would serve me well to get up early and start writing while it’s quiet, but I’ve gotten into a nice routine with the 12–4 schedule and I don’t want to mess that up. I also kind of like not having to jump right into writing. If it were just me here, I don’t there’d be any problem at all with 12–4. It’s just that I’m not here alone most days and won’t be until mid-August, and then only some days, and not even close to most of them.

So, I have to learn to get by even with the interruptions. Things won’t change for a few more years, I expect. Time waits on no one.

10:35 – Alright. I’m done with that game. I’m not finished with it, just done. The biggest impediment to this plan of mine is my laptop’s broken keyboard. I’d love to take my computer up to bed and sit there and do some last minute writing but I can’t, not unless I want to have my space bar doing ridiculous things to my book. So I’d better get started. I’m fast running out of all steam. Pretty soon I’m not going to even care if I reach 2,000 words today and I’ll give up. Happens every time I let myself get sleepy.

Starting session #8 now. Also, my music has reached the “driving me crazy” phase of the day, so I just turned it off, with prejudice.

11:53 – I’m not sure when session 8 ended, but I wrapped up by updating my spreadsheet and then ended up working on the story a little more after that.

Total words for the day: 1,825.

Tomorrow, the only thing I’m going to focus on is staying on task and getting my sessions done. I think I’ll try 30 minute sessions and see how that goes.

July 8, 2018 Sunday writing

It’s 9:18 in the morning and I’m going to start today’s writing soon. I prefer to write every day, so Sunday is no day off for me. I’ve tried taking weekends off, but I just do not do well when I change up my routine. I’m much better at sticking to something if I don’t allow myself to ever skip a day.

My current philosophy: write every day!

So here I am, ready to write. I was trying to stick to 12–4 as my writing time, and I do plan to go back to that, but right now, I’m falling so far behind where I want to be with my current book in progress that I’m trying every day to start a little earlier than that.

The plan today: write in 60 minute sessions to limit breaks and distractions. I would like to write at least 4,000 words today but I’m not setting that as a goal. I’ll be satisfied if I just write as much as I can during the 6 sessions I have planned.

So really, my goal is to write for 6 hours today. And a subgoal of that is to focus on writing as fast as I can during those sessions.

9:22 – I’m going to grab breakfast, make coffee, feed the stray cat and her brood, and sit down to start my first timer. I hope this doesn’t take too long. I’d like to be writing before 10 am.

10:40 – I’m starting a little later than I wanted but the first timer session is ready to go!

I’ll probably do my updates in OneNote and post them here after the fact. I do happen to find the internet very distracting.

12:30 – Finished first session. 259 words.

12:51 – Ready to start session two. Try not to judge so hard and write more freely. The story isn’t going to fall apart if I have a little fun.

1:13 – I got distracted after all. I’m trying to find a new launcher for my phone and I spent a few minutes looking at those in Play and sending them to my phone. But I’m ignoring my phone for now and getting started with this second session instead.

3:32 – Stopped to pre-prep lunch/dinner and ended up working on my spreadsheets instead of finishing my second 60 minute session. I have 23 minutes left, but it looks like I won’t be getting back to it until after this meal.

Time is really getting away from me.

5:25 – I’m ready to get back to writing now. Time to finish that last 23 minutes, then start another session right away if I can.

6:02 – And there I went again. I spent some more time working on my spreadsheet, running various numbers. I think I’ve decided pretty definitively (sure sounds like it, huh?) that I’m going to try again to start averaging 2,000 words a day. Not just as an average though, but as a “more days than not” thing.

I have books I want to write, sooner rather than later, and I’m just not writing them as fast as I want to. I mean that. I want to write these books sooner than I’ll ever be able to write most of them if I don’t improve my daily average. Not to say that I wouldn’t appreciate an increase in income, but I really want to write these books and other books, and more books, and just… I want to be prolific as a writer. Don’t ask me why. I don’t really know, and even though I’ve thought of a thousand reasons why it might be, none of those reasons feel right to me. I just know I want to do this. I want to be prolific.

And there’s a reason 2,000 words a day feels prolific to me.

2,000 words a day gets me 730,000 words a year, and that’s 14 books of about 52,000 words each. Some could be shorter, some longer. The actual average for all my novels is 60,844 words. But even at 60,000 words for every book I were to write, 2,000 words a day would still allow me to write 12 books a year.

At 12 books a year, I would get through all the books I’d like to write in about 3 years.

That’s where I’d like to be.

2,000 words a day.

Now I’m going to have to make today the first of many 2,000 word days. Anything less will be a joke on me. :)

6:14 – Time to finish that second hour long session.

6:54 – Finished session two, finally. 332 words. 591 words total.

7:11 – Ready to start session three. But first, a quick game of solitaire.

7:18 – I won! Okay, time to get busy now. I’m really going to try to write more words this time. I don’t know if I can do it, but I’m going for at least 1,000 words in this hour. It’ll be a freaking miracle if I reach it, but I want to try.

8:16 – A few small interruptions mean I have 10 minutes left on the timer even though it’s been an hour since I started this session. I’m not sure why I stopped, but I’m having a lot of trouble concentrating. It felt like I didn’t have a choice but to take a quick break. It’s also obvious that I’m going to come up far short of the 1,000 words I wanted for this session. However, at least I’ve been writing and I do have some words to show for it—and some forward progress in the story. Ugh. I need to get back to those 10 minutes. Okay, okay. I’m going.

10:55 – I did not get back to those 10 minutes. Honestly, I’m just going to have to remember today tomorrow, and try not to make the same mistakes. I started a little too late, I didn’t stay focused and ended up sitting at the computer much too long doing unimportant things unrelated to writing, and that tired me out before I needed to be tired out.

Anyway, I’m calling today done. I added 1,053 words to my novel today.

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. :)

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.)

That stopped working surprisingly fast

I tried to recreate Sunday’s success on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but no such luck. It just didn’t work and I’m at a loss to explain why.

Word counts:
Sunday (of course) = 2,073 (5.017 hours)
Monday = 670 (2.4 hours)
Tuesday = 379 (3.533 hours)
Wednesday = 103 (.467 hours)

I’m really not doing well with my 1,557 word minimum, or goal, or whatever you want to call it. I averaged 2.85 hours of daily writing time so that was close but I’m really trying for 3 hours a day—not as an average.

Maybe it’s too much. My all-time average daily is 613 words a day. Even when I wasn’t struggling with the writing, it was only 700+ words. My best month ever only averaged 1,908 words a day, and my best week ever, the best I can recall, only had me at a little over 3,000 words a day average. And these are all definitely averages, because I’m about as consistent as lumpy pudding. ;D

All told, 1,557 words a day in light of that might still be too much of a mental hurdle for me. So I’m dropping it to 1,000. The 1,000 isn’t a goal—it’s a daily minimum. For the most part, I’m going to focus on the three hours a day of writing I want to do, every day, and have that 1,000 word minimum to keep me from puttering along at a 200 wph pace. (Which I don’t doubt at all that I would do!)

Of course, I’m going to hope for more, and push for more anytime that I can, but I want to develop a consistent writing routine and I have to start somewhere.

I feel good about today, much like I did Sunday, so I’m hopeful. However, I decided last night I wasn’t going to continue with the loose schedule I’ve been trying to follow unsuccessfully for the last three days.

Today’s plan: Run the timer down from 3 hours, don’t track individual sessions, focus on making sure I hit that 1,000 words. The pace I need to do that is a mere 333 wph.

As always wph = words per hour.

I have five minutes to write this post

I realized yesterday that what I’ve been doing isn’t working. I haven’t been writing at the pace I want to write, and I got frustrated last night, set my timer for 30 minutes, and wrote 449 words. Which came to 898 words an hour, and if that isn’t some kind of sign, I don’t know what is. :D

(Okay, yes, it could have totally been a huge coincidence that yesterday my goal was to write 898 words in each of eight blocks of writing, but I’d rather see it as a sign because something has to change if I’m going to successfully finish this book and start finishing and releasing books with more speed and regularity. Once every 7 or 8 months isn’t often enough for a variety of reasons.)

Oops, well, time is up. Suffice to say I’m feeling good today, I’m going to start with the goal to write 1,557 words, but I also have a goal to write for a minimum of 5 hours (timed writing) today and I’m starting early. It’s 9:31 am.

Goal 1: From 9:30 to 10:45 finish two 30 minute timed writing sessions.

Result: 123 words, 1 hour of writing. Too many interruptions of my first session! Unfortunately, the interruptions were clearly not that big a deal, because the second 30 minute session had no interruptions at all and I didn’t improve. Too much self-editing as I went was the problem.

Goal 2: From 11:00 to 12:15 finish two 30 minute timed writing sessions.

Result: 468 words, 1 hour of writing. Finished a tad late at 12:32. But not bad at all. Will probably adjust start times for following sessions because I need a longer break than I’m going to get if I stick with 1 pm. But I’ll decide that closer to 1 pm. :)

(Yep. I adjusted my start times for the following by one hour.)

Goal 3: From 2:00 to 3:15 finish two 30 minute timed writing sessions.

Result: 522 words, 1 hour and 1 minute of writing. No problems at all in these sessions.

Goal 4: From 4:00 to 5:15 finish two 30 minute timed writing sessions.

Result: 333 words, 1 hour of writing. Finished a lot late on this one at 5:52 pm. Not sure at all how that happened. I had fewer interruptions than I had with my first session today, so it’s left me scratching my head…

Goal 5: From 6:00 to 7:15 finish two 30 minute timed writing sessions.

Result: 592 words, 1 hour of writing. Finished a bit late but done, done, done. :)

And there you go. Done, at 7:48 pm.

Final tally: 2,038 words and 1 minute over 5 hours of timed writing.

Can I explain why today just worked, when yesterday and the day before didn’t? Not really. Sometimes it’s not easy for me to recognize when I need structure. Sometimes structure chokes me, and sometimes, like today, it’s the only thing that can keep me focused.

Let’s try that again

I made my goal yesterday, but fast it wasn’t. :)

First goal today: 1,557 words as fast as I can.

I don’t write ugly drafts so if you’re thinking I’m going to run off and start sprinting out thousands of words in short order, this is probably your first visit here. :D

Anyway, will update progress today because it seems to be working for me as a motivational tool at the moment. :)


Progress—

1:17 pm: ended a session at 38 minutes, wrote 291 words.

2:53 pm: ended two sessions that totaled 25 minutes, wrote 184 words.

Spider in my front door stole my attention for nearly two hours. I am phobic and the spider was RIGHT THERE, dropping down in front of me. And it was huge. The web stuck to the bottom of the broom I was trying to use to knock it down, and I screamed loud enough to make my neighbors’ dog bark.

Yes, my throat is sore now, my stomach is still upset, and I’m definitely feeling my skin crawl every time I even look at my front door.

I need to get back to writing but I haven’t calmed down much at all. I’ve been watching Irma video at weather.com and checking out the National Hurricane Center’s Irma page. I’m in the part of Tennessee that could be affected if it takes the track they’re predicting now. The last tropical storm I remember being a big deal for me was Hurricane Opal back in 1995. This one looks like it could be something I’ll want to worry about. For anyone in its path that might read this: good luck and stay safe. It’s a monster.

How fast can I reach 1,557 words today?

My first goal for today is 1,557 words (which is my normal daily goal). Let’s see how fast I can reach it.

Fast? Maybe not. But…

Progress—

10:51 am: 13 minutes, 87 words.

11:35 am: 30 minutes, 214 words.

12:25 pm: 29 minutes, 175 words.

2:34 pm: 7 minutes, 78 words.

3:28 pm: 11 minutes, 127 words.

Too many interruptions today, but that should be behind me now. Let’s see if I can stay focused on writing the rest of the day.

Total so far is 1.5 hours exactly and 681 words written.

5:30 pm: 44 minutes, 351 words.

8:22 pm: 44 minutes, 320 words.

9:04 pm: 13 minutes, 180 words.

I’m running out of steam! Total so far is 1,532 words. I’m so close to my daily minimum that I have to finish it. But somehow it’s become 11:22 pm and I haven’t gotten back to my writing yet. And I can’t quit yawning.

12:22 am: 22 minutes, 115 words.

Final tally: 1,647 words and 3.55 hours of writing.

It’s catch-up day redux! Goal: 6.7 hours of writing

Since I didn’t succeed yesterday in catching up, I’ve decided to give it one more go. Today I will try to accumulate 6.7 hours of writing. That’ll give me today’s three hours, plus catch me up with Saturday’s and Sunday’s three hours each.

Whew. I’m only doing this because I need some way to decide how much time to spend writing while I try to finish this book ASAP. My three hour daily goal isn’t likely to be enough unless I start writing five to six times faster than I’ve been writing. Catching up gives me a reason to write for longer. In other words, my brain likes to know the reasons for things, so I’m giving it a reason. ;)

I’ll report progress as I go the same way I did yesterday. I actually liked that format a lot. :)

Progress—

2:53 pm: finished a 3 minute and 13 minute session, wrote 157 words.

Unknown: ended a 5 minute session to research some stuff from previous books in my series, wrote 1 word. Must’ve rewrote something, obviously. :)

Spent way too much time reading through my series doc to find stuff about one particular topic. And then the power went out. I kept reading. :D

5:49 pm: ended a power outage (it’s been a stormy day).

Internet wouldn’t work so I ended up getting distracted by troubleshooting the problem with my modem and router. Finally restarted my computer and problem fixed itself. UGH! Anyway, back to writing. :-|

8:03 pm: finished a 5 followed by a 16 minute session, wrote 99 words.

9:52 pm: ended a session of 32 minutes, wrote 275 words.

11:12 pm: ended a 54 minute session, wrote -12 words.

I keep fixing things that would be better left alone. UGH.

11:53 pm: stopped after a session of 18 minutes, wrote 263 words.

Gave up for the night in frustration. Scene was making me want to pull my hair out.

Final tally: 2.35 hours and 782 words. So far off the mark that I don’t even know what to say. Tomorrow I will write early and forget this late night crap. >:{

It’s catch-up day! Goal: 7.484 hours of writing

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to write for three hours today, catch up yesterday’s three hours, and finish Saturday’s three hours. That means I’m trying to accumulate 7.484 hours of timed writing today.

Progress—

1:18 pm: finished a session of 61 minutes, wrote 135 words.

3:13 pm: ended a short session of 4 minutes, wrote 36 words.

5:31 pm: ended a 54 minute session, wrote 233 words.

6:54 pm: finished a session of 31 minutes, wrote 107 words.

Speed today is at OUCH levels.

12:13 am: finished another 61 minute session, wrote 157 words.

12:28 am: finished a session of 16 minutes, wrote 71 words.

Okay. I’m calling it.

I wrote for 3.783 hours and 739 words. A lot disappointed but maybe tomorrow will be better.