The way to be prolific

I’ve pulled this from my previous post, because I want to isolate it and remember my reasoning.

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.

This should also work well with my 12–4 writing schedule.

I average about 500 words an hour. Not all the time, but enough of the time that I shouldn’t have to push too hard all the (damn) time to average writing 2,000 words a day.

Synergy, if you will, between my actual speed of writing, the time I want to spend writing, and the actual number of words I want to write on an ongoing basis. Can’t ask for a better plan than that.

:)

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.

Six days now

I’ve extended my daily writing streak of 500 words or more to six days now, squeaking by with 503 words.

Here’s my log of word counts since I began the 500 words a day minimum.

10/31/17 – 517
11/1/17 – 533
11/2/17 – 520
11/3/17 – 1,004
11/4/17 – 515
11/5/17 – 503

As happened the day before and the day before that, I waited until so late last night to get started that I was falling asleep with my computer in my lap and kept having to rouse myself to write the words. It was tough, to say the least.

I’m going to try not to do that again tonight.

In fact, I want to try for 3,000 words today, and I’m going to do it by focusing on writing 600 words at a time.

(600 x 5 = 3,000)

Or, you know, I could just finish the book before I reach 3,000. I’m perfectly happy to do that too. :-)

Focus on action and small wins; a new daily minimum

Today I’m starting work on my book much later than I planned. Mostly because I’ve spent too much of the day thinking about a decision I made a couple days ago and trying to decide if it’s the right one. I’ve finally decided it is.

Tuesday, I decided to lower my minimum word count for a day to 500 words. That was a good call, I think. My average daily word count is 614 words. Since I have a complete record of every day’s word count since mid-2012, this isn’t a guess. This is my actual daily word count average for more than 5 years of writing.

That said, just because I’ve averaged 614 words a day for 5 years doesn’t mean 500 words a day should be a no-problem, no-trouble, easy daily goal for me. Averages are just that: averages. And averages never tell the whole story.

Consistent daily writing is still a major problem for me. I do not do well with long term daily writing. My longest streak to date is 122 days and I had to count many days of less than 100 words to even get that.

Writing 500 words a day, every day, will be a considerable challenge. But I don’t think I can go any lower than that, just because it doesn’t feel reasonable and it doesn’t feel like a challenge. It feels like giving up.

Daily, it’s only a small win, but 500 words a day will get me a book of average size (50,000 words) in 100 days. Meaning even if I totally fail at all else and ONLY write the 500 words a day every day and never one word more, I’ll write more words in the next 12 months than I wrote in the last two years combined by a little more than 40,000 words.

That’s a win, no matter how I look at it.

And my hope is, as always, that this small win will drive me to write more and reach some of the bigger goals I have.

Every time I write more than 500 words a day, it’s going to push my average up, and I’m going to get that much closer to my long-term goal of being a prolific writer. I can’t ask for much more than that considering where I’m starting from.

But I have to start somewhere and becoming a consistent daily writer is where I’m choosing to start.

The fact is, a small win is better than no win, and I have to start focusing on action if I want to change.

This isn’t just a post about intentions; this is a post of action! I made this minimum word count change two days ago on Tuesday. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, I successfully met this challenge with 517 words and 533 words, respectively.

Yay! I have a new writing streak going. :-)

Now, it’s time to go write and keep this thing alive.

Update: Yep, I did it. 520 words for the day.

Interesting results on something new

More words, fewer hours on Friday over Thursday, so that’s good. Yesterday (Friday) wasn’t as good a day as I’d hoped for, but it was my best day in 222 consecutive days. Prior to that, on the 223rd day, I had reached what is my current record word count for a day, 5,816 words, on the day I finished my last book.

Yesterday’s final tally: 2,652 words, 4.55 hours, 583 wph (a little more than the chart shows below because I had one last gasp before I quit and didn’t record it).

Time

Minutes

Words

Session

WPH

10-11

37

427

427

692

11-12

12-1

1-2

33

449

22

40

2-3

8

445

-4

-30

3-4

4-5

31

753

308

596

5-6

48

1484

731

914

6-7

32

1967

483

906

7-8

38

2509

542

856

8-9

9-10

10-11

11-12

12-1

41

2557

48

70

Something happened around 8 pm that got me off track in a major way. It went something like this.

I have some micron pens I received as a gift and I really love the blue. I use it for my journaling and session notes and lots of other stuff. I dropped it a few days ago and it took a hard hit on the point, and then day before yesterday I realized it wouldn’t write at an angle very well anymore (while the other pens did). So I was using my purple pen yesterday and right around 8, I dropped the lid down into the couch. It disappeared. I spent half an hour trying to find that pen cap and ended up moving the sofa multiple times, vacuuming everywhere I could reach in and under it, and finally discovered the cap had slid into a nook inside the couch where some joints came together.

Well, that pushed me to move to the dining room table with my writing, and once there I decided I was going to switch back to my blue pen. But it wasn’t writing well so I messed with it a little bit and, yeah, I messed it up. I managed to mash the nib or whatever you call it until it split and now it writes a very flat, sometimes split stroke onto the page. That frustrated me and I started searching for stuff about pens and waterproofing and whether archival safe pens are really necessary for journals, because my favorite pens are the blue and purple Pilot V5 Precise but they are not waterproof in any way. (I tested it a while back. Ugly fading and smearing was the result.) I know archival safe stuff isn’t necessary, but I do want to keep these journals until I die so I want to write with something that holds up a while.

But back to the story. I ran across an interesting website about pencils and suddenly the idea of pencil journaling started to seem appealing to me. I wrote on a napkin, ran it under some water and sure enough, no bleeding or smearing at all. I even rubbed the watery napkin and the pencil marks stayed in place in a way I could read them.

So… I dug out a box of pencils and some other pencils I had and spent half an hour or more sharpening pencils. I have some mechanical pencils I love but they don’t make the pencil scratch sound when I write with them, so I’m keeping the wood pencils on hand too. Honestly, I miss the bright colors in my journal, but since blue was my favorite and it took a week to get those pens delivered (with only one blue in the pack), I’m just going to try pencil for a while.

But that’s what happened to those four hours last night that should have been spent writing. Sigh. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever change.

Well, on to today. I have a book to finish.

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.

A challenge for this second day of August to perk me up

Since I did so poorly yesterday, only 123 words and 15 minutes!, I’ve decided a challenge might perk me up today.

It’s a simple challenge. Finish my 1,557 word minimum before I stop for lunch. :) I’ve finished breakfast and there’s nothing standing between me and lunch but time to fill. :D

I’m going to fill it with writing.

I’m just going to do 50 minute sessions until I get there.

Updates will follow below. :)


Well! That was unexpected.

I got in one 50 minute session then had to run off to a dentist appointment I’d forgotten about! So that blew this challenge. I was gone nearly 4 hours. I’ve found it difficult to get started again, mostly because it’s now so late in the day. Maybe I’ll try later, but at the moment, I’m thinking of taking the rest of the day off. There’s a movie I want to watch and I don’t like the idea of making up work time in the little bit of leisure time I’ve planned for myself in a while.

That’s funny

So far today I’ve written 664 words in 1.75 hours. That’s 379 words an hour. Considering I deleted a nice little chunk of words in my second session this afternoon, I’m not too disappointed.

Words left to write today = 893

Hours needed to write them @ 379 wph = 2.353539157

I’d like to do those words at 600 wph or better, because then I can move on to catching up a few days’ word counts where I didn’t reach my minimum. Of course, here it is 3:57 pm and I’m just now reaching 1.75 hours completed, so that could be a problem. Anyway, onward and upward one hopes. :D

Today’s title courtesy of the fact that I forgot to title the post and that was the first phrase that popped into my head.

Update: I finished off the day with 1,616 words and it took me 3.5 hours of timed writing to write them. Not great, but not my worst effort to be sure. :D

Had a plan; how about this summary instead?

On Tuesday the 11th, I decided to set a daily minimum word count and start writing 1,557 words every day. I began following that rule on the 12th. Overall, this is one experiment that seems to be working out well.

Here are my word counts for the last 7 days, beginning with July 12.

1,667
935
1,628
1,969
405
1,562
1,615

That’s an 80% completion rate, which is pretty damn good in my book.

The reason for today’s title is this: today’s word count sits at 402 words and it’s 10:15 pm. I had a plan for today, but I didn’t follow through. I don’t have a good reason for that, but I’m sitting here thinking I might still have time to finish today’s minimum word count if I start now. In truth, this is probably a perfect example of the thinking I talked about in yesterday’s morning post.

But I really think I could possibly still make it. So of course I’m going to have to try now or I’ll regret it. And if I don’t, well, at least I can be somewhat certain I’ll end up with more words than I started with.

(And I ended with 688 words. Although I didn’t make it to my minimum before 12, I’m glad I tried.)