Done with timers; wrote more last night but can’t use any of it

So last night I had this idea that maybe what was bothering me about this story was the way I handled the climax. I took my notebook up to bed with me and made a few notes, and then before I knew it, I’d written two pages of new material (and it’s a big notebook with narrow lines).

This is the notebook I’m talking about. I love this notebook. However, I’ve since realized that for long-term preservation of my notebooks, I’m going to have to abandon the metal spirals because of the potential for rust. Ah, well. I have three more in aqua and two in charcoal. I won’t leave them unused. I just won’t buy more.

Of course, the plan this morning was to get it entered and add the word count to yesterday’s total.

Only when I looked back at the scene I’d written in the climax where I would need to insert this (and go in a somewhat different direction) I realized I have a decent scene there and that the new material just wasn’t going to work.

On the other hand, I like the new material, so as far as I’m concerned it still happens in the book, just without the intervention of my main character. It’s part of the hidden story and I’m going to use it in the next book. Probably as the opening. In fact, just typing that has made me feel certain that, yes, the stuff I wrote last night (at least a chunk of it) will be the beginning of my next book in this series. :-)

(Hidden story is the part of the story that isn’t revealed in the story but that must occur within the time frame of the story for the other things to occur—not to be confused with backstory, which occurs before the start of the story.)

Hidden story in this book could easily become backstory in the next book, but since I’m thinking this little bit of hidden story is going to become the opening scene of the next book, it won’t be hidden story or backstory. It’ll just be part of the story. :-)

So, now I just need to get to work on today’s writing and finish this story.

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).

Update #1

My internet was giving me troubles this morning so I had to delay finishing this post, but that’s okay, because I spent the time writing.

I’ve written 405 words this morning and I need another 95 before I can stop for lunch. I’ll be back with an update when I have them. :-)

Update #2

Time for lunch! My word count is now 559 words.

Update #3

And I’m at 545. Yes, I’m going backwards. Except I’m not because I’m closing in on my ending. Consider it the cost of nearing the end. I clean up as I go.

Update #4

623 words were it for the day, but it is the official restart of my 500 words a day streak—if I can do it again today! Life happened, and I had a big chunk of time between 5:40ish and midnight that I didn’t get back to writing. I did a little more until I went to bed oh so late and was really sad that I didn’t push for more writing so I could finish. But I didn’t finish. Now it’s time to get started with today’s writing, so moving on.

Pushing for a finish today; must write faster!

I haven’t finished my current book in progress despite having been trying to finish it for a couple of weeks now. Today I’m pushing for a finish, although I know it’s going to be tricky. I don’t have a clue where the story is going to come together, only a vague notion that something is going to have to happen before I can end it because I need my main character to play a more active role in the ending here and so far he just hasn’t stepped up. He’s gonna have to step up. That’s all there is to it.

I need at least one solid chapter to finish up the climax and maybe half another. Then I need some wrap up scenes, so that’ll be another chapter at least.

My chapters range anywhere from 2,000 to 2,800 words, rarely more, but sometimes, so I can’t rule that out. That means 4,800 words minimum to end this thing, even though I wanted my word count for this book to max out at 65,000 words. It hasn’t. The book is now the third longest book in the series. It’s questionable at this point if it’ll remain only the third longest because I’m getting uncomfortably close to the length of the second longest.

So…practice time. I’m going for 800 words per hour, writing in 15 minute bursts. That’s a goal of 200 words for each session of 15 minutes.

That is a push, but practice time it is.

In other news, I’ve reinstituted some personal rules to help me stay away from time sucking activities online. LeechBlock is set to block me from most of the internet from 7 am to noon and 2 pm to midnight.

I’m doing this because I’m just spending too much time on places like K boards.

Which, in another note, I’ve decided might be the wrong table for me to sit at.

Most of the authors there take self-publishing much too seriously for me. I realize publishing is my income source and that I do need to treat the business aspects of it as a business, but the rest of it is for me to do as I please. I don’t treat the publishing part as a traditional business and I don’t want to. I much prefer to be the artisan and do my own thing until I have a product ready to sell. But then when I have the product ready I really prefer to be the person at the flea market or the little corner shop and not really the mass marketing Walmart. I’ll be honest, that’s a terrible analogy, but it’s all I can come up with at 9:12 a.m. in the morning when I just know that I need to stop visiting that site as much as I do and I keep going back and forth and I continue to visit and I continue to read the forum day after day to excess and I continue to find many of the people’s attitudes there quite infuriating at times. And nothing throws me off my game more than being angry does. I think it’s normal to want to be accepted, even looked up to, by your peers, but when your beliefs are so far outside the norm in the group, it’s not going to work out that way unless you start conforming. That price is too high for some of us. It comes to this: Kboards is not good for my mental equilibrium. Know thyself, as they say.

And my final note today: this was written on my phone using the default Google speech-to-text so if it is somewhat unreadable I’m sorry. But the one thing I’m not going to do is override the LeechBlock settings and allow myself to get online and post on my blog before I’ve had a chance to do my writing today.

Now, time to get up and get this day started. It’s my birthday. :)

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. :)

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.

 

Self-discipline is a skill: skills take practice and practice takes time

I did not reach any of my goals yesterday. (1557 words, 3 hours writing, finish editing chapters 15 and 16.) I wrote for 2.633 hours and added 122 words to chapter 15.

I didn’t take drastic measures with those chapters as I said I would because things were actually going well with the story. I just couldn’t concentrate, and there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it. I even turned to a cup of coffee, which didn’t help at all. >:{

Today I am going to finish going through chapter 15 and 16 and I’m going to do it before I stop for lunch.

After lunch, I’m going to write.

Today also begins a fresh start on my 1,557 words a day goal. I’ll also be requiring at least three hours a day of writing from myself. I will require this every day, with few exceptions. I’m doing this because I’m starting to believe self-discipline is something you need to practice regularly, and without it, you’re never going to get the most out of yourself long-term.

I accept that I’ll fall short on the word counts sometimes, because I haven’t changed my writing process and I do end up with days where I delete more than I write. This isn’t about perfection. But by requiring three hours a day from myself, I make it much more likely that on my good days, I might make up some of those lost words. And on days where three hours just doesn’t cut it, I can keep pushing for those 1,557 words.

My biggest hope is that over time I’ll fall into a routine that maximizes the number of words I write in the most reasonable amount of time by consistently staying involved in my story worlds. I’ll stop losing momentum to month-long breaks and I’ll lose less time to massive read-throughs and edits like the one I’m stuck in the middle of now, because I’ll be working on my stories every day. Even if I can’t maintain the three hours and 1,557 words a day pace working on just one story, I can work on other stories. I already know I have that capability.

I’m going at this to build stamina for writing. What I write isn’t as important as the writing itself. Plus, I don’t want to hamstring myself by limiting what I can write. Some days there will be stories I won’t feel capable of or ready to write. Those days need a back up plan. That back up plan is to write something else.

Three hours a day is twenty-one hours a week, and that’s not that much time at all to devote to what is undoubtedly my life’s work.

Progress and a brilliant idea I should have had sooner

I did run out of time yesterday and didn’t make it through all the chapters of my book.

Well, sort of. I stopped the editing at chapter 12, but then I sent the file to my tablet and read through the rest of it and realized most of it’s solid. Just a few bits I want to change, one because of an inconsistency and a few paragraphs that tripped me up when I was reading them. They could use some smoothing out for sure for various reasons.

Unfortunately, I didn’t highlight those spots during that late night read through so I still have to read through those chapters again today and find the things I thought needed changing. I was just too tired last night and it seemed like a good idea at the time to focus on the reading. I don’t agree so much to that today, but too late now. :o

I think those rough patches come from not writing fast enough. Too many rewrites and edits makes it very easy to screw up the flow of a story. When I bog down, that happens to me. I mean, I’m doing it because I can’t figure out what’s wrong usually, so I have to, but I know it’s not usually helping the story. I seem to get the best results when I’m able to just ignore what’s there and write fresh, then delete the old. :D

That’s probably why this kind of edit takes me so long. I’m really doing a lot more redrafting of the book than actually editing what’s there.

As for the brilliant idea I mentioned in the title of this post, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before. I have to revisit my previous books quite a lot to find stuff, and I had the notion to create a master series doc yesterday. It took me about three minutes to put together using Word’s “Insert > Object > Text from File” menu item. Then I used another half hour or so cleaning it up so it wasn’t cluttered with various styles. (The oldest books used different style sets than my newer books and I just quickly applied the new styles and deleted the old from the document. Less chance of corruption later, I hope.)

Anyway, it’s a huge file, but Word handled it fine. So now I can open one file when I need to search the books for something and I can get results for ALL the books. Since small corrections won’t affect that, I won’t ever have to do anything else to this doc except add the newest books when I publish them. :D

When I start the next book on my other series, I’ll do the same for it. So much easier than opening and searching multiple books trying to find that one bit of info I need. ;)

Anyway, here are the numbers: 6.467 hours of timed writing (plus all the times I forgot to turn the timer back on, because that kept happening) and 151 words net from edits, redrafting, and deletions.

It was a highly-focused day of writing, for sure.

Now on to today. I need to get these final changes made, and then I’m going to put some real effort into writing the rest of this book as fast as I can. Onward!

8-10-17 Thursday

Getting lazy on titles today. :)

The plan is 3 hours and 1,557 words. I’m going to read for a few minutes and then get started. Somehow it’s already 12:58 pm and I have no idea how that happened.


Okay, I’ve procrastinated like nobody’s business today, so I’m going to have to nail this word count today in record time or it’s not going to get done. Needless to say (I’m saying it anyway), it needs to get done.


Holy crap.

Would you believe I’m still procrastinating? :o

All is not lost. I did actually work on my timeline for this book (it’s a mess) and brainstorm a bit. That counts, right? It did get me 138 words.

Sadly, they’re mostly just notes-to-self so I don’t forget some of the stuff I figured out and they’ll be deleted as soon as I don’t need them anymore.


Updates

54 minutes, 141 words.

Total words: 279.

Well, not great, but it’s something, right?

Will have to do better tomorrow.

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.

Practicing longer session lengths today

Writing longer is a problem I need to tackle. So today I am writing in one hour blocks. Practice is the key to improvement, right? So practice I will!

Also, I might reach a higher wph with a shorter session but I have a real problem doing a great many sessions. At least with the one hour blocks, even if I just finish one, I’m almost guaranteed to have a few more words than I’ll get from fifteen minutes. ;)

On that note, though, I am planning to do three of them, for three hours of timed writing today, minimum. As long as I reach 519 wph, I’ll reach 1,557 words. I have stuff to do today that isn’t writing, so I also want to finish those three hours relatively early. Relative, because it’s already 11:20 and I’m just about to have breakfast.

Yes, I did stay up too late, and I don’t have any writing to show for it. Kind of sad, huh?


Update

Well, I didn’t write. I started reading a book and it was good, and I just never got started writing. Then I had things to do and came home tired. I would have gone to bed early but the spider infestation made itself known again (another spider tried to crawl up my bed—the third one in four days!) and I started vacuuming ceilings at 10:30 and finished at about midnight. Really shouldn’t have procrastinated that the night before. :o After that I had to take a shower because I was ridiculously hot and sweaty. Got in bed at 1 a.m. All I can say is that if they’re using old webs to travel the skies, the spiders are going to have to build some new ones. Maybe I’ll get a few days of peace out of that. This is the problem with living in the middle of the woods on a mountain. Ortho can’t save you, unfortunately. Spiders are everywhere. I hate spiders.