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!

Day 13 of 500 words a day

619 words. It was easy enough yesterday that I thought I would end the day with a whole lot more but I was tired after not getting enough sleep the night before and it showed in the latter part of the day. I watched an episode of Rizzolli & Isles on DVD when I stopped for dinner and then just kept watching…

But today I’ll do better. I’m going to aim for no less than 5 hours of writing and see where that takes me. :)

Day 12 of 500 words a day

I made it. I wrote 526 words and kept my streak alive for another day. I didn’t think I would, to be honest. It’s 2:32 am and I’m dead tired.

I started out at a negative word count of hundreds of words because of deletions and it took hours to catch back up and get above 500 words. I did too much editing and not enough fresh writing. But I didn’t want to jump ahead, so I persevered.

I really need to learn how to write a little more freely. And those thousands of words I was thinking about deleting today didn’t get deleted but I’m seriously thinking they might go in the next session.

Day 11 of 500 words a day

Yesterday I wrote 524 words. That brought my daily streak of 500+ words to day 11.

Today is looking dicey. It’s 5:53 pm and I’m sitting at -305 words right now, meaning I’ve deleted significantly more words than I’ve written, and I’m toying with the idea of deleting even more. I’m just really not sure how to handle days like today because if I delete thousands of words, as I suspect might happen, to end up with a net positive I’ll have to write thousands of words if I want my spreadsheet to show 500 words for the day.

Not great.

It’s just something I’m going to have to figure out and then stick to as a general rule.

Day 10 of 500 words a day

My 500+ words a day streak is alive and well. I wrote 563 words on day 10.

As for today, I haven’t done well avoiding distractions. It wasn’t that I got distracted during writing time so much as I just took a break for lunch and never came back.

Except that’s not exactly right, because I did come back at about five o’clock this evening, only to end up in a discussion with a family member that pulled me off track for nearly two hours.

As I said yesterday, I need to take away the potential for distraction if I want to stay focused.

That brings me to my new plan.

No more posting while I’m trying to write, because it leads me right into an area that’s rife with potential distractions. I’ll save the posting for after I’m done trying to write.

Since I’m often not in the mood to post once I start shutting down for the evening, I’ll probably end up doing a lot of morning posts, but that’s okay, as long as I do them before I start trying to write my daily quota of fiction. :-)

Also, it’s time I try a little harder to get my writing done earlier in the day. I prefer daytime writing, to be honest, and there’s just no reason I shouldn’t be doing it when I like doing it best, most of the time.

So yeah. New plan.

Day 9 of 500 words a day

Yesterday was day 9 of my 500 words a day streak. I wrote 2,626 words.

My daily average since beginning this effort is now 803 words. This just goes to prove that it doesn’t take much more than the 500 words a day on a few days a week to really improve my long-term average.

Through day 8, 575 words was my daily average.

Add in day 9 and my daily average shot up to 803 words, which is 188 words above my all-time daily average. Meaning that if I maintained this pace, writing mostly 500-520 a day but having 1-2 days where I write quite a bit more, I would write an additional 68,620 words in a year. Or another entire novel.

It’s something to keep in mind, for sure. For someone like me, who finds it difficult to maintain a consistent pace, having a low set minimum appears to be a great way to at least ensure a minimum of production, while increasing the chances of producing more. I’ve already talked about the benefits I’ve been seeing, so I won’t go into that, but suffice to say, I’m feeling really good about this new plan to write 500 words a day. It’s going better than I ever expected, to be honest.

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.

Tomorrow I resume the challenge to reach 6000 words in a day

Today I haven’t written any fiction. I have a daily writing streak I could keep alive by writing something now, but I don’t think I’m going to. I might, when I finish writing this post, go write a little something, but I might not. I’m tired and I’m not really seeing the need.

Tomorrow I resume the challenge to write 6000 words in a day. I was SO close a few days ago but I just couldn’t get those last 200 words. I’ve been staying up too late and when you’re falling asleep at the computer, it’s time to put the computer up. ;)

I’m just about there now.

There’s a caveat to the resumption of the challenge for tomorrow though. I have to start working my way back into good sleep habits. I’m paying for the lack of them in so many ways. Increased appetite, cravings for sweets, tired eyes, that kind of thing.

Anyway, the point is that I’m still very interested in reaching 6000 words in a day but I also want to not have to work so hard at it. :D

First thing: I need to make sure I’m in a place in my head where I can write freely. I just can’t do this without a better pace. 10 hours and 33 minutes is how long it took me to write the 5,816 words that broke my previous record of 5,758 words in a day. That’s just too much time.

I don’t want to have another 10 hour day anytime in the near future. Seriously, it was rough and I felt very much like all I did was get up Sunday, start writing, and write all day long until I gave up at about 10:30 that night. I know I had times when I was away from the computer, because I only clocked 10 hours and 33 minutes, but I sure can’t remember any of them. It was write, write, write, all day.

Anyway, enough of this ramble. The TL;DR for this is I’m still chasing 6000 words a day, but I’m setting some limits. :)

Goodnight!