Writing Journal 1.28.2018: Disaster, but now I think I see what is coming

For about five seconds, I was tempted to fib on the numbers for this week. But, that’s not how all this works.

Nothing else for it:

+407 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 0 out of 7 days.

Well, we have a few firsts here. At five days without writing (last Sunday through Friday), I officially went through the longest non-writing streak I’ve suffered since starting this blog. And. of course, the worst word count of that time.

The reasons are simple, other than the usual procrastination. Right now, I am on the last major unwritten scene of my book, with the exception of the final scene. I’ve found myself struggling to complete the scene. That’s ironic, but perhaps connected, to the fact that the scene involves my main character’s last game for a team and shows how he is now emotionally detached from it and even the sport itself.

In addition, there is not a lot of uncharted road left to run on for this novel. After this scene, I will work on rewriting two crucial scenes from the first draft. One of those scenes will be an almost total rewrite of that scene – new location, new participants except for my main character, and new format for the confrontation in question. Afterward, I want to write the final scene of the book.

At that point, I will have a working draft of the book. That’s when I’ll really be in deep with the rewrites and that will take up an extended period of time. A significant factor with that will be how close will I be to my 99,999-word limit. (I am now past the 88,000-word mark.) There is at least one important subplot I have not entered and it might be difficult to include it if there is not room in the book. For both artistic and commercial reasons, I am not interested in breaking that self-imposed limit.

So, the question is, will the next week be a repeat of this debacle, since I still haven’t gotten through that scene? I think the answer is that my report will look different. After some internal debate, I have decided to set a daily goal of one hour 30 minutes of non-distracted time devoted to revising and editing. I will include that in the list. Of course, this will affect the weekly totals and how they are reported, but I think that in the end, it will work out well.

I have also reinstalled Freedom on my laptop, to block the Internet during various times. I think I will experiment with both extended times and shorter bursts of time which put together, would add up to an hour a day.

Let’s see what happens next.


How Many Books Are in Me? A Speculation.

Given my well-known tendency toward procrastination, I came to an unsurprising conclusion sometime around the beginning of this decade: I was not going to be able to write as many books as my man Stephen King.

I’m OK with that. There’s people like King who have banged out tons of books, and those who have written even more like James Patterson and William W. Johnston, among others. Then, of course, you have the example of Harper Lee and her one (two) books, including To Kill a Mockingbird.

I’d like to have a production level somewhere in between that of King and Lee. Exactly where in between them is another issue.

As you heard before (man, look at all of the time I have to write during the summers 🙂 ), there are currently five novels that I have in various states of completion/revision/hidden from the world because they were too stupid to see the light of day. After that, there may be about five stories that I might want to get done – including some possible sequels to some of my previous works and at least one epic tale of a fictional indie rock band from the 1980’s-1990’s and their improbable rise to notoriety…

Then, of course, there are about… how many? Five, seven? Maybe eight… fever dreams of books, ideas of stories that flew around in my head for a while.

What happened to them? Some of them went past their due date, ideas that sounded good in the days I started playing with them in my head, but after looking at them on the initial pages didn’t seem so strong. Others were fevered teenage dreams that just seemed too small when I finally thought about them. Then there was that story about a presidential candidate that seemed to fit the turn of the millennium than the current climate. But, maybe that could get revived; I would love to write the Primary Colorsfor the 20th century.

I don’t like to think took much about the future, but I do wonder at times. If I’m lucky, I might have anywhere from 30 to 40 years of mileage left. If I’m lucky and good, I could turn out a book every 18 months at my current pace (as long as it picks up). If I’m only slightly unlucky, maybe that could be a dozen, 15 books?

I think that is one of the reasons I started this blog, because I realize that I’m not guaranteed any amount of time on this planet and I might use whatever time I have to create something interesting.

What I do know is that I will keep on writing. I also don’t think I’m going to be running out of ideas, either. At least, not for a while to come.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 1.21.2018: It’s getting a little better

And just when you thought I didn’t have any writing goals… here are some from tonight:


See, I told you. (Check with me next week to see if I actually fulfilled any of them.)

Also, off to the totals. The verdict: An improvement over last week, but not where I want to be.

+1,916 words written.

Days writing: 5 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 2 out of 7 days.

Ahahah, this is going to go out a lot later than I expected. The notes for this week:

  1. From all of the advice I received from the writing groups (which I just spent 15 minutes checking them out before getting my focus back), I have decided that keeping track of how I revise should be done on a time-based system rather than by word count.
    With that, I decided on a daily count of 60 minutes per day on the days that I am revising. I think that I will alternate between writing and revising pretty soon, with some weeks being heavier than others, depending on where I am on projects.
  2. How I monitor that time will be interesting. I will have to have a set up where I track the time that I totally focus on revising. It may come in fits and starts, but that will be OK.
  3. I used to like the computer app Freedom, but now they’ve moved it to a subscription service. If I had an alternative I’d definitely consider it.
  4. OK, I will run another post tomorrow and maybe, finally, get a midweek post again. You know what I want to talk about next.

More later.

Writing Journal 1.14.2018/Random Notes: Nowhere to go but up

Well, everyone, it was pretty bad last week regarding writing progress. The totals for confirmation:

+1,003 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 2 out of 7 days.

I speculated earlier why I might be going through this much of a losing streak, but I think most of that road is paved with procrastination and regret. I finished the threatening scene; now, I’m trying to write one more football scene, essentially my main character’s last game. I need to keep reminding myself that this first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

Another thing to do is breaking patterns. I’ve noticed that when you get into procrastination ruts, you find yourself repeating the same behavioral patterns over an over. There’s no point in repeating the – not insanity, but – useless patterns if the desired result doesn’t occur. If you have to do things, do them in a different pattern. That’s the only way that you can try and break the mental locks on your mind. I’m still nowhere near an expert at mental reprogramming. But, I’m getting better.

I also think another factor is that I’m really starting to get antsy about getting this first draft completed. I’m thinking that I want to get into the revising process so that I can start forming what I have into a coherent whole. I’ve said before that I consider revising to be the heart and soul of writing, because that’s after you get the metal out and finally start pounding away on it in the forge to make it into something usable.

That’s about all to my ramblings, because I want to try and get to bed at a decent hour and get fiction writing in. So, Random Notes:

  1. I am planning on that revising/editing goal. I should have that next week, then I’ll see how to work that in with my existing writing goals. How I keep track of all of it is up in the air now.
  2. Currently, I’m trying to read manuscripts for three people wanting feedback. I need to make more movement on that by this week so they can get some feedback by this year, at least. 🙂
  3. Ideas for new posts (one of which actually needs to happen) include one on writing output that’s been bopping around for a while, one on the concept of revising, and one of my old writings.
  4. Anyone interested in seeing some excerpts or “deleted scenes” from the thing I’m working on now?

More later.

Writing Journal 1.8.2018/Random Notes: Slow start to the new year

Well, starting out the new year 2018 didn’t really get off to a good start. I was writing, but not on a consistent basis.

Enough intro, here’s the totals from the past week:

+2,091 words written.

Days writing: 4 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 3 out of 7 days.

Notes about the count:

  • I have the feeling that it is going to get tougher and tougher to reach my daily and weekly quotas the closer I get to writing the end of the book. These are the main tasks I have to accomplish. Without getting too much into spoilers, they are:
  1. Getting through a pretty harrowing scene where my main character is essentially threatened with assault and has to do something that is distasteful to escape the situation. Despite the subject matter, I believe it’s essential to show how he decides to make a final decision about what he wants to do with his life.
  2. Writing an entirely new scene that looks like just another football game he has to play but is actually step one in his plan to change around his life.
  3. Rewriting two critical scenes to make them better reflect some of the mid-draft changes I decided to make.
  4. See if I have any room for additional scenes that might add to the story. I’m sticking to the 99,999-word count limit. If I want to write more, there’s always sequels.
  • I am thinking that I will consider setting up a goal for revising and editing work. If all goes well, I plan to be revising quite a bit beginning this spring. Even though I didn’t succeed in keeping at my quota for the last six months, it did give me valuable focus and complete a lot more writing, on a more consistent basis, than I ever had. I feel it is just as important to have a goal for that as much as for the drafting (the word count).


Now, the actual Random Notes:

  1. Getting behind in looking for reading material to post on the Facebook and Twitter pages for my reading list. I’ll get some work in tonight on that.
  2. I do plan to write tonight. Honest.
  3. Old procrastination – hours and hours of video games. New procrastination – hours on hours of YouTube reaction videos. (Hence this coming out tonight rather than yesterday.)
  4. There’s a workshop on publishing books at the Midwest Writer’s Center in Davenport. It looks cool, but it is a big time commitment and dollar commitment, so I might have to beg off.
  5. New Year’s just trucking along.
  6. I have material for at least two or three other posts. Now I just have to see if I have the discipline to get them done.

More later.

Poem: The Inertia of Me

This came out of me juuust as I was thinking about getting more serious about my writing. Decided it might be a good way to start off the new year.


The Inertia of Me

10/4/2012 Muscatine, Iowa

Late night drizzling consciousness as the digital ticks creep the night into the morning without dawn.

Energy ebbs as the seconds and minutes tick away.

Bobby Layne said he’d never lost –

he just ran out of time.

I know what he meant, but maybe not how he really felt on those days.

Bobby could make a minute last, could make it work for him.

Usually, I find myself asking seconds and minutes and hours

to take the day off.

Falling into the well-worn patterns, the easy highways of the mind

rather than getting my brain’s centurions

to build new good Roman roads serving

citizens over millennia.

My ambitions reach toward the Rhine,

the Danube, and the British wall, but my output has stuck to the Seven Hills above the Tiber.

Is the Eater inside me talking me into thinking writing is work?

I’m not sure, but my superego knows different;

every time I create something, I get

the joy of building, of forming, instead of just consuming everything.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve located my willpower at the base of my spine;

it’s a AA battery that gets used up

and replaced at the start of each day.

If it runs out at 4 p.m., too bad.

So, I have to plan like a Roman,

using the latest techniques and technologies to eliminate my threats like they used to kill off the crazy skyclad woadclad Celts of the mists.

All it comes down to is, I need to write.

Now I’m finally figuring out how to do that.

Year-End Review: What did I write the last half of 2017?

OK, I promised the final totals for the year-end stuff.

This is going to be a little different – I am only counting my output from the start of September (when I made my new daily writing goal) to December 31, 2017. I plan to keep data for the following year, although what it will show me would be an open question. Excel really helped me organize the numbers, so it made it a lot more simple than I anticipated.

The Numbers:

Current project (The American 9) word count: 83,715 words as of Dec. 31, 2017.

Goal for this project: 95,000-99,999 words.

Total words written from 9.1.2017-12.31.2017: 56,303.

Average words per week (3,500-word quota): 3,312.

Days writing: 96.

Average days per week writing: 5.6.

Days meeting word count quota: 65.

Average days per week meeting writing quota: 3.8

OK. My thoughts on all of this:

  1. 56,000 words is a pretty good decent number. That is well over 50 percent of my book right there done in three months.
  2. I’m disappointed that my average was not above my weekly quota. Close, but not quite. I would really like that to be a goal for me in the upcoming year, to make that quota or better throughout the year.
  3. Despite whatever setbacks or downers I’ve had, I’ve never been writing with this consistency before in my life. I never went more than two days in a row without writing anything, and that’s never happened with me before.
  4. I think I have a good system for keeping track of my writing production. I’ll put it into practice this year.
  5. I will have to consider what goals to work on when I shift more toward revising than writing regularly. If you have any ideas on what I could use for goals on that I’d be open to suggestions.
  6. 2018 will be a very interesting writing year for me.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 12.31.2017: Not as much as I’d hoped, but that’s on me

Considering that I had the whole week off, I was disappointed with my output this time. The only upside is that I improved on my totals from last week.

Those totals:

+2,975 words written.

Days writing: 5 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 5 out of 7 days.

And the full totals:

Length of first draft (as of today’s date): 83,095 words.

Current goal for length of first draft by the end of Dec. 31, 2017: 83,000-85,000 words.

Planned length of first draft: 95,000-99,999 words.

So, Random Thoughts (most tied to the totals):

  1. Sorry this came out late today, but I had a shopping run out of town with my son and some other family time for the New Year. Thankfully, I am not out at a party tonight, and with Kathy Griffin fired from CNN there’s not too much point in watching the festivities on TV. So, writing time tonight.
  2. I keep saying I’m going to put together some more query letters for The Holy Fool, but I haven’t gotten around to it. That needs to get going again and in earnest.
  3. If I do have a resolution for 2018, it probably will be for my book to be published, even if it’s on Amazon or whatever. I’ve developed this online presence; it’s about time I used it to spread my writings around.
  4. Either tonight or tomorrow, I’m going to get online and read some more of my fellow bloggers here on WordPress. Thanks to everyone who has followed my page here or me on Facebook or Twitter.
  5. I’ve hit the lower end of my current goal for the overall book for the end of  2017. I’m over 83,000, but I want to see if I can get ambitious and get anywhere near 85,000. It will be fun to see if I can do it.
  6. Tomorrow, I plan to do another post detailing what happened with my writing during the last half of 2017. That will be very interesting to see once I crunch those numbers.
  7. Also want to do (if only, if only) two other posts this week – a long in the works thought piece and possibly one of my poems/essays.
  8. It was a wild year. I’m glad I started this blog mid-year and am looking forward to celebrating its first anniversary in the next several months.

Happy 2018.