For the past few years I’ve assessed my writing progress by word counts, both in my beloved spreadsheets and here on the site in the sidebar widgets.
This stopped working for me some time ago. I talked about it a bit in one of my ROW80 posts. In each of my current works I’ve written myself into a corner and need to rewrite in order to get moving again. That isn’t necessarily a problem. I tend to be a ‘pantser’ as a writer, not outlining in any detailed way, and so the possibility that I’ll take a wrong turn and need to rewrite is always present. But in the rewriting, I often have to subtract words, and when I’m focused on word count this completely fouls up my ability to track progress. Or at least the ability to believe I’m making progress. I get discouraged and everything comes to a halt.
So I’ve taken down the widgets, at least for now. And I’m noting on my spreadsheets the days when I’m editing. I can’t make pretty charts and graphs out of those days, but at least I can note that I actually did some work. Since this has happened with every project I’ve taken up so far, I have to accept that it’s part of my writing process. I have to figure out how to proceed.
When I do figure that out, I’ll let you know. Until then I’ll be trudging along behind the scenes, with the hope that I can eventually write and edit some piece of work all the way to the end.
I am still working graphics, mostly clearing away photo backgrounds, which is amazingly time-consuming work. But satisfying in a weird way. But I need to get back to editing words, and I discovered one thing that might be of interest to any of you who are, like me, of a certain age and not getting younger.
I learned to write on paper, and got pretty good with a typewriter. I actually wrote out most of my first novel longhand, which was an insane thing to do. I later typed it into WordStar when I got my first computer (though of course it’s been decades since I had any computer that could read eight-inch floppy disks in a CP/M format, but never mind). Though I’ve mostly taught myself to draft on the computer (I use Scrivener now), I still like to go to paper to edit. There’s something about seeing the words on a page that helps me read them in a different way.
But lately when I try to edit I’ve had real trouble focusing on the printout of this book, and haven’t understood why. But like that proverbial bolt of lightning I realized last week that the light on my desk was too dim for me to read well. I’ve long had to bump up my font sizes to be able to read — another reason why I love my Kindle — but I’ve always worked with the lights dim in my office. Alas, my eyes aren’t up to that any more.
So I got an LED desk lamp that fits for the “spreading out papers” side of my desk, and hope this will indeed help me to focus better. Since focus is the goal this time, that would be a big plus.
Here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-in. I hope that everyone has light shining on their work and all the focus they need.
Well, I guess there was good reason for my inability to finish this manuscript, because I’ve started my edits from the beginning and I’m going through my pages of random notes, and there the mss. needs a lot of rewriting. What’s here is good, mind you, I am hitting the points I want to hit, but structurally there’s still a lot of confusion and muddled approaches, all of which need to be straightened out before I can proceed.
I have to admit that editing is always scary for me, since it involves looking at my work objectively, without either horror or adoration. Getting into a good frame of mind for that is hard. But that’s what needs to be done, so I am determined to work my way through it.
Here’s the blog hop link for this check-in. I’ll post again about how things are going, and look forward to the next round.
Hello, ROW80 folks! I’m going to change up my goals for the final weeks of this challenge, because focusing on word count is not working for me right now. I need to edit, which inevitably involves both adding words and cutting them, and so the word count itself doesn’t show the progress being made, or not being made as the case may be.
So I am shifting to one blog post per week, to check in about progress. That may include a word count if significant new words get made. But it may also be hours spent editing, or percent of the manuscript that is roughly finished, or any other measure that seems to work at the time. My over-riding goal remains the same: to finish this one manuscript without stalling or getting distracted by shiny squirrels and popcorn kittens.
I chose to trust my own process towards that goal, so if new words aren’t happening, I’ll focus on what is. That seems like the best way to proceed.
Here’s the blog hop link for this check-in. Hope the work goes well for all of you, and I’ll check in again next week.
Some progress on new words this week, 888 total on the book which still leaves me behind my ROW80 goal by 1112 words. But that’s not the important thing that happened this week.
I think I finally see the general outline of the rest of the book. Remember, this is a nonfiction work so my task is to present all the technical and explanatory info I need, and nothing more. I was aiming for 65,000 words pretty much at random, because I needed a goal of some sort. But now I think I’ll hit the end way before that. Current estimate is that the book will end up closer to 45,000 words. If I’m correct about that (and I’m pretty sure I’ll be within 5k of that target), then I’m way closer to the end than I had thought.
I’ve adjusted my Arbitrary Widget to reflect that fact. And I’ll keep working to hit my 1000 words/week goal, to push through to the end of the writing wherever that end is. But some of what I’m experiencing as a slowdown is actually my internal work of figuring out what I need to write. I have a hard time figuring out which of those two things are going on sometimes, and I worry that I’m not getting enough done when in fact the work is happening in my head.
Reading back through the draft I see that it is (unsurprisingly) a mess, so the editing process that comes next will be intensive too. But that’s a worry for another day. For now, I’ll keep chugging on.
Here’s the link for the blog hop for this check-in. I hope everyone’s work is going well.