Letting go of word counts

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.


Keeping on…

ROW80I 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.


Hello, new Round of Words!

ROW80And hello to all the other participants in this Round. I’m still here, still scratching away on this book. Mostly creating graphics right now, which is a challenge in a whole other way than writing is.

My goal for this round is simple: to continue to focus on just this one project and to continue to push it towards completion. I will not, I swear it, let myself get distracted by all the other possible projects that tempt me to fizzle out on this one and skip to something else. I will focus.

And I will check in at least once a week, and skip around the blogs a bit to encourage others. Many thanks to all who have offered that kind of support to me in earlier rounds.

Here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-ins. Lots of great writers out there, writing away.


Words and pictures – as this #ROW80 ends

ROW80So, as this Round of Words comes to a close, I continue the edit of this manuscript. It needs a lot of rewriting and I struggle with that, but I’m determined to polish it up.

I am also preparing some illustrations, which is engrossing. Not illustrations from scratch, fortunately, but images reworked from photographs I’ve taken previously. I am not really a visual artist, but I have some background in graphic design and I’ve worked on images for ebooks before. Anyway, this takes up a lot of time as well.

I suspect I’ll still be working on both editing and images when we start the second round on April 6. In the meantime, best wishes to all on your projects. Here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-in.


Editing and random notes

ROW80Well, 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.


Choosing to trust

ROW80Hello, 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.


Making progress, changes ahead

ROW80My production of new words remains kind of slow. In the past week and a half I’ve finished just under 800 words. I’m judging that as okay progress though, since I’m thinking through the end of my manuscript and looking forward to illustrations and editing.

I had the unpleasant experience of hitting a wall that I know only too well: the point in the midst of everything where all your words look horrible and you hate everything you’ve written. I’ve had this experience with every damn thing I’ve written, and I know from talking with other writers that it happens to nearly everyone. When that feeling comes over me, I tend to run away. It’s brought me to a halt far too often, and I’m determined not to let it stop me again. I also know from experience that if I push on I can usually get past it. Finding the will to push on can be hard though.

Anyway, I’m thinking a lot about the next Round of Words, because by then I figure I’ll be deep into the editing and illustration phase. How will I set my goals then? Will I feel the need to write new words, even if it’s on another project? If I try to do that will I upend my work on this book? I am unsure but I guess I’ll face that question when I get there.

Here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-in. Keep writing, all you writers!


Progress and restructuring

ROW80Some 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.


Getting in my own way

ROW80Really, you can count on this happening with me almost every time. After two weeks of really solid progress, I got nothing useful done this week (laundry doesn’t count!).

It’s not that I didn’t have time, because I honestly have all the time I need. It’s the trap in my behavior that wants to stop once I have momentum.

So again this week I start with a word count deficit, which is apparently where I like to be since I end up here so often. With any luck I’ll find that motivating and get some work done again.

Thanks for hanging in with me as I work through this stuff. Here’s the blog hop link for this check-in.


Steady progress

ROW80I am happy to report that I met my week’s goal, caught up to my ROW80 goal-to-date, and then wrote some more. I hit a total of 1631 new words last week, so I am in good shape to push further this week as well.

Still not sure exactly how long this book will be, so I will continue on with a rough goal of 65,000 words because why not? As long as I keep writing it’s all good.

Here’s the blog hop link for this check-in. Good luck to everyone!