Progress – ROW80 Week One

ROW80Last week I completed about 90% of my goal time. Still not perfect, but a good start. Fridays are clearly the hardest for me, since Mr. J gets off early and the urge to goof off is strong then.

But I made progress on a number of tasks. I entered many pages of notes on three different manuscripts, and wrote out several new pages of notes to enter this week. I spent one session editing and writing book G., and I’m happy with that. I also made great progress on another piece of artwork for G., so that was good G. progress for the week. And in addition to those tasks, I wrote most of a letter I have promised to a friend for a political project he’s organizing.

For this week the goal is the same: one hour of any type of work each weekday (including Friday!). I hope to finalize that letter and get it out the door, input all the new notes, perhaps finish the new drawing but at least make progress on it, and do another writing and editing session on book G.

I hope everyone else made some good progress as well. Here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-in. I’m off to visit some other posts now.

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Jumping in again

ROW80Since giving up on word counts, I’ve continued to work in a fiddly sort of way, writing bits and pieces and keeping lots of notes. But I haven’t made sustained progress for some time.

So, hello, Round of Words people! I am jumping into the New Year’s Round with a new goal, a simple goal: One hour of work every weekday.

That means a full hour with all distractions off. No games or Internet, no books other than my own or necessary reference books, not even going up to do housework. Nothing but my own work. If no words come and I can’t get into editing then I’ll just sit here twiddling my thumbs, but I’ll do it for an entire hour.

As before, I’ll check in at least once each week. That’s my goal and my promise to myself. It’s time to get it done.

Here is the link list for this ROW80 check-in.

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A holiday suggestion for you all

For a couple of decades I’ve been a member of The Well, a system of forums that’s been around since the ’80s. It’s quieter these days than when I joined in 1993, with lots of folks having spun off to Facebook and Twitter and other social media spaces. But it still hosts some of the best online discussions in existence, and I still visit every day.

One person who’s been on The Well even longer than I have is Jon Carroll, for many years a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and co-host of The Well’s Media conference.

His columns at the Chronicle are unfortunately stuck behind a paywall, but some essays are included in his (now out-of-print but still available) book, Near-Life Experiences. The big news is that Jon recently parted ways with the Chronicle, and after some thought decided to start writing on his own. He now writes in a WordPress blog at Jon Carroll Prose.

My holiday gift to you is simply to point to his site. Bookmark it, add it to your blogroll, or follow the RSS feed. His work is always the best sort of reading, funny and insightful, easy to read but never simplistic, on a universe of subjects in no way bounded by San Francisco and California.

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What I’ve been up to

Hello, everyone. I’m still writing. Just wanted to let you know that.

Since I decided I had to let go of word counts, I’ve been somewhat aimless. My own process has been unclear to me, the way to produce actual finished work as opposed to partial, undone manuscripts. But given that I have all the time and space I need to keep chipping away at the problem, well, that’s what I’ve been doing.

At the moment my writing is all nonfiction. In addition to the Grow Your Own, Colorado gardening guide, I started a history of my life. That began as a way for me to work through the personal issues that block me from finishing my pieces. But it’s turned into an interesting project of its own, and may yet turn into an actual book. We shall see.

I am also still working on some art for the Grow book, using the little tablet I got last year. I enjoy it though I have to work in short bits so as not to stress my hands. Satisfying, nonetheless.

I’ll continue to work through the winter, and I hope you will too. If I manage to get anything close to finished, I’ll post and let you know. In the meantime, I update the Resources for Self-Publishers page now and then. Maybe someday I’ll get around to re-organizing it as well.

Best wishes, and keep writing everyone!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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