Word Counts: The Ultimate Procrastination Tool

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Setting a word count goal is a massively useful tool for chronic procrastinators. I set a word count goal and immediately accomplished several chores I’ve been putting off. There’s just something about having a concrete measure that encourages me to say “I can make it up after I (fill in the blank) .”

The writing program “Scrivener” has a couple of ways of tracking your word count. So if the session goal isn’t enough for you to finish your chores, you can go back and check your entire manuscript word count for that extra boost you need to clean the cat box.

Not only do you gain the benefit of having an extra-clean house, by setting a word count goal, you finally have proof that your inner negativity can point to to justify all your “I suck at the writing” urges. Why is this good? I’ll tell you. It allows you to later rebel against THE MAN by spending time creating bad writing.

Imagine! Just one tool can give you an extra-clean house, a way to satisfy those masochistic “I suck” urges, AND stick it to THE MAN. How cool is that?

All joking aside, though. Having a word count goal is an excellent way to concretely measure your productivity. It’s a great way to counter the “you can’t measure creativity” arguments. Aside from that, there’s always something satisfying about crossing a finish line. The Tour-de-France is not raced all at once, it’s a series of successive races. Writing a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, is much the same. It’s not written all at one sitting; it is written in a series of sessions.

Even if you consistently fail to meet your word count goal, just having it means you have something to reach for. Just as with weight lifting, you keep trying, building strength in increasing weights until you can lift your goal consistently. Consistently is the key, not ease of doing it. Once you have consistent success, then you increase your word count goal per session.

I have my word count goal as 2,000 words per day. Lately, I’ve barely been able to get 1,000. But I know there are times when those 1,000 words are all that’s necessary to say what needs to be said.

(BTW: The word count for this blog, including this message is: 385)

Helpless writing?

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I thought about doing a blog on learned helplessness, but I’ll save it for a day when I’m more depressed. Seriously, check it out. Since that’s not on my problem list for today, I’ll just leave that link in place and move on.

I thought I’d outlined the next story. Turns out it needs so much overhauling, I might as well start from square one. One of the things I’m doing on the revision is to use more than one view point. My last book was entirely from one perspective. That was fine. It had enough stuff to make a full length book on its own. This new one, though…. According to the outline, I had like 20 chapters. That’s, at most, 50,000 words. (I calculate based on averaging 2,500 words per chapter.) Not enough for a book that can be shopped around to agents.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve fallen into the trap of: two-viewpoints-isn’t-complicated-enough-so-I’ll-use-three. As if matching timelines and the like between two characters wasn’t enough, now I have three characters to match to a timeline. It’s a good thing I like puzzles. On the other hand, maybe it’s too hard. After all, I’m writing a blog about it rather than actually doing it. Hmmm. Can you actually procrastinate with no deadline?

So now I’m taking the original outline and inserting viewpoints between most of the major dots that need to be connected in order to create the story. I’m not actually complaining, because it gives me a way to show how the things the protagonist has to deal with develop. (Wow. Talk about an awkward sentence.) For instance….oh wait. Gotta go write this into the outline. Have a nice day!

Still recovering and other miscellaneous stuff

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I’m still recovering from ArmadilloCon. No concrud, just tired. Made today’s exercise session and private lesson a touch difficult to get through. Wonder how long I’ll last at sand volleyball tonight.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the challenge of a tough exercise schedule. Having spent all weekend doing another of my favorite activities just makes this week more awesome. I’m motivated and have the mental and emotional energy to push forward. Physical energy, though, is a bit lacking.

Mostly, though, I’m shocked at ReaderCon’s mishandling of their own no tolerance policy. I know it takes more guts than a Board of Directors often has to stand up to something like that, but if you’re not going to be able to enforce a policy, don’t have the policy. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the link. The ironic thing is that deep down, they probably realize it would help their numbers more than hurt. Despite a Big Name Fan blasting the con to his followers. This stuff gets around. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few cons banned him preemptively, since he has a record. A friend called the (lack) of sufficient action of the Board “terminally stupid”. I’d have to agree.

On a brighter note, I’ve also finished the basic outline of my next book. We’ll see how closely I manage to stick to it. I should probably revisit sending query letters for my last book. Hmmm. Decisions to make. This book is shaping up to be much better, but the other is still a good story…and a different genre. Maybe if I spend two hours on the new book and one hour on query letters (and the accompanying research), I can manage both. Though if I hit a procrastination streak, the number of posts to this blog may very well increase.

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I was going to put up a blog with some of my thoughts and experiences today, but after recording UIL middle school choirs all day, then going to my own choir rehearsal, I’m too tired to think coherently. Same schedule tomorrow, except instead of rehearsal, I’m performing. Wheee! I’ll eventually get another post up. Friday, most likely, or Saturday. Thanks for not abandoning me.