Category: tools

Writing 10,000 words per day: is it possible?!

As we came to the end of National Novel Writing Month, one of the writers in my region posted this article by Rachel Aaron about how to go from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000.

At that rate, you could write a novel (50,000 words) in five freaking days!

Is it possible?!

After toiling away on my novel for three years, the idea of upping my game appeals to me. I want to finish!!!

I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time this year (YAHOO!) but that was hard! And that was just 1,667 words per day. How the heck can I keep this up, so I get this stinkin’ book done, finally? (And in your lovely hands?!)

I see this article as the way, as my “challenge accepted.” What’s involved?

 

My office in the Tetons.

My office in the Tetons.

The Game Plan

First of all: I love the name of her blog.

Secondly, Rachel Aaron/Bach has three main suggestions. These are also in a helpful graphic in her post. Go check it out!

1. Know what you’re writing before you sit down to write.

She suggests writing it out on a pad of paper before you write.

2. Keep track of your writing time in a spreadsheet.

Statistics help! We’ve seen this with FitBit and Nano, so it makes sense. She recommends two months of tracking.

3. Get excited about what you’re writing today.

She realized that the most word count came when she wrote the scenes she’d been thinking of since conception of the novel. That makes sense, and I like how she put it!

Writing Results So Far

Lo! I’ve done pretty well. So far in December, I’ve written 15,042 words – just on my novel, not on all the blogs/texts/emails/books about Kanye I also write each day. I’ve averaged 3,000 words a day this month. I’ve also averaged 1832 words per hour, in the seven writing sessions I’ve had so far.  Rachel said her wph was 500-1500, which I just reread, so wow, I guess that’s pretty amazing!

LP Tracker

All of that comes from my handy dandy tracker. I’ve been using it for about a week now, and I really like opening it at the beginning of each session as a bit of a ritual, without going right into the novel.

My columns are: Date | Time | Location | Words Written | Hourly Rate | Pages | Music | Food | Kind of Sit/Distractions | Notes.

When I log in for the day, no matter how I’m feeling, and I see the previous day’s word count, I’m like, “oh yeah …” And get a little bit more energizy. After I insert my stats for the day, I see my progress. I also parse out the statistics (most productive time of day, best playlist, etc.) If I really want to nerd out, there’s the potential for GRAPHS and such in the future! Woot woot! (Nerd Alert!)

Hand Writing Ideas Helps

Part of the insane word count I get is that I type crazy fast. Like, fast enough that people comment on it when they see me typing on my phone. Still, I very much like her suggestion to start the beginning of each session with a quick, handwritten list of what that day’s scene(s) will be about. There’s something about the magic of handwriting, especially for writers, that is undeniable. This has really helped me focus and then dive in for the day. Thumbs up to this suggestion, too!

Get Pumped!

So, not going to lie … this one has been the hardest of the three. I think that comes from these ideas fermenting, and me writing or thinking some version of them, for like, 3 years. Overdone, much?

That’s not entirely true. I like that I’ve been able to get to about 3,000 words and stop, no matter where I am in the scene. I can see what’s coming next, which makes writing about it first in a notepad at the top of tomorrow’s writing sesh super easy. So it becomes this sweet self-perpetuating cycle!

I can get pumped about finishing this freaking book. And upping my word count as freaking awesomely as I have – and committing to a daily practice – is giving me the energy I need to get ‘er done.

Final Thoughts

One of the hardest things about writing a novel is that it seems Sisyphean. There’s so MUCH to write, and even 3,000 words is just 3% of a novel. Just sitting down that day will not mean I’ve “finished my novel” by the end of the work session. In journalism and PR, we have short, tight projects with measurable and attainable goals.  It can be overwhelming and hard to start. It’s probably why most people don’t write that book they’ve “been meaning to” or “always wanted to.”

Then, many of the things I have read about professional authors, and even Rachel in her blog, say that they sit down “at least four hours a day and write.” My eyes bug out at that. For multiple reasons.

One: I’m traveling around the country, so that’s a huge chunk of daylight that I could devote to sightseeing.

Two: that’s a huge chunk of time to get over my overwhelm, and be poring out my heart and soul.

It seems silly, having come from 8+ hours professionally at a computer, not to mention glued to my cell phone.

But fiction writing is different. It’s a totally different habit and set of issues to face. Frankly, I’m proud of building up to about an hour and a half solid writing (which, to hit 3,000 words can sometimes end up being 2 or 2.5 if I’m particularly ungrounded.) And I know the trials of trying to write on top of a full-time job, or trying to wake up early to write before that full-time job, etc.

So I’ll take this success and keep it up. Who knows? Maybe one day I can build up to four hours. Ole!

T-Minus 31 Days: The Creative Muse Knocketh.

Good morning.

/ argh!

I *never* get out of bed if I wake up in the middle of the night. Usually I just pop a soothing video on YouTube & shut my eyes until its gentle sounds carry me back to the Land of Nod. But, no matter the amount of ASMR or meditation videos I watched in the last 1.5 hours, I have not been able to even start to close my eyes. Like, I made coffee when I woke up. At 12:30 a.m. That’s how futile I could physically feel my body saying it was to attempt sleep tonight.

I suppose I could blame this on the full moon, or the stress of the previous week, or the impending moving, or the excitement of my upcoming trip. Maybe the two homemade brownies from the pan my GED program supervisor made for us, and/or whatever the heck my foam roller stirred up. (Despite being miraculously physically FINE all day, I twinged my left sacriocillac muscle somehow, which is now messing with the bottom of my left shoulder blade. Lervely.) But, I’ve also been into this pattern of like, 6 hours of sleep a night, since I started stirring up my possessions & prepping for this move.

So, I guess now I stay up or wake up and write. Really late at night.

Like, my eyes are burning right now more than my brain is sleepy. I may actually be able to fall asleep because my eyeballs revolt & are like, “we can’t take being open anymore, mate! Fuck off to sleep now, would ya?”

This weekend, I was telling my mom about my fears of staying up too late when camping (mostly bc of fears, ie ‘what was that noise?!’) & then napping midday. She was all, “but, Circadian Rhythms!”

But, it turns out I may be on to something.

I have always been a night owl. In my wise 30s, I’ve sometimes practiced Arianna Huffington–style sleep hygiene and force myself to to sleep at 10 p.m., because I’m forced into this stupid 9-5 structure, and I’m at least learning, so that my productivity isn’t utterly shot the next day. (I’m starting to realize that has more to do with lack of inspiration at work …) But I usually feel like I could take a nice siesta from 2-4pm, and on my days off, I seem to follow a “get up and go, lull, go” pattern. I wonder if people survive on 4-6 hour nightly sleeps, with a 2-4 hour midday nap. Guess I will have literally all the time in the world until I run out of money to find out!

But, lately, call it alignment, call it whatever: the creative muse appears to be knocking and cannot, will not, be ignored. It feels like she’s Tinkerbell, in that scene from Peter Pan where she gets locked in the cupboard and is knocking about, sparking rage and sparkles everywhere.

That’s fine*.

Especially because it means I will be able to update, and back date, some of the stories from the previous 10 days or so that I’ve missed because of my uncle’s passing and my subsequent road trip to MI. So, in the interest of full disclosure: I’m writing on 4/14 the posts from 4/11-now, and not publishing any posts for 4/5 – 4/10 out of respect for my uncle & my need to grieve during that time.

Xo

LJP

*Except …

My internet isn’t working right now. Now! It picks this moment. Thanks, Mercury Retrograde 😉 (&Comcast. I just put my check in the mail! It’s not due for a few more days! WTF!) By this moment I mean apparently the entire hour and a half 3.5 hours now I’ve been up writing this.

So even if I wanted to, I apparently was not going to be able to watch any more videos in bed. I heed the call, and back date the blog with 3,000 7,000 words. Fortunately there’s Microsoft Word that I can save my musings into, until I figure out WTF is with the Internet. [Realizing things like “1700 words per hour + readthroughs … not bad, right?” affirm that my writing Tinkerbell was indeed a-knockin’ for a reason, and sometimes I think this is more valuable than sleep. J]

Expenses

Ok, so, confession time: I have no idea how much this trip is going to cost.

Of course I don’t, I’ve never done such a thing before. I can guesstimate how many miles it may be & how much fuel I may need. I can guesstimate how much food I may eat, what the campsite costs might be, how much outlay I’ll need for sunscreen & bear spray.

But, at the end of the day:

There’s too many variables right now to get an idea. My *goal* is to buy most of my food from the grocery store, cook most of my meals, etc. I plan to camp, drive to the camps & then as little as possible in the camps, etc.

But there’s too many what ifs: what if I want to follow the signs for The World’s Biggest Tacky Road Side Attraction Yet! ? What if I want to eat out because I’m too tired, or even – GASP – stay in a motel because I didn’t realize it was monsoon season in Mitilitiarkana? What if I get addicted to $5/day campfire wood? Y’know, the practical things.

Heck, I don’t even know how long this trip will take. [Nope, still no end date ;)] 

There is, however, one thing I *can* rely on: there is no way this trip is going to be more than my current monthly expenses in D.C.

The average rent in Washington, D.C. is $2,080/month for a 1-bedroom. (I definitely pay less than that! Wow, average? Does that include utilities or something? Shudder.)

Then you look at the BLS national Cost of Living statistics:

  • $20,194 per person per year according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (value given divided by 2.5 average household size (‘consumer unit’) – [1]
  • Of this, food ($2577), housing ($6844), cars ($3442) totals $12,863 per person

Before I get all judgy on DC rent, BLS sez:

  • $1500 of this is mortgage payments, or about 1/4 of all housing costs

::record scratches:: Wai, wha? For the whole year?!?!! That can not be right.  … Unless I’ve been living in the DC bubble for too long? Gulp. ::does the sign of the cross:: 

(here’s the most recent BLS data, for my nerds.)

Anyway, let’s move on to: Fun! This cost of living calculator says that Yellowstone is 28% cheaper than D.C. Phew! (Actually, I was hoping for even lower, somehow. But if I’m halving my rent … Maybe the difference is made up in bear spray expenditures?)

And, from Nomadic Matt – a great resource for all things budget travel:

His 116 day US Road Trip = $6,262.67 total / $53.98 per day.

His breakdown:

Accommodations: $1,036.36
Food: $3,258.23
Drinks: $438.94
Gas: $696.98
Parking: $253.00
Starbucks: $75.26
Miscellaneous (movies, toothpaste, shampoo, conferences, etc.): $170.00
Attractions: $269.40
Taxis: $41.00
Bus: $17.50
Subway: $6.00

Seems fairly spot on. I may be slightly higher on accommodations, and hopefully slightly lower on food, parking & attractions as well as misc. transpo. If I make those sort of adjustments, then yeah. (He also doesn’t include phone, insurance, car repairs, oil changes, etc. I also already have most of my supplies, minus food, but those should be factored into the long-term planning.)

With his calculations, $10,000 = ~ 28 weeks, or 7 months.

$5,000 = ~ 14 weeks, or 3.3 months

Hm, maybe those BLS statistics are looking more realistic?

I’ll keep you posted as the trip progresses, of course. Honestly, at this point, it’s looking like my escape is going to cost more (rent termination, shipping or storage, Comcast termination, other fees/expenses?) We’ll see!

His article, and some additional resources below:

How to Travel Across the United States on $50 a Day

 

USA Road Trip Budget Tips 2017

Budget: how much does a 1-month USA road trip cost?

Monetize yo self

I mentioned to a friend the other day that I was going to look into ways to “monetize my online properties to make passive income.”

Can you tell I’ve been listening to too many Tim Ferriss podcasts lately?

Anyway, I found a nice list with dozens of good ideas. I will look more into some of these as my trip (or money) ramps down. The idea of hibernating, hunkering down and churning out some actual work seems more like something to relish when I am refreshed. Here’s a sample for my fellow writers:

Please send me any additional ideas, successes or websites! I’ll definitely need them come the fall.

xoxo
LJP

Marcus Aurelius’s Guiding Principles: Meditations Book 1

As mentioned, I’ve been reading “Meditations” by Aurelius. Book 1 reads like a thank you/gratitude letter. Below, I break up the values that resonated with me by who he learned them from:

Male family members

  • decency
  • mild temper
  • modesty
  • masculinity
  • private school
  • good teachers
  • spend lavishly on good teachers

His adoptive father 

  • generosity
  •  no wavering
  • no need for honors
  • stamina and perserverance
  • ear for anyone with any proposal for the common good
  • knowing where to tighten and where to relax
  • foresight for the longer issues
  • unfussy control of the least detail
  • enjoy the comforts of life without

His mom  

  • piety
  • generosity
  • simplicity of living
  • avoid wrong-doing … and thoughts of it

Tutors and other philosophers

  • don’t pick sides in sports
  • tolerate pain
  • feel few needs
  • work with your own hands
  • mind your own business
  • ignore gossip
  • avoid empty enthusiasms
  • disbelieve ‘miracle mongers’
  • don’t be excited by animal fights
  • tolerate plain speaking
  • have an affinity for philosophy
  • listen to Baccheius, Tandasis and Marcianus; read Epicetus’s Discourses; understand Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dio, Brutus
  • write essays
  • love simple furnishings
  • “wanting treatment and correction of my character”
  • avoid a taste for rhetoric, especially your own
  • use simple language
  • wear unaffected/simple clothes
  • forgive easily 
  • be the same man no matter what happens to you
  • be proof a person can “combine intensity and relaxation” 
  • have a kindly disposition
  • live life according to nature
  • practice tolerance
  • have an agreeable manner with all
  • never give the impression of anger or any other passion
  • praise without fanfare
  • wear great learning lightly 
  • don’t leap on the grammatical mistakes of others
  • to never say “I’m too busy” 
  • don’t ignore a friend’s criticism
  • work to restore a friend’s good will toward you
  • love family, truth and justice
  • equality and freedom of speech in the commonwealth
  • liberty 
  • benefience, generosity, optimism
  • confidence in affection of your friends
  • open likes and dislikes so no one needs to guess
  • self-mastery
  • good cheer in all circumstances, including illness
  • gentle, dignified
  • uncomplaining energy for what needs to be done 
  • to never be hurried or hesitant 
  • never downcast, cringing, angry or suspicious

Resources: Top 100 Personal Development Blogs

This is interesting! The Top 100 Personal Development Blogs, from Brendan Baker of “Start of Happiness.” Which of these do you use? Any from the lower 50? It’s a long, overwhelming list, but I definitely have encountered many:

Thought Catalog
MindBodyGreen
Brain Pickings
Four Hour Work Week
ZenHabits
Tiny Buddha
Mark Manson 
Marie Forleo
Live Your Legend
Purpose Fairy
Yoga Dork

I’ve also heard of, read, or read interviews with: Jack Cranfield, Louise Hay, Derek Sivers, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Penelope Trunk, Derek Sivers, Ryan Holiday, & Bulletproof Exec.

H/T Live Your Legend

Human Doing vs. Human Being

Purpose wants to feel important. Profound simply wants to feel. – David Robinson

I agree with this. Purpose is perfection, it wants to achieve only good. Profound is accepting that bad comes with the good, that seasons change, that bad is also a learning, teachable moment. Purpose is holding on to outcome, profound is letting it go.

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