Writing Journal 5.18.2022: Looking forward to the summer break

[PHOTO NOTE: I was thinking of the Mississippi River when I was thinking about going on summer break next week. Getting out on the river was always a highlight for me finding some sandbar in the middle of the stream and hanging out there for the afternoon. And now, I’m a 2 1/2 hour-drive from the Mississippi. (Sigh.) I’ve heard some good stuff about Red Rock State Park on the Des Moines River maybe 45 minutes away from where I’m at. I might have to take a look and see what it’s like.]

I’m at risk of having the photo notes for one of these things run longer than the actual meat of the blog itself, heh heh. Then again, I might write a blog post soon where there might be more footnotes than actual text. (Don’t threaten yourself with a good time, Liegois.)

You might not be able to tell, but it’s the last week of school for me for the 2021-2022 year. I’ve observed that teaching an entire school year is the mental equivalent of running a marathon. Some years it is better than others. At the end of my last school year, I wasn’t sure that I was going back into teaching. Now, I feel like the school year breezed by in many ways and I’ll be back at my current district next year. Environment and school culture can be everything, just as with any other working environment.

Anyway, I had to tag and categorize this post as personal. Enough about me, let’s get to the writing.

I do not want to waste this down time like I frankly did last year. However, there were a lot of reasons behind that, I think. I was unsure of what I would be doing professionally, I had several aimless goals, my head was total mush, and I barely got anything done.

However, I’m much more confident that I will have a better summer this year. I know what I want to get done, I have a goal for my writing pace, and I’m feeling much more focused.

Last week’s totals would have been fantastic over the course of last summer, but for me they are not horrific but not nearly good enough. I like the fact that I look at a week that’s a slightly down one and my attitude is to make sure next week is even better. I also appreciate that I have been more consistent with my writing than I’ve been for a long time, and that I’m beginning to merge productivity with consistency.

Anyway, at this point I think I’m rambling. So, I will simply post last week’s totals and tell you that more will be coming. Take care.

Writing statistics for the week ending 5.14.2022:
+3,829 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 90 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 5.11.2022: Demanding more of myself

PHOTO NOTE: The featured photo was one of the things that popped up when I searched “Writing Motivation.” Go figure.

It’s… good news that I’m being more demanding of myself? I think so.

In many ways, I’m not doing too much. Work on trying to get my latest OC novel published is… paused at the moment. I honestly don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with it as I get closer to the end of the school year. The more I am thinking about it, the more I have the feeling that I need to set up a checklist of items I need to do to get it published%. At the end of next week, I think I might want to have this ready and ask the advice of some of my Des Moines writing people to get their advice, even if I can’t make it up for the meeting next week. (I am very happy Zoom exists.)

I do think I need to know what I need to get done. For the first time this year, I set a goal of 200,000 words to write this year, whether fiction, nonfiction, blogs, or otherwise. I wanted to meet my daily quotas at least 70 percent of the time. For the first time this year, I said “this is what I want to get done,” and not just say “let’s see what happens.”

And, it has been paying off. As of the end of April I was about 12,000 words ahead of pace for the year. I estimate that it usually takes me writing 4,167 words per week on a four-week month to keep up with that 200,000-word goal. I’ve matched or exceeded that count 12 out of the previous 18 weeks.

Are my numbers for this week awe-inspiring? Maybe by this year’s pace, they’re not fantastic. But I know I’ve had a much better start on 2022 than I ever did in 2021. If what I write gets actually better in the meantime, I’ll consider that a bonus… or, a goal for next time.

Anyway, here’s the stats for last week. Enjoy, and take care of yourselves, everyone. We live in weird times.

Writing statistics for the week ending 5.7.2022:
+4,752 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 30 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

% – For a variety of reasons, I’ve decided to go the self-publishing route. One of the main reasons is that I would like to see a version of my book out for people sooner than the 3-4 years it would take to try and query agents and/or traditional publishers. I don’t want to wait that long.

Why It’s Tough For Me to Write Anything of Value on Sundays During the School Year: A somewhat thought-out analysis

If you took a look at my writing journals – not the ones I post here on the blog, but the actual Microsoft Word Docs where I keep my notes on what I wrote every day of the year – you would notice something of a pattern.

Actually, you might notice several of them, but we’re not going to worry about all of them now. What you would notice is that there are quite a few… empty spaces on Sundays.

Oh, I might do a short blog, or maybe a few revisions or planning, but not heavy writing. And that’s all about what Sunday is like.

Since I’m not interested at the moment with writing something “important” or “buzzworthy,” I guess I might talk about this for a bit.

Weekend thinking and weekday thinking are prevalent things in America, where some people can’t seem to find work/life balance. Some people my age might think Loverboy’s song “Working for the Weekend” is the perfect song to express this type of yearning for the end-of-week break. (They’re wrong; the best weekend song is “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” by Richard and Linda Thompson.)

For teaching, it is a different situation. Those who don’t know what it is like, you might think, “Well, they only work some 180 days out of the year and get something around two whole months off? Sounds like an easy deal?” And I admit, the summer vacations are a good thing.$

Anyway, the point is that full-time teaching is a more intense experience that most jobs. You have to have a plan to educate a group of children for a given time and to make it meaningful during that time. You actually have to relate to those kids, even on days when, in some cases, they are dealing with massive amounts of mental and emotional trauma. (If they are lucky, the source of that trauma is not their own homes.)

All of this tends to take a lot of emotional and likely physical stamina over a nine-month period. It’s not a surprise that many of my colleagues wind up more susceptible to illness during the school year with the stress they are under. These past couple of years have added COVID, distance learning and hybrid learning to that level. I have to say that I have been fortunate that I am teaching in a relatively good environment and my health, while it could be better, is holding up.

Let me explain a typical Sunday for me, writing-wise and personal-wise.

First, some background. I would say that my weekend would extend, mentally, for approximately 36 hours over a typical two-day weekend. That 36 hours spans from when I leave school on Friday afternoon and runs until I wake up on Sunday. Because on Sunday, you’re going to be getting yourself ready for the week to come. Sometimes that involves grading, or perhaps planning for the week ahead. Maybe you’re trying to get some last minute paperwork done. Or, you could be distracting yourself from all of that coming up%.

Morning – wake up, try to have breakfast and relax. Some people will watch the NFL all day or maybe the NBA – my sport winds up being soccer. Since I’m watching the European leagues (and their season extends throughout the entire school year), I find myself getting up a bit early to catch the live games. Sometimes Formula 1 will have a race, and I’ll take a couple hours to watch that.

Later in the morning – I’ll try to get some housework done@ – cleaning floors, laundry, vacuuming, maybe a little yardwork. Or not. Maybe the late game in the Premier League?

Afternoon – if I am doing any schoolwork, it will be that time. For my sanity, I have restricted any work to this time. So, either I’m doing a little bit of work or I’m trying to distract myself from doing work or thinking about work. That’s because by 6 a.m. the next day, I’m already getting ready to shower, change and get ready for work#. That’s not too much time when you think of it.

Evening – Dinner is done, Laura and I relax for the night. We both have gotten obsessed with the cartoon TV series Bob’s Burgers, so we tend to try and catch the new episodes playing on Sundays. (Yes, we are preparing to watch the movie when it comes out later this month. It looks like a lot of fun.

About 9 p.m., maybe an hour before I go to bed – Wait a minute, I have to write something before I go to sleep?

So, now you know. But I did write something today, so that’s a success. I’ll take them any way that I can get them.

$ – In the spirit of full disclosure, however, many of my colleagues are actually taking on second or third jobs during that time to help with their bills. The more unlucky teachers have to do that during the active school year.

% – Where do I fall into this spectrum? I usually try to be as efficient with my time away from school as possible. Everything else on that subject I’ll keep off the record.

@ – Full disclosure – if it were not for my loving wife who is a much more dynamic go-getter and Type A personality, our house would not look as nice as it does.

# – Protip – always make sure you have the coffeepot set, your lunch packed, and your clothes picked out and ready to go before you go to bed the previous evening. Trust me, it saves a lot of hurrying and stress in the morning.

Writing Journal 5.4.2022: A good month of April

So, I’ve been running the numbers and… the numbers are looking pretty good.

Again, and this seems like a broken record, but my goal for this year was to write 200,000 words for 2022, whether that is fiction, non-fiction, blogs, or otherwise. All of it counts.

I’m also trying to make sure that I make my daily minimum writing quota (500 words per day or 30 minutes of revisions/planning per day) at least 70 percent of the time. How is it going? Pretty good.

The numbers for last week:

Writing statistics for the week ending 4.30.2022:
+4,755 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 90 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 min. of planning/revisions): 7 of 7 days.

Writing statistics for April 2022:
Words: 20,791
Revise/Plan: 225 minutes
Daily Writing Goals Met: 86%

To stay exactly on pace for writing 200,000 words this year, I had to have written about 66,667 words by the end of April. With 78,616 written as of the end of April, I’m nearly 12,000 words ahead of that pace, which is really comforting to see in black and white and in my calculator.

And, having met my minimum daily writing quotas an average of 82 percent of the time, I’m well on pace to meet that goal as well.

Now, if I can write some “serious” work rather than “fun” work, then I’d really be cooking. But honestly, I have three weeks until I finish the school year, so I think that some of that serious work might wait until then.

I do think I figured out why it’s nearly impossible for me to write anything really on Sundays during a school year. I think that will be the subject of an upcoming blog… maybe this week, even. Why not?

Take care, everyone.

Writing Journal 4.27.2022: Definitely blocked and stalling on “real” work, but not bad on “fun” work

I’m officially in… well, a writing block would not be an accurate description of what is going on. The blog post I wanted to write for a while and be a “respectable” blogger with “fascinating content” has been languishing, although I have written a few extra hundred words over the past two weeks on the subject.

I really don’t even care anymore if it’s any good or not. I feel like I’m mentally like some of those guys running the Ironman Triathlon back on the Big Island of Hawaii and I’m in hour 40 and still running to the finish line and just wanting to cross it without worrying that I’m definitely not looking good, my feet are killing me, and I’m a bit embarrassed about passing out every once in a while#.

To be honest, I think that it’s going to take me getting into summer break to clear my head, make plans and make any sort of progress toward what I want to get done now. Late May is looking better and better. Not that this year has been really stressful teaching, but… it is like a triathlon in the sense that when you are in it, it is difficult to concentrate on anything else.

However, with the “fun” writing and the other stuff I have written, I am keeping up the pace. I’ll literally only need maybe 2,000 words this week to make what I was hoping to write. 200,000 words this year and meeting my daily writing quota at least 70 percent of the time were my two yearly goals. I am feeling more confident of meeting the latter as we continue, and I am cautiously optimistic about the former. I’ll do a monthly total next time I post something for April.

Anyway, here’s the totals for last week. Take care, everyone.

Writing statistics for the week ending 4.23.2022:
+4,857 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 75 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 min. of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

# – I was going to write something a bit disgusting there instead of what I did, and I probably would have maybe 20, even 15 years ago. Over time, I’ve learned less is more.

Writing Journal 4.20.2022: No jokes to be made

Heh heh.

Right, on with it.

Despite my slight self-handicapping, a slight hiccup regarding my writing space, and the Easter weekend, I wound up having… not a bad writing week? And maybe one of the better writing weekends that I’ve had for a while, despite not typing anything during Easter Sunday. Anyway, I’m going to keep up with my new routine and see if that doesn’t have repeat results%.

I’m also happy that I wrote some blogs, even though they were sort of first-person-heavy, but I think some people might have gotten something out of it? Anyway.

My plan for the next few nights:

  1. Write, no matter what it is or what type of quality results.
  2. Somehow complete this review regarding Wheel of Time that only I think I probably care about all things considered.
    1. Again, at this point quality is not the primary concern, completion is.
    2. This is more a point of pride at this moment than anything else.
  3. Maybe, possibly, fool around with Substack and see what sort of information I can find out about writing there.
    1. It could be an interesting idea where I would build a small side living with writing.
    2. I have a long way to go before I get things going there.
    3. It would not take the place of this site. Somehow, I would crosspost somehow.
  4. Start thinking of a gameplan of how I’m going to use all this free time from mid-May of this year to mid-August. I don’t want to waste it like I did last year.
  5. Keep up the writing pace. At least that’s working for now. Even with the lighter numbers, I was still on pace for this week, both in total words and the percentage of days I met my quota.

Anyway, here’s last week’s numbers. Hope your Easter/Passover/whatever season worked out for you.

Writing statistics for the week ending 4.16.2022:
+4,229 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5  of 7 days.

% – I’m not getting into what the routine change is. Honestly, it’s so mundane that it would hardly qualify as good advice for anyone. Some things I’d prefer to keep to myself.

I’ve Got My Writing Space (and Laptop) Back Again: a sequel

I typically don’t write immediate sequels to posts, especially experimental ones, but I guess I’ll do one tonight.

Last night I was ranting about writing spaces because my space got violated, so to speak. Looking back on things, it was a bit disconcerting to me that what threw me off was the fact that I didn’t have access to the Internet. I didn’t have access to the Internet in the same ways as I did when I first started writing things on the computer years ago#.

But when it gets down to things, I really do need the Internet to do the writing I do now. First, it would be difficult to blog just on my phone – I could do it, but that could be awkward over the longterm. I need the Internet for research, planning, and other items. I don’t think I could get on Substack without the Internet (another project for the summer). And of course, Google Drive is another good place to store stories and documents.

Anyway, I have to get full credit to my lovely wife Laura for getting me sorted. I will readily admit that she is much more persistent about things of a technical, technological, or mechanical nature than I ever would be. Thanks to her tinkering and research, I figured out to plug my laptop into an ethernet connection, get a new WiFi driver downloaded, and I was back in business$.

That was after I had panicked and reset my computer to see if I could fix what had happened that way, which didn’t work and left me trying to reset all of my stuff on various online platforms and passwords, etc. I’ve got everything reset back on my computer that I would like presently except for Facebook, because its two-part authorization system is butt compared to Google’s. So, until my identity checks out, I don’t have access to my Facebook on my laptop. I’m not sure if that’s not for the best, honestly.

So, that and a few other items ate up today, the day I was going to really hit it on the writing with this mini-vacation of mine during Easter break. Part of it was dealing with this now relocated (formerly dislocated) toe, realizing that I might want to get on with monitoring what I eat because that’s getting ridiculous, and now I’m facing the fact that I need bifocals. Ugh, as my lovely wife$$ would say. Getting older can be an inconvenience.

However, I have to say that I’m considering my writing to be a bit sharper than ever. And I haven’t even come close to reaching my peak yet.

Until later, everyone.

# – Shoot, I still had dialup to get online. Did anyone else out there have to wait until their parents weren’t calling anyone on the landlines before they could get online? Or were they one of those lucky houses that had more than one landline? Anyway, I digress.

$ – I don’t talk about Laura that much on this blog, but I do credit her for supporting the idea that I want to write a whole bunch and letting me go nuts on that activity. Does she read over my work and fawn over it, or help me revise stuff ala Tabitha King? No, but she does let me do what I want to do, and that counts for a lot. I love her very much.

$$ – I told you I loved her, even when she goes “ugh.” I still think it cute all these years later.

When Your Writing Gear Goes Down: A downer

Not sure if this entry is going to be any good. However, it’s what’s on my mind, and I figure it’s either write about that or sit and mope around in my living room trying to choose between movies.

I talked about my writing gear before. A person’s writing space can be a pretty sacred spot.

My primary writing space.

In recalling the hassles of this day, I think back not only to the little writing space you see above, but in the homes I lived in the comfortable river towns of Clinton and Muscatine, Iowa. Those homes and my current one have pluses and minuses. (Clinton’s was older and centrally located, but both convenient and inconvenient at the same time. Muscatine’s was big and more modern, but a massive hassle to keep up. My current Chariton house is older with an older home’s issues, but it’s small and cozy, and pretty easy to maintain.)

You want to have everything perfect. It should be relatively secluded from the hustle and bustle of wherever you are living – that is, not right in the middle of everything where people and.or kids and pets are running around and making noise.

Current writing spot – Secluded? – Check X for yes.

If you can keep it private, that would be great. Windowless works, although some writers need to be “inspired” by the nature outside. That’s cool and all, but I can get by without it. It’s really helpful to have a door that you can close. I did used to have said doors in the last two homes that I lived in (one a pair of vented doors, the other a regular room door that actually had a lock. That was pretty cool@.

@- I was also often sleeping in the same room, which I don’t exactly recommend. Maybe some other writers can explain it better. However, it feels like you are mixing too much of the energy of the sleeping room with the creative room and it mucks everything up. Something about the feng shui about the situation throws me off, even though I can barely even define the term and couldn’t explain the specifics of the situation. Now that I don’t have that going on, I think it’s a healthier mental situation@@.

@@ – You’re going to have to get used to these footnotes because I find myself getting into all of these non sequiturs and I’m not too inclined not to include them. I’m not a fan of David Foster Wallace’s fiction, but I did like some of his shorter nonfiction.

The Chariton home does not have a door, so it doesn’t block out any noice unless I’m wearing headphones. However, due to the twisting nature of the stairs up to that space and my bedroom, you can’t see my little area from the ground floor no matter where you are looking up. (Of course, that was the staircase where I dislocated my toe, but advantages and disadvantages, I guess.)

Privacy – little x, I guess.

Then there’s the storage capacity of the area, either for writing materials, books, accessories, and sundries. In my Clinton home I had built-in shelves, which was very cool and where I stored a massive amount of books. I managed to fit all of the books into some new shelves in the Muscatine home, as well as some shelves I installed myself in that room#. As you can see from the photo included with this blog, it’s a much smaller space than I had before in my previous homes. But, I culled some of my books, put others in storage, found some storage for some of the books in my bedroom, and we’re ready to go. With the top of that one bookshelf, the portable storage bin to the left of the desk, and the desk itself, I have just enough room for the storage.

Storage – X.

Which makes today’s dilemma a tough one. I turned on my computer after it made a Windows update and somehow my laptop is not able to access the Internet. The update apparently shut down the WiFi driver on my computer. I raged about it for two hours without figuring out how to fix it. I assume I will at some point, or I’ll have someone else be able to do it.

It means that I was writing this in the living room/dining room of our home on a hard chair and an unfamiliar place. But, I got a halfway decent blog post about it, so that’s something.

Writing Journal 4.13.2022: I’m officially in a blocked slump, but it hit me on the weekend so it won’t show up, and I have at least one legitimate excuse so lol

Hi everyone.

I’m officially in a writing slump, and it’s spanned a couple of months, so it’s a bit ridiculous at this point.

Actually, the past week wasn’t horrific – actually, it went fine – but the next week’s numbers might really suck.

Part of that is the slump I sort of talked about so I’m not rehashing it again until I have a better handle of what’s going on. The other (thankfully more legitimate) excuse I have is this:

Bad pic by me.

This Sunday in the early morning I took a tumble down the winding staircase in my house. Result: One left pinky toe dislocated and lacerated on the way down. Thanks to the local docs, it is now relocated and sewn up and so I am on the mend. Of course that took a lot of time to sort out, but accidents happen ha ha.

Today I know I’m not going to come close to making my writing goal but I am glad I was writing because I wasn’t writing for the previous 48 hours. That at least is a win I can build on.

I’m looking forward to the summer break and I’m vowing to myself not to waste this one like I did last year. I might be able to manage it because I actually have a yearly goal this time and not just puttering around with daily goals.

Like I said, last week wasn’t bad, this week won’t be good, but I’m looking to try something as far as concentration that might be able to work. Let’s see if it does.

Here’s last week’s numbers. Writers keep writing and everyone keep safe, especially when it looked like everyplace in Iowa was under threat of tornadoes yesterday. Cheers.

Writing statistics for the the week ending 4.9.2022:
+6,950 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 60 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 4.6.2022: Yeah, right now I’m sort of fooling around with writing, but I’m doing a lot of it and that’s at least good

[PHOTO NOTE: This is what I got when I typed in “tooling around” in the free images search. For what it’s worth.]

I’m not going to get into too much today. At times I feel like Salinger, tooling around on writing projects not intended for commercial intents. But, I am writing.

Usually, I save my stats toward the end, but I think it would be appropriate to show them now. Last week’s stats:

Writing statistics for the week ending 4.2.2022:
+3,984 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 30 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Those are okay numbers for a week – better than my word count quota – but right now I’m trying to shoot for a better performance per-week. I’m hoping for about 4,200 words per week to keep up my writing pace.

  • As I mentioned earlier this year, I am shooting for writing 200,000 words this year and meeting my writing quota 70 percent of the time. How is that going?

Better than it was the previous two months when I was just behind my pace. But I caught up this month – and I didn’t even need the extra week to reach it.

Writing statistics for March 2022:
Words: 27, 101
Revising/Planning: 375 minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met: 86%

At this point of the year, I should have written 50,000 words to keep on pace for the 200,000-word goal. As of right now I am 7,825 words ahead of pace. And I currently have made my daily writing goals 80 percent of the time during the three-month period, better than my 70 percent goal.

All in all, I’m happy – not satisfied. I’m still producing a lot of “fun” writing but not getting forward with the “serious” writing. I’m starting to wonder why that is. Again, I’ll have to work that out later. As much of an improvement as this teaching year has been over the

For right now, I’m going to try and set aside certain times to write on the blog – not with the intention of producing something immediately, but at least working toward some progress.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Keep safe, everyone.