Day 133: Evaluation 4

Edited to add: Sorry, I forgot to post this on Sunday! Posting it late.

I forgot to do an evaluation at the end of September, so I'll do one now.

Translation issues

The Japanese translation of Sushi for One is finally done! My translator has been wonderful, especially because she worked with the proofreader, who doesn't speak English very well.

If I didn't know any Japanese, I would have had to hire out some of the things I did, but since I know just enough Japanese to be dangerous to myself, I did the formatting into eBook and print book. The print book translation was straightforward, although a bit tedious since there were some furigana corrections that I needed to make (so I wouldn't have to pay someone else to do them).

The eBook conversion was difficult, and I had to really stretch my very meager html skills in order to make it happen. I discovered a new way of doing it later in the process, so the next book might be a lot easier, but the conversion method I used this time caused lots of errors that my translator needed to write down for me to correct in the .epub file.

I'm very hopeful I'll be able to release the eBook soon! The print book will take a little longer since I'll need to work with LightningSource to do it.

I documented my translation woes, but they probably only would apply to someone doing a Japanese translation of their book. For most other languages, you wouldn't have the issues of right-to-left page direction and vertical text and furigana/Ruby text.

Regardless, you have to make sure you have a translator and proofreader you trust helping you if you don't know the language you're translating into. And if you can't do it yourself, you'll also need to hire someone to do the print and eBook conversion.

External stimulus for self-discipline

4thewords.com has helped me be more productive because it provides an external stimulus to make me get back to writing or to keep me writing just a little longer.

Some people don't need that external stimulus to be disciplined, but my self-discipline is in the toilet. I cannot rely on my own internal sources to motivate me to work when I'd rather be doing something fun. Or something necessary like house chores.

I was feeling pretty down on myself until I reminded myself that everyone is different and struggles with different things. Also, I was really fortunate to find 4thewords as a means to help me with my discipline. If I didn't have it, my writing productivity would be terrible.

Figuring out my release schedule

Because my writing speed has been pretty good, I decided to commit to releasing the books as I write them rather than saving them and then releasing them on a faster release schedule. Right now, if I keep up the writing pace, and even with a few bad health days, I can write a book in 6-8 weeks, which really isn't that far off from my original plan to release a book every month.

Part of the reason is because I need the money, but also I didn't want to be holding on to several books for so long. Also, this series is looking to be 11 volumes total and that'll take me over a year to write.

I am hoping to increase my writing speed, however, which was the purpose of starting this writing blog, to document and experiment with different methods to try to improve my productivity. So hopefully in the coming months I can find ways to optimize my writer's routines and writer's process.

Self-Editing

After starting on 4thewords, I stopped doing the messy first draft method and started doing more clean draft, but my writing pace dropped significantly. So I tried a series of experiments to try to get into flow state faster and yet work around my irrational dislike of self-editing the manuscript after I'm done.

Unfortunately, the experiments were a complete flop and I don't know if it's possible for me to get into creative flow state and yet still produce clean copy so that my self-editing won't be a nightmare.

Ultimately, editing-as-I-go, while not what most writing experts and teachers tell you to do, is more fun for me, even if the writing pace is much slower. However, the point of this writing blog is to improve productivity, not simply give up and justify what I'm currently doing, so I'll still continue to try to find ways to improve my writing speed.

I think that ultimately I'd like to get into that creative flow mode all the time. The one thing that keeps me from it is that the self-editing is difficult for me to get around to doing, and I procrastinate a lot. Editing-as-I-go is still an option, but i'd like to try to find ways to eliminate or reduce the difficulties that self-editing causes. I feel like doing inefficient things in order to work around my self-editing issues rather than attempting to conquer it is taking a lazy way out.

There is the option to try doing my self-editing in 4thewords, in order to make it more "fun." I haven't yet tried it because I want to finish writing the [xxx] Reader Magnet first, but then I'll see if that method might reduce my dislike of self-editing, which traditionally causes me to procrastinate a lot in the post-rough draft stage.

Finished volume 2!

I finished writing the rough draft of volume 2 of my series! I had started it earlier this year, but dropped it when I realized I needed to plot out the rest of the books in the series, and there was a lot of that earlier work that I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep. I ended up keeping some of it, so I wasn't writing volume 2 directly from scratch, but from the time I started work on it again on August 4th, despite a slow start and several bad sick days, I got the entire book done in 8 weeks.

Since then, my IBS is more under control, even though I still have some bad flareups, and my sinus headaches are also better now. I'm also writing more hours each day than I did when I started working on the manuscript, which has helped increase the number of words I write each day.

Increasing writing time each day

Since I'm a full-time writer, I've been trying to reach a goal of writing (or working on my manuscript) each day for at least 6 hours. I haven't quite made it there yet, at least consistently. I'm hoping that striving each day will help train my body and mind to be able to do that kind of creative grind everyday.

Training my brain has been hardest. It's very mentally draining to be creative for so many hours. I know now why some writers became alcoholics. When I was doing biology work, I could go 8-10 hours without a problem, because the work was logical and straightforward and sometimes a little tedious. It wasn't as mentally challenging as trying to write for 6 hours.

I'm also working to train my body since they say sitting is the new smoking. I've been switching between my standing desk and my sitting desk, about an hour at each station, throughout the day. When I switch stations I usually take a break, which unfortunately has been a bit too long most of the time, but I'm working on that. However, switching desks, while a bit annoying, has been helping to keep my back and my ankles in better shape.

Reader magnet

I decided to start work on a Reader Magnet novella before I started editing volume 1 because a lot of the things in volume 1 mentioned the events in the Reader Magnet. It was getting too difficult to edit when I hadn't decided on names for some of the characters or the order of events, so I just dropped the editing in favor of plotting and writing the Reader Magnet.

The Reader Magnet was originally supposed to be a short story, but I'm realizing I just can't write short. It's turning into a novella that hopefully won't be too long. But I also hope that readers who join my newsletter in order to get the Reader Magnet will feel it's worth it to give me their email addresses in return for a 30k word novella.

Gearing up for the book launch

Now that volume 2 is written and I can start editing volume 1 as soon as the Reader Magnet is done, I started work on the book launch for volume 1. I don't like this kind of marketing stuff, I'd really rather just write books. But I know that books don't sell themselves and I need to do at least some marketing.

I scheduled my newsletter, asking for ARC readers from among them, and had to set up a way to tag and segment them in MailChimp so I can send them the ARCs later.

I also decided not to go for a long preorder duration. Other successful authors have the preorder link at the back of the previous book when it releases, but if I do that, I'll have a preorder up for a book I might not have finished writing yet, that that's too stressful for me. I'd prefer to just put the book on preorder after it's done so I know I'll be able to deliver the .epub file on time.

I also need to think about learning how to do Amazon ads. More new things for me to learn!

However, ultimately, I think I'll go for a soft launch for volume 1 since I don't have any other books to promote, and then do a harder launch maybe on volume 4 or 5. It'll be less stress for me this way, especially since I might be releasing my Japanese Sushi for One soon also, and I can try to promote volume 1 more in future when I've got more books in the series for people to read.

What to work on:

Shorter breaks

I have a hard time keeping breaks to only 5-10 minutes. I honestly don't know how other writer's do it. There's something that feels like it needs to be reset in my brain during my breaks, and that doesn't happen in only 5-10 minutes.

I wonder if there's something I should do to help my brain reset?

I'll have to think about this more. In the meantime, I've been trying to keep the number of breaks down since I know I can't always keep the time limit to below 15 minutes.

My gaming addiction

I rediscovered my love for gaming and it was disastrous! I wasted so much time! I am having a hard time going cold turkey again so I am trying to learn to game moderately, like when I take a break. So far that seems to work okay. But if things don't get better I'll have to try to quit it completely again.

Dictation

I had put my dictation efforts aside when I started working on 4thewords, but since I've explored the website and my writing routines, I'd like to try to incorporate dictation more.

The only problem is that while it will make Sprinting Camy faster, it will make Future Camy have a hissy fit at all the things that will need to be fixed. I'm not sure what I can do about that, but right now, Sprinting Camy is all excited to be trying dictation and basically giving the finger to Future Camy.

Conclusion

I'm slowly progressing in learning myself and my habits, good and bad, and in trying ways to improve my productivity. I'm very fortunate to have found 4thewords, which is an external source for my self-discipline, which I realized I need. There are still lots of things I want to do to improve myself, and hopefully get more books out faster.

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