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Lessons learned? Hard to say.

Okay, I’ve been going about this in a less-than-useful fashion. Or at least I’ve changed my targets…both in the past, and today.

At first I wanted to track and post words per day. Then, I realized that doing so meant all my dictation had to be transcribed, daily, and that doesn’t seem to be very helpful when my goal is (or after it became) to proceed until the end of the first draft (which is finally complete, by the way!). (Also by the way, I now have a fairly major subplot to add. Fun, maybe!)

Then I moved on to posting the number and length of dictation sessions. More useful, maybe. But maybe not. Doing that moved my focus from working on whatever seemed logical to trying to force dictation sessions. Now, I do want dictation sessions to happen. But I don’t want them to seem to be chores. Nor do I want to build them up into something that’s more important than it needs to be–that way lies blockage, and perhaps madness.

Neither metric is at all useful when editing. Doesn’t that count? I guess it might be handy to de-emphasize editing in favor of creating new fiction, if I were actually worried about endless cycles of rewriting or some such. I’m not, though.

What I really need to track–no, that’s not the right word–what I really need to focus on is publishing novels.

Worse yet, the amount of time I dictate tells me very little about the amount of progress I’ve made given my available opportunities. My word count has ranged from just under 2000 up to about 3400 per hour. But some sections need more editing than others. Or at any rate, sometimes the editing takes longer than it does other times. For instance yesterday I went to fix a chapter I thought was fairly horrible, and ended up liking it so much that I changed almost nothing.

Sometimes I’m going to feel like dictating. Others, like editing. Others, like taking care of various publishing-related tasks. Some days it will make sense to wander around outside, dictating new fiction. Other days it will rain. Is it okay to type on those days? Maybe not if I’m trying to switch to dictation, to learn how to dictate. But after? I think it has to be okay. Otherwise, if I’m in a situation where dictation doesn’t make sense, I can’t write new fiction even if I want to. Am I a bit worried that my authorial “voice” (and didn’t I feel oh-so-pompous just writing that) will change as I switch between the two? Yeah. I guess I am. So I’ve dictated nearly all of the first draft. But the hell with it. I’m going to try to ignore that kind of thing, and just produce what/where/when I can, however that works out.

I don’t think focusing on trying to speak faster, or even setting goals related to word count or time spent in one activity versus another, is (currently) turning out to be useful for me. Mostly I just need to focus on doing something writing-related during the hours I have set aside for that–now that I have hours set aside for writing, and have minimized-to-annihilated most forms of interruption.

This doesn’t mean that I will never return to trying to track something like words per hour, or total words written (and edited?) in some timeframe, at some future point. Doing that stuff may even have been helpful for me to get to this point: where I really just want to work, and not be bothered by goals external to the specific project I’m working on.

What does that mean for the blog posts? Beats me. I guess I’ll be letting you know.

There are some other things. It’s definitely the case that dictation and transcription don’t go well with editing on the fly. This means that regardless of whether I’m dictating or typing, I really do need to go back to that “rough first draft” idea, at least for dictation sessions but probably also for all new-fiction-generation sessions. I’ve been moving away from it, but…too bad. It is what it is. Otherwise, I find myself wanting to transcribe a bunch of audio files prior to writing new fiction. When instead I could just type (or dictate), right in the manuscript, a couple of notes to myself about anything I want to either change or check, and move on. Which is better. And there will be opportunities to deal with all those notes later on, so I don’t lose a whole lot here. (Except that the editing process is usually less fun than writing new stuff, so I have this resistance to building up too much of it for myself…I’d rather do it piecemeal.)

This also affects my toolset a bit. It’s tempting, now that edits “always” happen after the fact, to put my work into Scrivener (or Writers Café, which I like a lot) for editing purposes. But that would mean I’d need to have my laptop with me to edit, since there’s no Android app for either. So I’m going to stick to individual text files. I can work on those on my phone (though also on the laptop, yes, and allowing myself to do that again…because I’ve been forcing myself to use the phone for everything…is probably a good idea going forward). From there I can put the text into Jutoh, which I use for e-book formatting, and from there it can flow into Adobe InDesign, which I use for formatting print books.

At some point I may get into a discussion of the apps I use to edit text files, and how/why I selected them. If I convince myself, possibly over a beer or three, that anyone will care about the specifics. For the moment I’m using JotterPad on my phone, and WriteMonkey on the laptop. Different versions of WriteMonkey according to whether I’m working in Windows or Linux, because Dragon’s “full text control” only works in an earlier version under Windows, and Linux will only run a later version, but it may be that I’m the only person anywhere who will ever care about that. I’ve dropped Nuance’s Dragon Anywhere entirely, in favor of transcription (that way I don’t watch words appear on the screen, and so I also don’t stop to edit/correct them–I felt I had to watch, with Dragon Anywhere, because it didn’t save the recording as an audio file separately for me to check later…errors were thus semi-permanent, and sometimes large). I have also dropped using Dragon to interactively display my words as I dictate entirely, except for blog posts like this one. Even then, most get their start from a transcribed recording.

I am a bit frustrated that the Linux version of WriteMonkey won’t indent or put visual spaces between paragraphs, but then neither does JotterPad. And Dragon doesn’t understand paragraphs without line breaks anyway…so what the hell. I just have extra line breaks between paragraphs, everywhere, and will auto-remove them somehow, at some later point. Even though I think they look sort of silly and I sometimes roll my eyes at them. And oh yeah: I do use markdown syntax in the text files, for italics and so forth. Rarely, but it’s there…and WriteMonkey is very easy to use that way, so it’s handy for text-file edits. JotterPad isn’t as cool, but it does semi-understand what I need with markdown, so that’s good enough. I’m looking forward to doing edits with WriteMonkey and Dragon, by the way…will it be worthwhile? Or should I just type? Beats me.

Too much detail? Already? Yeah, I kind of knew that. So…I’ll bet you know this next part.

Have fun out there!

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