The Journal, Sunday, 3/26

Hey Folks,

Good ol’ Verizon woke me up at 1:03 a.m. with a text message. When the tone went off, naturally I thought there was some sort of family emergency.

Uh, no.

Verizon wanted to inform me that I had “only” 25% of my data left with 2 days remaining in a 30-day cycle.

Seriously. How do they not know 25% data should last 7.5 days in a 30 day cycle?

Yeah, I know it was just some stupid glitch in their automated system. But things like that tend to annoy me.

I’m one of those who, once I’m awake, can’t go back to sleep. And I don’t do naps. At least it ought’a be a good writing day. Then again, I’m groggy at best and it’s Sunday, so I guess we’ll see.

* * *

I’m actually gonna go to the novel on my business computer at one of the outside desks up at the house this morning. Even I am not stupid enough to put off writing just because I don’t want to trudge out to the Hovel yet. (grin)

Topic: Why I Set Goals

Everybody’s heard me say before that I let a piece of writing be however long it’s going to be. That it’s all up to the characters. That I trust them to lead me through to the end.

All of that’s true. Regardless of particular goals.

So then how can I set a goal of finishing a novel by a particular date?

Well, attaining a goal is not all a function of the consicous mind. It takes teamwork.

And goal attainment is yet another way to illustrate the roles of the conscious mind (The Learning and Acquisitions Department) and the subconscious mind (The Creative Department).

I consciously set the goal. I consciously decided early in the month that I wanted to write two novels this month.

Then The Creative Department (subconscious) kicked in and finished the first on the 14th in ten writing days. Was it coincidence that it was finished before half the month was gone?

That’s up to you to decide. Personally, I don’t believe in coincidence.

Then I took a day off, then started the second novel on the 16th. Then I took another six days off. Days when I could have been writing. The days off were necessary and not completely within my control, but the numbers are the same.

I resumed writing (after thinking the thing was dead) on the 23rd with nine writing days left, from the 23rd to the 31st, inclusive.

In other words, when I resumed on the 23rd, I set another goal, consciously, to finish this novel in nine days. Ten days total, including the dangling day back on the 16th when I wrote little more than the opening.

Again, coincidence? The first novel took ten days. Was I forcing myself to write this one in ten days too? Shrug. Beats me.

Maybe my subconscious is setting me up to write three of these in a month, up to ten days each. I don’t know.

Regardless, it is what it is.

My goal is to be finished with this novel no later than close of business (so around 5 p.m.) on March 31st.

Now, does that mean I’ll consciously limit the novel to that amount of time? Will I “cut off” a novel that wants to keep running?

Nope, on both counts.

I won’t consciously limit it. I believe in allowing a story to be whatever length it’s going to be. And a finished novel is a finished novel, whether or not it’s finished “on time.”

But neither will I have to make a conscious decision to cut it off and rush an ending. As long as I write off into the dark and trust my subconscious, I won’t have the opportunity.

Once I set a goal consciously, The Creative Department kicks in and takes over. It’s as if the characters in the story got a memo that says they have no more than nine days to finish telling the story.

And off they go.

So there. How’s that for putting it all out there? I have not the foggiest clue how this thing will end up or even, at the moment, where it will go next.

I’m literally just writing the next sentence. Then the next. Then the next. Whatever occurs to me.

I don’t slow down to wonder whether or how it fits. I just write what I’m given to write.

And somehow I know when the dust settles, it will all be where it’s supposed to be and the story will be finished. And the date will be March 31st or earlier. (grin)

What a cool feeling!

* * *

Another thought on the topic — if I didn’t have this goal to finish this novel by the end of the month, I’d take the day off today to read and do nothing. But then, that’s why I set goals. (grin) To push me a little when maybe I’d rather be doing something else.

Now, I have every faith in my subconscious to attain this goal. And faith matters, but as my grandma used to say, “Praying isn’t enough. You have to put feet in your prayers.” (grin)

Consciously deciding to take a day off would rob the subconscious (and the characters) of one of the nine days I promised them.

They might turn out 4,000 or 5,000 words today. They might turn out only a few hundred. But I’ll give them every opportunity to do what they do best.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 1 a.m. Did the usual routine screwing around for the first couple of hours.

3 a.m., I moved to the novel. I cycled through the last chapter I wrote yesterday and added around 300 words. That in about 45 minutes. Groggy start. Time for a break.

Well, that break lasted over an hour and a half. Probably not a good idea writing on this computer. Wrong space, wrong keyboard, wrong mentality. And my brain isn’t working right. That loss of an hour or two of sleep made a big difference.

I wrote a little around 6, then looked up some medicine online and did some other things.

Finally around 8:30, I moved out to the Hovel and wrote more of the above.

8:50, to the novel again. Prior to now I’ve added only a little over 600 words total to the novel. I’d like to see this thing grow by another 4000 words or more, but we’ll see. I’ll let the characters add what they want to add.

10, over the past hour and ten minutes, I’ve been on and off the novel probably four times. I’ve added only another 400 words or so in that time.

So this is one of those bits-and-pieces days. I’ll stop the play-by-play now and just give you the total when the smoke clears.

Well, just over 2500 words today, but my brain’s fried. So I’ll fall back on that old, “Well, at least it’s 2500 more than yesterday.”

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, a second post from yesterday that I missed. See “Chet Cunningham” at

Today’s post is only a placeholder post on the Strengths Workshop.

Fiction Words: 2521
Nonfiction Words: 1200 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3721

Writing of The Pyramid Killer

Day 1…… 0978 words. Total words to date…… 978
Day 2…… 3630 words. Total words to date…… 4608
Day 3…… 3764 words. Total words to date…… 8372
Day 4…… 3826 words. Total words to date…… 12198
Day 5…… 2521 words. Total words to date…… 14719

Total fiction words for the month……… 47180
Total fiction words for the year………… 199046
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17760
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 54350

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 253396