Wulfa wants to improve her Spanish and I want to improve my writing.
So we allocated an hour a day(excepting Sunday's which are craziness) for each of us to be kid free and able to disappear into our room and work on the subject of our choice.
There are some things I've learned from my time doing this.
1) Writing is a lot harder when you don't already have a story in your head. Forcing yourself to work past the "I-don't-want-to"'s is just as painful in writing as it is in exercising or studying. And just as rewarding the next time you do it.
2) There is no such thing as I'll just look at [x] for a minute. If you stop and read or web browse or play a game then you are giving up your entire allotment of time. Focus is key and sticking to it despite the distractions.
3) I don't have long term focus in my writing currently. I'll write a scene(700-1000 words). Or at most two scenes and then I get bored with the story. This is why payment never completed and a big reason why I've never been able to complete a story or even attempt a novel. I have several full stories in my head that I've walked from beginning to ending and none of them have ever been written.
4) Because I see my stories as movies... and it takes a lot of work to portray them in words. I visualize the hero "leaping off the roof into the throne room to decapitate the evil false king" but that is as far as my mind goes. And it takes generally a lot more words to describe that in a readable fashion that doesn't sound like a gamefaq's plot summary. Heck, the scene in payment... that was "dragon guy walked into the ballroom, shoving blustering noble after blustering noble out of his way, approaches the duchess and bows before her servant, swearing fealty to her and saying he is payment for her missing mother". If you read my thousand word post you'll see that the actual scene is much bigger.
5) Authors are way underpaid for the amount of work they have to put into this. Even if they are able to write it all in a month or something nuts like that... their skill is being able to write it/ proof it/let other people not like it and that is a lot harder than most people give credit. Just like engineering is a lot easier than most people make out... both jobs sets require that the apprentice apply him/herself continually and do a lot of boring work so that in the end someone is amazed at it.
So I'm not giving up but I am finding that I will need to polish and buff and scrub a lot more on my skills before I can even say that I write short stories :P. But at least I can say I write eh? Heck, look at Howard Taylor. Compare this and this. See how far he's come? All through continual application of practice. I can only hope for such an improvement 10 years from now.