Two thousand days of writing every day

quito2000daysA thousand days back I posted about writing every day for a thousand days. That’s almost three years. Now, after five and a half years, I’ve hit that two thousand days mark. Funny thing, that happened almost a week back and I missed it. Too busy scribbling away, I guess.

Now, I guess that for someone who’s a writer the idea of writing every day is pretty obvious. Somewhere over the years I guess I let that tumble away. I suspect I also bought into the myths that writing is hard and I needed to rest my brain and that I needed to gather my thoughts and I needed to think about what I was going to write before I wrote it.

Kind of, I guess, like a tennis player thinking about playing tennis before entering a tournament. Thinking about has its place, but exercising the muscles and getting out on the court figure pretty highly too.

But more than all that, I’ve seen more success with my writing from that. I’ve won a couple of contests, I’ve had numerous professional stories published, and I’ve indie-published a whole lot of novels, stories and collections. Those would not have happened had I not put my focus back on writing. So, I recommend it.

And about missing the actual milestone day, I think a part of that really is that the habit is so established that, even though I track my word count and other marks for each day, I feel like I’ve fully integrated the habit. I recommend that too.

My June challenge: write a novel

Arlchip Burnout cover 10 small

Well, at the risk of making a fool of myself, I’m going to attempt writing a novel in June. And update with my word count as I go.

Now, I’ve written novels fast before – as little as forty days. But thirty days? That’ll be something new.

I know about NaNoWriMo. I know plenty of people take that challenge successfully. Right now I figure why wait until November?

Also, my plan is to write good copy. No sloppy writing to be fixed-up later. I want it as clean as possible so there’ll be minimal revision needed.

The novel I’m attempting is another in my Karnish River Navigations series. There’s just one book, Arlchip Burnout, available at the moment. I have the second and third written already and in the process of first readers and copyediting and so on at the moment. I hope to have the second book, Canal Days, available in a couple of months, followed by the as-yet-untitled third book a month or so after. The fourth, Guest House Izarra (working title), upon which I’m now embarking perhaps soon after that. If I can get it written and knocked into shape those might be October, November and December releases (notice how I let myself off the hook a bit there?).

As I work on this new novel, I’ll update periodically (weekly?) here with wordcounts.

Writing Guest House Izarra:
Wednesday June 1st: 2478 words
Thursday June 2nd: 2154 words

10,000 words and counting for April


As I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere in my mutterings, I make sure to write every day. I also have a word-count target every day. The target gets flexible: I’m aiming for a half million words of fiction for the year, which spreads out to around 1373 words per day (it’s a leap year, that spreads it even thinner).

So far I’m ahead of my target. Well ahead, in fact (169,000 completed, averaging around 1725 words a day). I did have some days with no other commitments and wrote over 5000 words on each of those, so that’s helped bolster the tally. Fewest words on a day was February 10th with just 503 words. Don’t recall what got in the way that day.

It’s great having my momentum up – I recommend it, in fact. Already in April I’ve gone over 1500 words each day, with a high of 1815. That high was the day I finished a novella and started in on a new novel. 10,000 words for the first six days of April. Pretty good for me. Best of all I’m having fun.

Year end review, with a late rally

Close to the end of the year, close to completing some goals, distant from others.
My word-count goal went well: from 300,000 for the year (completed in August), upped then to 450,000 for the year (completed in November) and upped again to 500,000, and right now sitting at 497,065. Catastrophes aside, it looks like a slam dunk on that one. Yay.
Publishing 300,000 words didn’t go so great. It went pretty good – right now it’s around 203,000. Mostly self-published under my Triple V Publishing banner through Smashwords, Kindle, and CreateSpace/Amazon. It was gratifying to have several acceptances by publishers in there – about 26,000 words of that total were published in online and print magaziens such as MicroHorror, The Colored Lens and Takahe.
What about the other 97,000 words? Well, I sure wrote them. Part of it was procrastination: sitting on a 60,000 word New Zealand Literary novel instead of sending it out to some publishers (and then self-publishing it if it came back as noes). I’ll remedy that in the new year, with my new goals. Part of it was a pig-headed determination to keep things on the market – that is, numerous stories, novelettes and novellas that get rejected and go out again, rather than self-pubbing. I’ll fix that too: with some of the pieces that have been to the seven or eight main markets: the next time they come back I’ll pull them out of circulation and publish them through Triple V.
I felt like I spent much of the year feeling out in the wilderness: I’ve had more than a hundred rejection slips since January. Mostly form rejections, but there have been a few personal notes which has been cheering. The acceptances have helped out too – early in the year my sci-fi novella The Wreck of the Emerald Sky appeared in The Colored Lens. I had a few flash-fiction acceptances through the year, which was nice, but most of the longer works seemed to keep cycling. Then, a late rally. An acceptance for Takahe (a New Zealand literary mag), a third-placing in a regional short story contest, and an acceptance for Aurealis – one of Australia’s leading science fiction magazines. Coming just a couple of weeks before the end of the year, that acceptance has buoyed me no end: I am on the right track, and persistence pays (real money in this case, too).

Next year, I’m aiming at 500,000 words from the git-go. And aiming at publishing 600,000 (whether self- or traditional) – and have a plan in place to make the possible.

See you next year, with more goal updates.

On writing less than 1000 words a day.

For the last five and a bit months (that is, since January 1st) I’ve written at least 1000 words a day. Some days have been just over that target – 1015, 1085 – other days have been up in the multiple thousands (two days of 5500 words). I’ve written two novels, two novellas and numerous short stories. (The total word count is 244,000). It’s been a revelation to me to be able to work so intensely and so focused for this period.

And now it will hit it’s first speed bump. My target for the year is 300,000 words and it seems that now I’ll likely reach and exceed that. Why just 300,000? Well, I still earn a living at a full-time job. And I moonlight too, tutoring in a creative writing course. Fitting the writing in around the course was always part of the plan, though the structure of the course altered since I first set the 300K goal. Today is the first major deadline and I’m about to plunge into three weeks of concentrated effort in giving feedback to dozens of students.

Writing my own stuff will take a sideline. Today will be my first day this year of writing under 1000 words. I feel like I’m a little in mourning.

Still, I have two stories open at the moment, and I know where they’re both going. I’m itching to get to them, so that’s going to help me feel intentional with my marking. And I learn so much from the marking process too that it’s all only going to be good for my writing.

Word counts, goals and publishing

Around Christmas, following on from Jeff Ambrose I created a word count goal fro 2012. 300,000 words, from 300 available writing days. Just 1000 words a day. As I wrote rapidly for the first week, I realised that I needed to add a couple of things to keep myself going, focused and effective.

Firstly that 1000 words is a minimum. In the first couple of days – January 1st and 2nd – with no other commitments, family, work or otherwise, I wrote 5500 words each day. It would be simple to think that, well, that’s the first eleven days worth knocked off. Nah. Better to reset the counter each morning. So, it’s been a good first week (close to 20,000 words), but this week I’ll be shooting for 1000 words a day again. Each and every day. BTW, a writer friend did suggest I make sure I don’t burnout on that. Can’t see it, but I will monitor things, definitely.

Secondly (and this is for readers more than writers) that’s got to be 300,000 publishable words. Not just spouting, not just rushing to wear out a keyboard. I saw that writing volume is one thing, publishing is another. So that’s my promise. There will be good stuff coming out. Not to say that it’s going to be perfect and nuanced and highly literary – these days I’m more of a pulp writer (though I do tutor in literary craft, and have written and had published numerous literary stories) – but it will be entertaining and readable and compelling.

I have several stories scheduled for publication in various print and online journals, which amounts to arout 50,000 words (as well as several reprints, but I think I should do this without relying on reprints). I have another 60,000ish out on submission to publishers, with another big story heading out this week. If those get rejections all around then I will indie publish them. I feel in good shape.

I will also have to create time for editing, revision, proofreading, reading other writers, editing anthologies, etc.

Sticky feet and merry christmas – more on word count goals

1000 words a day, huh? This morning, 6am – my prime writing time (and Friday seems to be the only morning of the week where I can write in a guaranteed no-interruption space). Sleepy headed (really shouldn’t have stayed up to watch SGU last night, perhaps, though it is the only show I watch, even though it seems to be fading as the final season winds on), and distracted by trying to create a new cover for a YA novel (rendering in the background, tinkering in the foreground), I managed around 660 words. Fortunately I should have another block of time in the evening (coming up) to march through at least another 340 words. Today’s goal seems secure.

I’ll blog weekly (rather than daily) about the count goals now.

2012 writing goals

Following Jeff Ambrose’s post on his word count goals, I’ve been looking at what I’m keen to achieve in 2012. Similar to Jeff, I can write around 1000 words an hour, though with a full-time job, and a part-time job (which I may or may not have again 2012), I’m pretty committed time-wise. Add in family time and so on I figure I can manage to write like this:

1000 words a day. Some days it will be 2000, some days – as when I get to take a retreat – it might be 8000), but say an average of 1000 words a day. That’s finished, polished, ready to publish words. I’ve been thinking about some of the things Dean Wesley Smith has to say about too much rewriting and revising, and realize that many of my stories are strongest in their first-draft version and that too much polishing might strengthen the writing, but weaken the story. I’m going with story and will trust my writing to be coherent. I will still have readers, do proof-reading and spell-checking. This does contradict what I said in an interview with Shells Walter, but I guess I’m coming from a new place now.

365 days in the year. Tutoring takes four blocks of three weeks. I write a little bit during these periods, but not enough to count on. So that leaves 280 writing days.

280,000 words then. Okay, I’m going to make that 300,000 – a bit more of an even number to shoot for. For twenty days I’m going to have to write 2000, rather than 1000 words. In some ways it sounds kind of low – 1000 words is easy, but I liked the thoughtful way that Jeff was very practical about his goals, figuring in a little bit of life as well.

300,000 words. How will I spend that?

If I write two novels at 75,000 words, that’s 150,000. A couple of short novels at 25,000 words – novellas, I guess – so that’s another 50,000. Say five long stories at 10,000 and ten short stories at 5,000. That’s 300,000. Some of the stories will be shorter, some perhaps longer. Maybe one of the full novels will be 60,000 words. I’ll keep at that target of 300,000, adding in some stories as I go.

I know some of the stories I want to write. Three for short story contests in New Zealand (actually all have word limits around 3,000 so there is a little space for more stories). Four stories for international competitions. Stories to sent to the pro mags, and some to put up with Triple V Publishing.

I have ideas for the novels, enough to write an outline and get underway. Once I have a start point, and an end in mind I’ll just go.

I guess I should do monthly progress reports too.

Anyway, thanks Jeff and Dean, for helping to point the way.