May turned into my slowest month for the year – just creeping over the 40,000 word mark. A pretty busy time with tutoring kind of kept the lid on a little – in a good way: it’s useful to other things to focus on. I’ve sent off three contest entries, and some new magazine submissions, as well as resubmitting some stories that had been rejected elsewhere. My novella “The Wreck of the Emerald Sky” comes out in June in The Colored Lens, so that’s good news. June is going to be a much slower month, though, as tutoring really ramps up. I’m hoping to hit 15,000 words, which, while many fewer than any other month this year, will take me neatly to a quarter million words. I’ll post soon about some lessons I think I’m learning here as I aim for 300,000 words for the year (yes, I’m ahead of target – that’s one of the lessons).
Word count goal edging up – closing on 200,000
Posted on April 30, 2012 by Sean Monaghan
As April draws to a close, I’m closing on 200,000 words for the year. It would have been kind of neat to have made it – a tidy kind of 50,000 word average per month – but I’m still way ahead of where I’d expected to be… considering the aim was for 300,000 for the whole year. The total is 195,000 and change right now. I’m also well into the goal of what I would be writing: one novel completed (and published), a short novel completed (likewise, published – under a pen name), and several stories completed and out with various publishers. Right now I’m nearing the end of the second novel (this one a literary novel which I will be sending to agents). That’s got about another seven to ten thousand words to go, then I’ll be on to another SF story and a new young adult novel for one of my pen names. May will be a slower month with a heap of marking to do, but so far I’m pleased with the year.
Addendum: I know what I did wrong. I finally figured out how to change the url of the blog. I did that on the desktop. But, when posting from the Android tablet, that poor little machine was still looking for the old url to post to… so it recreated it and made the old url live again. The post was there the whole time for anyone to read.
So it’s the end of March and I’m looking at where I am with my writing. My goal is to write 300,000 words during the course of the year. Publishable words, that is. Certainly the goal is changing as I go, and feedback on the rejections, the hold-requests and acceptances is helping with my focus (I did add into the goal that I also want to publish 300,000 words during the year – not counting reprints).
One thing I hadn’t figured on, however, was a big change in the structure of tutoring: much more online, more hours and more deadlines spread through the year. I had been looking at having big blocks of time between the portfolios to really focus on writing, and those blocks have turned out to be very small. This spread has, at the moment, meant that I’m writing alongside the tutoring and so, somehow, still maintaining my minimum of 1000 words a day (I do have a day job as well as the part-time tutoring in case you think I’m just goofing off).
I have written a complete novel, seven stories of various lengths (from 665 words up to 13,000) and I’m currently half-way through the next novel. The first novel has been (self) published, as have four of the stories (two under pen names) – one of those on MicroHorror, rather than self-published (that’s the 665 word flash fiction piece). The other stories are on submission with publishers, or still being tinkered with (I might be writing pulp, but I’m going to fine-tune the literary story for the national competition).
So, a quarter of the way through the year and I’m just a little ahead of a quarter of my publishing target (80,000 words published) and more than halfway towards my total goal: more than 150,000 words written so far. I’m surprised, stunned and stoked that it’s going this well this early. I don’t know if I’ll manage another 150,000 in the next quarter (tutoring does hot-up a little), but the momentum is there. And I still have more ideas than I have time to write.
At first I was going to give an update when I hit 75,000 words for the year. That’s a quarter of my goal. But that milestone passed a couple of weeks back. As of today I’m at a shade under 95,000, so will probably be a third of the way to my goal early next week.
It might sound like I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but I was making allowance for doing tutoring this year. I might not have made quite enough allowance. Tutoring is going to be one big giant tyrannosaur with teeth like stalagtites (and stalagmites). The paper’s structure has changed radically this year. Instead of the regular 4 assignments, with a three week turnaround, the paper now has nine assignment dates. Now those are smaller, certainly, some of them are much smaller, but there is much more regular on-going contact. That’s got to be good for the students and developing their writing, but for me it means that the blocks of time between the deadline dates are smaller and less free. I’m sure that it will be good for me: challenging and stimulating, rather than just cruising into it, but at the same time I’ll have to redraw the way I hit my own writing goals.
Speaking of goals, my first new novel for 2012 is up and available. The Tunnel is available immediately from Triple V Publishing as an ebook through Smashwords – here. It’s a sci-fi adventure story. I’ll blog about it more when it’s made it through to Kindle and B&N and so on, and when the print version is out.
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.
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.
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.