Tag Archives: writing goals

Five years of writing every day.

keys.jpgFor a moment, I thought I’d wait until I hit 2000 consecutive days of writing every day, but I still feel like five years (1826 days) is a good round figure.

So, last December 31st, 2016 I made it through five years of writing every day. I counted the words written each day as I went (heading for annual targets). Some days I wrote a little (156 words for my lowest count), some days a whole lot more (over 8000 on my best day), most days around 1500.

Each year my total wordcount has crept up. From just over a half million in 2012 to well over 600,000 last year.

What did I learn?

Well, I hope I learned to be a better storyteller. Raymond Chandler is supposed to have said that every writer has “a million words of crap” in them before they start writing readable fiction. My five years has produced over 2.5 million. With the years before, I suspect I’m up well over three million words. I’m not convinced that I’m not still writing crap.

Dean Wesley Smith would say that a writer is the worst judge of his or her own writing. I’d agree there. Some of my stories I think are duds sell, and some I think are wonderful circulate and circulate without finding a home.

(Chandler also said “A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled” – I like that one).

Along with learning about writing, I’m learning about the business of writing. How to manage my time more effectively and how to worry less often. I guess another thing I’m learning is patience. Whether that be waiting for the response from a publisher, or waiting for my readership to grow. Getting there.

At the risk of getting myself in trouble, some NaNoWriMo thoughts for writers

National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo – is a celebration of writing, described on the website as “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing”. The idea is to write a whole novel during November.

nanowrimologo.jpg

I think NaNoWriMo is a wonderful thing. It gets people writing. Gives focus and milestones and goals. Fabulous.

One little niggle though, and I may be wrong, so feel free to shout me down. It seems to me that participants are encouraged to write fast and sloppy. Get the words down and come back and fix them later.

As if ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ are irrevocably linked.

I’m not convinced that’s the best approach.

For a time I tutored in a university creative writing programme. I hold a Masters of Philosophy in creative writing. As part of my job I even run writing workshops for children. I’m not sure any of that really qualifies me to give NaNoWriMo advice (or any writing advice for that matter).

Nor have I ever participated in NaNoWriMo.

So, my thoughts are really just the opinion of a relative layman.

That said, I have written a novel in a month. It just happened to be June of this year, rather than November. I’ve written several other novels this year, mostly though, taking more than a month (forty days seems to be my around-about duration).

So, if I think ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ is not the best approach, what do I think?

Why not write fast and the best you possibly can? Those two can go hand in hand. Really, that’s how I strive to write. I can’t say if my writing’s any good or not (that’s up to the readers), but whenever I sit down to write, I don’t go sloppy. I write the best I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but I’m always working to write the best I can.

I think if you write sloppy, that might be how you’re training yourself to write. I doubt that Venus Williams plays sloppy when she’s practising. I hope the guys who put a new roof on my house didn’t hammer sloppy. I don’t do a sloppy job on my taxes and come back to fix it later.

Write the best you can. Every time you go write. Even if you’re aiming to write a novel in a month.

So, that’s my two cents on NaNoWriMo. Have a great month. Write a great novel. And as you write, do the best you can.

100 Submissions

Last great time house.png So, as well as tracking my word count this year, I’ve also tracked my number of submissions. Now, I do keep close track of where and when I’m submitting (it would be kind of silly not to), but this is the first time I’ve ever recorded the actual number as well.

So far this year I’ve made 100 submissions. That’s submissions of short-stories/ novelettes/ novellas to various markets. It doesn’t count items I’ve sent to indie/ self-publishing.

To be clear, though, I have completed a total of fourteen new pieces. All of those submitted. There have been some novels that have gone directly to indie, so I’m not counting those.

Getting to one hundred submissions means some of those fourteen, and some of last year’s stories (and a couple from the year before) are finding themselves resubmitted. This is pretty standard practice. One market rejects a story, off it goes to another. Repeat. Heinlein would say ‘repeat until sold’.

Of those fourteen, I’ve so far sold six. Not a huge number for me, but I’ll take it (of course). Pretty low ratio in terms of submissions: six percent, but not too bad in terms of stories completed.

Cover illustration for The Last Great Time House of Muldemar Ridge © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com

Starting a new novel

After finishing my draft of Guest House Izarra, I wrote a few short stories (well, one crept up over 11,000 words). I’ve done that through the year – finished a novel draft and spent a week or so on stories before firing up on a new novel.

Lost Ark

So, with those stories aside and awaiting attention before submitting, I’ve started on a new novel. After a few days writing I’m about 3000 words into it and having fun. It’s not the novel I expected to be writing. It’s not part of any series (though it may be come a new series – like I needed yet another series to manage). It’s got a life of its own.

I started out with the title Lost Ark, but as I thought about that I figure that’s a pretty well-used title already, so I’ll come up with something else. I’ve made a quick placeholder cover (with a quick placeholder title – unlikely that will be the final title). Graced with another wonderful image from Innovari/Luca Oleastri.

All going well I might get this though all its drafts and out sometime in the first quarter of 2017.

The month of the novel

Guest House Izarra draft thumbnail borderEarly in June I thought I’d try my hand a writing a novel in a month. Now, on the last day of the month, I can report something: Success. (insert requisite number of exclamation marks). With the success comes a tinge of, if not quite failure, at least some stumbling.

The success is that I have completed the draft of the novel. It came in at 61,497 words. Right on the mark as far as my novels go, and the general length for books in the series. I finished up on the 29th – a day to spare, yay. A couple of thousand words a day.

I celebrated the completion by opening up a new file and starting the writing of a new story. Since writing it pretty much the most fun thing, a new story is a great way to celebrate.

I hope to have the book out by the end of the year, once it’s knocked into shape. It’s cool to have a cover just about ready for it.

The stumbling, I suppose, came from the direction the story took. The Karnish River Navigations series is hard science fiction. It’s set in the distant future, on a distant planet, with some very high-tech premises. While those are present in Guest House Izarra, in places I realized that the action was taking a front seat, making the story angle off towards a straight thriller. That’s fine, it was still fun to write, but I’m not sure who the audience will be. Perhaps readers of the other books in the series will be forgiving. I’ll definitely make sure the next one is very tech-dependent. I’ll probably start that one in August. I’ll take more than a month over it, though, I think.

I noticed that right away with the new story too: a swing of the pendulum the other way. High tech all the way. Very much fun to write.

Month of the Novel, quick update

kbsmAs I mentioned earlier, I’ve challenged myself to write a novel in the month of June. Looks like I’m on track.

20 days down, 44,102 words written. Running about ten percent ahead of target. Naturally some of those words will go before it sees the light of day.

While I’m having a ball writing the book, I’m finding I need to ensure I don’t borrow too much time from other activities. Sometimes that extra half-hour or so of writing each day pushes into the business of getting things formatted and out. Still, all a good learning experience.

Midway through the month, midway through the novel

Somehow I’ve managed to maintain momentum with my target of writing a novel in June. As I mentioned earlier my novels seem to come in at around 60,000 words. So far through June, with 15 of 30 writing days completed Guest House Izarra stands at 33,194 words. So I’m running about ten percent ahead.
Guest House Izarra draft thumbnail borderHow’s the writing itself?  Well, I’m happy with progress. Feel like I’m going in the right direction. Don’t feel like there’s much that will need to be cut. So far.

We’ll see. I feel like I have a few thousand words ‘in the bank’, so to speak. With the last couple of days writing, cycling back through the previous days’ work, I wonder if this will be a shorter book anyway.

Either that or much longer. It might have to continue to July if that’s where the story goes. I don’t want to arbitrarily force it shorter just to finish within the month.

I’m glad to have a draft mock-up draft of the cover in place. Nice similar look to Arlchip Burnout. It still needs a tagline or something else at the top I think. I’ll have to track down art that’ll work for the other books too. With this one, the background is by Antaltiberiualexandru, and the figure by Algol. Kind of shows the book just about perfectly.

Glitches? Well, I had hoped to get finished with formatting my earlier novel Athena Setting for release already. Somehow though, when I imported the original document into the formatting software I dropped out all the italics. And it wasn’t until I’d just about completed formatting-page breaks, chapter headings, bookmarks and so on-that I realized. So now I’m in the process of working through to put all the italics back in. Sheesh. Starting to think it might have been easier to re-import and do all that other formatting over again.

Anyway, that’s slowing other aspects down. Still focusing on getting a couple of thousand words down every day.

I’ll see how the rest of the month goes.