Numbers

This is a data post. Some of you have found the numbers interesting. For me the numbers are more about accountability to myself. If I’m doing better than last year I am hopeful. If not then I think I need to get my butt in gear and work harder.

graphSo here is the graph of each month for the last four years.

So far, this year, I have written 131k. May and June were my best months so far. That’s because I started writing The Half Blood Sorceress novels in May. Every time I start a new story, especially a series like this, the words just flow so fast and so free that I end up with three thousand words in less then a couple hours. I love it! That is always my favorite part of writing, the first bloom of an idea.

June was the month I had in between jobs where all I did was write, so of course I wrote a lot that month. A little bit less than May, which I was surprised about. Still, I wrote more in May and June than any other month except NaNoWriMo.

Then July I started the new job and my writing tanked. Not entirely surprising. I was physically and emotionally exhausted for the first few weeks of training. Then I started easing into the new job and had to figure out scheduling. Now I’m back into the swing of things with writing and balancing everything else and….my schedule is changing this weekend.

I’ve got a month and a half to figure out how to balance my schedule and writing with the rest of my life before this years NaNoWriMo. I really don’t want this to be the first year I fail NaNo in five years. I haven’t even figured out which project to write for this years NaNo. Will I do book two and three of The Half Blood Sorceress, or will I do a few more books in The Eternal Tapestry?

On average, after all of this, I wrote about 5-600 words a day. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but enough to chip away at the next series and get them ready for publishing.
As for the Bradbury Challenge which I started at the beginning of the year…I’ve completed ten short stories this year. That’s a little more than one short story a month. The trouble with short stories I’ve found is I keep getting shiny new object syndrome. I start working on a short story, then loose interest and go onto the next one. I have quite a number of short stories started but never completed, and a couple that I completed but decided to completely rewrite because they were terrible. But that doesn’t stop Shiny Syndrome from happening.

I love all the stories I come up with, even though I can see that a lot of them are terrible ideas. The terrible ones usually sit in an unaccessed file waiting for a day when they might jump-start a new idea. But then there are all of the stories that are good, publishable stories that I want to put out there some day, but fail to complete for whatever reason. I think I need to find a way to conquer my Shiny Syndrome in order to do that.

Worse, I have a lot of novels also slowly being worked on. Several of them are over 10k words. I have over 740k words written, and only 360k published. That’s a huge gap of incomplete works that I need to finish.

So….the next month and a half will go to figuring out my schedule, and hopefully finishing some of these short stories. NoNoWriMo is going to completing a novel or two in either the Eternal Tapestry world, or the Half Blood Sorceress series. Either way it’s 50k words into a new series and that will help me get the novels finished, and published, in the coming year.

I’ve got a long way to go, and I want to get back to writing 2k a day so that I can eventually get all the stories out of my head and onto the page. Of course then I’ll just have to dream up some new stories, won’t I?

NaNoWriMo

I wrote about my strategy to pay attention to my bodies desires and write for a bit, get up and move around, then write some more. It was a fantastic plan, and I’ve been doing it regularly. The trouble is that things get in the way sometimes. I still have to write, of course, but those things make following my bodies natural rhythms difficult.

SLEEP

I haven’t been getting much. Plain and simple, I just am not right now. Part of this is that my boyfriend moved in, and our work schedules do not synced up very well. I tend to like writing at night after the house has settle down, usually from 10pm to 1am. He wakes up at 5:30am. This throws my sleep scheduled off a lot since I have difficulty going back to sleep afterward.

It’s okay for a while, but I’ve been finding myself taking naps after work lately just to make it through the night. The nice part is that his schedule will change soon and hopefully I’ll be getting more sleep.

Worse? Both of us have been working massive amounts of overtime at our respective jobs. This has left me less down time to just relax and have time to myself, especially since the one day a week I have off is devoted to dentist appointments, shopping, and other necessities of living. I’m tired. I’m writing anyway.

Family Obligations

A while ago I wrote about my daughter coming home and having to go pick her up from the bus. This was a huge sap on my writing schedule and I have been struggling to catch up ever since. I’ve written 2000 words on a lot of those days since then, but with the lack of sleep, and a few other things going on I just haven’t caught up. I’m currently 4k behind and it’s looking like I’m going to stay hovering at 3-4k behind till the very last day.

BUT!

dataagainNaNoWriMo, for me, is a learning experience each year. This year I’ve learned that writing 1500 words a day isn’t difficult, and I’m hoping to stay at that level even after NaNoWriMo is over. What really is amazing to me is that over the last twenty two days I’ve had four days of less then 1000 words. FOUR DAYS! That’s kind of amazing for me. And on those days I still wrote almost 500 words most days. That is extremely different for me and incredible in and of itself.

Before this month my average for writing was 3-500 words. That’s it. Some days less, some days more, but never enough to make me feel like writing could be a full time career. A writer needs to do one thing above all others: write. If you aren’t writing then how can you make a living writing? Does a swimmer swim? Does a musician play an instrument? If they aren’t doing that thing then how do they make the money?

So the fact that my writing has increased steadily, and that I now feel comfortable, almost elated to have so many words a day, is fantastic. I know that when I switch over to doing edits that word count is going to drop, but hopefully I can work on a project in the evenings and edit in the mornings. I’m not quite sure about that one yet, but I’ll have a perfect opportunity to find out after NaNoWriMo, and book three of my trilogy is complete.

NaNoWriMo Update

For my data loving friends, I’m about to get a little nerdy on you.

data

This is my daily word count for NaNoWriMo during 2012,2013 and the few days of this year. Notice a trend? I was always struggling to stay on top of things with a huge push at the end (6-8k words on the last day.)

I don’t want to have to write 8k words in one night just to finish NaNoWriMo on time. Not this year. So this year I’ve managed to stay up on my word count pretty well so far. Day 5 I only did 250 words, so ended a bit short (because family always comes before writing… I think…) but last night I got my stride and wrote 2400 words, just 500 short of yesterdays goal, and really easy to catch up with today.

What I’ve learned so far? Small chunks.

Before I was trying to sit at the computer and just crank it all out at once, which left me feeling tired, annoyed, aggravated, and bordering on the “I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE” wagon. This time I am taking smaller chunks. I start earlier in the evening, write until I feel my attention start to wander, then get up and walk away from the computer. Cuddle with the boyfriend, whip up some dinner, clean something or watch a show on TV, then back to the grind.

I did this all day yesterday, my one day off, and noticed that those chunks of word counts started going up. First, 250 in thirty minutes. Then 500 in thirty minutes. Then 700 in forty-five minutes. The last chunk was about 1000 words, and may have been about an hour long. I’m not exactly sure because I wasn’t keeping track of individual writing sessions, just the completed writing session. I do know that I wrote more in one day than at any other time (except that last day of NaNo) but still felt refreshed and raring to go. I would have written more if my body hadn’t started crying for sleep.

I’ve heard Johnny B Truant talk about the 20/20 method where you set a timer and write for 20 minutes, then go do something else for 20 minutes, then come back and write for another 20 minutes. Timers and I just don’t get along, I barely know what day it is most of the time, so though I tried valiantly to do this method it just didn’t work for me.

What I did was similar, but focused more on my body, and what it wanted instead of some predetermined clock. By listening to my body I was able to get more words out, and actually wrote faster each time. Stepping away from the computer. Doing something else when my brain wanted to wander. It gave me that little reset that allowed me to keep going.

So the goal for today is at least 2050 words, which will get me back on coarse. But I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to do the same thing I did yesterday, listen to my body and my wandering mind, and see how far it will take me. For once I’d like to be OVER that bar instead of under it, or even just scraping by.

A minor catastrophe!

I’ve been keeping records of my daily word count for the last couple of years. I use them to watch how I’ve grown, push myself to write more each day, and try to see what slows me down. I keep track of how much I write on which projects, which also chronocolizes when I started each project, and when I finished them. It’s very useful data, and I’ve shown my charts here on my blog a few times.

Then last night I went to add my numbers for the day and looked down. For some reason it was saying march, not September. What? That’s not right.

I checked a few other pages. Blank. Blank. Blank. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?!?

Wait, I just copied this file to DropBox, it’s okay, right? Open that one, and it’s the same. Blank months. No data.

Sinking heart as I realize what happened. I didn’t copy the file TO DropBox. I copied the file FROM DropBox. The old file, the one I hadn’t updated since March. The one that didn’t have anything filled out. Copied it right over the newer version with all the updates. And now it’s just gone.

Six months of data. Gone.

It wasn’t an entire lose. I did have one small backup. A spreadsheet for the Million Words club with daily totals. But the daily totals are just numbers. They don’t tell me what I wrote that day, how much I wrote on each project, what I started that day, and what I finished. So, at best it’s an incomplete vision.

grumbleThe new spreadsheet. On the left is what it should look like. This is an old month, one with all the little data points I track. On the right is what I was able to salvage.

Now, I can go back through my blog and pull out those numbers so that I can at least get a view of what I actually wrote for publishing sake, and what I wrote to share in my blog. But other then that… I’m stuck.

Just goes to show that yes, you should backup your files. You should have them in several locations all of the time. And you should also make darn sure that when you copy something from one place to another you aren’t saving the old version over the new one.

What if I’d done this to my novel? 91,000 words GONE. It makes me cringe just thinking about it, more so because my first novel actually did die in a tragic computer crash, and that novel was over 100k.

Back up your stuff people. Make sure it’s safe!