Looking Back at 2018 Writing

Every January I do a new years post and look back on the year before. The highs, the lows, and the what I learned from it all. This year was interesting with fires, a job that took a lot of my time, and a brand new series that is going well.

First, I published three books in 2018. Ghostly Intentions in March, The Costume Shop in October, and Steel Soul in November. I meant to publish Steel Heart in December but ended up a little behind and instead it will be out this month. All in all not a bad year for publishing.

Writing was a different story.

February was the worst month with only 6700 words written. I honestly don’t know why February was so dismal. I do know that was toward the end of the “back to back calls every day” at work that went on for months and that may have had a lot to do with it. When I got home after those days I just didn’t want anything to do with words at all, ever. Still, I managed to finish, edit, and publish Ghostly Intentions in March, and I’m not sure how.

In April things started to look up. In fact that was when I found a lot of litRPG on amazon and started devouring it. I read so much of it that I had to write down my own story and on April 20th I made my first venture on a new series. On the last week of the month I wrote more than 3200 words in this new genre and had the basis for the new series.

In May I continued with the new litRPG and started to put aside Dragon’s Blood for the new series. The words were coming fast, and furiously, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was so excited to get home and write every night! From April till August I kept working on it, loving every moment, and fleshing out the first three books along with the world.

But the streak couldn’t last and in August my health took a nose dive. Or rather the air quality did. Fires that covered much of the west coast filled the air with smoke, and my asthma made it difficult to breath or think. I managed to find ways to mitigate the damage, and I still put out more words in August then I thought possible. But after the fires cleared I had to go back to work. September also was the month I started working on book three in the series, and this book was not as solid as the first two had been. That meant I got lost several times, back tracked, rewrote, re-plotted, and eventually decided it was best to go clean up the other stories first before pushing forward on book three. So in October I worked on editing book 1, thus I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo, but I did publish book 1 in my series in November. This lack of NaNoWriMo word count is what made 2018 my worst year for getting word counts in. Then November and December I mainly worked on finishing and editing book two so that it is nearly ready to be published which also were low word count days.

Also, average word count (on days I wrote) for the time I was working on the LitRPG was over 500 a day. On days I worked on anything else it was 2-300 a day. I attribute this more to being passionate about the project than anything else because I saw similar trends when I was working on other stories I was passionate about.

What I’ve learned

Editing is slower than writing. It’s also a necessary part of writing, and it takes a different skill than just putting down the words. I would prefer to have someone else do it forever, but that isn’t an option all the time so it is probably time to figure out how to make writing and editing something I do every day, and get them working together.

LitRPG is my favorite genre ever. Games meets books, how could I not love it? I plan I writing some more litRPG this year, but I also want to finish my Half-Blood Sorceress series too.

My health is important. So important that I have been working harder to exercise, eat better, and take mental health breaks when I need them. I have also had more health problems this year between acute asthma and allergies, to a strained back muscle, and just general colds and flues. Nothing I couldn’t deal with (though at times it felt like I was going to die) but definitely something to be mindful of. Exercise is the biggest thing and I’ve been working harder at adding that into my daily routine because I only have one body, and the older I get the harder it is to move it around.

2019 and beyond!

So what’s for next year? Well there’s the move to Texas, and the opportunity to write full time. I’m not taking this lightly. I am already updating my YouTube channel, adding videos, planning a stream schedule, and scanning in all my art work. This is for the artistic and gaming side. For my writing I am reaching out to people I know to get information on the best steps to take, letting my newsletter know there will be more news, and trying to branch out a little bit. It’s going to be a huge learning curve, but this is important. For my health both mentally and physically, and because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I never really gave it a shot. I need to try to make this work, and put my whole heart into it, or I will always wonder “what if.” I don’t want to do that.

So look forward to hearing from me a lot more in 2019.

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?

Switching Mindsets

I just found out today that I won’t be starting my new job for another three weeks. There was a little complication because I moved here from a small county that is very slow to process things, so the new job is waiting for the background check to come back from said county and say “no, she was never arrested here.” Well, I’ve never been arrested so I’m not worried about that, it’s just going to take a little longer.

So I have three weeks home…waiting. And Gregg, the helpful person that he is, said “No, you have three weeks to write. Prove to yourself you can do this full time.”

You know how some things look good on paper, but then  you actually attempt them and things don’t quite look the same as you thought they would? That’s what I went through today. But the thing that looks different isn’t something I had considered before.

First of all, Gregg is absolutely right. I have three weeks to write my heart out and prove to myself that I can do the writing part of being an author. Finishing things, and getting the ready to edit. In three weeks with nothing but writing to do I should be able to double my words. Right? And I know, it doesn’t actually work like that, but if I never try I’ll never improve.

Second, I have the story. I have the plot. I have the characters. That’s not a problem, and I’ve written more on this story than I have on previous ones, so there is president here.

Third, my phone is broken. With no job, and no phone to distract me I should have more time… SHOULD.

And oddly it isn’t the idea of writing, finishing story lines, or producing books that has me worried. I know I can do that, and I’m fairly confident I can do it faster if I just put my nose to the grindstone and do it.

No, what worries me is the pay. Since my divorce I’ve been the person who paid the bills. Rent, electric, water, etc. All the bills are in my name, and I am responsible for them. In the last couple of years Gregg moved in, and he’s helped considerably by paying for groceries, getting gas, tires, and giving me money for rent. But I pay the majority of the bills in the house. We both also set aside savings toward our eventual house, but the bills are mine.

I have preferred it this way. A large hardship in my marriage was related to finances, I had no control over it then. He made the money while I was a stay home mom, so I had no say over anything. Part of my worries that if I let myself get into a situation where a man is paying my bills again I will lose control and end up broke… again. Never mind that this is false logic since Gregg is incredibly smart with money, and we both have nest eggs in case something ever happened. Logic has nothing to do with it. My brain has been programmed to worry about giving up control like that, and yet here I am.

I’m sure I’ll eventually make money from the books I write. I already make a little. I just don’t know how long it will be before I make enough to sustain a household, so the idea of giving up a steady job with good pay and benefits just doesn’t make me comfortable.

It’s a mindset shift. If I ever want to make it as an author and stop working for someone else then I have to buy into the idea that it’s possible. That I don’t need a corporation to pay my bills. Which is crazy since I’ve been saying for years that people who can’t find a job should make a job. Saying it and jumping off into the deep end to do it is two different things though.

I’ll be going back to my regularly scheduled pay checks. I’m not ready to give them up yet. But maybe Gregg is right, and this is my opportunity to give it a go, even if it’s just for three weeks.