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?

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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!

Keeping up the word count

I tweeted this morning that I’d written 12,000 words this month. That’s 500 a day, on average. Some days I did more, some days I did none, but over the average it’s 500 words.

spreadThe one thing that keeps me writing (almost) every day is my spread sheet.

Each day I add the words I’ve written, and what project I wrote on. Each day I add little pink highlights if that number is zero. I hate those zeros. I also keep blog and writing separate, but I do track both. And both show up on my graph at the end of the month (writing in blue, blog in red.)

The trouble with a “zero” day isn’t that I got a zero, it’s that the next day I don’t write as much. And if I have two “zero’s” in a row I have to struggle all that much more to get some words out.

I actually started this about February. That’s when I realized I was struggling, and I needed more accountability to myself. Something I had in spades during NaNoWriMo, but lacked afterward. I no longer had that nifty little graph showing my progress, or the bar creeping forward saying weather or not I “won”. So, I decided to make my own graph.

It took a few tries to figure out exactly what I should have on my graph. As you can see there is an “edited” column that rarely gets anything put into it. I’ve edited quite a bit this month because I am rewriting sections of “Rage War” in between writing “Forgotten Ones” and finishing up a short story. But I never really think about the edited pages, I just want to track what I’ve written.

I’ve also forgotten to add my word counts for a couple of days. Every time that happens I am extremely disappointed n myself. This has become an incredibly important part of my writing. It’s tracking my growth and accomplishments as I move forward.

Soon after figuring out my own graph I discovered “The Magic Spreadsheet” from Mur Lafferty. I really like her version, and how it gives you points for each day you reach your goal, but I’ll stick with mine for now. However, maybe some of you would like to try it out.

Whatever method you use, the best advice I can offer is just to try new things. Find out what works for you. I know authors who keep a writing journal in paper, and jot down a note every day. I know others who blast it out on twitter, o reddit. Still others keep writing journals on a blog. But I do know that it won’t hurt for you to try to keep track and figure out what you are really doing.

I would love to add time of day to this… but my scheduled doesn’t allow that right now. It’s too chaotic. Chalk that up to a dream for the future.