NaNoWriMo: I Cheated

Okay, cheating at a self imposed deadline is basically cheating yourself. In most cases I would say cheating yourself is a bad idea, in this case it was an accomplishment I had to complete.

Five minutes till midnight on the 30th I was 1100 words short on my NaNo project. I managed to write TEN THOUSAND words that day. That is a feat that usually takes me two weeks, and I did it in one day. When midnight came I decided to give myself an hour to finish, and declare myself a winner.

I put in my numbers, and continued writing. At 1:03 am I hit 50,011 words.

Each year when I do NaNoWriMo I set out with one goal, learn something new about my writing, or myself. Win or loose the actual challenge I have always learned something. This year was no different. This year I had no excuses to “lose” the challenge, so figuring out the secret to winning made all the difference. And it was such a simple thing, and yet so difficult, to figure out.

Time management.

I’ve had a love hate relationship with time management. For most of my life my time was dictated by a job, or school for my children or myself. Things like doctors appointments, shopping trips, and even sleep revolve around the schedule dictated by someone else. When I was free of all that I thought “now I have time to write,” but it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

There are so many things to distract us. Sometimes we get bogged down in those things, turn on the tv and sink into episode after episode of whatever we’re interested in, or loose hours in a game. It’s easy. It’s fun. It makes us happy. And when you don’t have that daily thing like a day job to set your schedule to it’s so much easier just to say “I’ll get to that later.”

So this year during NaNoWriMo I learned that I have to find some balance to my schedule. It doesn’t have to be strict, and it can change when necessary, but I had to find something that worked for me so I could prioritize the important things.

The first thing I did, which worked fantastic to get me through the end of NaNoWriMo, was download Toggl. With this app I was able to track what I was doing, for how long, and actually get a good look at how much time I was wasting. Once I logged things into the app I could click a button to easily toggle tracking for specific things. Items can be lumped in to projects so you can easily see where time is spent. For me house care includes cooking, cleaning, and taking care of things for the home. Admin includes marketing, blog posts, and research. Writing is….writing. And me time is all the gaming, reading, and everything else I do just for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last three days I only tracked 24 hours. It’s going to take some time to get used to using it, but the app is going to help me increase my productivity by allowing me to see where all my time is going. It takes away all the excuses and shows you exactly what you’re using your time for.

I want to track everything for a few weeks to get a base line of where my time goes, but once I have that base line I expect I will only track work and household related time.

Of course this has a second consequence… I had been using the excuse that I was “working up” to 2k words a day. I learned that when I am writing well I write 33 words a minute, that’s about 1k every half hour. Of course editing, and certain tough chapters, will be slower, but the more I think about it the more I realize I should be writing a whole lot more every week. I will have to see how far I can get if I work harder to put in the time.

Expect more updates as I get this time management thing under control, and hopefully that means new books as well. After all, I just wrote 50k words in one of them.

Short or Long?

Sometimes when you’re working on novels you can get to a point where progress seems so far away, and sometimes you can get disheartened. Even want to quite, or procrastinate.

There was a talk Adam Savage gave once where he said at some point in every project he feels like he has no business making. A man who creates amazing replicas, props, and cosplays that the world loves. A man who does one day builds that many would struggle to do in a month. Someone who has working on major motion pictures, and The Mythbusters. And he feels like he has no business making.

And that’s how I feel writing a novel. I am sure that many creatives feel like that, like they are an importer and shouldn’t even bother trying to create whatever it is you are creating. I get so far into a novel, hit that wall, and it feels insurmountable. But I keep going, a little at a time, pushing to get to the end because I know once I reach it I will have something awesome.

I’ve picked up little tricks here and there to help me get through it. One of them is writing short stories when I’m really stuck. At the moment I have been editing a few of the finished short stories I have, and trying to finish four other short stories. Since they are shorter I can usually finish one much faster than a novel, and that little boost keeps me going for the larger projects. Plus the stories I am working on currently are science fiction, while the novel I am working on is fantasy. This allows me a change of scenery, so to speak, and take a breather before going back to the novel.

Speaking of the short stories, I think I’m about ready to publish some of them. Another pass of the editors wand, and they should work well as an anthology. Oh, and a cover. The other four short stories I am still completing I already have a cover for, I just have to finish three of the shorts.

But the novel is still my priority. I’ve been working at a (mostly) steady pace trying to get through the second half of the book. I’ve hit a few snags with the plot, but I think I’ll be able to untangle them. Plot holes, they are my nemesis! Funny, it used to be fight scenes. Now I have a system for the fight scenes and I have more trouble with the time line. I think that’s because the story is taking place over the course of a year and I want it to reflect that.

My daily word count goal dipped a little in august, so I’m working hard to get them back up to what I consider a good pace. I still want to hit 1000 words a day by the end of the year, which means pushing harder and making fewer excuses. But I’m working on it.

By the way, here is a really good video about why many of us procrastinate, and some great ways to fight against it.

Now… off to write about dragons.

Progress….

Quick announcement: I will have a short story free every weekend for a while, so if you follow me on Amazon, or here, or join my newsletter, you can get information about the free short stories. I will be trying to get a few new, never before seen, short stories out soon as well, so look for those.

Now on with the regularly scheduled blog post:

I decided to catch up on some files today and see what I’ve been doing. It’s the middle of the year, and the third month into my “writing for a living” adventure, so it seems fitting. I think I’m doing more check ins since going full time, but this helps me gauge how well I’m doing with the word count and keep things in perspective.

Sorry but this is going to have a bunch of numbers. There will also be a summery at the end.

Since 2012 I have published 33 short stories, 6 novellas and 5 full length novels. (Novella is 10-49k, shorts are less, novels more.) That’s just over half a million words published. Of course many of the short stories are in anthologies so I only have 24 books out, but… that’s a lot of stories that I’ve completed. It’s hard to see how many things I’ve completed since I am often working on a single book for months at a time with no end, so it’s good to remember that I can, and have, completed stories.

This year has also had it’s busy moments with moving twice (in Feb and May) slowing me down a bit. But I’m still getting a steady stream of words out, and so far this year I’ve written 79,000 words. April has been my best month to date with 22.6k words written, and of course Feb, the month we moved to Texas, was the worst. Considering we packed for two weeks straight then drove for five days I’m glad I got any work done at all in Feb.

For a little bit of comparison, in 2017 and 2018 I wrote a total of just over 100k words each year. That’s all twelve months, including my attempt at NaNoWriMo which I failed both years. This year, and it’s only the first week of June, I’m already at 80k, and I should hit the 100k mark by end of month. Most of that writing has been since March so I’m on track.

My average daily word count has gone up from 300 to 900 words a day. It fluctuates, of course, but I try to get at least 500 on the days when we’re busy with things, like moving. So far it’s worked. The goal is to get to 2k a day by the end of this month. Eventually I’d like to get to 5k a day, but that’s going to take some stretching of the muscles.

These averages are written words on days that I write. I try not to skip days, but there are always days when you’re inundated with other things, like doctor appointments, travel, sickness, or the like. That is why I want to keep getting that average word count up, because I know days off happen and I want to offset them. I’ve set a monthly goal of 20k words at the moment, but I want it up to 30k soon. I’ve got to keep stretching. Keep working harder.

I haven’t done a lot of marketing. Right now my boyfriend and I agree that I just need to complete novels. Marketing can be so much easier if you have that back log of books to go through. Plus my strongest suit is in writing, not marketing, so if I have a lot to work out I will feel like I can take some time off writing to figure out the marketing bits with less issue.

I’ve also been posting a lot of artwork over on Redbubble as stickers, mugs, and things like that, as well as posting a bit more on instagram. Drawing has always been a way for me to relax and have fun, so I will be continuing to do that. I even have a coloring book out.

Summery: I’ve written a lot over the last few years, but this year has been a great increase and I’m working to get even more done. Also look for those free short stories on the weekends going forward, and a few new ones to be added.

Covers, all the covers!

 

I am expecting edits back soon for the first book in the new novels, and I’m tweeking the covers a little, but I have a finished draft.

I am so excited for this series. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, and I’m really happy with how it’s come out. I’m sure that the edits will make things shine! Plus book three is already half finished so I’m pretty confident it will be out in December.

Steel Soul: Jupiter and Cas log into the nerve gear for the first time and take on their first quest, rescuing the mayor. But things aren’t quite what they seem!

Steel Heart: The roads aren’t safe, and there’s more than in-game death at stake.

Steel Line: The Hub… and that’s the only hint you’re getting for that one till December. 😉

For the covers, the figures were all designed by Abi Grey. I did the backgrounds and typography.

Really, I can’t wait to get them out there. It’s going to be a lot of work once I get the edits back, but so worth it.

Free Books & Mid-Year Check In

First the free books:

Small Bites 1  – Three fantasy short stories.
Prophecy by Barlight – A comedic short story about self fulfilling prophecies.
Dark Angels – Four short stories about fallen angels.

I’m letting you know about them now because I’m taking all of my short stories out of KU and putting them up on other platforms. Now is your chance to grab them.

Now onto the rest of the post.

Every year I do a stats post to show what I’ve done and if I’ve improved or not. This year I’m also going to do a mid year check in. It’s a lot of stats and graphs, and chatting about writing so if you’re not interested in the numbers you might want to skip this one.

First, here are my weekly numbers for how much I’ve written. You’ll see the big spike at week 17. That’s the last week of April when I started writing my litRPG novel. Since then I’ve been writing more often, and more consistently. Plus I’m enjoying it again.

I’m going to admit it, writing last year was more of a struggle than it has been in a long time. This year I’ve written double every month, and in April when I decided to write something entirely different it changed completely. I started writing a lot, and looking forward to writing again. It was less of a struggle. And that, all on it’s own, showed me that I was on the right track.

But all the improvement I’ve done it hasn’t touched on 2015/2016. They were my best writing years so far. During that time I wrote the Witch’s Trilogy, and started my Half Blood Sorceress series. During 2017 I finished the first Half Blood Sorceress novel, and published a few short stories…but it was a struggle.

This year I started with book two in the Half Blood Sorceress series, and shifted to the litRPG. That shift has been a breath of fresh air. I even feel like I can go back to book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series to complete it. And that’s what I would like to do over the rest of this year, and next year…Finish more of the things!

I’ve got a few short stories I want to finish and publish, but I really want to focus on the novels. I have two first in series out and the second in each of those series is just sitting on my computer. Waiting. So it’s time I change that.

Anyway, if you made it this far thank you for reading. I guess the moral of the story is follow your passions, they might lead you somewhere good. And if you’re stuck try something new, even if it’s just for a little while before going back to the original thing. It might get you unstuck.

Working away….but it’s fun!

Yesterday was a busy busy day. I’m in the middle of updating everything in my catalog, and…that’s a big job.

Currently I have 25 books out, most of which are short stories. I’ve been updating the back-matter, authors notes, and just about everything else, then republishing them. Plus…I’m finally going wide. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, at least with my short stories, but it’s been a task since there are so many of them. Now that I have a couple more books ready to be edited so I can publish them I think it’s the right time to get this done.

So, over the next couple of weeks that’s what I’ll be doing. Editing, reformatting, and uploading my books as they drop out of KU. If you are in KU and you want to read any of the short stories you should do that now while that is an option. I know some of them are dropping off the beginning of next month, and the rest will be out in the next three. So by September all the short stories will be out of KU.

As for the writing, I put in another chapter or two of the second book in my litRPG. I figured out the rest of the plot. And I started work on the third book. This is going FANTASTIC! Expect to see them starting to appear in another month. I want at least two and a half books complete before I start publishing. This, along with Costume Shop and another short story will give me a chance at getting a lot of new books out there for you. The last month and this month I wrote more than 11,000 words. That’s double what I was doing before. It’s good to feel creative again.

Also, Small Bites 1 is free this weekend. I’ll have a few short stories free during the next few weekends to take advantage of their last bit of time in KU. This will be the first one.

Also I will be streaming occasionally. If you’d like to come over, chat, ask questions, or see what I’m doing stop in and say hi. I will be drawing, painting, doing different crafts, or writing. I might even do a few small games here and there.

Till next time, happy reading.

Glasses and goals

I had new glasses, which was good. My old ones were a few years old and everything was getting blurry. So I brought the new glasses home and almost everything was good. There were letters on the lenses, and the left lens had the letters right in my vision.

It worried me a little bit that the tech coudln’t see the letters. They should have had a good pair of glasses too, right? And yet, they couldn’t. My boyfriend could, so I wasn’t crazy (at least not for that). Then I kept getting headaches and I realized there was a big blurry spot in my left eye every tim I wore them. My head was trying to compensate for it, and I had head aches.

So I took the glasses back and I’m wearing the old ones now…but there’s a problem. My eyes were trying to compensate for a blury spot, now the whole scene is a little blurry. When I’m tired I’m finding it hard to focus. I really hope the new glasses get here soon.

So for now I have my glasses off, which means the computer is REALLY blurry, and I have to get kind of close to it to see anything. It’s a good thing I don’t have to see what I’m typing. However it is making writing difficult, so I think I’m going to go to bed early and call it for the night

For today:

Word Count:  125

Duolingo: 3 modules done.

Steps: Not achieved

Art: A little girl and her art, and a happy pi day.