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.

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One Million Words!

I just broke a million words written. At least officially.

They say to be a good writer you need to write a lot, and read a lot. Somewhere along the line someone said “You need to write a million words before you start to get good.” I’m paraphrasing of course, but since I heard that it has been my goal. To write 1 million words worth of stories.

Of course I’ve been writing since I could form sentences, so I am sure that I’ve written well over a million words in my lifetime, but I haven’t been tracking them the entire time. I also didn’t think it was fair to count the words that I end up throwing away due to grammar/spelling/etc issues. I count them in my daily word count goals, but not when it came to the big number, the million words written.

In the million words I count the stories that I have finished and published, as well as the current projects I’m working on. I have another section just for ideas, dead stories, and anything that probably won’t get written any time soon.

I found that keeping track of what stories I am working on, how far along they are, and which ones are finished and waiting to be published has helped me keep on track a lot. Before I started doing this I had trouble finishing anything. It’s too easy to chase the shiny new thing instead of finishing the project in front of you.

Of the million words I have in active and published projects I have published just over half a million words. That means my next goal is to publish the other half a million. That could be six novels, or a whole lot of short stories, but I think I can get there. The question is how fast. Let’s see, shall we?

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.

Writing progress

In February I quit my job, packed up my home, and moved to Texas. It’s now May…. so how am I doing? Here are each of my goals and what happened with them.

Write More

I am definitely writing more. Both March and April I wrote 20k words, and I’m on track to doing even more this month. If I keep this up I will be well over a quarter million words in a year, something I haven’t been able to do ever. And because of how I am working things are going well, and I do not see a problem with getting the word count in.
(For those interested in numbers, in 2017 and 2018 I wrote just over 100k. May just started and I’ve already written 66k this year. I’ll pass the last two years of writing by the end of June.)

Publish in April

This one didn’t happen, and while I am upset that it didn’t happen I am also happy with the reason. The novella I had been writing is now a full novel. The first two book Hub Series were around 30k words, and this latest one is 50k making it a full length novel. I’ve also taken the time to make the story better, made the characters a bit more compelling, added some things that I hadn’t tried before. The farther I go in this series the happier I am with it. On that note, I’m sending it to the editor this weekend so expect book three in a week or two.

Draw More

I have not been keeping up with my drawing. I did a few pieces in March (1, 2, 3, 4), but I never really finished them, and I haven’t added anything to redbubble or spoonflower. I’m a little disappointed in myself since I haven’t been gaming either to take up that time, so where is it going?

Stream More

I do have a Twitch stream that I have been known to do a few times, but it was rare. The trouble I found was that when I streamed I might have one or two people pop in, and they rarely stayed for more than a few minutes. This lead me to believe I really wasn’t good at holding peoples interest long enough to stream. I don’t know when or if I will go back to it. I might just try it because I enjoy playing some narrative games, and then I could put them up on my youtube channel. I haven’t decided yet.

Youtube Again

This is another one I haven’t done since being here.  It’s also another one I’m not sure I want to do. I have two channels, one for Writing and one for Gaming. The gaming channel only allows me to post 15 minute videos so I ended up using my writing channel for gaming, which I shouldn’t have done. Honestly…. I need to do this. It would be good for me because I need to learn to talk in front of a camera again. It’s very difficult for me sometimes so… I’ll have to see what I can do.

Overall

So writing is going well, and I’ll have another book to publish soon. Then I should be able to jump in and finish the second Half Blood Sorceress book since I have already written most of it, and that will be book two, hopefully by July. So much to write and so little time. I better get writing!

Finish it already!

I started on this journey to be a full time author and I started writing… a lot. In March I wrote more than I have written in any other month outside of NaNoWriMo. It’s 3/4 of the way through April and I am on track to meeting the same kind of numbers… But I feel like I should be doing more.

This last week I’ve found myself stuttering again, trying so hard to finish this novel and getting stuck on the words time and time again. It’s at that point now where I just have to push through, find some words, any words, and put them down. It’s always the battle scenes.

Right now the two parts I have left are an arena battle in the middle, and the final battle at the end. Both battle scenes, both needing some choreography, and both tricky because they involve some mechanics from unusual creatures. Plus trying to make them read well at the same time.

I think it’s time to stop trying to make them read well. It never works with me and a battle scene. I just have to block it out, figure out the mechanics, and then rewrite it to make it readable. I wish I could do this every time without having to agonize over it, but I just want to write the darn book, not have to rewrite it over and over again.

To top it off I just wrote ANOTHER battle scene at the beginning of this month for Restart, a shared collaboration between my litRPG discord group. You can read it for FREE over here. I wrote chapter 7. We each write a chapter in order, and I got the battle scene. It, of course, took me longer to write then everyone else because I agonize over battle scenes so much, but it was definitely great practice, and I enjoyed it. I also got to switch things up a bit, and then the next guy in line NERFED the ability I created because it was too powerful…. I think that’s a win 😉

Anyway, back to writing.

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.

Penguins

I did an adorable piece of art this week.

Okay, maybe I’m talking myself up a little bit, but I really do love how this came out. I drew it in pen then scanned it, and colored it. It was inspired by the #kaseytheprompt challenge on Instagram. She has a huge book of prompts that she does and shows on youtube, then her fans make their own interpretation. Last week was penguin and shiny, so I drew two penguins star gazing.

I do love how all the colors blend, and the adorable penguins. I’m rather happy with this one. And of course there are posters up.

Truthfully, I wanted to do this on stream but it’s hard to do when I’m falling asleep every few minutes. Thankfully the smoke is clearing a bit, and they are taking me off the meds that might be contributing to my sleepiness while also keeping me breathing. We’ll see how next week goes.

I’ve also managed to keep writing, even if it isn’t as fast as I’d like. I have the cover art for book two done, and book three on its way. I’ll be able to do a reveal of all the covers soon. I’m also going to be contacting some people about edits really soon… I do need to have one more edit from myself to get all the numbers right before sending it to an editor, it’s just hard to edit when your mind keeps slipping. Smoke clearing though so I’ll be fine soon, I hope.

Till then I have a new piece of art and some more writing to do. This weeks prompt was unicorn and pirate 🙂