WIP,  Writing

The First Serious Month

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Writing Report, October 2013

So it’s been a while since I’ve done the whole “writing report” thing. Because I’m conducting a kind of massive writing experiment right now, I’m going to revive the practice for the experimental period, the idea being a little objective analysis. If numbers aren’t your thing, much less the explanations behind them, I suggest you skip this post. It’s also likely to be long.

First, a quick reminder of the parameters of the writing experiment:

  • Limited, but daily when possible, social networking, mostly over breakfast. (I’m semi-failing at this. FB has done well enough from me, but only on a personal level, and I’ve probably only been on Twitter about half the days this month. More on that another day.)
  • Podcast listening cut in half, so that I can use at least one leg of my commute for dictation. (This is actually how I’m doing a lot of the first draft on my current WIP. It’s messy but fairly fast. The second draft will need more cleaning than usual.)
  • More of everything on my days off and especially when I’m on night-shift rotations. (And I’m almost ¾ of the way through a 4-week round of nights right now.)
  • No time may be stolen from my family or other obligations. Writing places third after family and career. (There’s an old post on Chocolate Scotch that, among other things, covers my thoughts on stealing time from your family to further your creative pursuits. Summary: it doesn’t make you a good time manager, it makes you a jerk.)

There were hard numerical targets for my writing October, which I’ll now share (especially since I met all of them), along with what I actually achieved.

Project

Target

Actual

Manifest Destiny (SF novel)

26,500

33,096

words
Short Fiction

10,000

10,641

words
Godhead, Book 1 plotting

20/40

46/46

scenes
Graceland read through

82,237

82,237

words

 

I also finished the Graceland read through with time enough to spare that I’m starting November a little more than 25% into the final (read it aloud) draft of Ancient Runes, started the plotting of the second Godhead book, and I’ve put about 5761 words into blogging and another 6749 into non-fiction projects, mostly of a genealogical (family history) nature.

All told, if I add in the words in the Godhead plotting document and count changes due to editing in absolute words, I pounded out 65,220 words this month, and I did it without neglecting my family, though I’m sure there were a few neglected tasks on the To Do list.

I don’t promise those were all good words, or well structured or well plotted words on the fiction side, but that’s what editing is for. It’s entirely acceptable for first drafts to suck. Later drafts should improve things, at least that’s the idea.

The one target I didn’t put into things initially is short story submissions. I haven’t done a lot of story submissions in the past couple of years, but I am still writing short fiction. I need to get at that backlog and either put together some collections (which I originally planned for this year) or get some stories out in front of editors’ eyes. Both would be better. I managed 3 submissions this month, and feel like that’s not bad, considering the rest of my life, but I’ll attempt 5 each for November and December. That’s only a bit more than 1 per week. Should be easy, right?

Now, because I’m a planner, and derive great joy from figuring things out, I get to re-forecast. Here’s what I know:

  1. I dominated my goals for October.
  2. A month worth of data shows me that one direction on my commute averages just over 1000 words (1068), so I’ll use 1k per day as a working model for novel word count on commuting days.
  3. This means that I could theoretically be finished Manifest Destiny (a short novel projected at 60k) by the end of November and have written a novel in two months.
  4. Life is full of curve balls, so I will not otherwise alter my targets at this time. (This may have a motivational side effect if I can maintain the momentum.)
  5. Having managed the rough plot for the first book of the Godhead Trilogy in one month, and have a solid idea of where the story is going for the next two volumes, at least at a very high level, I have hopes that I can do the same for books two and three.
  6. I think I want to write all three books of Godhead and then edit them as a single coherent narrative.
  7. There are many stories I want to tell.

The original forecast (extended for half of 2014) looked like this:

Month

Plotting/Other Drafting Editing

Oct-13

Godhead Trilogy Manifest Destiny Ancient Runes

Nov-13

Godhead Trilogy Manifest Destiny Ancient Runes

Dec-13

Godhead Trilogy Manifest Destiny Graceland

Jan-14

Godhead Trilogy Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Feb-14

Godhead Trilogy Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Mar-14

Godhead Trilogy Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Apr-14

Short Fiction Cleanup Godhead 2 Godhead 1

May-14

Short Fiction Cleanup Godhead 2 Godhead 1

Jun-14

Short Fiction Cleanup Godhead 2 Godhead 1

 

Revised for 6 of the 7 points above, with October already clearly accomplished, produces this:

Month

Plotting/Other Drafting Editing

Oct-13

Godhead Trilogy, plotting Manifest Destiny Graceland

Nov-13

Godhead Trilogy, plotting Manifest Destiny Ancient Runes

Dec-13

Godhead Trilogy, plotting Novelette x 3 Ancient Runes

Jan-14

Short Fiction Cleanup Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Feb-14

Short Fiction Cleanup Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Mar-14

Short Fiction Cleanup Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Apr-14

Becoming Alien, plotting Godhead 2 Novelettes

May-14

Becoming Human, plotting Godhead 2 Novelettes

Jun-14

Bringing Peace, plotting Godhead 2 Novelettes

 

Becoming Alien, Becoming Human, and Bringing Peace are the three books making up my next major project, a trilogy exploring first contact, interspecies relations, and what it means to be human. With a solid idea of the basic story, I’m forecasting being able to plot each of those in one month as well.

The novelettes are three, 10,000-ish word stories (all loosely gathered under the genre of Fantasy) I already have rough plotted. Added to “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, they may make a collection together.

January through March, you’ll see the Short Fiction Cleanup. This will be an effort to get a lot more stories looking for homes and a lot more first drafts to the final draft stage so they can look for homes. I’m debating setting specific goals here rather than just trying to get something extra done every day.

Now, because I can’t stop myself, I actually have a five-year plan (to the end of 2018) forecasted out at the same level of detail, plus a couple of extra columns for publishing and podcasting. At the end of that period, keeping this pace, there are still three individual novels, a YA trilogy, and a 6-book Fantasy series I won’t have written yet. I’m sure more ideas will occur to me in between.

Yes, I have reached a new level of insanity, but the plan is very fluid, even just looking at the 2014 plan, and I’ll adjust my forecast as required by major events and progress or lack of it.

One month doesn’t make a long term trend, but I’m hopeful for at least the next couple of months to work well. For now, I should get back to work.

Be well, everyone.

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