Keeping Score: April 13, 2018

Blew through my writing goal this week: 2,431 words written.

Not all of them were for the new novel, though. I’ve been working my way through Ursula K LeGuin’s Steering the Craft, which has a set of writing exercises for each chapter. Yesterday’s exercise was supposed to be a 200-word snippet to play with different points of view. I was having so much fun writing it, though, that it’s become an 800-word (very) short story. I’m going to polish it up, and try to sell it. So I decided to count it in this week’s word count.

Novel itself has crept up to 16,000 words. I took some time earlier in the week to do some more outlining, which has helped, and also read Jim Butcher’s great piece on Writing the Middle, which was fantastic. It made me realize I was working toward his “Big Middle” technique, so I’ve decided to embrace it, and write with that in mind.

I also have to give thanks to the writers at the San Diego Writers Coffeehouse. Seeing everyone on Sunday recharged my batteries, and made me feel that I could finish what I’ve started. I’m not alone, and that’s a very, very, very good thing.

Writers Coffeehouse, April 2018

Another great coffeehouse! Jonathan Maberry was back for hosting duties, and kicked off two lively discussions on some recent controversies in the publishing world.

Thanks again to Mysterious Galaxy for giving us the space to meet, and to Jonathan, Henry, and the other organizers!

My Notes:

henry: finds trello is a great visual way to outline a novel, can use columns for chapters, drill in for details, etc

jonathan: no one can know everything, we all need to share so together we can find solutions to our problems

free files with sample query letters, etc are up on jonathan’s website! ready for download

discussion: diversity pushes for anthologies – what’s the right approach?

discussion: can you separate the writer from the writing? ex: lovecraft

sd writers and editors guild: henry giving talk there later this month maberry’s favorite website to find markets for short stories; anthologies, etc

what’s reasonable for a developmental editor to charge?

āƒ depends on hourly or per word

āƒ seen $500 to $5,000

āƒ inexpensive but professional: $0.004 per word, developmental edit

āƒ $2,000 for 90,000-word novel: about the average for developmental and line by line

developmental vs line editor: development is high-level, looking at plot and characters, shape of the story; line editor is going line by line before final print

jim butcher has a great piece online about writing the middle

jonathan: we dismiss nonfiction writing, especially in the magazine market, but we shouldn’t; there’s always knowledge we have that other people don’t posses; even basics can be good articles, because most magazines on a topic are read by nonexperts; what sells currently in magazine context is a conversational style; pro rates: $2-$7 a word; magazines starting to be hungry again

breaking in? don’t have to be a writer to sell it, have to know the subject matter; one of his students sold an article on falling (ex: how to fall from a skateboard) to multiple markets, used it to help him work through college

write first? or pitch? jonathan: never write before you sell

everyone here has something they’re an expert in, that they probably don’t value because it’s old hat to them; “i’m just a secretary” phenomenon

basics are great: how to find a good divorce lawyer (or a web developer, sysadmin, etc)

jonathan: write an outline, pitch to multiple magazines at once (120), if make multiple sales, write different versions of the article for each magazine; get back issues, read online content to learn voice and approach; don’t have to do it that way, but even if going one at a time, be ready with their next market if get rejected

pay on publication? NOPE, always go for pay on acceptance

Keeping Score: April 6, 2018

Scraped by my word goal this week: 1,554 words, most of which were written in just two days (yesterday and today).

Had a hard time getting myself to write each day, and didn’t make it most days. I think it’s because I’m closing out the early chapters of the book, where I had things mapped out pretty well in advance. From here, I can see the ending I want to get to — the various plotlines I want to wrap up, the character arcs I need to complete — but I’m not sure how to get there. Large chunks of my current outline are just scene titles with TBD for description.

I need to spend some time outlining, getting the next steps mapped out. But I also need to keep pushing out my word count every day. I’m not sure how to reconcile that, other than to maybe take one day next week and just spend my writing time outlining, then catch up on the other days of the week.

We’ll see.

Keeping Score: March 30, 2018

Whew. Managed to scrape by my goal this week: 1,511 words.

Definitely not raising my weekly word count for a while.

It’s still helpful, though. Even when I’m taking time off from the day job, I make sure to sit down and get my daily word count out. Don’t want to be playing catch-up on the weekends šŸ™‚

Might shift my reward a bit this week. Instead of getting an album, I’m thinking of picking up a game. Discovered they ported Heroes of Might and Magic III (one of my favorite games from college, and now I’m dating myself) to iOS, and I’d like to check it out.

Till next week: good luck with your own writing! May we see each other on the shelves someday šŸ™‚

Keeping Score: March 23, 2018

I did it! Wrote 1,586 words this week, just enough to make my new goal šŸ™‚

Novel’s passed 10,000 words, and is still chugging along. So far, so good.

And this kind of pace feels good, too. Not too intense, but not so slow that I don’t feel like I’m making progress. And each week, I get a reward, a visible reminder of how much work I’ve done.

Many thanks once again to Scott Sigler, for hosting that Writers’ Coffeehouse weeks ago, and sharing his scoring system with us. It’s really helped me, and I’m grateful.

And now, to pick out some new music! Last week I grabbed Monster Magnet’s Powertrip, an old trippy-rock-meets-cthulhu album that I missed owning. This week I’m considering picking up something from The Stooges, another classic band I haven’t heard a full record from.

Keeping Score: March 16, 2018

Another week, another push. 1,265 words written this week, again just over goal.

I think it’s time to boost my numbers. Next week, I’ll shoot for one extra page, making it 1,500 words for the week. That’s still only 300 words a day, Mon-Fri. Should be doable.

Gotta earn my weekly music šŸ™‚

And if it’s not doable, well, then I’ve got my penalty waiting for me. Not that I ever want to experience it.

IĀ did end up picking the Black Panther soundtrack last week. I think it’s a little uneven, but still solid (unlike the movie, which I thought was great).

This week…who knows? Maybe time to pick up something I missed from last year.

Keeping Score: March 5, 2018

Still on the road. Got back from the cruise last Sunday, unpacked, did laundry, then re-packed everything to fly to San Francisco on Monday.


I was in SF for a work conference till Friday, when they packed us all in buses and shipped us up to Lake Tahoe.

Sounds glamorous, but it wasn’t. We got caught in a snowstorm, and they shut down the main road into Tahoe. Our bus was lucky: it only took us 7.5 hours. Others took 12.

So I went from Baja sunshine to SF gloom and rain to Tahoe’s freezing heights. Oh, and I got food poisoning the next day.

But I got my writing done, dammit: 1,265 words written, the last few hundred pounded out between trips to the bathroom to throw up.

I’ve effing earned this week’s music, dammit.

Keeping Score: Feb 22, 2018

I’m on a boat!

I don’t have internet access while at sea, so I’m posting this on Thursday, while we’re in port at La Paz, Mexico.

I’ve still managed to hit my weekly writing goal, though, thanks to my (rapidly becoming trusty) iPad šŸ™‚

Total words: 1,276

No idea what album I’m going to buy as my reward. Last week I ended up grabbing another blast from the past, Orchestral Movement in the Dark’s Dazzle Ships.

I hear the Black Panther soundtrack’s really good…I might pick up that (once we get home).

Keeping Score

After attending Sunday’s Writers Coffeehouse, I decided to adopt Scott Sigler’s suggestion of a scoring system. Thought it’d be a good way to push me to get back in the writing habit, after the fiasco that was the last few months.

I decided on the following:

  • A goal of 1,250 words a week. That’s five pages total, or one page a day if I write every weekday.
  • Words on the new novel count full. Words for professional or marketing writing (query letters, etc) count half. So a page of query letter writing equals half a page toward my goal.
  • I can’t check the news, or do chores, or pay bills, or anything I usually do in the morning, until after my word count for the day is met.
  • If I hit my weekly word count total, I get a reward: buying a new music album. I love getting new music, and albums are cheap enough now that I can buy one once a week and not break the bank.
  • If I don’t hit my weekly goal, I get a punishment: no beer or wine for a week. I’m a big craft beer guy, so this hurts: no more pairing a nice IPA with some fish tacos, or a tiramisu with a coffee stout.

One week in, I’m pretty happy with the system. The ban on morning news means I stay focused on my writing when I get up, and can plan out the day’s work.

As a result, I’m writing about 300 – 400 words a day, not 250, so I hit 1,554 words yesterday. If I sustain that pace, I’ll need to up my weekly goal.

So hooray for me! I’ll be getting some new music this week šŸ™‚