Keeping Score: August 20, 2018

Blew past the word count goal this week: 2,133 words written!

I realized yesterday that I’m almost at 40,000 words. Since I expect this novel to be brief (about 50K or so), at my current pace I’ll be done in about five weeks.

Five weeks!

Who knows if I’ll actually be finished at 50K, but it’s exciting to think about putting this first draft to rest. Feels like I’ve been working on this novel forever. It’s only been nine months, though, and it’ll be close to a year before I’m done.

Ok, not done exactly, but at least done with the first draft of it.

I’d like to get into a pace where I can finish (as in, draft, revise, stick a fork in it, ship it finished) a novel a year. I’m not quite there yet; if I finish this one by October, I’d only have a month to do all the edits it needs, which likely won’t be enough time.

It’d be better if I could revise one book while writing another. I haven’t been able to master that trick yet; the one book takes up so much head space for me that it’s all I can do to occasionally spit out a short story or two while I’m in the middle of the draft.

Maybe I could find a way to edit on weekends, and work on the new draft during the week? Or vice-versa?

Not sure what’s best. I just know once this draft is done I’ll have four novels that are finished drafts, but not finished pieces. And that’s starting to bug me. I need to be sending these out, trying to land an agent. But that’s hard to do when they’re not in any shape I want a professional to see them in.

Do you revise one book while writing another? How do you do it?

Keeping Score: August 13, 2018

Hit the new goal again this week: 2,016 words written.

Wrote almost 900 of those in a single day: Saturday. Not great to be writing on a weekend, I suppose, but better than having to write both days.

I’ve noticed I seem to need two days off writing, no matter what. Whether that’s Saturday and Sunday, or Monday and Tuesday, there’s always a gap somewhere in the week where I have to accept I won’t get any writing done.

I’m also apparently fairly sensitive to work stress when writing. If the week starts out hard, I’m likely as not going to be playing catch up on my writing over the weekend. Stress at work seems to soak up all the free space in my head, making me feel like I can’t think about anything else.

Not sure if that’s an unhealthy reaction or not. From one perspective: shouldn’t my writing be an escape from what’s going on around me? From another: how can I possibly devote energy and time to being creative when I’m worried about my livelihood?

Keeping Score: August 6, 2018

So: I didn’t make it to this month’s Writers Coffeehouse. Missed seeing everyone, and checking in on how their own writing is going.

But I did hit my new writing goal: 2,033 words this week!

Granted, I wrote most of them on the weekend, writing ~600 words each on Saturday and Sunday. But I tell myself that what matters is that the draft gets written, not when it happens. Progress is progress.

For the novel itself, I seem to have turned a corner in the writing. I’m framing each scene now as a contest between two more characters, and letting the thing spill out from them battling it out (not always with fists).

I don’t know if the writing is better necessarily (this is a first draft, after all), but it’s easier, which means I can relax a bit and have more fun with it.

I also keep getting ideas on how to improve the first novel I wrote, years ago. Once this draft is done, I might have to go back and re-work that older book, just to scratch that itch.

Keeping Score: July 30, 2018

Managed to write 1,784 words last week. I thought I’d get more done, with my wife out of town, and all those empty nights ahead of me, waiting to be filled with words.

But it turned out that with the construction still going on in our house, at the end of the work day I felt like nothing more than curling up on the couch with the pups and binging the last season of Portlandia.

Thankfully my wife’s coming home Tuesday (yay!) and with her here I should be able to get back to a regular writing schedule.

I also noticed I’ve hit my word goal for 6 weeks running now. Time to up the count again.

So I’ve upped it another page, to 2,000 words per week. That means I need to write 400 words a day during the week to hit the goal. Either that, or play catch-up every weekend, which…no thanks. I’d rather have my weekends free 🙂

We’ll see how it goes. I’ve still got that penalty hanging over me if I don’t make it, to push me along when I slow down. I haven’t had to face it yet; I hope I never do.

Keeping Score: July 6, 2018

1,761 words written this week.

Whew.

Really glad I went to the Writers Coffeehouse last Sunday. Between the holiday, my wife and I closing on our new house (!), and the struggles I was having with the current novel, I might not have gotten anything done this week. But the group gave me a great solution to my problem (to keep writing as if I’d made the changes to earlier scenes that I’m planning, but without stopping to make those changes right now), and inspired me to keep pushing through.

I feel a little freer to experiment with this draft, now. Like I can try something out to make things more interesting or dramatic, without worrying that it matches up exactly to what came before. I know it’ll create a mess of a draft for me to clean up in later edits, but at least I’ll finish it. Easier to see the shape of the story once I’ve written it.

Keeping Score: June 8, 2018

Hit my word count again this week. This makes 12 weeks in a row. 12 weeks where I’ve written 1,500 words, whether I was at home, or on vacation, or sick, or hungover, or working overtime.

It’s time to up the ante.

I’m going up a page, and setting next week’s goal at 1,750 words.

It looks like a small raise, but it feels like a stretch. There’s been several weeks where I cleared 1,500 words by just a single word or two. Weeks where I had to write Saturday and Sunday to make my count.

But I’d like to do more. I’d like to start sending short stories out again. That means taking time to edit them, and upping my word count is one way to force me to do that.

I’ve also got three novels in draft form that I need to revise. If I’m going to clear that backlog, I’m going to have to knuckle down and start plowing through it.

So wish me luck! Or better yet, wish me energy and willpower. I’m going to need all three 🙂

Keeping Score: May 21, 2018

Haven’t posted in a bit. We’ve been ramping up the search for a house this month, and between looking and inspecting and filling out paperwork, I haven’t had much room in my head for anything else.

I have kept up my writing, though. Having that deadline hanging over my head, and the punishment that would come with missing it, has pushed me to get things done. I’ve just made my word count every week, even if that meant writing half of them on Saturday in a mad rush to keep from missing the target.

Most of those words have been for the novel, though I’ve not dropped the short story. After getting some harsh (but accurate) feedback from a beta reader, I realized it needed a full rewrite. That’s almost complete, and I think the new version is much stronger. There may even be a novel lurking in there, in the background of that world.

Thankfully, that novel’s not too distracting…yet. What has been distracting is how my ideas for how best to write the novel keep changing, right in the middle of this first draft. I’m now curious to try my hand at writing more from a third-person omniscient point of view, which would be a complete change from the novel’s current POV. I’m also re-thinking character histories and motivations, which would be an abrupt change this far through.

I’m telling myself to write these ideas down, and come back to them later. Get the first draft done, get the story out there, and then use these ideas during the editing process, if they’re needed. Otherwise, I worry that if I keep changing course, I’ll never finish the book.

Keeping Score: April 20, 2018

Another blow out week! Wrote 2,519 words (whew!).

Most of them were for the new novel, but, like last week, one of the writing exercises I did turned into a short story I’m going to polish and try to sell. I also did a second draft of the short story from last week, which even though it only counted for half, still added ~400 words to my total.

I didn’t think I could work on multiple pieces at once, but so far it’s not been an issue. If anything, I find I come to the novel work with a more playful attitude, a willingness to experiment, that I didn’t have before. I don’t know if that’s translating into better writing, but I’m enjoying it more, so that’s something 🙂

If I can sustain this pace, and I hope I can, I’ll need to up my weekly goal again. I don’t think I’ll leap all the way up to 2,000 words, though. Going up to 1,750 should be fine.

But let’s see if I can keep up this pace for another week, first.

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.