October Writing Report

Another month, another writing report. Here’s what I did in October with my writing: there’s good news and bad news.

First, the bad news: my total word count is the lowest it’s been all year. I wrote only 12,452 words in October. (My highest month had a count of almost 25,000.) That’s an average of 401 words a day—my lowest average all year, as you’d expect. I missed quite a few days of writing, too. As of the end of October, I wrote 198,343 words for the entire year.

Now, for the good news: October was when I started to work on editing my most promising novel. It’s science fiction and I wrote it earlier this year. Therefore, a lot of the days I didn’t have any recorded word count were days during which I read my manuscript and took notes, or worked on my scene map and wrote scene notes. I do all of that by hand and there’s no way I’m going to take the time to count words when I write by hand, as it’s just too tedious!

Anyway, the editing continues this month. I’ve written every day so far because I’ve been implementing the changes I decided on back in October. Also, I’ve passed the 200,000-word mark for words written in 2015! I was going to tell you that in my November writing report, but it’s such a nice big number that I couldn’t wait.

I’d also like to say good luck to everyone who’s participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I did it two years ago because I’d always wanted to do it (and I really wanted the prizes!). Nowadays, I basically write year-round (if we define “writing” as “extensively outlining, writing a draft, and editing said draft”), so I didn’t see the point in stopping with my editing to work on something totally different, especially since I’m making very good progress. Even if I’m not a participant, I’m still cheering all my NaNo writing buddies along from the sidelines.

Now, back to editing a chapter of the novel…

Advertisements

An Important Milestone

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen that I’m working on a novel. It’s a redraft of what I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2013 and I’ve been working on it since August. Prior to this book, which I have resolved to finish no matter what, I started and abandoned tons of manuscripts. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. My hard drive is littered with old novel attempts. The longest I wrote without finishing it was just over 65,000 words.

I am happy to report that my current manuscript is 68,000 words. I feel like I have broken through a psychological barrier. The end is in sight. I can feel it. Things are getting very exciting for my main character. I’m also a terrible judge of my own writing, but I think this novel is probably the best work of fiction I’ve written so far. It flows better than the 65,000-word behemoth I abandoned, that’s for sure.

I just wrote 1,215 words in forty-five minutes. That’s an excellent rate. If I had kept writing, I probably would have hit about 1,600 before the hour was up. I do have a brand-new book on my Kindle calling to me, though, so I am going to go read that. 🙂

Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some enthusiastic tweets I wrote over the past couple of weeks (or months?) about my excitement for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). After successfully participating last year, I was fully intending to participate again this year.

The first snag I hit was which novel I should write. I’m currently in the middle of an edit and partial rewrite of a different work, but NaNoWriMo rules say you’ve got to start something from scratch. Originally I planned for a science fiction story, but then I decided to work on an idea I’ve had for a while and tried to write before. Of course, I planned to write this idea from scratch and not use the bits I already worked on.

As you’ve probably guessed based on the title of this post, things didn’t go according to plan. I wrote 3,000 words on November 1—that’s a lot, but those words were also utter rubbish. If I saw those 3,000 words in a rough draft, I know I would have ended up scrapping every single one of them. The problem, I realized, was NaNoWriMo made me feel pressured to write quickly, which hindered my ability to produce decent work.

So I decided not to do it. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I can’t say that I’ll never do it again, because who knows, but I am definitely not doing it this year. Instead, I’m going to focus on the Writing Challenge, which I blogged about here. People log their writing challenge progress on Twitter using a hashtag (this month it’s #NovWritingChallenge) and the goal is to do 500 words every day. Just 500 words. Even with work, I usually can handle that. It was more low pressure and lots more fun. Plus, it builds a regular writing habit, which is something I like. Writing 500 words almost every day of the year is a lot more impressive than average 1,667 every day in November, but not writing at all during other months. (1,667 is the amount you must average to write 50,000 words in a month, the minimum needed to win NaNoWriMo.)

If you like NaNoWriMo, that’s fine. But right now, I’ve discovered it’s not for me and I am just going to keep plugging away at this rewrite. It’s going surprisingly well, I admit. So hooray for that.

Impatience

I’ve been worrying a lot recently, mainly about stupid stuff. Some of the things that have been invading my brain are: What if I never make it in my career? What if I end up not even liking my career? What if I never finish a decent novel? What if I never make it as a writer and no one ever gets to read my ideas? What if I get so busy in the next few years that I never got to practice violin and I completely forget how to play, even after having taken lessons for over ten years?

The latter is a legitimate problem (though I practiced for half an hour yesterday—not as much as is ideal, but I figure it’s better than nothing!), but the other worries on my list may be silly. You see, while bored at work last week, I read some posts on LinkedIn (because that’s what we ultra-cool bankers do in our spare time) and I found this one, by James Altucher, called Can You Do One Page A Day?. I think the link will work if you aren’t logged in to LinkedIn, but I’ll post excerpts anyway because it really resonated with me.

When I started a novel when I was younger, I wanted to finish it the next day. When I start a business, I want to sell it a day later. Count the riches.

When I started graduate school, I was already planning how I was going to be the fastest PhD in history.

Around the time that I had initially planned on receiving that Phd , I ended up getting thrown out. “Lack of maturity,” the letter said.

He goes on to talk about the guy who invented Pringles (I never thought of someone actually sitting down and inventing those, but it makes sense that something like that happened). After he got rich from his invention, he didn’t just sit around doing nothing.

He writes a page a day. A page is about 300 words. A paragraph or two. Can you do that? 25,000 pages. About 80 books worth of pages.

Gene [the Pringles inventor] ended up writing 50 published novels, including many bestsellers and award-winners.

He didn’t get stereotyped and stuffed into that Pringles can. As dead as the chips he created.

He did what he loved to do. That’s what keeps you alive every day. That’s The Push.

Anyway, that’s the gist of the post. It makes me feel slightly better. I’m an impatient person overall and when I’m writing, I want the novel I’m working on to be done yesterday. I usually write between 500 and 1,000 words a day, which means the progress can feel slow sometimes. I know I’ll eventually finish if I keep at it, but sometimes, it’s just so hard to keep going.

Now please excuse me while I go plan the book I’ll be working on for NaNoWriMo in November.

Writing Updates, July-August

Obligatory writing instrument.
Obligatory writing instrument.

It’s that time, everyone: time to provide my loyal readers with updates about my writing. Here is what’s been going on:

  • I finished a novella a couple nights ago! I’ve been working on it for a while, so I was happy about that. Unfortunately, it’s in its first draft, so it is very, very bad right now. I can’t edit right after finishing something, so it is currently… curing, like a nice ham.
  • I had a brilliant idea for a novel I have been trying to write for years. This one will be called A Time To Run and is one of my favorites. I’ve had trouble bringing it together, though, so having a radical new idea may prove to be a good thing.
  • I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo last year (remember?). It was such a fun experience that I am definitely going to do it again this year, even if I am busy at the job. Unfortunately, I never revised last year’s NaNoWriMo. I really need to do that. It may be a rough draft, but I think this book could have potential.
  • Finally, I want to write a novel based in the same sci-fi world as a short story I wrote. I love this world and the characters, so I plan to explore it more. This may be my NaNoWriMo project this year (though I am so excited about it that I don’t know if I can wait until November before working on it).

As much as it pains me to admit this, I think it’s high time I started doing some hardcore revision. The problem? I have no idea how to revise. Really. I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, but somehow I missed out on learning how to revise. I suppose I’ll be learning that now.

What I Learned From Participating in NaNoWriMo

Note: This is an old article I wrote on Medium before I deleted my Medium account in my New Year’s online writing purge. This year, I am planning to tighten my focus on my writing and concentrate on this blog; hence, I’ve deleted other online accounts. I only had written one thing for Medium and I am posting it here.

This November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNoWriMo) for the first time. It was a big step for me because, although I’ve been writing both fiction and non-fiction my entire life, I’ve never actually finished a full-length work before. The problem started with the first book I tried to write, a truly odd work involving vampire cats (my parents were my first readers and they dutifully told me every chapter was wonderful). I never finished it and all these years later, my laptop’s hard drive is littered with partially written novels. I haven’t counted, but off the top of my head I can think of at least six partially written works languishing on my computer.
Continue reading “What I Learned From Participating in NaNoWriMo”

NaNoWriMo: DONE

I did it, people. I finished my NaNoWriMo manuscript. And then I wrote my first piece for Medium about the experience. Mainly, I am just overwhelmed about being finished. I think my novel was very, very bad towards the end. In fact, the whole thing may be bad. I introduced characters, then forgot to write about them.

And then there’s the problem of genre. I meant for my novel to be firmly in the young adult genre, except I think it turned out too violent for that. Oh well, that’s what editing is for, right? Mainly, I am so proud I finished. I have been writing for a long time, but I’ve never finished a proper novel before.

To everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo: congratulations!