So we’re already two months into the year. It’s going fast, isn’t it?
February was always going to be a big test for me. January was about shooting out of the gate and getting a load written. February was about polishing some things to completion and getting them submitted. As much as I would like to say I was sitting here with 200,000 words under my belt, the reality was that my wordcount dropped in February.
66,000 words compared to January’s 95,000, bringing my Year To Date total to 161,000 words.
I say that like it was a disappointment.
This WAS expected. I needed to put a lot of work into a few things that didn’t involve word count, either editing stuff or working on projects.
I’d said to a few fellow writers back at the end of January that my YTD (year to date) target for the end of February was to hit 150,000, given the amount of editing and non-wordcount writing tasks I had.
Looking back at what I wanted to achieve in February, I pretty much did everything I wanted. I think the only real miss was Project Tornado
The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that the universe is fair.
As a race, despite all our stupid prejudices, human beings believe in equality and justice. They believe that if you work hard, you should be rewarded, that nice things should happen to nice people.
The universe doesn’t agree.
It sits out in space, this huge tentacle beast the size of a couple of galaxies, and it’s indifferent. It doesn’t think “Ahh John has had a bad day, I’ll give him a break.”
The universe doesn’t care.
The universe is a bit of a dick really.
It used to be that I’d write the first third of a novel, stop and then give up. I’d have thirty or forty thousand words in the bag but I’d get to this stage and feel … like something was off. I cannot tell you how many times I rewrote the first third of The Four Realms. It became a joke amongst friends that I’d never complete it.
Looking back, I can see just how much I did wrong in writing that book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an awesome book and I love the finished product, but my approach to writing it was very wasteful with my time. Of course, I have the gift of hindsight now, and have spent the last couple of years working hard to improve my efficiency.
So last night, I got to catch up with my friend, Amanda Rutter. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other so we had a lot of catching up to do. It was also an excellent excuse for All You Can Eat Chinese. Like I need an excuse!
Amanda was the editor for the Strange Chemistry Imprint and now does freelance editing. She knows her stuff, and if you’re after a book editor, I’d really recommend her services.
One of the things we talked about was My Year of Hard Work. I told her about all the things I was doing, both things I’ve announced here and all the unannounced stuff. We talked productivity and how I’m able to do all the things I’ve done so far this year by working smarter rather than harder. And this brought us onto a subject of mutual common interest: editing.
You see, I have really good processes for writing. It’s what’s allowed me to write a ridiculous number of words so far this year without pushing myself. At the core of that is metrics. I wrote a little about metrics back in a Fantasy Faction article last year but I’m making a real point of logging all my writing so I can track not only progress but productivity as well.
February hasn’t been such a great month for word count. And by great, that’s by my current standards. But it’s OK, it’s not a race, and besides, I’ve been doing a lot of editing. I’m still on course for well over a million words written this year (note: my target is 500,000).
My problem is that I need to capture this editing time. If I’m to become more proficient at editing, I need to first understand what I’m doing currently.
Speaking to Amanda, I think we worked out some basic metrics. My plan is to take this away and start using it to get some sample data. This is actually very exciting and whilst I’m sure it will need plenty of fine tuning along the way, this is the first step in putting together a process for editing.
I’m hoping by the end of the year I’ll have a pretty good process down. Being only February, it not only gives me plenty of time to try a few things , but means I’ll have a lot of decent data to work with.
Writing is still going well, although the volume of editing I have this month has caused me to slow down a little. Illness and the day job have also meant I’ve not been able to write as much as I would like. I was getting a bit down about it until I realised that this month alone, I’ve already written nearly 35,000 words.
It’s not a race I remind myself. I’m working hard and efficient on the things I want to be writing well. That’s all that matters.
Five Fantastic Fantasy Action Figures Over At Pornokitsch
I feel like all my blog posts at the moment are just me linking to various articles I’ve done… but then I have been very busy this year!
The latest article popped up on Friday on the genre / literary site, Pornokitsch, where I picked out Five Fantastic Fantasy Action Figures as part of their Friday Five feature. Be sure to check it out as I hope I chose a lot of great action figures for the lover of fantasy
New Fantasy-Faction Article on Evernote
Continuing my look at software for writers, this month over at Fantasy-Faction I take a look at the note-taking application, Evernote. If you do a lot of research of amass a lot of notes, whether it be as a writer or elsewhere, it’s worth checking out this software.
Well, done in the sense that I probably need to rewrite large sections of it and then edit it to within an inch of its life. But I have a completed draft of The Thieving King as of the weekend.
Needless to say that this has been my bastard book. It’s pushed me harder than anything I’ve ever written and I could write essays on the trials this book gave me. But I’ll save those until nearer publication as I’m sure editing will throw up some trials of its own.
That said, I’m happy with it. In this book, we pick up where The Four Realms left off and continue Maureen, Darwin and Cassidy’s adventures. We’ve got demon gangsters, a rogue wizard, a ninja dwarf, zeppelins, trains, spaceships, a truly epic magic battle and much more. Oh, and Mr West is back!
Editing on Thieving King will start in a month or two, when I’ve had time to forget about it and look at it afresh. I’m already 5000 words into the next book, a project that I’m calling 4s and very few people know anything about. I suspect these early chapters are exploratory words and the plot needs a little more tightening up before I can really go for it, but this book is a little different to others I’ve written in many respects.
I’m hearing a lot of people trying to sum up their goals for 2015 into a single word. This extends to a lot of writers. I’m the odd one out it seems as I have two words: “hard work”.
But one word (that is one word long) I’ve been hearing over and over again from writers is “diversification”.