Eastercon is usually a time for me to get enthused for the months ahead. It’s the start of the convention season and usually a time when I’m working toward completing things. Two years ago, when I was last here, I was promoting The Four Realms with a massive hole in my leg. Last year, I missed Eastercon to go on my big storm chasing adventure, telling everyone that I was in Scotland with the day job.
This year, I came prepared.
A quarter of the way through the year and things are going pretty well. My aim was to get half a million words written this year and I’m already about half-way there.
My YTD target for March was 225,000 with an outlier goal of quarter of a million. Sadly I missed the quarter of a million word goal but I did exceed the other one. YTD total as of 1st April 2015 stands at a mighty 243,000. So close, and yet so far!
It’s actually hard to be disappointed with March’s results as it was an incredibly trying time for me. My father got rushed into hospital seriously ill, and even if I couldn’t always get up to the hospital to be with him, organising other things occupied my time and thinking about him occupied my mind. But a good foundation of organisation meant that something as major as this didn’t derail me. Yeah, take that universe!
There was a time when I’d spend weeks coming up with great April Fool’s articles but unfortunately I’ve been so busy this year I’ve not had time to do any. Instead, I’ve got a serious article I did for GPSTracklog on the benefits of Premium Membership of Geocaching.com. If you’ve wondered what benefits you get from Premium membership and whether you should buy it, be sure to check out this article.
Sir Terry Pratchett Obituary
This has been an incredibly difficult week. First my father gets rushed into hospital terribly ill and then one of my favourite authors dies. It’s fair to say there’s been quite a bit of emotion this week.
However, I’ve been determined not to let it derail my writing (even if I’ve slowed down a bit) and thought it only right that I contribute to Fantasy-Faction’s Sir Terry Pratchett obituary. You can read my words, along with those of other Fantasy-Faction staffers over at http://fantasy-faction.com/2015/sir-terry-pratchett-1948-2015
We don’t like to think of writing in terms of a business. It’s art, and art and business don’t mix! But the thing I’m continually learning is that in order to be a ‘professional’ writer (and by that I mean someone who makes money from it) you have to walk that tightrope.
I’ve had a few people comment that with everything I’m doing right now, I don’t seem to be too focused on the business side of things. I seem to be jumping from one project to another, as if I’m chopping and changing rather than focussing on one thing. And when I tell them some of the things I’m working on in the background, it just further cements that view.
New Fantasy Faction Article on Sonar 3
So my latest article for Fantasy Faction has gone line, continuing a look at software for authors. This month I look at the submission tracking software: Sonar 3. be sure to check it out!
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.