Tuesday, 5 November 2013

November 5th – 1,000,009 - DONE!



Sorry, I couldn’t resist it. The mental fireworks going off at this moment, a few seconds after 12:06 pm are incredible – the adrenalin rush just unbeatable. I hit 5,038 words just this moment, taking me just past the million word mark. I haven’t finished for the day but I’ve hit the mark, but I’m going to finish the scene.

For the record, the phrase that took me over the line was “the sound would be covered by the music” and the millionth word was “music”. Given I’m tone deaf that’s somehow appropriate. My apologies to my Australian friend who wanted the word to be something momentous, and for some strange reason linking Susan Boyle to Fosters, but music drowning the sound of a silenced gun going off will have to do.

When I started this process, it was about trying to do it, I gave my chances of hitting it at about 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 – in other words I didn’t back myself to make it. It was about the attempt, I refuse to use the word journey. I certainly didn’t expect to take 24 days off in the year, and still finish it with 56 days to go! If you’d told me that I’d have laughed – there was no way – but here I am.

Over the next few days I’ll probably be boring you all to death with the statistics, and if I can remember how to do it properly, with some graphs as well, but in summary the numbers break down as follows:

1,000,009 words written

In 309 days at an average of just over 3,209 words a day.

Since I didn’t write for 24 of those days because of family holidays and commitments I actually wrote that many words in 285 days at an average of 3,508 words a day.

In that time I’ve:

Completed 15 first drafts of novels or novellas varying in length from 35k to 85k.

Written the first few chapters of 5 other books, including the current W.I.P.

Written the opening scene of 4 more books.

Produced detailed synopses of a further 4 ideas.

Written one technical user guide and 10 newsletters.

My writing speed has changed dramatically – I was averaging less than 3,000 words through the early part of the year but for the last 6 weeks averaging over 4,600 words, indeed well over 5,000 words for the last week. Yet I haven’t been spending that much longer writing. I’m going to be exploring these themes over the next few weeks – so rather than a log of my progress you may find this blog may be getting more interesting.

What’s next?

That’s simple – there are two priorities for me.

Firstly I’m not going cold turkey and stopping – not a good idea. I’m going to slow down a little and do NANO as a stretch down exercise - 2,000 words a day form tomorrow to the end of the month is a nice ease down.

Secondly the year of writing 1,000,000 words is now officially over, if prematurely – the year of editing said mountain of words is about to begin – although I have done a first pass on three of the manuscripts, but that’s counterbalanced by massive plots holes in two others. Two of the others twisted so far away from my original concept that I’m not sure I can salvage them, but I will be trying to do so.

And I guess there’s a third one too – finish not just the current work in progress, but the other started books too – above all – keep writing, although I won’t be keeping such a close track of my word count for the foreseeable future - so no more boring numbers - except for NANO tracking of course.





Monday, 4 November 2013

November 4th – 994,971

Well I thought yesterday was a hot day in writing terms, but I surpassed it today – it has to be the adrenalin of being this close to the finish. 6,464 words today has put me over the 990k mark and I can almost smell the finishing line. Or maybe that’s just the sweat of effort of the last few days.

Another stint like those of the last few days and I’m there, just over 5k words to go. Looks like tomorrow will be the big day. Start getting the bunting out.

I’d keep writing but I have to get ready for the course tonight, so that takes precedence over trying for an even more stupendous word count.

Never mind, tomorrow looks like it’s going to be V for Victory day, or more appropriately E for Edits day – otherwise known as the day to tackle an absolute mountain of edits. I wonder how long editing a pile of 1,000,000 words is going to take… No. No. No, don’t get me started. I am not setting a new challenge – get thee behind me oh master of darkness…. No… Arrgghhh!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

November 3rd – 988,507

I’m trying to work out the motivation behind the fact I’ve hit 6,185 words today – my biggest single word count of the entire challenge so far. Two more days at this level will see me over the line.

The best answer I can come up with is that I’m naturally speeding up as I go along, and the adrenalin rush from getting closer and closer to the target is pulling me along, although it would be wrong to say I was kicking and screaming as it dragged me toward the finishing line.

I’m not spending very more time writing than I was six months ago, maybe half an hour longer, no more than that, but my output has almost doubled. I set out on this challenge to prove, to myself more than anyone else, that the old adage “write every day” either had some basis or not. For me, the empirical evidence is overwhelming. I’m writing more, I’m writing faster and I’m writing better. A quick scan of my most recent completed manuscript compared to the first one that formed part of this challenge is illuminating – one million, or thereabouts, words later, and there is no doubt my writing is better, less error strewn, and cleaner.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, it’s not, by a long way and everything is going to go through the wringer in a two pass edit phase before I even think about letting anyone else see them, but it’s better. At least two of the manuscripts will probably not survive the process, but when I go back to them, we’ll deal with that particular fence when we get to it. The horse may jump, or may yet learn to sing.

What’s not to like as the final finish line approaches – I’m more productive, and what I’m producing is of a better quality – I’m never going to win prizes for my writing, that was never my aim, and I don’t want to appear smug – but I’m feeling good right now.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

November 2nd – 982,324

Since I'd finished the previous story, I picked up another manuscript today, one I’d made a 5k start on about a month ago and then put aside to finish something else. I kind of expected it to take a while to get going but I closed the file down and did the calculation to find I’d more than doubled the manuscript’s length – 5,675 words in just about two and a half hours.

That’s taken me past 580k and I’ve hit nearly 16.5k words in the last three days and I’m speeding up not slowing down. This word rate is going to put me over the finishing line some time on Wednesday, if not Tuesday, which is awesome from my point of view.

I’ve already picked out my NANO project and I’m going to literally use that as a stretch down project, and consciously control my writing to keep it below the rate I’ve been hitting. The one thing I’m not going to do is go cold turkey on writing. I’ll ease down to 3k, and then around 2k a day to complete the NANO project, spend early December finishing off this manuscript (which will probably have about 10-15k to go at that point, maybe a little more), and then start parcelling everything up and setting up a self-editing schedule.

Anyway, that’s the plan, and including the NANO project I’ll have 17 completed first drafts to attack for editing purposes. Two of them have major plot holes, and two have stories that bent so far away from the original idea as I wrote them that I’m not sure they’ll be salvageable. The others will be okay – provided I spend 2014 editing and not get tempted into trying to better this year’s score. Which might happen – after all I’ve got another 14 started manuscripts from this year, and about a dozen from before then that are worth pursuing – that’s not counting any new ideas or continuations that come out during the whole process. I’m not known as the sequel king for nothing. LOL

Friday, 1 November 2013

November 1st – 976,649

Yesterday was quite an unusual day. The builders turned up just before eight in the morning, vowing to get everything done and finished before they left. As four thirty rolled around and it started to get dark I expected them to quit and return today, but instead they kept going, and going, and going. Eventually they were reattaching the guttering to the front bay window and porch using their van headlights for illumination. They left at ten past seven, having to admit defeat – the garage door needed another coat of paint and wasn’t dry enough for it to be done.

They’ve come back and done another coat this morning, but they decided it’s not perfect, so will be returning later today for what they hope will be the final coat. I have to say they have been good, not clock wise perhaps, but the quality of the work has been outstanding.

So with the working on the lower level facia boards, soffits and guttering, re-glazing some windows and working on the garage door it wasn’t exactly quiet in the house leaving me with a lot of work to do today, although at least I’d got the writing done.

Today I was determined to finish the story I’d been working on, get it to its natural conclusion and add it to the finished draft pile so that tomorrow I can pick up another started piece and whip that into shape too. 5,534 words later I typed “The End” and finished my writing stint for the day. Now I have a load of e-book formatting and finished formats to produce, four book covers to revise and a web site to update.

I wasn’t planning on going out tonight anyway – it’s a good job I’ve got some beer in the fridge.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

October 31st – 971,115

5,267 words today, and I’ve got my heroine through her black moment, and I’m about ready to write the final scene of the book, which will produce the happy ever after conclusion. This one has turned out to be a much shorter book, a novella rather than a novel, but it still works as a complete story, and stretching it wouldn’t work.

It’s taken me past the 970k mark and I guess I’m about a week away from finishing this challenge. My intention is then to work on a NANO project as a kind of stretch down – with a lower daily word count requirement, that’s a good way to start to relax and take the pressure off myself. I need to make more time for other things, and especially for edits. This book will make 15 written this year, and the NANO project will make 16 – that’s one hell of a backlog of editing work – and I need to get that done and dusted. I think I’ve said it before 2013 will be a writing year, 2014 will be an editing year.

I also need to pick up my IT studies again, and start working seriously on some app building –there’s a number of projects stalled there too.

 I’m not saying I’m going to stop writing, even for a while, that is something I no longer think is possible for me to do, but I am saying, I need to get this done. Give other things a little more priority, and a lot more time than I have been doing.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

October 30th – 965,848 words

My internal body clock was way off again today, so I was up at stupid o’clock once more. In order not to wake Marion, that means I slip into my home office, and write, at least it’s something that doesn’t make noise. I guess I could watch a film wearing headphones, but at that time of the morning, I don’t think I could find anything I’d be that interested in watching.

An almost automatic consequence of starting so early is of course I’ve hit my daily word count before lunchtime – managing 4,350 words in total.

Somebody commented (anonymously) on my post yesterday, when I was talking about not understanding why I’m suddenly writing around 4.5k words a day when two months ago I was closer to 3k. They likened it to training for a marathon – you start by running a mile, then a mile and a half, then two miles, and eventually you’re able to run the full marathon distance. For me, though this has been something different. I agree, I’ve trained myself to write every day and concentrate on completing a reasonable number of words every day – but, there’s been a step change in what I’m producing – the word count jumped from a respectable 3k a day, to a rather outrageous 4.5k average. (Okay, I’m slightly under that today, but two days ago I was over 5k for the day). I don’t know why, 6 weeks ago, this happened, and I wish I knew.

I had just come back from a holiday, but my holiday earlier in the year had not had that effect at all, so I don’t think there’s a causal connection there, so I’m at a loss as to the why of it.