Hello! It’s 2019! I’m still not going to blog much, but I do want to keep up the tradition of sharing some info about a whole year’s worth of writing, so here you go. I wish I had more news to share, or at least better stats, but… well, 2018 was what it was. And writing this blog entry is a good thing, because until I dug into these numbers, I thought I’d done even less than I actually did.
Here are my posts for the last few years: 2017, 2016, 2015. I’ve written less each year, both in terms of sheer word count and in terms of time spent. There are a few reasons for that (deadlines and publishing, depression and burnout), but before anything else I will cling to this: I did write a complete draft of a novel last year. It’s short… and bad… but despite everything, I did it.
Here’s how the numbers shake out:
In 2018, I did 61 writing sessions, which totaled about 57 hours. Remarkably, that’s actually more than I did in 2017 — I honestly thought I’d done less. It’s definitely down from a few year ago, when I was doing 3-4 sessions a week… but at that point, I didn’t have any choice. I had deadlines for writing and revision that had to be met so the books could, you know, get published. The time I’ve spent writing has gone way down since then, which ultimately I think is okay. I’d like to scale back up to the 2-3 times per week range, but I also have a lot of other things going on in my life, so I’m trying to make peace with doing that if and when it’s possible, and accepting that it won’t always be.
One other thing I’m specifically trying to work on is getting back to writing after work. Again, that was a necessity when I was under deadline — I had to get things done, and that required more writing sessions, so that required writing after work. I did that a bit less in 2017… and pretty much stopped entirely in 2018. Which, again, was okay! (I really like this twitter thread on decision fatigue, which was something I’ve faced a lot more after work in the last two years, as I’ve taken on a more demanding role at work.) But I’ve realized that I’m rarely motivated enough to write on both Saturday and Sunday — or I’ll have good intentions to, but something will come up so I won’t, or a whole host of other things may happen. I’m a lot more likely to get in at least two writing sessions a week if I write at least one evening per week, too. So I guess next year, I’ll be able to tell you if that actually makes a difference.
I only wrote 58,000 words last year. That is … remarkably low for me. Honestly, probably the lowest it’s been since college, because aside from writing novels I also tend to write … hmm, other things. (Fanfic. I write fanfic.) So what I post in this round up is usually only original fiction, but I usually also have thousands of words on other projects I don’t count. And in 2018, I, uh… didn’t. I wasn’t active in any fandoms, and I was definitely dealing with depression and burnout, so while I spent a lot of time playing Nintendo and watching Youtube videos, I honestly just didn’t write much.
(For a definition of “much” where 58,000 words isn’t that.)
Of the 61 writing sessions I recorded, 34 of them were spent drafting. That works out to 26 hours and 35 minutes of drafting, and averages 47 minutes/session. Which means I was writing about 2,184 words per hour. Which is still pretty freaking consistent with what I’ve done in the past few years — always between 2,100 and 2,300. Chances are that’s about where I top out, though hey, there’s always a chance I’ll have a breakthrough and increase! (I don’t know what year it was, since it was before I was really tracking, but as I recall I used to average closer to only 1,000/hour — that doubled when I started doing pre-writing, as suggested here. That pre-writing isn’t included in my drafting time, but ten minutes of pre-writing usually gets me through about an hour.)
So what did I work on?
Well, I drafted a new project! Which, yes, came in much shorter than I expected — my projects usually clock in between 80k and 90k. So 58,000 words is quite short. But it got me from beginning to end.
In my 2017 wrap, I was banging my head against the wall. I had spent the year drafting a project that was just… unsalvageable. Or at least, I still haven’t figured out how to salvage it. So I made the hard decision to just stick it in an drawer and start fresh in 2018. New project — new world, new characters, new everything.
Like the previous year, I finished knowing that the manuscript was a big ol’ freaking mess. It needs to be totally restructured. The secondary protagonist had no particular personality, and thus the driving relationship of the story fell completely flat. It’s fantasy, and the magical elements were all over the place, doing (or not doing) whatever seemed like it would move the story forward at the time. And there were a whole bunch of ideas I had that just didn’t come through on the page at all. So, like in 2017, the manuscript ended the year as a big old giant mess.
But unlike 2017, it’s not unsalvageable. In fact, I think, it’s very salvageable, which is to say: I am rewriting it from the ground up, yes — because so much of it has to change to turn it into something good. But the ideas that were in it worked, at least enough for me to see a path to fixing it. It’s the beginning of February now, and I’ve already re-outlined it, figure out which elements I can carry forward and what needs to be rethought, scrapped, or moved around.
I can’t predict the future. I have no idea if this project will ever sell or if any of you will ever get to read it. But what I can say, right now, is that I’m actually enjoying writing it, and I’m excited to try to get it to a point where you’ll e able to read it. And that feels pretty good.