Becky Allen Books

YA fantasy writer. Not a morning person.

Getting Back on Track… Slowly: 2022 in Numbers

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Hi. So. I didn’t do my word count blog entry for 2021, because it was a long crappy year and I didn’t feel like it in January and then I forgot. If you’re curious, I spent all of 2021 on a slow, painful, major revision to the project that I’ve been working on for a few years now. I finished that up and the goal was to start 2022 with a bit of polish and get this sucker done.

That… Um. Erk. Wellp. Let’s get into it…

What I worked on in 2022

In 2022, I started strong. My goal was to finish that final revision by the end of May. It’s 25 chapters, so I was doing five a month. That was great, until I hit the middle of the book, and realized that all the little niggling questions and concerns I’d had about the second half – it was short, some plot beats didn’t seem to fit so I kept moving them around, the emotional impact was dulled, there just wasn’t enough there there, and so on – I basically couldn’t ignore it all anymore, but didn’t know what to do with it. It felt like I was shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, at least a bit. I could continue to shuffle, I could cut and run, or I could brace myself for a major revision/rewrite of the second half. Only one of those options was really gonna happen, though, so I dug in.

The second half didn’t end up needing a 100% rewrite but it was pretty close. Most of it went entirely, and the scenes that stayed had to be recast into new contexts. It was a ton of work, and it took me through August to complete, but it felt great to have finally, FINALLY finished that revision.

Which left the question of: what next? The polish revision is still needed – more on that in a bit – but I wanted to let it sit, and needed to work on something new. I spent September mostly resting, occasionally staring at lists of ideas until one started to resonate, then spent October planning, and November… wellp, I did NaNoWriMo. And I won! I wrote 50,000 words of a new project. It’s incoherent and barely a skeleton of a story, but it’s a good basis for something cool in a future version. (See this newsletter entry for more of my thinking about why I wanted to try Nano after a decade off, and this one for how it turned out. You really should subscribe.)

A collage on a wooden floor: A thick packet of papers (a printed manuscript), pens, a keyboard, and an open notebook

Which brings me to December, the year finally almost done. I was super pumped coming out of Nano, my creative brain was blazing, so I printed out the whole revision I’d finished in August and gave it a reread. And… I am almost afraid to say this, afraid of what mischief it might invite, but… I am really happy with it. The second half overhaul worked well, it’s a much better story now, and while there’s work to do – and my December was all planning that work – I’m excited for it, and that’s a great feeling too.

And yes, that means I’m once again going into a January with the goal of applying a final polish and then trying to get this project out into the world. Yes, it feels a little nuts to me, too. But projects take as long as they take, I’ve been working on this one through a frigging pandemic, and while I wish it had all gone a lot faster, I also won’t sell my manuscript short. I’m going to continue to put in the work I need to make it as good as I possibly can. Then even if this behemoth I’ve spent the last five (FIVE?!?!) years of my life on never sees the light of day, at least I can be proud that I did all I could.

Okay? OKAY.

Now for the breakdown.

In 2022, I did 114 writing sessions, the most I’ve done in a year since 2019! (Which really does speak to the way the pandemic ruined my creative brain for awhile.) They contained:

  • 72 sessions of revision/rewriting
  • 15 sessions of rereading and outlining
  • 23 sessions of pure drafting
  • 4 sessions of miscellaneous other stuff (thinking, staring at the screen, etc)

My average session length was 1 hour and 14 minutes, although my median length was 30 minutes. Which makes sense – I work in 30 minute sprints, and lots of times I would only do one sprint.

Figuring out my total word count for the year is a bit tricky, because so many of those words went into revisions where it’s hard to fully account for what’s new, and my notes on how much I wrote in those sessions weren’t very clear. From my rough math, though, I think my total is around 113,000 for the year. I was initially surprised by how high that total was, but it really speaks to just how much rewriting went into that second half revision.

Here’s the easy part: I completed NaNoWriMo, so that’s 50k right there. The rest is all new words that went into my revision, so let’s dig into that. In January, my draft had a word count of 108,708. When I finished the revision in August, it was 119,413 words. That accounts for 11,000 new words right there.

The rest comes from looking at how much I cut. I keep all my discarded scenes – really, any chunk of text longer than a few paragraphs that I’m getting rid of, I paste into a file of discards. Checking that file for my 2022 revision, I found 52,000 words. Again, that makes sense! I threw out almost half the book. What it means is that I didn’t just expand by 11,000 words, I also wrote 52k to replace what I tossed, bringing my revision total up to about 63,000. Add that to my NaNoWriMo novel and you land at 113k.

What comes next?

That final polish. For real this time. I hope.

After that, I can start looking at the NaNoWriMo project. As you can imagine, the 50,000 words I wrote in 30 days are… uh, not good, at all? Also, not really a complete story, more like a skeleton or structure. Chances are, that’s gonna be the bulk of my 2023.

It’s actually pretty exciting. This was the first new project I’ve started in years, and it was cool to throw stuff at the wall without the weight of so many drafts and frustrations attached to it. I see a pretty shiny glimmer of potential in what I churned out, and I think it could really be something cool.

I love that I’m writing all of this heading into the new year, and really planning to gear up on a new-ish project too. It all feels like so much potential. And that feeling of potential, of being ready and excited for what comes next, is one of the big things that keeps me going. So here’s to 2023. Check back in a year to see where I landed.

(Subscribe to my newsletter to hear from me in the interim.)

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