2012 Year in Review
I had intended to do a 2012 PostMortem on 12/12/12 just to be funny. Yeah. Life doesn’t always cooperate. That’s one of the things that I’ve learned in this year long journey to write as many words as I possible can. To say this journey was filled with ups and downs would be a complete understatement.
As most years go, 2012 started out in January. I had spent December 2011 tracking my writing progress. I was coming down from the World Fantasy Con where I had a publisher request some work from me. I sent that work in and the wait began. I knew I couldn’t sit on my laurels and just wait for an answer. I needed a plan of attack on 2012.
Up to that point I’d written a little here. I’d written a little there. I saw that Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine were coming out with a second book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and I thought, well, they did a series of short stories from other authors with book 1, maybe if I ask I can get in on the fun for book 2. I sent off an email. They asked for some samples of my work. Again, more waiting.
So it goes with publishing on any level.
I set out a list of goals for 2012. One of the major goal was to write 500,000 words. It would be a mix; half blogging, half new fiction. I thought that was a little ambitious so I dialed it back to 450,000 words. That still felt like a lot until I broke it down to 1233 words a day. That looked doable even if I ran into a couple road blocks. I had also planned on writing a short story a month, write an episode of the Action Pack Podcast a month, write a weekly writing blog post, finish a few books I had started, blog every day.
So many plans, so little time. Or so it felt.
I went into January behind on day 1. Well, it was the day after New Year’s. What do you want? I did write a blog post. That was about it.
Day two I made up for day one and I was ahead of schedule for the first time in the year. That lasted all of three days and I fell behind again. This would be a theme for the first couple months. I was happy, though. I was writing every day. I was getting things accomplished. Sadly, most of these first days were little fiction, lots of blog posts.
The first days of the year were filled with Golden West, How to Build a Better Henchman, Kance Encounter rewrites, and To Fall From the Sky. The fiction days were spotty at best, but I was having a great time writing blog posts. I wrote about what happened day to day, my dreams, thoughts and expectations. Things like that. I was happy with the stories I worked on, but my output was depressing. I wanted to write more and I didn’t feeling I was doing as much as I could.
As the year wore on, I decided to work on My Teacher is a Zombie along with Golden West and To Fall From the Sky. My Teacher is a Zombie was something new and suddenly I was writing almost every day. I was excited. Then came a fateful email.
Tee and Pip announced they were going to do a second series of Penny Dreadfuls and I was invited to play along. I sent off what I thought would be a good story and waited to hear back. I didn’t hear back. I finished My Teacher is a Zombie. I went for it. I wrote my story. I’d sent them a couple suggestions and some basic plot ideas for each suggestion, and I finally got the story narrowed down and wrote it. By the time I wrote ‘the end’ Tee got back to me with his ideas. They meshed perfectly with mine and I fired off my story. A couple times back and forth and presto, the story was good to go.
Buy a copy of it here: http://www.amazon.com/Emperors-Fist-Tale-Archives-ebook/dp/B008CG0KBI
Crazy excited. I released My Teacher is a Zombie on Smashwords along with some older short stories. Finally I took a two month long slump and I was once again ahead of schedule. I went into the Lent season with a minor goal to write 2000 words per day. That didn’t seem easy or possible but if I could do it, I would be way ahead of schedule. Well, I didn’t write 2000 words a day during lent. My short term goal was 88000 words during Lent. I only wrote 68885. Even so I was now 15000 words ahead of schedule at this point, feeling good. Writing like a madman, and having a blast!
I started on My Teacher is a Werewolf (the sequel to My Teacher is a Zombie). I was having fun with the story, but I started to blog a lot more than I was writing. By the time I was done with the story (interspersed with some Golden West, Jack Kane Edits, and To Fall From the Sky) I was now 20,000 words ahead of schedule.
Then I started on the book I wrote first. I was going to rewrite Of Gnomes and Dwarves Book 1. I’d written, rewritten, edited, and slaved over this book for years and it was passable bad at best. It was a good story with fun characters, but with terrible writing. I knew the time was right to do it right. I hadn’t finished To Fall From the Sky, but I knew I needed to pick up an exciting project and get going on it. So I wrote and wrote and wrote.
Coming into JuNoWriMo I was flying. I was working on my most exciting project. I was roaring ahead. I was blogging more and more and I was 62000 words ahead of schedule. If I kept this up there was no way I could miss my goal. Right?
Then the family took a vacation to Palm Dessert. Then I took a vacation to Oregon. I figured I was so far ahead of schedule that a couple weeks off wouldn’t hurt. Right? I could just get right back into the flow, you know. Things would work out great. Nothing was going to stop me from hitting that 450,000 words. NOTHING!
Almost two months went by with only 4 days of writing fiction and a couple big stretches of no blogging. I was failing! My lead was slipping away. I was a fake! A fraud! Who was I to think I could do this writing thing? Why should I even bother? It wasn’t like I was getting my goals accomplished. Things were failing all around me and…
Stop, start, stop start, for another month. My lead had almost evaporated. Only 11,000 words ahead. How could I have fallen so far so fast? I didn’t think I’d ever make my goal.
I bopped between a couple different short stories, Golden West, and I stopped blogging. I needed to refocus on what 2012 was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about writing fiction. I had gotten out of control with the blogging and I’d blogged a lot more words than the fiction I’d written.
I jumped back into Of Gnomes and Dwarves and the words started flowing once again. I got back over 20000 words ahead of schedule. Then it all fell apart again and before I knew it I was only 10,000 words ahead. NOOOOOOOOO!
NaNoWriMo was approaching in less than a month. I needed to get Of Gnomes and Dwarves done before November 1st so I could start V&A Shipping II. This was one major goal I wasn’t going to screw up. I’d done so much goofing around and wasting of time throughout the year that I was running the risk of not making it. Sure, I was ticking up numbers every day. A few here, a few there. It wasn’t enough if I was going to make my 2012 goal.
So, I cranked through Of Gnomes and Dwarves and finished with a day to spare. I was sitting on just shy of 400,000 words coming into November. I felt better. I was writing better. It was looking hopeful. After so many ups and downs over the year I finally thought I had the ability to finish NaNoWriMo. I had momentum behind me. I was happy again.
NaNoWriMo Came. NaNoWriMo Went. I wrote 50105 words during the month of November to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo and I blogged almost 18000 words to chronicle the event. I’d won not just NaNoWriMo, but I’d passed my 450,000 word goal for the year. I was more than 50,000 words ahead of schedule again. I jumped. I cheered. I yelled!
I took two days off from writing anything.
Now we come to December. I’ve kept up with the writing and blogging so far this month. I’m still more than 50,000 words ahead of schedule (53,000 as of this writing) and I’m more confident than ever. I know I’ll finish 2012 with more than 500,000 words under my belt. Yes, it’s a mixture of blogging and fiction, but it’s words I wrote and I’m proud of those words.
I’ve already started plotting out next year. I have an idea of what I’d like to do and I need to write down those goals and get to work on succeeding them. That’s what helped me through 2012. Keeping that word count spread sheet in front of me. Driving me. Pushing me forward. Realizing that I won’t always feel like writing. I won’t always finish what I start unless I keep pushing toward that goal.
There were many times I’d sit to write and thing “Why bother?” and then I’d write 1500, 2000, 3000 words. Escaping into my own little world helped to free my mind of that mental block of “I can’t do this.” I was filled with self doubt so many times over the year. I still don’t feel I did as much as I could have. I played games, watched a lot of TV, read a bunch of books. All of those experiences helped fuel my fire to realize that I didn’t need to waste all that time. If I sat and started typing words would happen. Worlds would be created. Characters would come to life. Things would happen because I made them happen.
Yes, like I said. I’ve gotten very excited about writing. I know I can step away for a day or two and come back to it, but if I step away for more than that without a plan in my mind to start again, I’ll slip, fall, and have to pick myself back up. I learned how to pick myself up by just forcing myself down into my chair and typing for all I’m worth. Not allowing myself the luxury of an excuse to not write. To uninstall Angry Birds and rather than waste an hour playing a game, spend that hour writing.
I wrote when I was sad (we lost one of our dogs this year). I wrote when I was in pain (low pressure migraines suck). I wrote when I didn’t want to. (I have all this poker on TV to watch). I wrote when I didn’t have much time (Honey, we need to leave in 15 minutes!)
I wrote when I was happy (JR, we’d love to have you join the Ministry). I wrote when I was excited (Papi! I made the Volleyball team!) I wrote when I had lots of time(Honey, I need to work late tonight). I wrote in spite of other distractions (I’m going to watch this show, it won’t distract you, will it?)
The point is, there is no good time to sit and write. I have a full time job. I juggled major projects with deadlines, meetings, conference calls, writing up huge requirement documents, analyzing code, and in general going through a lot of stress. It’s not easy to write code all day in front of a computer and log off and then start to write to try and hit a daily word goal. There were a lot of times I’d stare at a blank page, play a game, clean the back yard, walk the dog, do anything but write.
There was a time when it didn’t feel like fun when I was blogging. It felt like an obligation and I stopped because I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t putting out anything useful. I was just typing up random words to fill space rather than create rich and full worlds for my characters to live in.
That’s the biggest thing I learned in 2012. Be is Social Media, writing, blogging, recording audio; if it feels like an obligation, you’re doing it wrong. I had to change my mind set to realize that this wasn’t an obligation. No one was holding my feet to the fire. No one would die if I didn’t hit my goal. The more I realized that this was a goal set on myself and I did that so I’d enjoy writing more and realize that I want to do this more than ever, I was able to relax. I was able to breathe. I was able to allow the words to flow from my finger tips.
I know this is very long. If you’ve made it to the end, great for you. If you scrolled down, you didn’t miss much. Just me rambling about me. Again. Tomorrow I’ll write up my goals for 2013. I don’t have a full schedule yet. I’m working on that. I also need to record the next installment of the Action Pack Podcast. So much to do. I’d better get at it. Not because I have to. Because I want to!