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Monday Update: Progress is Progressing

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Hey Howdy Hey and welcome to another Monday. I hope everything is going wonderful for you.

So I decided Monday seemed like the best day to post an update. Why? Well, because it’s the start of the week for most and it’s a good stepping off point. Let’s see where I’m at and where I want to be.

When last we spoke, I’d finished GRPC2 the day before. That meant jumping into a new book. I didn’t jump into a ‘new’ book so much as jumped into a book I’d already started. That, for me, is even more difficult. What happened before? Where was I going with all this? What little secrets did I want to reveal? What foreshadowing did I do?

Let me say this here and now. Writing faster means I don’t lose track of those things. When it took me months to write a book, I would lose track of a little item and would forget why I’d dropped it in. Writing faster means I can drop a hint, and a dozen chapters later, I can get the payoff. Since it’s only a few days away (and not two or three months). I’m liking that.

So, I jumped back into Almost-Super Heroes after being away from the story for nearly three years! This book, in a way, will tie into the V&A Shipping universe. Giant Robot Planetary Competition is also in the V&A Shipping universe. I plan on tying all these books together. Without meaning to, Billy Barbarian is also in that universe, but won’t be directly involved with the current storyline I’m weaving through all the other titles. I will say no more on this, ever! You’ll have to read and follow along with the books to know what I’m up to. No spoilers to you!

Back to Almost-Super Heroes. The week started out…bumpy. I chose to go back and re-read/edit the first 40,000 words I’d already written. As I said, it’d been over three years. I knew where I was going overall and how it tied into the major story arc across all the titles. So over four days with cuts and additions, I only had a net gain of 3300 words, BUT I knew everything that was going on. I was able to get back into the character’s heads. It all started to click once more. All those ‘candy bar’ scenes were still in my mind and waiting to jump onto the page.

Over the last three days of the week, I knocked out 8300 words. I keep saying, I want to average 2000 words a day during Lent. I’m not going to get upset because one of those days I cut an entire 2500 word chapter and only netted a total of 400 words. Yeah, I wrote 2900 words and I could have counted that, but I’m in an existing story. I’m going by net gain. As I said, those first days were bumpy, but the story is better for it.

Did I manage 2000 words a day last week? Nope. Total miss. I only had 1661 words per day. That’s not important. What is? That I’m still averaging over 2000 words per day for Lent overall. I was able to pound on the keyboard and still hit my words I needed to. This week I will get ahead. Why?

First, Mike Plested, you remember him? My writing partner on Jack Kane? Well, he tagged me so tonight I wrote the next chapter in Jack Kane 2. So I’ve got 2100 words down, and I’m ready to try and do the same with Almost-Super Heroes.

I’ve got a new goal and this is what I should have done for Lent because I think it would have been a true challenge.

Remember a couple weeks back when I was talking about Dean Wesley Smith and Pulp Speed writing? Well, for the rest of Lent I intend to write at Pulp Speed 1. It’s not that many more words per day (average). It’s 2750 words a day. Guess what? I already did that for 3 days without thinking about it. I’ll do it again today. I’m fairly confident I can do this for the remainder of Lent.

If I do, what’ll happen?

First, it means I’ll crush my Lent goal. If I stay on target of 2000 words per day, I’ll hit 92000 words easily. If I write at Pulp Speed 1 for the rest of Lent, I’ll hit 110000 words over those 46 days. I’ll be at 20% over my goal. Being that I’ve never (ever!) hit my Lent goal of 2000 words per day, this would be a big deal to not only hit my goal but surpass it.

Another benefit, I would be 44 days ahead of my annual goal! That means I could have 44 days of 0 word count, and still be on target. That’s huge to bank that many words. There will be time off. There will be vacations. There will be days where there aren’t enough hours to find time to sit and type. I’m taking advantage of having those days now!

What else will it mean?

First, I’ll have a second book done before Lent ends. My goal is to finish five books this year. I don’t count finishing this book as cheating because based on my goal, I would have written 4.75 books, roughly. That means getting this book done and out the door is part of that process. Rather than target partial books, I’m shooting for 5 total books completed.

If I can nudge my good friend Mike along, Jack Kane will be done very soon as well. JK2 is already 80% complete. We’re in the homestretch! I’m excited to bring this book to market. These characters are so much fun to write. Hopefully, we’ll jump right into book 3.

That means very soon, I’ll have three books done this year. Two of those would be half books, so I’m not counting 3 books I wrote, but only 2. I will need to write three more books to hit my 5 book goal.

Will I succeed? Will I fail? You know what, I could stop writing right this moment, and I would still consider this year a win. Why? I have a writing streak of 65 days. I’ve already written 128,000 words. That’s more than some professional writers I follow knock out in a year when they produce one book. Yes. I did that in 65 days.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t consider myself a pro by any stretch of the imagination. What I am doing is having a GREAT time writing fun stories I’ve wanted to write for years. Hell, for decades. I have so many books in my head that if I kept up this pace for 10 years (5 books a year for 10 years) I still wouldn’t run out of ideas and fun stories to tell.

So I’m glad you’re along for the ride. Let’s see if I can keep up Pulp Speed 1 until next Monday as a start, shall we? This should be a hoot. Check back here next week to see if I hit my numbers. I won’t cheat. I won’t fudge. I won’t do anything other than count my net gain of words and report to you next week. I fudged my numbers in the past for no good reason as I was the only one I was fooling with those numbers. No one else ever saw my spreadsheet.

If any of you are interested in the spreadsheet I use, I could look at posting a read-only version somewhere and giving it public access. Then you can all follow along 🙂

I’m off to make more words happen. Only 750 words to go for today’s goal, but I’ll try for more.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

Monday Update: First book of the year DONE!

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Hey, Gang!

It’s Monday! WOO WOO! Most people hate Mondays. I’ve never been sure why. Me, I’m a Monday kind of guy. Well, I’m also a morning type of guy. don’t hate me because of that. Hate me because I’m beautiful.

That said, I figure I need to start posting far more regularly. I know, I know. I keep saying that and then I don’t do anything about it. So, let’s see how often I can post my progress on Mondays. Maybe other days I’ll post something different.

Let’s start with the numbers and we’ll go from there.

Streak of days writing: 57 consecutive.

Total words written: 113,695

Average words per day: 1,995

Lowest day: 55

Highest day: 5,444

Number of books completed: 1

Let’s dig in, shall we? I decided to write, daily. No matter how many or how few. If I’m not on vacation or doing something where I cannot get to a computer, I plan to write every day. It shouldn’t matter. Writers write. That’s rule #1. I plan to write daily. So far, I’m good on that goal.

Over 100,000 words already this year. I’m stunned too. I honestly didn’t think I’d get there so fast. I started out 25,000 words behind, but I didn’t allow that to be a negative. I started from day 1 and sat and wrote. Some days I wrote more than others. That’s why I posted the min/max numbers. I had a few low days, a few very high days. Some days I didn’t want to write and started late (after 10pm some days). It’s all been an exercise to sit and write daily. That was my first goal above all else. The second was to write an average of 1200 words per day. You can see I’m blowing that out of the water. I went from being 21 days behind schedule when I typed my very first word this year, to being 16 days ahead of schedule. I love my spreadsheet 🙂

The biggest thing was not to view the spreadsheet as punishment. I’d done that before and got depressed and sad. I hated writing, but it wasn’t because of the spreadsheet, it was other things happening in my life at the time. I haven’t had this much fun writing for a few years. The past two years I barely wrote. Let’s not dwell on that and look forward, shall we?

Looking back at my past spreadsheets for reference (we’ll get to the future in a moment, I promise), in 2012 I wrote 267,000 words. 2013 – 172,000. 2014-130000. I didn’t record my words in 2015 or 2016 because I had almost given up writing by then. So far this year I’m at 113,695. I’m on target to blow away all those previous years. I just need to not focus on how I missed my word count goal every single year I tried. That’s a recipe for failure. Instead, I need to look at where I am presently, and where I’ll be if I sit and write again today. Each day gets me closer to that goal. If I do miss a day, not a big deal. Try again tomorrow. Every little bit adds to the whole.

Books completed? One? Really? Yes! Last night I wrote the last chapter in Giant Robot Planetary Competition Book 2: Villain. I’m super excited about this book. I can’t wait to edit, cover it, and publish it. This will be my first book in…a while. Hopefully the first book of many that’ll happen this year. Honestly, I didn’t know if I would be able to keep this output going. I really thought I would peter out, give up, suffer from imposter syndrome. In the end, I figured out what I wanted to do was to create art for me. If others like it, bonus. If not, I’m still happy with the book I wrote.

What’s next on my plate? Remember, I’m in the middle of my Lent goal. I’m 3 days ahead, but I don’t want to stop. I thought about starting something new, but I decided to dive back into a book I was half-way done with. Almost-Super Heroes is another fun book and I’m jumping back in tonight. It’s sitting at 45,000 words. I was targeting 80,000. Let’s see what happens. If I keep on target, I’ll complete this book before the end of Lent.

Oh, speaking of word count, I almost forgot. I had targeted 90,000 words for GRPC2. I did the same for GRPC1. Book 1 came in at 96,420. Book 2 came in at 97,793. I have a hard time hitting targets when I’m having so much fun with the characters. I honestly think I’ve found my voice again and my style as well. It makes it so the words just fall off my fingers tips and onto the keyboard.

I’m writing again. I’m having fun again. Now I just need to be consistent with my output. Next week, I’ll make a similar post.If you made it this far and want to BETA read GRPCs (warts and all) drop me a line at jay@ofgnomesanddwares.com with the type you’d liked and I’ll fire it off to you. It will help if you’ve read GRPC1 first, so if you need that one as well, let me know and I’ll send both on over.

If you made it this far and want to BETA read GRPCs (warts and all) drop me a line at jay@ofgnomesanddwares.com with the type you’d liked and I’ll fire it off to you. It will help if you’ve read GRPC1 first, so if you need that one as well, let me know and I’ll send both on over. It’s rough, and unedited, but I look forward to hearing what you think.

I need to get to doing some writing. Those words won’t write themselves.

Until Next Time

Stay Awesome!

JR

Goals for Lent

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Lent. It’s that time of the year again (well, it really started yesterday). It happens every year. Each year I set a lofty goal for myself and I miss every year. Heck, I do the same thing for the entire year and I usually miss. I think this year will be different.

Most people give something up. Some say “I’ll stop eating sweets.” or “I’ll exercise more.” or “I won’t swear…nearly as much.”  Something like that.

Me, I’ve always determined to write more. A lot. More than I normally plan on writing.

As I’ve mentioned before, I plan to write an average of 1200 words per day. Heavy emphasis on AVERAGE! Well, for Lent I’m bumping that goal up to average 2000 words per day. Will I hit it? Pfft, I don’t know. Sounds like a good goal. Why not give it a try?

So what’ll happen if I do hit my goal? Well, simple math shows that Lent is 46 days this year (wait, I thought Jesus spent 40 days in the desert) and 2000 words a day works out to 92,000 words. Holy Sheep Dip, Batman! That’s a LOT of words! How ever will I do it?

Ok, let’s slow down for a minute. Remember what I’d said before was my annual goal. Average 1200 words per day. That’s still my main focus. 2000 words is only 800 more words per day. Remember, I type really, really fast. On a good day, I can hit 2000 words in an hour. On a bad day, might take me two hours. Can I find two hours in a given day to type?

Sure.

My main focus will be on media limitations. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop absorbing media altogether. It means I’ll cut back on what I need to cut back on so I can spend a little more time writing. That’s all. So, instead of watching 2-3 hours of news and a couple of TV shows, and reading for an hour or two, I’ll cut back to give myself the time I need. I’ll watch TV while I exercise, read the news when I have free time, read before bed (that won’t change) and my DVR can save my shows.

Hopefully, it’ll be that simple. We all know what happens to the best-laid plans.

Where am I at so far, now that we’re two days in? Well, I had 2014 words yesterday, and I’m at 2145 today. I’m taking a short break to write this blog post cuz I want to blog more frequently. Then I’ll try to write another 1000 words. We’ll see what happens. So I’m off to a good start.

I’m going to keep this short. I hope you have a Lent goal you’re looking to work on. Do you have one? Did you plan something? Are you going to diet, exercise, write, create art, paint, learn something? What have you got planned? Let me know. I’d love to hear.

Until Next Time…

Stay Awesome!

Irrational Fears

J.R. Murdock

Admit it, there’s something you know to be so absurd to be afraid of, but you’re still scared. I’m not talking about a fear of the dark or what might be lurking under your bed. I’m talking something truly silly bordering on impossible. Think about it for a minute. When your rational mind turns off, there’s something that scares you for no real reason and you can’t explain why.

I have some, and they’re not normal. One I know to be ridiculous and the other I know is impossible. Even so, they’re fears I need to overcome in order to accomplish a task. You might think you have an idea what I’m talking about, but I assure you, you’re not even close.

The first it pretty silly and borders on the impossible. It ha to do with blenders. No, really. I have a fear of our blender. When I’m standing there in front of it and thinking about those blades whipping around at Mach speed, I fear what would happen should one of those blades snap off. I’m right there and even though it could go anywhere away from me and would most likely get stuck in the blender jar, I worry that it’ll come straight at me. Even then, if it did hit me, it would probably miss all my important parts.

Why does this scare me? Where did this fear come from? How do I resolve it? It’s not some times when I use the blender, it’s every time I use the blender. That means I need to face that absurd fear each time I use it. I don’t know what part of my brain makes this irrational fear rational. I wish I know. It’s frustrating.

But there’s another, even more bizarre fear I have. This one, I’m pretty sure, comes from getting scared one too many times as a child. What’s around that corner? Is someone going to jump out at me? Did I see too many scary movies as a kid? Those don’t make me jump. I laugh more than fear them. I analyze how they performed the special effects. I’ve ready Fangoaria and seen specials on effects and makeup. So you’d think I’d be able to rationalize that when I open the garage door, no one is going to be there. Certainly not holding a spear, or bow, or large knife. Why would they be hiding in my garage?

Regardless of my brain knowing that there isn’t anyone in the garage (I could have been in there five minutes ago) I still have this twinge of fear that as soon as I open that door some psychotic will lunge at me. Why? Why does my brain hate me? It’s not that I want to be afraid of the garage door and I will still open in knowing that no one is there, but I can’t stop my brain from saying “DON’T DO IT! YOU’LL DIE!” I have to turn it off for the moments it takes me to open the door.

With both of these, I know they make no sense. When I sit here typing this up, I know they’re both impossible to happen. That’s the thing with fear. It’s irrational. Your brain can build something up that’ll scare you when deep down you know there’s nothing to be scared of. It’s all a matter of how you manage that fear.

I understand that some people cannot manage fear. Something in their wiring doesn’t allow them to overcome that fear. I’m lucky in that I can push past that fear.

There’s another fear that’s very real, yet I still must overcome every time I sit down at the keyboard. That what I’m writing sucks. No one will like it and/or no one will read it. Why put all this time and effort into something no one will like.

Again, this is a fear that I must overcome or I’ll be sitting here staring at a blank page and getting nothing written. So, I push past that fear and start typing. Once I do, I realize that I’m writing stories for one person. Me. Sure, I want to sell my stories. I’m happy when I see a sale. Even if those are few and far between, it doesn’t matter. Someone read my story. Someone bought my story. Even if they didn’t like it, there’s nothing I can do about that. No author can please 100% of his/her audience, so how could I expect to? All I can do is write a story I’m happy with and proud of, and get it out there.

And that is exactly what I started doing again. Writing for me. Writing the stories I want to read. Telling the best story I can. If someone reads it, great. If someone likes it, even better. Then I write another one. If I type a little every day, I can only get better at doing the writing thing. I won’t get any better by not writing. So, it’s type, or don’t. I chose the latter. I hope you enjoy the result.

So what fears do you need to push past every day? Are the rational? Irrational? Can your brain work past it?

I’m off to overcome my fear of the blank page once more. You should do the same.

Until Next Time…

Stay Awesome!

 

Head down and typing like a madman.

Polar Bear speed painting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_Sc_lLjRA4

So I posted a couple times, then disappeared again. What gives?

Well, I’ve been writing. Really fast. Well, not as fast as I could, but fast enough. So how fast is fast? I’ll let you decide, but according to Dean Wesley Smith, I’m not a pulp speed writer. To write at pulp speed, according to Dean, I’d need to write ~1,000,000 words per year. Check out Dean’s post if you’re curious how fast some writers back in the day wrote.

Yeah, I’m not going at that pace. That’d be roughly 2750 words per day. That’s nuts! Who could to that?

So anyway, today I wrote 4081 words. Yesterday I wrote 2661 words. Yeah, I could write that fast every day, but Jay has a job and a family so I don’t write that much every single day.

I’m on a writing streak, though. A 35-day writing streak. Over that time I was hoping to maintain 2,000 words per day. Why? I wanted to get caught up for my annual goal or 1200 words per day. I was behind and I’ve been playing catch up.

Don’t worry. I’m not stressing. Two days ago I was re-reading and editing some of what I’d written and only wrote 55 words. Those days happen. Three days ago I only managed just over 600 words. So I’m not a pulp speed writer. Some day, maybe, but not today.

So over that 35 days how much did I write? I wrote 62,920 words. On average, 1798 words per day.

I haven’t hit my goal of averaging 2,000 words per day. Do I feel like a failure? Heck no! Writing words is a success all by itself. I set the goal to push myself, not pressure myself. I wanted to sit and write words every day and get books written. I’m doing that. I’m proud of doing that. I’ve also done my day job, watched too much news and TV, seen a couple movies, spent time with the family, gone out to dinner, done some training for work. It’s not like all I’ve done is write. Imagine if I was a pro writer and that’s all I did was sit and type all day every day.

Well, with my day job I do type all day with chats and emails and documentation, but that’s different.

So let’s have a little fun and extrapolate. What if I keep up this trend over the course of a year, where will I be at by the end of the year? Remember, my goal is 1200 words per day. So with that number, I’d be writing 440,000 words (44% of pulp speed 1). If I stay on pace with 1798 words, I’ll hit 620,000 (62% of pulp speed 1). If I stop having 55 word days, I can exceed that number.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Writing just a couple thousand words per day adds up so quickly. How many books does that work out to? Well, most of my books are between 80,000-90,000. That’s what I shoot for. If we take an average of 85,000 words per book, that means I could write 7.5 books this year.

Wait… did I say that correctly? Yup. I could write more than 7 books in one year.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? In this world, a fast writer puts out 3-4 books in a given year. I could double that. And according to Dean, I’m not even up to pulp speed. Imagine if I were writing just under 3,000 words per day and putting out a million words a year. That’s only pulp level 1. He’s got up to pulp level 6 putting out two million words per year. That’s only 5,500 words a day. Pulp books are also shorter, on average 40,000-50,000 words. That means I’d be putting out nearly 40 books a year! What?

Guess what. Looking through my daily word count, I’ve hit that speed twice. In my 35 day streak, I have 5 days over 300o words, and nearly half the days are over 2000 words. Each day when I check my word count and update my spreadsheet, I’m amazed. I’m excited. I’m ready for the next day to do it again.

You could do this too no matter what type of art you do. Paint a little every day. Write a little bit on a song every day. Type words for a book or short story every day. Sketch something. Draw a cartoon. Art something! All those little days add up to a big payoff.

At the top of this post, I embedded a video that inspired me this week. Just like a book doesn’t get done in a day and perhaps not even in a month, all those little bits add up until you have something completed. The video shows a man painting a polar bear. The video is under two minutes, but it took him two months to paint. A little bit each day. That’s all it takes. You can do it too.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

Starting From Zero

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Well hello there! How’ve you been? I’ve missed you. I’m glad you are still here with me.

Yes, I’ve been very very quiet over the past couple of years. There’s been a random post here and a random post there. I never intended to abandon the blog and I really should have been more open about life, the universe, and everything. (42)

Let’s just say that life happens. I let it get away from me. Writing wasn’t happening. I didn’t feel like writing. My brain just wasn’t in the game. Yes, for two years I was more focused on other things. Those things are very important, like family, friends, my job, and my health.

So I came into this year and I wanted, NAY! Needed to start writing again. It had to happen. I was going to hit the ground running! I had a fire behind me.

<cue laughter>

Yes, as you can guess, writing didn’t happen on day 1. not even on day 2. Sadly not even on day 21. But on day 22! Yes! on Day 22 words started. I had procrastinated getting my part of Jack Kane 2 off to my writing partner. Yes, I’m a slacker. But feeling bad about not writing wasn’t going to get words written.

So, on day 22 I wrote words. It always feels good when I sit at the keyboard and make stuff up. Last year, the election in this country drained me. I don’t talk about that here. That’s not what I write for. You want to discuss the election, please call your representative and talk with them about how they are or they aren’t representing you. That’s their job, not mine.

Back to writing (you can see how much the election has been on my mind. It’s very distracting). ANYWAY! Putting the election behind me, I decided the next day that I needed to pick up on a project that I meant to do last year and never got to. I had every excuse for not working on it and, again, I felt terrible. Still, bad feelings weren’t getting words written. So I sat, I wrote.

That project is a Star Wars Fan Fiction. It’s exciting for me to be dipping my toe into the Star Wars universe. My partner on that one was also very excited to get this going. We had many discussions, laid out a basic plot last year. We got all the characters in place. It was all set to go, then I fell down on the job.

So once again, putting it all behind me, I started working on writing up the Audio Script for the first episode. Yes, Audio Script. This is a totally different writing muscle. Way different than sitting and writing prose. I won’t say it’s more difficult, it’s just a different way of writing a story. It’s still writing a story though.

Over five days, I knocked out the script. It felt awesome. We’ll be reviewing it later this week and I can’t wait to get it cast and get to work on the second episode (there will be 6 in the first season).

So I was having fun with that script, but at the same time, I wanted to get working on my books once more. So at the same time I was working on the script, I would finish a scene, and I would start on a new book.

What am I writing?

A fan reached out to me who left me a great review of Orphan: GRPC1. I had wanted to start the book two and work on book three so I could write V&A 3. That little bit of encouragement was all I needed.

BAM! I started work on a new book.

All this also started at the same time I spoke with Kimi from Tale Chasing. She was excited about getting to work on her next Guardians novel. I can’t wait to read it! i loved the first, I’m sure the second will be awesome. She also helped fuel my fire. Thank You Kimi! *wave*

So what did all this add up to? Now that we’re at the end of the month and I only wrote for ten days. How did I do? How will I do going forward?

If my first few days of writing will be a streak I can carry on for the rest of the year, that has yet to be seen. I’m hoping for the best. But that I was able to write just shy of 20,000 words. Yes, ten days, 20,000 words. I am so excited that I’ve knocked out so many words. I’m ready to run into February and continue this streak.

If you’re waiting for GRPC2, I hope you won’t be waiting long. I’m already 10,000 words into the book. that’s about 1/8th of where I’m targeting. GRPC1 was roughly 80,000 words. I’m hoping GRPC2 will also be roughly 80,000 words. If things keep going the way they are, I hope to have it completed before the end of February (I write much faster when I get to the end of a book).

So things are looking up. I’m excited about writing again. Words are flowing and pending another life event, they’ll continue to flow. I also plan to blog more often. i want to keep you updated regularly. Fun times are ahead and I’m glad you’re there with me. Thank you.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

How I write so darned fast – Part 4

While this is part 4 of this series, please don’t look at this as writing advice. I’ve sort of sworn myself off the writing advice bit and all I’m doing is tell you how I do what I do vs how you should do what you do. There is a difference. I used to think there was a one-size-fits-all solution to writing (and programming for that matter), but there isn’t. There really isn’t one way to do things and that’s one thing that a writer needs to understand. Yes, there are some basic rules to writing, but those apply to structure, grammar, and things like that.

At any rate, as I said, this is just how I do the things I do. Take it for what’s it’s worth. All I wanted to point out is that this process allows me to sit and write with great speed. Not nearly as fast as some of my heroes like Dean Wesley Smith (who can rack up around 100,000 words a month) but I’m doing the best I can with the time I have.

Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you haven’t been following along at home.

Let’s talk about resolutions and goals.

I no longer set resolutions. I used to. Every year I’d resolve to do something (quit smoking, lose weight,  eat better, write more, etc) but those were always vague things that don’t give me a path to accomplish what I want to accomplish. They never worked for me.  Ever. Quitting smoking came when I just flat out said, “enough” and stopped one day. I’d have an occasional cigarette or cigar, but for the most part I was done.

Losing weight, eating right? I’m still working on those, but I’ve got a goal and a plan. The goal is to get back down to 200 pounds (at least) and I’ll be doing that by doing a juice cleanse and then eating a nearly vegan diet (not vegetarian, VEGAN! Raw vegan at that). I’ll be having 2 meals per week of whatever I want, but mostly it’ll be fresh fruits and veggies.  Extreme? Hell yes. But that’s how I managed to quit smoking. It was abrupt and extreme. I’ll also start walking and build back up to running.

Write more. That I’ve also done. I started in 2011 going into 2012. I wanted to write more so I started blogging more regularly. The blogging would get my brain into writing mode and once I was done, I’d flip to the latest novel I was working on. During that year, between blog posts and fiction, I’d written over 490,000 words of my 450,000 word goal. It was amazing. Sadly, only 267,000 of those words were new fiction, but I’d hit a grove with my writing and I was happy. So 2013 I was going to try and up my fiction count by cutting back on the blogging and get to work on the fiction.

Well, 2013 fell apart on me. I didn’t hit my goal of 365,000 words. Life happens, as it has a tendency to do, and I needed to come into 2014 more focused with all the stress of 2013 left behind.  I did, however, manage 172,000 words in the 5 months I did actually write and I can’t be sad with that result. Yes, it wasn’t where I wanted to be, but hey, I did make words happens and completed a few projects.

Now we’re into 2014. I’m still setting goals and what I’d like to do. For 2014 I plan on averaging 1100 words per day. Yes, I upped my word count goal from 2013 (1000 words per day average) so I’ll push myself a little bit more.

Let me explain first off what I’ve done. I’ve gone on and on about numbers, but none of that means anything to you, right? Well those numbers are my goals. 2012 was 450,000 words, a combination of new fiction and blog posts. 2013 was 365,000 words of new fiction. 2014 is 401,500 words of new fiction. 2015 is 438,000 words of new fiction.

Let’s break those numbers down because they’re pretty high. I’ll skip 2012 because it’s a blend. But 2013 I wanted to write 1,000 words per day. That’s an average, but obviously if I had been able to stick to a schedule, I probably would have hit or surpassed that goal. 1,000 words really isn’t that much. It’s just a matter of hitting a rhythm and a good streak of days strung together. Add a few good days in there and it gets even better, right?

Well, that was the plan. As I said, I only got 5 months of writing out of 2013 due to an unexpected move and the fact that the company did away with my job. Both of these sucked out my soul and made focusing on writing impossible.

Now look at 2014. I upped my goal from last year. I increased my goal by only 100 words per day. 100 words is nothing. That’s less than 5 minutes of typing. It’s a snap. Upping from 1000 to 1100 seemed logical to me because it’s not that much of an increase. Yes, I looked at 2013, but on the days I actually wrote, I hit a much higher word count. So I knew setting my goal a little bit higher would push me to actually write.

Then 2015, yes, I’m planning for the future, I want to write 1200 words per day. This is also a small increase and it might change.  I don’t know yet. It was a 10% increase from 2013 to 2014, why not a 10% increase from 2014-2015? Should I shoot for 1210 words per day? We’ll rethink that when 2015 gets closer and I see how I did over 2014.

What I’ve done over the past few years is to plan how much I want to write. I set that goal, then I break it down into much smaller chunks and work on one chunk at a time. I don’t look at it as I need to write 100,000 words to make a book. I look at it as I need to write so many words per day to get to that goal in a certain amount of time.  Looking at the smaller bits makes that HUGE, overwhelming goal look all the more manageable.

Next time I’ll talk about tracking and how I keep myself inline with the goals I’ve set. No, I don’t use the Magic Spreadsheet. I have my own spreadsheet. It’s taken me years to set up, but it keeps me on track.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: A day off.

Yesterday I took the day off. Originally I had some personal business to attend to, but it became much less urgent. I’ll still need to deal with it, just not as soon as I have anticipated. I got up early and had to deal with a work email that I should have sent on Friday (okay, two emails). I also took a broken mirror to get fixed/replaced. Ok, two mirrors really. It’ll be nice when they’re fixed and back in place. The wife and I also got a few loads of laundry washed and put away. I watched three episodes of Ancient Aliens (love that show). My Favorite Daughter and I went to the work out room. I managed 3.4 miles on the elliptical in 30 minutes (even though it took us 45 minutes to go from the school, to the workout room, back home for a personal issue, and back to the workout room). I did my weights. I went to the grocery store and bought some fruit and made fruit salads for all of us.

I did something else yesterday…hmm…

Oh yeah! I wrote nearly 5000 words! Yesterday was a lot of up and down, but I wrote and wrote and wrote whenever I found a few minutes here or a few minutes there. I’m only 1200 words off my JuNoWriMo goal and I know I can get caught up and surpass that. Maus and Willie are a blast to write and now I’ve introduced Slick. Soon Maus and Willie will ‘encounter’ Slick and things will start to take off from there.

I’m having a lot of fun writing this story again. Not a lot has changed other than I’m including a lot of what I had in my mind and never wrote. I’ve introduced some characters that I only ever hinted at. There’s a lot more dialog and action and the pace still feels right. I’m sure much will change as I write, but already I’ve done some foreshadowing because I know what’s going to happen in the upcoming books.

I’ve got two characters left to introduce that will have bit roles in the book(s) but will play larger roles as time goes on. Those are the Black-Robed man that I will name later and the Gray-Bearded man that I will also name later. Their parts aren’t coming up just yet, but when they do, it’ll add a whole new layer to the story. I had included the two characters before, but never really fleshed out their personality or their purpose. They were just there. They did things. They moved on and did something else. I now have a better purpose for those two characters.

So if you ever wonder how do you fit writing in with all the other things you’re doing, you just need to look at where you have spare time and fit it in. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. But if you want to be a writer you need to sit down and actually write. If you’re not writing on a daily basis it’s that much harder to actually get started. If you’re writing daily it’s much easier to keep going.

By the end of the day (when I went to the store and made those fruit salads) my brain was pretty tired after the very long weekend and even though I wanted to write more, my body wanted to go to sleep. So that’s what I did. I will write more tonight. I will work out again. I will lift weights again. I’m also going to the Millicans house for dinner tonight. The wife made some yummy chicken that we’ll all partake of. But I will still write. I doubt I’ll knock out another 5000 words, but I’ll get as may done as I can.

My point here is, if you want to do it, do it. Writing doesn’t have to be work. I had to struggle through the first part of the year to get to this point. You will need to have your own struggle. Will it be as difficult as mine? Maybe. Might be harder. Might be easier. I can’t tell you that. That is something you’ll need to experience for yourself. It’s a journey that you and you alone must start. No one can start it for you.

With all that time off yesterday you’d think I’d have download more pictures of duck, wouldn’t you? Instead, here’s a link of how Donald Duck has affected the movies throughout the years. I laughed, I cried, I dreamt. www.cracked.com/article_19021_5-amazing-things-invented-by-donald-duck-seriously.html

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: Organization

I’m not the most organized person in the world. I let my personal inbox overflow (I think I have over 2700 emails in there). Tools can be found in drawers, bowls, and boxes. My workspace is cluttered with things that I rarely use and somehow just never put away. My clothes rarely find the laundry basket and instead reside on my closet floor (the laundry basket is in my wife’s closet).

But not when it comes to my work files. I’m almost annoyingly organized. I have two hundred emails in my inbox, but only because I haven’t gone through them in a couple months. I could easily reduce this down to 50 in a matter of minutes, I just need to move emails into the proper folders for the given project. All of my programming files are organized into folders for different file types, related sites, and on and on.

I’ve taken some of this organization to my writing files as well and Scrivener has done wonders to help be be even more organized. Rather than have a folder with all my short stories, I have one scrivener file. Rather than have multiple books in a series in a folder. I have one Scrivener file. Rather than have one huge file with all my chapters in it, a separate file for notes, research, character sketches…Yes, I have one Scrivener file.

I’ve said before that Scrivener has changed how I write. I still type like a madman and let the story drag me along for the ride, but I know have an easier way to keep track of characters, places, events, personal items. I can set a word target for a chapter or scene and see if I get there. I’ve had a blast keeping track of all sorts of different things.

I’ve also got my spread sheet that I just love. I’ve organized my daily word counts broken down by blog posts and fiction. I can see at a glance how I’m doing. Where I’m at with my goal. How many days ahead or behind am I. How many words ahead or behind am I (for the record, I’m 20 days ahead of schedule for 2012). I’ve plotted out fiction word counts for JuNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo. I’ve plotted out how many words I need to write a day to hit my annual goal.

I had decided that at the beginning of the year I needed to treat my writing more as a part time job rather than just a “Hey, I think I should write something” and I’ve written nearly 200,000 words so far. I’ve done that by organizing my writing life rather than letting it just be like the clothes on my closet floor; something I’ll get to later. I’ve made myself accountable to more people than just myself. There are a lot more words to come out of me. Not because I want to be a writer or even want to be a published author. That’ll happen in its own time. But because I feel the need to create. And not just create stories. That’s the easy part. But to create stories that people want to read. Stories that keep people coming back. Told in a manner that people can appreciate.

Getting organized has helped me in getting a lot of words written not because I created a spreadsheet or started using scrivener. Rather because I could now see where I wanted to take my writing beyond the story.It’s made me open my eyes and see that I can write a lot more than I ever thought I could if I just got myself organized, sat down, and wrote.

Sure I get distracted by shiny things (like yesterday’s post about a new mouse I’ll be purchasing soon). That’s going to happen. The trick is to try and free yourself of the guilt and know that you have a job to do and you need to get yourself to sit down and actually do it. I also have a job, a kid in volleyball, a wife, friends. I do a lot of other things besides writing, but I make time to get the words out.

I’ve organized myself so that when I sit down to write, it’s as simple as opening scrivener and BAM! Start typing. I’ve got my notes, my character specs, my plot outline all in one, easy-to-reach place. No more looking through notebooks, folders, files, or even scrolling through the WIP trying to find that name, the color of the dress, or anything like that. I know where it all is and it’s drastically sped up the process.

Sure it took some getting used to. Everything does. But now that I’m five months into 2012, I’ve done a little house cleaning every day to get to where I am and now writing isn’t a chore that I do once in a while. It’s a joy I do every day. Yes, I said a joy not a job. I still treat it like a part-time job insofar as I need to sit every day possible ans write something, but it’s not a labor it once was.

Take a little time to get organized. I’ll go find some pictures of ducks to start posting. Then I’ll write about ducks.

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: Going strong

Yesterday was a good day to write with over 2500 words achieved. I’m still behind on my Lent goal, but I’m getting there. I’ve go two weeks to get caught up, I just need to stop dragging my feet. Felt good to get words down. If you couldn’t tell by yesterday’s post I’m super excited to get cracking on Of Gnomes and Dwarves.

But first must come the finishing of works in progress, right? RIGHT! I need to finish up To Fall From the Sky. I need to finish My Teacher is a Werewolf. Those are the most important writing tasks at hand.  I also have a bunch of recording to do this week. I’ll be getting on that tonight and do some editing work tomorrow.

Speaking of editing I need to get back into Jack Kane and do the edits in there. This writing stuff isn’t easy and isn’t for the easily distracted. I’m usually easily distracted. Take last night as an example. My favorite daughter was working on a mask and bow and arrow for a project and she also had to write up a script. That for the most part she did on her own.

Once I stopped writing to read what she’d written (it was really good and very funny) I lost track of where my head was at. I had ended a sentence with “and Stanley went to” and I totally forgot where he was going, what he went to go do. I drew a total blank.

My favorite daughter is really coming along with her writing. Her piece was intended to be funny, and it was. It’s about Artemis and Apollo and Artemis’s affair with Orion. She made up ‘Laugh’, ‘Awww’, and ‘Applause’ cards to be held up at certain times during the skit she’ll be doing with a classmate. I so want to be there when she presents it. She read through it and I gave little advice on inflection and timing, but 99% of it was her. This is one of those parenting moments where you know your kid will turn out alright.

Today needs to see another word count boost. It won’t be easy. I’ve got the day job, then I’ll be home for a bit where there’s house stuff to do then I need to write like a madman until I need to take my favorite daughter to volleyball practice. That’ll be a two hour chunk that I won’t be getting any writing done, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens. The coach wasn’t too happy after the last tournament because a couple of girls just gave up on the court and lost a game they were easily winning. It’d be nice to see if they can change their attitude and actually show up to play instead of just showing up. That’s enough said about that.

Well, speaking of being busy, I’d better get busy. So…

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!