Monday, 30 September 2013

September 30th – 828,352

A total of 4,777 words today takes me past the 825k point and on my spread sheet I can see I’m now over 80k words ahead of schedule. In fact, according to the metronomic schedule of 2,740 words a day - tomorrow is the day I’m supposed to reach 750k when in fact I’ll be passing 830k, so I’m almost a full month ahead of schedule, despite having had three weeks off during the year. Not bad going even if I say so, myself.

Oh, dear, that sounded smug, and it wasn’t meant that way. I’m proud of having got this far with the challenge and I’m starting to feel confident about completing it in good time too.

As always, with the building trade, you can’t rely on things happening when you expect them too, so despite expecting today to be the day they started on the external work – nobody has turned up. To be fair, they did say they would ring the day before and confirm, and nobody did, and we did say any time this week would be fine, but still, it’s irritating having waited so long to reach this point and having been given a start date of 30th September as far back as July.

There again, they’ve done nothing wrong, it’s about managing my own expectations rather than chasing the work. I guess it allows me to get other things done, instead.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

September 29th – 823,575

4,826 words today, and this story is flowing like virtually no other ever has. Today though is a day for life issues rather than writing time, so I am not going to be able to add to that total. Add to, you say?

Yes, if I had more writing time I feel fresh enough to be able to keep writing, my fingers are itching to get back to the keyboard and do just that, but I have things to do, and they won’t wait.

Well it’s now coming up on 4:30pm and I’ve managed to get the grocery shopping done, visited the in-laws, cut the back lawn and done a few minor jobs around the house and get dinner prepped and in the oven.

I’m now waiting for the phone call to say the workmen will be here tomorrow to start on the exterior maintenance jobs, but as always waiting for a builder, and waiting for the phone is exactly like watching a kettle boil - a real time wasting activity.

If only I could write now, I’d probably get another couple of thousand words done – but I’m shattered. I.E. I’m a wimp – no stamina.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

September 28th – 818,749

The word volcano continues to erupt, producing no less than 4,712 words today, and I still can’t work out the reason behind the productivity hike. My best guess, so far, is the writing break enforced by my stay in Wales for a week. But, and it’s quite a bit but, I have no idea why the same thing didn’t happen after the main family holiday in Devon in May. Then my word count did increase slightly, by an average couple of hundred words, but nothing like the step change of over a thousand this time round.

I guess, for me, it’s becoming a necessity to concentrate on reaping the rewards of it and to stop obsessing about where it’s come from, or what’s triggered it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep counting the benefit of it. Next stop 820k

Friday, 27 September 2013

September 27th – 814,037

I have to find more euphemisms for the amount I’m writing, having hit 4,898 words today and I can’t fully explain why my average word count has jumped by over a 1,000 words every day this week, but it has.

It’s something I should pick up and bottle and then sell – how many authors wouldn’t pay a few pence, a few pounds even, for a magic potion to enable them to increase their word count like that? But, I’m no snake-oil salesman, I don’t have a magic potion, or pill, or anything else. What words for me, doesn’t necessarily work for anyone else. The purpose of this challenge, from a public perspective, is to show that it is possible to generate a large word count in a relatively short period of time, and that, by example, if I can do it, so can anyone else.

So what’s holding you back from doing it?

The first thing people often say to me is about quality – am I sacrificing quality for quantity? My simple answer is no, I’m not. Not as far as I can tell. Yes the first draft is a bit loose, and needs a good tightening up at the first edit. Yes there are some plot holes that need extra scenes writing, or at least some serious modification at the edit stage, but that was true last year, when my word count for the entire year was 25% of what I’ve done so far this year.

Everything you write needs a good edit. Period. Usually more than one, and then followed by another by someone else too, so as far as I’m concerned, I’m outputting more, but not dropping the quality to do so. What’s not to like about that proposition.

Now where’s that phone number for the bottling plant?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

September 26th – 809,139

A total of 4,386 words today, split over two projects (again) has taken me to within spitting distance of 810k. It definitely feels like I’m on the downward stretch toward that million words, and I wonder if this process is going to accelerate even more as I get closer to the target. Certainly I can’t seem to stem the flow of words at this moment – and I am stacking edits up like firewood for the winter. 2014 is going to be the year of editing, that’s for sure. I wonder what challenge I’ll have to set myself for 2015 as a result?

That’s right, I had another story idea overnight so I quickly wrote the first scene this morning before going back to my main work in progress. My fingers are itching on about five different stories at the moment, and short of writing 500-1000 words on each every day, which is of course, nonsensical I’m having to fight to maintain patience and let some of them sleep for a while. Not easy.

If I let my writing take over, I’d be churning out somewhere closer to 10k a day, and while that may be fun you can’t put life on hold like that.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

September 25th – 804,753

This work in progress is rocketing off the ends of my fingers – another 4,233 words written today, and the story is developing at a nice pace too. I expected a bit of a downer today, to be honest, after all I’d hit a major milestone yesterday, so an anti-climax and a struggle was a reasonable expectation. So, hitting this kind of word count, and before lunch, was a pleasant surprise.

The head cold has just about disappeared, although when I went to bed last night, I found myself coughing a lot, and I had to suck a throat pastille for some time to stop it. Seeing as I’ve had the cold for almost a week, without coughing, it’s a little odd that’s it developing in this direction when the other symptoms are fading into history.

I’m also feeling my age today, given it was our daughter’s, our eldest child’s, birthday and I’ll be nice and not give her age away, but having a child of that age makes you feel somewhat older too.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

September 24th – 800,520

That’s it, I had a fabulous writing morning, and as a result hit close to 5k words – 4,973 to be precise, meaning I sailed past the 800k mark to the figure above. This particular manuscript is flowing, and I’m hitting the target word count on it even without the other two bits of writing. Certainly my average count for the last three days is over a thousand words higher than I was managing before the holiday. I guess it would be fair to say my batteries were recharged by the wet and windy weather in Wales last week.

To sum up – this challenge has resulted in completed first drafts of:
8 novels
4 novellas

On top of that:
12 starts – ranging from 1,500 to 20,000 words written on different stories, which includes the 20k written on my current work in progress.

Of those, 5 of the novels, and 2 of the novellas have also had a fairly severe edit pass, so you could class them as second drafts – ready for another good edit pass prior to submission.

And of course, I’ve still got 200,000 words to go, well 199,480 if you want to be precise about it.

I started this challenge thinking it would be hard to do, but worthwhile, and I have to admit it has been hard to keep going on some days, but most of the time it’s become an obsession to get the word count done – and then more so. I’ve missed a total of 24 days due to holidays and major family events, and have written every day other than those, only falling below the word count on 2 days out of the entire time. “Write every day” is one of those old sayings that are trotted out to you at writing groups at almost every meeting, and so far this year, putting that to the test has shown there is a lot of truth in it.

You don’t have to write like me, or even try for word count like me – but I can only encourage you to write every day – take it from me – it works!

Monday, 23 September 2013

September 23rd - 795,547

Today turned out to be a fast writing day again. First thing this morning, before breakfast I spent exactly 55 minutes writing – and managed to hit 2,296 words in that time. I don’t know why, but for some reason when I’m writing dialogue, the words just flow, and I end up pouring the conversation onto paper at an incredible speed. This is true if there are two people in the conversation of if it’s a group, although when I’m writing at that speed, and a group of people are involved in the conversation, I end up having to go back through and make sure it’s clear who’s saying what.

Then, later on this morning, I couldn’t help myself, I spent time writing 2,234 words on a completely new story to round off the day with a 4,530 word count.

The weather today is not as good, either so with this head-cold I’m going to be staying indoors and not going anywhere. The cold isn’t as bad as it was, and it’s certainly not man-flu – if it was I wouldn’t have hit today’s word count, but it’s bad enough to keep me inside. I have a myriad of little jobs to do around the house, so I guess it’s time to get off the keyboard and get my ass in gear instead.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

September 22nd – 791,017

I guess I must have missed the writing, because today, I shared 4,977 words between two projects – managing 3,429 on my main work in progress and 1,548 on a piece for group submission for my sic-fi critique group which had to be sent off today. That’s rather short for the group, but it’s the start of something much longer, and I need to make sure the beginning is right for the story.

Still, I’ve passed the 790k mark and I’m within touching distance of the 800k mark and I’m still more than 64k ahead of schedule, which equates to more than 23 and a half days ahead.

The head cold is no better, but at least we’ve got some decent weather now (I guess we should have booked for this week rather than last week, but never mind), so the last of the holiday washing is on the line, and should be dry this afternoon. I guess that means it’s time to get other things done, although I have to admit, my fingers are itching to get back to writing again.

Down boy!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

September 21st – 786,040

As you may have noticed there’s been a seven day gap on my daily updates for this blog. There’s been a simple reason for that – we’ve been away on a week’s holiday in North Wales, where there’s been no Wi-Fi access points – so no internet or e-mail for a whole week – a mixture of bliss, peace and withdrawal symptoms.

The idea was to occupy a comfortable log cabin in the middle of Snowdonia, and combine both a writing retreat with a family holiday. Unfortunately, there turned out to be two things wrong with the actuality of that plan – the weather – it rained, hard, every day, and there was nowhere for me to write. I have found, yet again, I need my comfortable desk and my Italian leather office chair on front of it to write. I can’t sprawl on a bed, or balance a laptop on my lap and write, and the dining table and chairs were just too uncomfortable.

As a result writing productivity dropped off, and I’ve only managed to hit 5,320 words in the entire week. I just couldn’t find anywhere in the cabin to sit and write comfortably. I also discovered something else, I guess I already knew – I need solitude to write. I can’t work with other people in the room, and I can’t work when I can hear the TV in the next room, either. I don’t need total isolation, just the absence of distraction. When we’re at home, this is something I can manage for long enough each day, but when we’re away, it becomes an impossibility.

Still, I’m well ahead of the curve in writing terms – and I have managed to bring one unwanted present home from Wales – a cold. No it’s not man-flu, but it’s a cold and it’s making me feel very woolly headed indeed.

Friday, 13 September 2013

September 13th – 780,720

I’m really starting to get into this slow burn fantasy project, the story is developing nicely and the heroine is starting to develop into a feisty young lady – exactly what the story needs. I hit 3,212 words today, which has nicely taken me past the 780k mark too - well over 70k ahead of schedule.

Health issues seem to have abated and I’m starting to prepare for my speaking engagement at the beginning of next month. Unfortunately they don’t have any AV support available so I’m going to have to work via hand outs rather than using the screen behind me, which is a bit of a problem gauging how many copies of each page to print off. Still it’s not that big an issue and it’s not like I haven’t dealt with that kind of thing before.

For now though it’s time to settle into that bane of all of our lives, getting the accounts up to date.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

September 12th – 777,508

Life issues were a little fraught today, everything seemed to constantly interrupt to the point that I didn’t get very much in the way of writing time beyond three or four half-hour stints spread throughout the day.

Since I’ve put down the last work in progress and picked up one of the new start pieces, it’s very difficult to get going if you can’t put some concentrated time into it in one sitting. Still, although it’s something like six and a half-hours later than my usual target time, I have managed to get 3,017 words written today, and I’ve had to call time on it for today as a result.

The day started with a trip to the GP – and for once it was good news all the way down the line. My appetite and sense of taste is returning, and I’m not suffering with the kind of digestive problems I was doing. HE wanted to double check my blood pressure since that was one of the meds he changed – and it’s spot on, so that’s working well. I’ve got to go back in October, but for now, I’m starting to feel like me again.

One interesting fact that came out of the consultation was my resting heart rate. Two years ago I couldn’t get it below 100, which is dangerously high for someone at rest – and that’s why I was referred to the gym and a get fit regimen. A year ago, at the height of the fitness campaign I’d brought my resting heart rate down to around 85. Today, despite everything conspiring to keep me out of the gym (arm and neck injury followed by this whole meds debacle), my resting heart rate was 65. For someone of my age and lifestyle, that’s not bad.

Maybe I really am calming down!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

September 11th – 774,491

I was a good boy today, I returned to my main work in progress and picked it up where I’d left off. By lunchtime I’d hit my target, adding 3,137 words to the total. I’m struggling with one of the characters though, and as a result I’m seriously thinking about putting this one to one side, just for a few weeks to allow my thought patterns to settle and in the meantime get on with something else. My thinking being, that taking a break from it, not abandoning it, just taking a break, will enable me to return to it and freshen the characters up, making the story work much better, and provide the necessary pointers to the edits I’ll need to improve the 25k already written.

My critique partner has returned a synopsis to me for a trilogy with some excellent suggestions, including a change of names for the central characters (four sisters), along with other ideas, and the instruction to “go for it”, which is a good indication the idea has “legs”.

This gives me a choice of three projects to tackle, although the trilogy will would take up most of the time between now and the end of the challenge, or either of the two new story lines I started this week. I’m back in my usual quandary again then – which one to work on? No clich├ęs today.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

September 10th – 771,354

I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t go back to my main work in progress after all – I had to work on one of the new concepts. Yesterday’s was okay, I’d got a whole day’s writing done on it, and it worked out quite well, I got the initial scenes completed and it’s at a good point to put down and leave it. The previous day’s piece, though was a different story. I’d only managed to get 1,800 or so words of it down on paper, and although I’d finished the first scene, it wasn’t far enough along. I needed to introduce the second female character and I needed to make the male lead more sinister, as he was definitely starting to look like the nice kindly old uncle. Given where the story is going that would have been a little creepy.

I polished up the first bit, then sat down and cranked out another 3,769 words taking me past the 770k barrier by a considerable margin.

Given the amount of other stuff, life stuff, I needed to get done today as well, that was no mean feat. I’m now happy with both pieces, so hopefully I can leave both behind for a while and return to the one that I should have been working on. We’ll see.


Monday, 9 September 2013

September 9th – 767,585

Well for the second day in a row I abandoned my main work in progress in pursuit of an idea that formed overnight. That’s despite last night being a tablet night, so I conceived a complete plot in my head while sleeping like the proverbial baby. I don’t know how it happened, or for that matter why it did, but I managed to get the prologue and first chapter written in double quick time this morning, giving me 3,290 words toward my target and taking me within range of the 680k mark tomorrow.

I seem to have reached a point where the bare minimum of words written is more than 3k a day – I don’t think I’ve dipped below that since June, and the average is hovering around the 3.4k mark.

When I talk to other authors, I often find myself being queried on my word count, by people who struggle to write 1k words a day. Maybe I should start using my experience as a mine for the information to become a motivational speaker! Yeah, right, I can see that happening – where would my writing time go? There again it might turn out to be more profitable than writing.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

September 8th – 764,295

For the first time in several days I managed to get some, relatively, uninterrupted writing time today and as a result I powered through 3,640 words in total in double quick time. Those words, though, were spread over two projects – for the usual reason – I wasn’t sleeping very well last night, so in the middle of a wakeful period I came up with another new story idea. I can’t help myself.

The reason I wasn’t sleeping was straight forward too – I’m not supposed to take the overnight meds night after night after night – the most intense schedule would be two nights on the meds followed by one night off. Last night was the night off, and without that chemical crutch to lean on, I didn’t sleep. Having said that, and having been up at a very early hour for a Sunday morning – I don’t actually feel that tired. The cumulative effect of the meds is therefore on the plus side of the equation.

Tomorrow now, poses me with a problem. I haven’t finished the first chapter of the new work in progress and I’d like to get that done, while in my main work in progress I’m approaching a crunch point in the plot and the writing is flowing nicely. Ah, decisions again.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

September 7th – 760,655

Another reasonable night’s sleep has improved things, and I was less jaundiced in my appraisal of this manuscript today, probably for that reason. In any case I added another 3,083 words to it, taking it over 20k and it’s starting to work well as a story, so I suspect I may be cutting a number of chunks from the early part of the book when it comes to editing.

More importantly in writing terms, this has taken me past the 760k point and that little bit closer to the target.

The new blood pressure tables seem to be working too, although this is still early days as today is only day 2, and the doctor wants to review things next week to make sure the dosage is right. I even managed to go out yesterday lunchtime and eat a cooked meal. Okay, it wasn’t a big meal, and I didn’t clear my plate, but I did eat more than three-quarters of it and I enjoyed it. There were no repercussions afterward, either, no tummy-ache or other side effects. So I’m feeling happy with myself over that, all and all that’s starting to make things feel a lot better all round. Fingers crossed, we are now emerging from this particular tunnel.

Friday, 6 September 2013

September 6th – 757,572

I’m slightly outside my comfort zone here, this story is starting to move down a different track than the one I’d originally envisaged for it. Already I’ve killed off the main male rival, and the story is developing a much darker tone. I’m also beginning to have second thoughts about choosing my male character as my main viewpoint character – but there again he’s the one with the more sinister and darker motivations, so either the viewpoint character carries the readers with him - or the viewpoint character doesn’t really know what’s happening leaving potential for reader confusion.

I guess it’s another one of those that’s going to be written and then extensively edited. So much for sub-genre work, hey? Take yourself out of the mainstream and you end up torturing yourself.

I did manage to get 3,212 words done today, so I’m still pulling further and further ahead of target, but this piece is slowly becoming harder to write.

I started my new meds overnight, and the specific one to be taken at ten pm really worked a treat. I slept much better, and although I did wake up during the night, I drifted straight off again, a big improvement. I’m not sure if the fact it was such a dull day helped, but I slept later as well this morning. The new blood pressure meds also started this morning, and so far, no side effects, and if anything, I’m starting to feel more positive about food as well, so fingers crossed this is looking promising.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

September 5th – 754,360

Today has been a life day, rather more than a writing day, so as a result it’s tea time and I’ve only just finished my 3,037 words for the day.

If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, the interruptions piling up, one after the other, until I felt I wasn’t going to get finished at all. So I’m afraid today is a bit of an abbreviated update, I’ll aim for a longer one tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

September 4th – 751,323

That’s it! I’m officially three quarters of the way through the challenge, having passed the 750k mark this morning with today’s word count reaching 3,183 words.

As I said, this work in progress is flowing, so the writing comes easy, and as a result the speed is up on the previous piece. A sure sign this one is going to work as a story, albeit after it’s been through the edit phase. I’ve got one problem to fix in it though, that’s for sure. There’s an old adage about not having character names that sound the same, or start with the same letter. In this case I have both – two male names that start with the same letter, and one of them also sounds very similar to the leading lady’s name. I’m pretty sure one of the guys is going to change, and which one that will be – but from another point of view – thank goodness for global find and replace functions in word processors – doing this on a typewritten manuscript would be pure torture.

Time to get back to sorting out my diet for the rest of the day – I’ve decided to line up “bite size” portions of foods and see which ones I can’t handle, or don’t taste as I expect, and which ones I can. Yesterday I had problems with two foods I haven’t had problems with before, in fact one was something I’d eaten without problem the day before. I need to have some concrete information before I go and see the doctor again. Apart from excessive (top end) wind, everything seems to be okay from the neck down, now, but it’s no good to me if I can’t swallow it in the first place.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

September 3rd – 748,140

I picked up an old work in progress today, and for me a very old one – over two and a half years old, something I’d last looked at in January 2011 (according to the last modified date on the file). A quick polish and I was away, and indeed by ten o’clock this morning I’d added 3,486 words to the existing 4.5k I already had.

Compared to the tortuous process of the last piece, this one is flowing very nicely indeed. I was instantly inside the head of the main viewpoint character and I could see the other characters in front of me as the words positively flew from my fingers.

I guess this one will probably beat the last one to market – once finished it will need at least one self-edit and maybe two, but those edits will not need to be anything like as fierce as on the previous piece.

When a story is flowing, and I really do mean flowing like this, writing is a pleasure, instead of the chore it becomes when you’re wrestling with a story like I was doing last time. Even though I was tired from another bad night, I was still able to write “like the wind” today, and when I’d finished not only could I have gone on a lot longer, when I read back what I’d written it looked good, and felt right.

I’m thinking this story has got legs, for sure.

Monday, 2 September 2013

September 2nd – 744,654

I wrote THE END on the current manuscript today, and I’m pleased I did. Although it came out a few hundred words short of 47k, I’m happy with the length, knowing it will be cut on edit. However, I have to confess I’m not happy with the manuscript itself, structurally. There are two parts to the story and they don’t meld well – there’s too much harmony between the two leading characters, and there needs to be more tension if not more conflict between them.

I’m going to have to work at that later – for now it’s time to put this one in the “drafts drawer” and come back to it in a few weeks’ time.

I did manage to get 2,635 words written on it, and another 725 words on the newsletter, for a total daily word count of 3,360, so by the look of things, I’m going to hit the 750k point the day after tomorrow.

Now of course, comes the difficult question – what’s going to be the next piece I pick up to work on, what am I going to work on to hit the target and reach that 3/4 point on Wednesday. Hmmm… Big decision that.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

September 1st – 741,294

Another 3,389 words on this manuscript, and I’ve managed to get the black moment written as well. Now I just need to get the angst ridden guilt trip out of the way before we end up at the HEA moment. As predicted yesterday, I think I’m going to get this done tomorrow, now, and again, as predicted hit a 47k final word count.

Final is, of course, a relative term – it’s final in terms of the first draft, by the time the book has been through a couple of edit passes, and then the hands of a proper editor, we end up with a very different word count, but if it ends up closer to 40k, I won’t particularly mind. That though, of course, is for the future, I need to get it written first, and having survived a lot of angst myself with this manuscript, I’ll be glad to put it to one side for a few weeks.

My edit pile is growing apace, too, so I’m going to have to tackle a few more of the older ones, and start thinking about getting them shipped off.

In the meantime I need to concentrate on getting my diet, adjusted. Although most things are heading back to normal, I seem to be developing an issue with bread. It’s not some form of gluten intolerance – pastry and cake are fine, as is anything else using wheat flour, but bread is becoming an issue – I’m literally unable to choke it down. Strange, there again to most people, my diet has always been strange.