January 2018

I had no inspiration for the title of this post! But here we are, almost through January already. The holidays were packed with work, work, and more work, and despite using several vacation days at the end of the year it feels remarkably like I didn’t have any time off.

This year I’m taking a slightly different approach to tracking my writing progress: instead of setting word-count goals, I’m listing the projects that I want to work on and focus on getting them done, no matter how many words it takes. I’m still going to use an Excel file to keep tabs of how much I write (and editing counts as 1,000 words an hour), but the raw number isn’t the goal.

On the nonfiction front, I’ve just completed working on updating some athlete bios for an encyclopedia, and I’m involved with the production of an open access textbook. I also have a local history that I’m pitching to a publisher and I need to get an outline/scope of work done for that. If that’s not enough, I still want to develop my thesis into a book, but somehow that project keeps sinking to the bottom of my list. Enough of the excuses! Time to get to work on it, too.

Fiction is coming along, too: I’m finishing up edits to my novel, Seacombe Island, and I hope to have it ready for publication in March. And we Corrugated Sky writers are brainstorming our third anthology. I have a few other project ideas, and some short stories that I need to finish. This year is going to be about completing projects!


NaNo 2017, Plodding Along

I’m behind the NaNo word-count goal by about 3300 words, so I need to write more than the minimum of 1667 words a day to finish my 2017 novel at the end of November. It’s still well within the realm of possibility, but today, other than being a work day, I’m finding all sorts of excuses to avoid the beast. Write before work? It didn’t happen this morning. I usually take a short coffee break in the morning and fit in some writing, but I avoided that, too. And now it’s nearly lunchtime and I’m writing about not writing instead of writing. Ah, the procrastination has set in!

But there’s nothing new about that, and only one way to fix it. So, a bite of lunch, another cup of coffee, and words. Many, many words. Let them gush forth like a geyser and spray on the virtual page, never mind what gets wet. Unless it’s the keyboard …

Good luck, fellow NaNo writers!

Writing Goals and Refilling the Well

I’m sadly behind in my writing goals, but I’m not really surprised since I set the bar so high for myself. At this point I’m about 5900 words behind schedule. The problem with falling behind goals is that you get to a point where you just want to give up on the goal instead of doubling down and trying harder to get the work done. For me, a lot of the nonfiction articles I write require a lot of research and that takes time, but I can’t justify counting that toward my writing goals. Instead, I create a rough draft of the article and count those words, then when I revise it’s just a matter of calculating my editing time as an equivalent word-count, which admittedly is a bit tricky to do.

The best course of action is to get back on track with my average daily writing goal. I’m only counting five days a week for that because I’ve found that it is unrealistic if I expect to write every day. Sometimes I just need to get away from the keyboard. I work full time and spending fourteen hours a day sitting here and being productive is just not going to happen.

I spent some time this weekend indulging in what Julia Cameron calls “filling the well.” That’s basically recharging your artistic batteries by doing something different and not beating yourself over the head for not getting your entire NaNoWriMo word count done in one afternoon. I’ve signed up for a Craftsy course on working with colored pencils and right now fighting the urge to buy excessively large collections of colored pencils just because — Oooh! All the colors! I have colored pencils but of course I want different ones, because as it turns out there is a difference between them. There are wax-based and oil-based pencils, and the oil-based ones are much smoother and have more pigment so they are a higher-quality artist tool than the cheap ones you get at the local mega-mart.

My writing goals this week are to finish revising and editing a bio for an encyclopedia and start working on a presentation that I’m giving the beginning of April. I’ll probably spend time trawling my notes so it may not be much actual writing for that, but I also have been putting off doing the final revision of my novel as other projects have just swept it off my desk. Time to pull it out and get started, I think.

And one more thing: my backspace key just fell off my keyboard, so I have to type perfectly! Have a productive writing week, and may all your words be typo free.


A Busy Spring

I’m behind in my ambitious writing goal for the year, which is no huge surprise given that I set the bar very high at 240,000 words. I’m counting editing and revision at 750 words an hour, which is three-quarters of what the NaNoWriMo site recommends, but it jives with the amount of work I usually get done in an hour when I edit/revise my work.

It’s a busy spring for me so far. I have nine writing-related projects on my desk this quarter, including encyclopedia articles on the Scott Antarctic Expedition and the Indian Howdah for ABC-Clio’s The British Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia; a biography and a cultural and historical context article on Ray Bradbury for Salem Press’s Critical Insights: Ray Bradbury encyclopedia; my first draft for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology.

I’m also going to present a paper at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies annual meeting, which is coming up the beginning of April, so I need to delve back into my research for that. Which brings me to another project, which is turning my master’s thesis (about 100 pages) into a full-length book. But for that, I need a lot more research, so it’s a time-intensive project.

And the last two items on my list (so far this year) are my novel, Seacombe Island, and a book on writer’s prompts. I’ve spent quite a bit of time organizing my calendar and to-do list so I’m not having all the deadlines at once, but it means working ahead and I find that soft deadlines (ones I impose on myself) are easier to let slide by than hard deadlines (drop-dead dates, or dates imposed by the publisher). I pride myself on not missing hard deadlines, although I’ve had to ask for two- or three-day extensions in the past when an article has proven to be troublesome, or when holidays muck up my scheduling.

And so I’m avoiding working on articles right now by, well, writing about my writing. I guess that counts as words toward my yearly goal, so I’ll gloat on that for a moment and then clear my desk and get cracking on today’s list of things to work on.