Monday, February 2, 2015

Writing in 2015: January Recap

It is my intention to set my writing career on an upward course this year, as mentioned in my 2015 News Years Resolutions post.  So as part of my accountability and tracking toward this goal, I have been keeping better stats on my progress.  This helps motivate me to strive for better scores and to show my progress in the long term.  Of course, this is 99% for myself; most of you who may happen to be reading this won't especially care.  But some of my fellow indie writers may take an interest or find some inspiration for building their own efforts and careers.  These monthly posts will be cumulative and largely repeating of the same intro/premise with new numbers toward the end.  The December post will, therefore, be a nice picture of the entire year.

My basic metric for measurement and progress is word count.  By setting goals and expectations, this makes me strive to write more words and thus produce more stories and books.  I also keep track of all other writing-related activities, such as workshops, marketing, submissions, and working to fulfill the Kickstarter rewards for my generous supporters.  Although I record those things in my charting, I won't be reporting all that stuff here on my blog.  My monthly reports here will recap my word count and publishing, as well as misc goals accomplished.

I set my word count goal based on a formula suggested by Dean Wesley Smith: Determine what would be your ideal production (writing) rate, and then cut it in half.  Sounds kind of harsh to cut that clean in half, but I have found it to be a very realistic adjustment.

For me, ideal would be 1000 words a day.  Seven days a week is super-ideal, but more realistic and acceptable is assuming there'd be one day I would take off and just not get to writing, so I'm going with this:

   -- (1000 words) x (6 days a week) x 1/2 = 3,000 words per week.
   -- (3000 words per week) x (4 weeks) = 12,000 words per month. 

Admittedly, this is not an incredibly ambitious goal.  But given my "real" life, this is doable.  I hope to exceed it, but if I can just make this cut I'll be pretty happy.

How I'll count words: This is somewhat arbitrary stuff, but for my own obsessive-compulsive reasons, I want to lay out some ground rules.  New words, of course, are the most important ones, but I also don't want to discount some of the other necessary work that I spend my limited time on; to do so would be kind of unfair to myself.  So new words count at full weight, especially in writing new stories/novels.  But it's also necessary to spend time on my second and third drafts.  The second is a lot of work in fixing from beginning to end before sending it off for proofreading/editing.  The third is not a lot of work, basically combing the proofer/editor's notes and making line edits.  So second draft work will count as half; so if I revise a 5000 word story, I'll count that as 2500 words worth of real work.  Third drafts will count at one quarter; so the 8800 words story I fixed tonight only counts as 2200 words, because I was mostly just addressing specific issues.

In summary:
   -- New Words/1st Draft is 1:1  (full weight)
   -- 2nd Draft Revision Work is 1:2  (half weight)
   -- 3rd Draft Line Editing is 1:4  (quarter weight)

...Okay, anyone still give a damn about any of this boring shit other than me? 

So now the monthly benchmarks:

January:  12,650 words (8550 words on the novella Invasion) 
                  published The Prince and the Darkness
                  published Hungry Gods
                  Hungry Gods release sold well beyond my goal, had a nice halo effect that reached pretty much all my other books, and all the accumulated sales were spread across SIX different countries!

A hell of a nice month for me, and the start of a good year to come!

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