Writerly Update 3: January 2020

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The first month of the first year was the perfect start for my third year of writing.

I can’t really say what it was that made me feel very motivated and inspired, but nevertheless, I managed to write 1,000+ words on eight consecutive days – something that has most likely never happened before (except during NaNoWriMo but my last one was in 2016 and it’s a writing challenge so it doesn’t really count). 

Towards the end of the month, however, as our plans for the next move were starting to take shape, I got distracted from my writing routines and even had to force myself to get at least some writing done.

So, the month started out well but lost some of its charm towards the end of January.

Maybe this January is a good example of how important routines are for a writer, especially when you are in that active writing phase. There’s a place and time for experiencing as well, as I realized when we were in Australia, but when it comes to writing, routines are a writer’s best friend.

In the beginning of the month, I was really into a good rhythm with routines that made me sit me down almost daily to write. Now, as we’ve been preparing both mentally and, in a way, physically for the next step, my routines haven’t had a chance to exist – and that can be seen in my writing.

It really is a roller coaster journey, this life. And it’s full of contradictions too – it’s good to have routines, but it’s also good to be spontaneous. It’s good to plan for your future, but it’s also good not to dwell too much on the past or what’s coming. Somewhere there, in-between routines and spontaneous decisions, one is supposed to find balance. Phew.

Anyway, let’s get to the statistics, shall we?

The Great Statistics

January 2020

Days journaling: 24 days out of 31
Days writing: 20 days out of 31
Word count in total (excluding journaling): 26,980 words

Texts published: 4 blog posts + one fan fiction one-shot
Comments on other people’s texts: 29

Not a bad month, right? I journaled 77,4% of the month and wrote fact and fiction for 64,5% of January. My lowest word count for the day was 1,000 words and highest 2,500. On average, I wrote 1,349 words per writing day (if dividing for the whole month, it equals 870 words per day).

Surprisingly enough, this month was pretty similar to December when it comes to word count (22,480 to 26,980) and average word count per writing day (1,300 to 1,349). I hadn’t really expected that because I thought I had done much better – but I’m still happy I’ve managed to keep up with my journaling and I had more writing days than in December (17 compared to 20 days), so that’s good.

What I Wrote This Month

I spend most of this month writing my long fan fiction story.  Of those twenty writing days in January, 11 was spent on writing that fan fiction story. It felt really good to get the story half-way (although it’s rather murky now).

One of the most rewarding things with it is to realize how much the story is me – I’m using my own characters (and the main character is a minor one in the fandom so I’ve had the chance to re-invent her past and present which makes her feel mine) and I get to invent new knowledge and information about the magical world in almost every chapter. It’s almost like writing something of my own, an original piece.

In addition to the longer fan fiction story, I wrote a short fan fiction one-shot for a Valentine’s Day challenge on the writing forum I’m active on and finished the original short story I started in December. And a week ago, we went to see the movie 1917 (so frigging good!) where I got an idea for another short story. It’s almost done, two-thirds of the way. To balance out all the fiction, I also wrote and published four blog posts on this blog.

Oh, and some days of January were spent writing job applications and updating my CV (which is a total writing mood killer but necessary).

Summing Up January

In my December Update, my goals for January were following:

“I wish to complete the short story I’m working on for the writing competition and let it rest until February (the deadline is in March). I also hope to write at least as much as I did in November, hopefully even more, aiming for 1,000+ words every day that I write. My journaling routine is good at the moment, and I hope to continue like that. In addition to the short story, I aim to keep writing my fan fiction long story, hopefully getting to 20k this month, and if possible, I’d like to get back to writing Yellow Tails again (Remember that? It’s still in the works!).”

Judging from the statistics for this month, I managed to reach almost all my goals for January!

I finished that short story for the competition (and I’m about to open that file for re-reading and editing, yikes!), I wrote 1,000+ words every writing day, kept up with my journaling routines and the longer fan fiction story has now more than 26,000 words in it.

The only thing that didn’t happen was that I let Yellow Tails remain untouched. It was a conscious decision as I realized that balancing between to longer stories would get too messy – I feel it’s better to keep writing one story at a time and focus all energy and attention on that one rather than try dividing your time between two equally interesting projects.

Looking at my January writing accomplishments  is very rewarding and gives me a boost to keep up with the good work in February despite all the things happening in my life at the moment.

As I have no idea what this next month brings with it, I’m a bit hesitant about my writing goals for February. I think I’ll go lightly:

In February, I wish to complete, edit and maybe even send off my two short stories for the writing competition. I also want to keep on journaling on an almost daily basis to keep up with my thoughts and hopefully clear some thinking space for creative writing as well. I aim to publish four blog posts on this blog and keep on writing that longer fan fiction story, maybe coming closer to a total of 40,000 words during February. And hopefully, I’ll be able to write 1,000+ words every writing day.

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How was your writerly January and what are you planning for February? I’d love to hear what other people have been writing and how they feel about the first writing month of the year. Feel encouraged to share in the comments!

Writerly Update 2: December 2019

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As a new month (and a new year!) begins, another month ends. That means it’s time to reflect on what I wrote last month and do the official second ‘Writerly Update’ – this new series of mine where I can show and share with you what I write and how I feel about writing. 

Before getting into my December writings, I want to say that this new series helps me, in a way, to feel more motivated about writing. It makes me reflect more on what I write and how I feel about it and I believe it will help me along the way. So, if you read these posts and like them, thank you – it’s nice that you are here, or actually there on the other side of the screen. It makes me happy to be able to share these things with you!

So, let’s begin! These were the goals I decided to aim for in December:

“-– to keep on with the good work and aim for writing five to six days a week. I won’t get all too excited and start dictating a daily word count quite yet, but we’ll see what and how much I write when I try to get back to almost-daily writing. My goal is also to publish the 24-part hurt/comfort online and get back to writing my longer fan fiction story.”

And so the great question is –  how did I do? 

The Great Statistics

Compared to November, December was so much calmer. We didn’t change locations but stayed put instead, which gave me a great opportunity to keep up with my writing routines. However, I did face a discouraging writer’s block right in the beginning of the month (the irony of having put down just a few days before my writing goals…) which slowed me down somewhat, and then of course the Christmas holidays and New Year had me take a break from writing for a few days.

But, despite the block and holidays, December was still a good month of writing. You can see it for yourself:

December 2019

Days journaling: 23 days out of 31
Days writing: 17 days out of 31
Word count in total (excluding journaling): 22,480 words

Texts published: 4 blog posts + one fan fiction one-shot + a four-part fan fiction story
Comments on other people’s texts: 25

In total, I journaled 74% of the month and wrote fiction for 55% of December. My lowest word count for a day during the month was 600 and my highest 3000 (!). When dividing my total word count on the days I wrote fiction, I wrote 1,300 words on those seventeen days (and if dividing for the whole month, I wrote 725 words per day).

Compared to last month, when I wrote 12,960 words during 13 days, i.e. 996 words per writing day, I’d say December was a huge improvement.

And that makes me incredibly happy!

What I Wrote This Month

December was both a scary and an exciting month of writing. I continued to work on my fan fiction projects but I also tried something I haven’t done in a long time: writing original short stories.

There are a few interesting writing competitions going on in Finland I thought I would like to participate in. The other is in prose and the other in science fiction and fantasy. After almost a year of publishing my fan fiction online, I think participating in a real writing competition would be a good next step on my writing career. It’s scary as hell to give your story for someone to read and judge – and because of that fear I worked on a short story during December.

First, I began writing one but it just got too long and too complicated to be a short story of only 15 pages. I decided to leave that idea to rest and instead give a go at another idea that came to me a year ago. This one is now almost done and I only have about 1,000 words left, and it has been fun but at the same time scary to work on it.

There’s something about writing an original short story you wish to publish. Compared to a full-length novel, in a short story every word and every piece of dialogue seems to matter more – there’s no room for wish-washing and jibbering. That makes writing an original short story somewhat daunting. But I’m getting there!

In addition to the short story, I worked on the longer hurt/comfort fan fiction story I told about last month, finished it and even published the whole thing! Every time the right day with the right mood came, I got writing and managed to write up to 2000 words during one of those days. I ended up being really happy with the whole story. I also published the last part to another fan fiction story I worked on in November and wrote and published a shorter Christmas one-shot (about 1,250 words).

At the end of December, I finally even got going with my long fan fiction story after a long break and got to 10k just yesterday!

Summing Up December

When I look back at the goals I put down for December, I’m really happy with myself. I managed to write more, published a longer short story along with some other fan fiction as well and even got back to my longer fan fiction story. I also made a personal score in commenting on other people’s stories, which gave me joy. What a great month! 

However, I still struggled to write five to six days a week and wrote more like 3-4 days, and that is something I hope to improve on. Writing this month was a rollercoaster ride, as some days everything was just so easy and fun while other days were sticky as walking in deep mud. Not everything was perfect but some days I managed to write some really great stuff.

I know the longer fan fiction story will need a good deal of editing, but for the moment, it’s just about getting the story on the paper no matter the quality. The time for editing will come later.

The goals for January are following: I wish to complete the short story I’m working on for the writing competition and let it rest until February (the deadline is in March). I also hope to write at least as much as I did in November, hopefully even more, aiming for 1,000+ words every day that I write. My journaling routine is good at the moment, and I hope to continue like that. In addition to the short story, I aim to keep writing my fan fiction long story, hopefully getting to 20k this month, and if possible, I’d like to get back to writing Yellow Tails again (Remember that? It’s still in the works!).

My goals for January feel ambitious, for sure. However, the month is looking quite calm at the moment and hopefully that means good writing days for me! We’ll see how it went at the end of this month 😉

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Do you believe in making monthly writing goals or do you go by day, week or year?

 

Writerly Update 1: November 2019

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When we were on our roadtrip, I noticed myself feeling guilty for not writing – or not writing ’enough’. I had the growing sensation of degradation, how my writing muscles got weaker by each day and I lost ‘the touch’. 

However, when I started counting together the words I had written during our four months of travel, I was surprised by how much I had managed to write.

This made me think of how unnecessary it was for me to feel guilty about ‘not writing’ – and how I could counteract that guilt. 

The Cure For Writer’s Guilt

Our brains play tricks on us. Sometimes it makes us think we did something that we did not – from sending text messages or saying thank you to the bus driver to thinking we ate healthy this week although we went out for burgers or pizza at least three times that week. 

And sometimes our brains make us think we haven’t done anything, although we have: we forget that walking from place to place is actually exercise, or that just because we don’t tick everything from our to do -list doesn’t mean we didn’t accomplish anything that day. 

The latter describes the tricks my brain does to me.

But I’m cleverer than that – and therefore, half-way October, I started tracking my writing. The tracker has been a very basic, pen-on-paper kind of tracker where I’ve written down the date, what I wrote and how many words. Now, I would like to share my writing progress with you.

‘The Writerly Update’ will become a monthly series on this blog where I can show and share with you what I write and how I feel about writing – you could even think of it as a writer’s diary. But most importantly, in addition to sharing my writing with you I’m also sharing it with myself. This way, I’ll keep myself updated on my own writing and can also reflect on my projects.

So, I present to you: The Writerly Update for November 2019!

The Great Statistics

For November, the goal was simply to get back to my writing routines, to my almost-daily writing. I decided upon this goal because my writing routines have practically been non-existent during our travels, and I was quite certain it would take getting used to active writing routines again.

My writing routines back home were more or less daily the following: in the morning, before breakfast, I would journal for two pages. After breakfast, with my morning coffee, I would start writing. Most often, I aimed for 1,000 words per day – sometimes I wrote more, rarely less.

However, November wasn’t maybe the optimal month for trying to get back to the routines mentioned above. During this month, I’ve still been on the road, I’ve sold a car, travelled to another country, figured out a bus card, bank account and tax number for myself – in addition to working at a farm five hours a day for a week. 

But I’ve still managed to write something because it was a promise I made for myself (and for this blog). So, let’s see some statistics:

November 2019

Days writing and/or journaling: 17 days out of 30
Word count in total (excluding journaling): 12,960 words

Texts published: one fictional + four blog posts
Comments on other people’s texts: 15

In other words, 56% of the month was spent writing and, even though my word count isn’t anywhere near the brave Nanowrimo-writers’, I’m happy for my 12,960 words. My lowest word count for the day was 200 words and the highest 2,500.

What I Wrote This Month

The projects I worked on this month were mainly fan fiction. 

I planned and wrote a story of 5,000 words in total, divided into three parts. Two of the parts are already live on the writing forum and the third part will be published next week’s Thursday. This piece was a challenge because the narrator was first-person rather than third which I’m more used to. The story was also written from the perspective of a rather wicked male character – my characters tend to be female and, well, nice.

However, after trying out different narrators, it really felt like first-person worked better than third-person – I believe it gave this specific main character more depth and showed his personality better than a third-person description would have. Nevertheless, it required some effort to finish the story and some courage to actually publish it.

I’m still fairly uncertain why I wrote the story but at least I got some good exercise out of it. Maybe next time I’ll feel more comfortable switching to first-person narrative and don’t find it as challenging to write more evil characters.

The other story I’ve been working on is a story with 24 parts, all of them flash fiction with a word count between 100 and 300 words per part. With this story, it’s not the characters or the narrative that are challenging (the characters are familiar to me from my previous works and I’m going for third-person narrative written in present tense, my favorite), but rather the theme and genre of the story.

It’s a genre called hurt/comfort and is defined as following on Wikipedia: “A story in which a character is put through a traumatizing experience in order to be comforted. The ultimate goal of these stories is often to allow for close examination of two characters’ bond with one another – –”.

And even though for me, the hurt-part of the story is clear and even the comfort of it, I feel like I’m struggling with the words to create the right kind of mood for the story. It’s hard to say if I’m doing it wrong or right or something in-between but I intend to publish it during December so we’ll see how the readers will find it!

Summing Up November

Considering that November was the first month of getting back on track with my writing, I’d say I did fairly well. Life got in the way on many days but still, I managed to write at least every other day of the month, resulting in a good total of 12,960 words. I also commented on 15 short stories/chapters to novels I’ve read online, which I consider as a good total for the month.

The projects I’ve worked on have had their challenges but at the same time, I’ve learned something new from them and tried writing something different than what I’m used to. It’s easy to write about what you know and therefore I’m happy I’m putting myself on the discomfort zone – and still having the courage to publish my texts!

The goal for December is to keep on with the good work and aim for writing five to six days a week. I won’t get all too excited and start dictating a daily word count quite yet, but we’ll see what and how much I write when I try to get back to almost-daily writing. My goal is also to publish the 24-part hurt/comfort online and get back to writing my longer fan fiction story.

And that was it! The next Writerly Update will be in the end of December/early January so we’ll see how I managed my goals for the last month of the year (!).

What have you been working on? Do you keep track of your writing?