Progress (3)

So… I’m nearing the end of my first month of keeping exact track of my daily word count, and I have a few comments. Here’s the most recent screenshot of the spreadsheet:

Progress 2-26-11

Essentially, I’ve been doing well. My current average is just over one thousand, although if you were to look at a list of the running averages for every day–a list I, in fact, do have in a separate page of the spreadsheet–it should be noted that, for just a moment, my average did fall below 1,000. On the 25th, when I put out less than 500 after having a Zero Word Day on the 24th, my average dropped to 979 words. For shame!

But here’s what happened: Around the 23rd, my two main characters (their names are Iris and Kaleb, if that’s important) met the third, soon-to-be main character (his name is Adam, if that’s important). The problem was, I didn’t know exactly what their meeting was going to be like.

I’ve never been much of a “planner” with my writing–I hold the idea of where the story is going in my head and sometimes it ends up there and sometimes it doesn’t. More often than not, my characters surprise me and take it somewhere else. That’s normal, I guess. For this project¬†(all of my works-in-progress are named after their main characters, so I’ve been calling this one Iris and I’ll continue to do so until I can come up with a real title) I think I may have written, like, half a page of bullet points about where I thought the story would go. If I were to look at that page right now–which I can’t, because it’s lost somewhere in the Deep Fathoms of my apartment–it would say something like,

  • Kaleb and Iris meet Adam

Great. Awesome. Thanks, outline. The only problem is, Kaleb and Iris haven’t seen very many people for Quite Some Time, and it wasn’t just as easy as saying that they met one another. For a few days, I was stuck at a point which essentially consisted of Kaleb and Iris standing at the top of a hill seeing Adam for the first time, and Adam standing at the bottom of said hill seeing Kaleb and Iris for the first time. That’s it. I’ve held Adam in my head for a while now. I know what he’s like and I’ve been waiting to meet him and fall in love with him like I already have with Kaleb and Iris. But when their eyes locked like that I was stuck. Stuck.

So if you’ll refer back to the graph above, you will see that I was stuck on this part between the 23rd and the 25th. Three days of pretty much nothing.

Honestly, I don’t remember a moment of epiphany, wherein I threw up a finger and screamed, “Aha!” with the idea of exactly how I was going to proceed planted in my brain and ready to leak out through my fingers. I know that at some point I thought I had it, and I tried it, and it worked. And after that everything that had been building up whooshed out of my mind all at once. Once I was past the blockage of actually meeting Adam, Iris and Kaleb had a chance to get to know him. And that is the stuff I was ready for, which lead me to double my quota yesterday and bring my average back above 1k. Yes!

So, it all balances out.

Progress (1)

Progress (2)

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Progress (2)

Update time! Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like now:

Yeah. So as you can see, I got back up above a thousand words a day there, but the last couple of days have been kinda sad. In my defense, yesterday was my seventh straight day working 3pm to midnight. I’m sure to some people this ain’t no thang, but it’s been somewhat crippling to me. My average, however, is still above a thousand, which is really what my goal here is. So yay me! One more mess-up day without a few really productive ones, though, and it’s all over.

1st update

Hey now…

let’s not get all crazy with the L word.

We all have pet peeves, don’t we? I’d have to say that my biggest one is the reckless use of the word “literally” which I hear ALL THE TIME in everyday life. When I try to stand back and take an objective look at the situation, it really isn’t too terrible when someone nearby says, “Sorry I was gone so long, there were literally five hundred people in the bathroom.” But I don’t know, man. When I hear it, it just has this terrible jarring effect on my brain. More often than not I find myself unable to control the urge to either:

  • correct people after they’ve used the word “literally” when the word they were really aiming for was “figuratively” OR
  • stop them in the middle of their sentences immediately after they say the word “literally” to remind them of its meaning so they don’t misuse it in the first place. Usually I only do this if I’m almost positive they’re going to use it incorrectly.

Does anybody else have some sort of bizarre pet peeve about words or language?

P.S. Correcting strangers on their word usage is not the way to make friends with them. Even if you go on to explain that your outbursts are compulsory and you really have no control over them whatsoever, they don’t much care for being corrected.

Progress (1)

So, in my travels around the blogs of other literary folks, I’ve noticed plenty of talk about writing habits. People have listed their preferences on:

  • Writing location
  • Music that helps to get the words flowing
  • Hours worked
  • Coffee-intake
  • You get the idea
  • I like bullet points

However, one thing I’ve always wondered about and never seen is a list of productivity. How much do people get written in a day? (I’m talking word count here.)

So I decided early this month to embark on a mission to discover exactly how much writing I personally do in a day, and that information would then add up to show me how much writing I do in a month, etc. I figured knowing how much I could potentially write in a day would also allow me to set realistic writing goals and then stick to them.

So I made a spreadsheet. It looks like this:

Progress!

The top graph shows the middle column–how many words I’ve written in the accompanying day. (It looks like a broken heart monitor because of my inconsistency.)

The lower graph depicts the right column–the total words in my story. (Preferably, this will constantly be an upward slope.)

The “Total” column starts at 18,180 because that was the word count of my current work when I first embarked on this mission.

Now, before you say anything, hear this:

I posted something similar to this on a Writer’s Digest blog, and it wasn’t but a few moments before I heard the two main complaints which I knew would be on the way.

The first was something along the lines of, “You can’t measure ‘progress’ or ‘productivity’ based solely on word count. You have to be writing quality words for it to count.” I know this. I understand the fact that productivity is measured in two parts–word count and word quality. I guess what I’m doing is trying to measure the half of that that I’ve never seen measured before.

The second piece of advice that I was offered was to not spend so much time documenting my writing in numbers that it negatively impacts my actual writing time. To that I would say that, in an amazing and brief moment of near-photographic memory, I remembered how to input the proper functions into the spreadsheet so that the program would do all of the number counting work for me. (It’s been something like seven years since I learned how to work Excel in a high school computer class.) At any rate, rest assured that I don’t dump a ton of useful writing hours into counting my words instead. After a ten-minute setup to get everything in the spreadsheet working, I just put in my story’s current word count at the end of each day and it figures out how much I’ve written and updates the graphs, as well as giving me a running total and a daily average.

My goal, incidentally, is to write an average of one thousand words per day. Note that although I had two days of no writing (my girlfriend and I were out of town seeing the Decemberists in Oakland and then visiting my sister, and there was just no time), my average is still above a thousand–barely–due to a few days of heavy writing.

I chose 1,000 words per day because that makes it easy to make a monthly goal of about 30,000 words, and that kind of scale will let me see the ups and downs of my actual writing time, which I’m extremely curious about.

Okay, sleepy time. Good night, world!

Good Evening

I read a lot of blogs these days–literary agents’ blogs, authors’ blogs, publishing companies’ blogs–all of which are full of useful and interesting information. And it’s been making me think, Why, I’m a writer! Maybe I should blog, too!

Admittedly, there was a short, uninteresting internal argument about whether anyone would bother to read it (and whether I had any useful or interesting information of my own to share with blog readers such as myself) before I realized that, hey, I don’t care. Blogs, in my opinion, are quite similar to journals. No, I’m not going to write all of my deep dark secrets on here, but I also don’t feel that I should have to say something amazingly interesting to say something at all. You dig it?

Anyway, there you go. An introduction. Hope this leads to some good times!