As you may or may not know, I keep a spreadsheet of my daily word counts. Nerdy, I know, but you’d be surprised how helpful it can be with keeping goals and staying motivated. As part of that, I’ve decided to do a quarterly report here on my blog. Here’s my report for April 2010 through June 2010:
The red line shows my daily word count, and the blue line shows a running 7-day total.
At the beginning of April, I was somewhere in the middle of writing Mercenary Savior 3.0. I was also in the middle of a long and strenuous debacle with BYU’s Washington Seminar. Long story short, I got kicked out under disputed circumstances.
Anyway, that explains the sharp dip in the first couple of weeks. I returned to my parents’ house in Massachusetts on April 6th and spent a week there before moving out to Utah; that explains the short lived bump from April 6 to April 12.
So three weeks before graduation, I came back to Utah with no job, no apartment, no transportation besides my own feet–nothing. Fortunately, some friends helped me out, and for the rest of April and most of May I at least had transportation (bike) and a roof over my head.
Without a job, I had lots of writing time, and I used it well, as you can see. The sharp dip at the end of April corresponds with graduation, when all the family was over and I was spending most of my time with them.
Things dropped off the second half of May, though, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was writing fatigue? I was coming up on the end of Mercenary Savior, and as I remember, the revision was fairly tough. Also, I was stressed out about not having a job, and spent much of my free time looking for work. I found my current part-time job at the end of May, and had a few spikes, but my output never totally recovered.
As an experiment, I took a week off from writing after finishing Mercenary Savior on the first of June. I thought that this would help me recharge my creative batteries and get off with Worlds Away from Home on a good start. Instead, I found that taking the time off made it harder to get back into creative writing mode, and so I struggled for the first week or two to really get that project off the ground.
Lately, I’ve been trying to bump up my output above 10k per week, without much success. For some reason, I seem to have fallen in a rut where I can’t write more than 2k per day. 2k is good, but it’s not the level where I want to be. I want to finish Worlds Away from Home in the first couple weeks of August, so that I’ll have plenty of time to polish Mercenary Savior for World Fantasy in November.
I think that part of the problem lies in the nature of the work. Mercenary Savior was all straight up revision, with very little new content. Worlds Away from Home, however, involves a ton of new content. Yes, I’ve got all that stuff I wrote back in the fall of 2008, but I’ve also added a new viewpoint character and significantly changed the basic storyline. Only about half of the old stuff is recyclable, and I’ll run out of it in 100 pages, roughly at the midway point of the novel.
After revising for so long, it’s hard to get used to writing a first draft. I’m not sure how to describe it, except that it takes a lot more mental energy–a LOT more. Plus, there’s always the nagging voices that tell you what you’re writing is crap–and when you’re writing your rough draft, the voices are usually right! Tuning them out is starting to be a challenge.
Overall, though, I’m very optimistic. My main goal is to produce one solid, polished novel a year, and I’m still on schedule to accomplish that. Mercenary Savior requires AT LEAST another revision before it’ll be good enough to send out to editors and agents, but I’ve got half a year to do that. As for 2011, I’ll almost certainly have the first or second draft of Worlds Away from Home before January 1st. Things are going well.
And on that note, I think I’m going to take a shower and go to bed. Night.