2020 Writing Year in Review

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Holidays and other traditional posts have made this a bit later than usual, but I still wanted to take some time to look at my 2020 writing year and see what I accomplished.

I’m actually pretty proud of the work I did in 2020 overall.  I did the Get Your Words Out (GWYO) habit tracking challenge again, and this year I actually made my goal, completing some amount of writing work on 314 out of 365 days.  My goal was 240.

Here are a few fun metrics from the data produced by the spreadsheet GYWO provide for tracking.  I tracked time as well as days which turned out to be quite interesting.

I tracked progress on nine different writing projects, one major sewing project, as well as other sewing, ML work, and my D&D prep work this past year.  It came out to a total of 432.6 hours spent on creative projects.

I spent the most time on my NaNoWriMo project, now a series called Relationships and Readings, with 97.1 hours spent.  (All of that in October, November, and December too!)

I spent 241.9 total hours on writing projects and 66.6 hours on making projects (sewing and the like).

I also apparently spent 121.4 hours on ML related tasks, events, etc in October and November.  (I was tracking this largely out of curiosity.)

This averages out to 6 hours a week or .85 hours (51 minutes) a day spent on creative projects.

None of these numbers are perfect, and they’re likely all underestimations as I’m not always great about tracking, but it gives me an idea of how I spend my creative time over the course of a year.

So what did that all result in?

Among all those hours, I spent 54.6 hours working on book three in the Swords and Shields series.  Toward the end of last year I got book two pretty close to finished.  It still needs a close reading for style, grammar, etc, but the basic structure of the story is settled.  Because of how book two and three relate, I want to release them close together, so I moved on to working on book three this year.  Those hours included some hefty rewriting, a lot of reorganizing, attempts to figure out how to be a plotter, and I’m still not happy with or finished with book three.  I burned myself out a bit on the project though, so I set it aside to work on other things.  I’m hopeful that I can come back to it in 2021 with fresh eyes, fresh perspective, and some new spaces to ask for help untangling the story so that I can make substantial progress on it this year.  Book three was the project I spent the second most time on, which I feel pretty good about.

The fact that I averaged nearly one hour a day also makes me pretty proud, especially with that writing spread across more than 300 days of the year.  I did a good job of prioritizing my creative pursuits this year, and that’s something that I want to continue.  2020 was a very hard year in a lot of ways, and I, like many others, spent time thinking about what matters most to me, and one of those things is my creative pursuits.  Some of my creative pursuits, like sewing and writing, have tangible end-products that I can use or share with the world.  Some, like planning and prepping for a D&D session, don’t have a lasting and tangible product, but that doesn’t make them any less important.  Creativity in my life is very important to me.  Writing gives me so much more than just a completed story.  It gives me space to explore my emotions, practice empathy, and through my writing communities (like NaNo and GWYO) a way to connect with others.

I hope at the end of next year I can look back at these numbers and compare them to my 2021 numbers and find that I’ve carved out even more time for my creative pursuits and prioritized the joy and fulfillment I get from them.  I already have a pretty good start with more than 16 hours on creative projects this January.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful New Year so far, and that you’re making progress on your goals for the year like I am.  Keep writing, making, and creating.

December Goals

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NaNoWriMo has officially come to a close.  I now have to remember what normal life is supposed to look like.  (I use the term normal very loosely here.)

Step One:

Continue writing every day.  I only missed one day in October, and I didn’t miss any days in November, so I’m going to write every day of December too and I’m joining an accountability buddies group for writing every day of 2021 in addition to signing up for GYWO again.  I’m looking forward to prioritizing my writing again in a more intentional way.

Step Two:

Get back into my normal routine.  Work during work hours on weekdays, goof off in the evenings, and change up the routine a bit on weekends.  Sunday write-ins will continue to be a thing in my life even if they have been virtual since March.  I’ll add some additional writing time Sunday nights with a writing Twitch stream my friend does.  I might try to set up a regular night for gaming with friends in whatever form that takes.

Step Three:

Goals.

I’d like to try to get enough of the story I’m working on strung together into something with a plot to move forward with the idea as a whole.  There are romance plots, intrigue plots, social tension plots, and maybe an overarching revolution of class structure in society plot, but I need to make sure enough scenes pull on the threads of a given plot to make it work developing.  That’s the part I want to spend time on in December that’s not just about drafting.  I need to do some reorganization and flagging of sections by character and timeline details.  The thing stretches across at least four years now and that’s a bit unwieldy.

I’d also like to work on a few other projects.  I have two sewing projects I’d like to at least start.  One is a pattern I cut out last December that I’d like to finish before the end of the year just so it doesn’t go into a second year.  I also have a project for my mother that’s years late that I should be working on.  Not necessarily in time for Christmas but I need to start working on the silver cloth covers for her various silver things.

I have the family’s collection of slides (the photo kind) and a scanner capable of very nice scans from slides, so I’m working on that and want to at least get the chunk with my sister’s first Christmas done before Christmas.  It’s been fun seeing all the pictures so far, so I’d like to continue chipping away at this project until it’s done (maybe by next Christmas).

What are your December goals?  Any writing, crafting, or productivity you plan to work on this month?

2019 Writing Year in Review

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A lot of writing happened this past year, and a lot of good work toward my writing goals both generally and on specific projects.

I made a Get Your Words Out habit tracking pledge of 240 days for 2019, and missed it by 17.  Considering I’ve gone months without writing in previous years, I think that’s pretty fantastic.  I’ve made the same pledge for 2020, and have confidence I can push through and make it this time. Continue reading

Camp NaNoWriMo Success

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April was a very successful writing month.  My goal for Camp NaNoWriMo was 30 minutes a day of work on some writing project, whether it was new words, editing, rewriting, or planning and world building.  I ended up doing a little bit of everything too.  A secondary goal was to at least do five minutes of work every single day, and I accomplished both goals.  My final count for the month was 1415, 515 above my 900-minute goal, and I didn’t miss a single day.

I worked on a variety of projects.  I did a little bit of drafting new ideas, worked on the edits for book two, and came back to some older fanfic stories to try to finish them off.  I decided to repost some of my fanfic since the original site it was posted to went down a couple years ago.  I think it will be good for my emotional wellbeing to see the reviews that come in, or even just see the view counts going up over time.  Writing is primarily about its value to me personally, but sharing it with others and seeing them enjoy my work is a very close second. Continue reading

2019 Writing Goals: January Progress

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So, today’s blog post is late (but still on Friday!) and I don’t have any good excuses.  I have lots of excuses.  I’ve had a cold, my husband has had a worse cold, I was the Dungeon Master (DM) for my first session of a co-DMed Adventure Guild campaign of Dungeons and Dragons last night, and I’m sure I can think of more.  But none of those are good excuses.  I had time.  I just spent it doing other things.

Most of my January didn’t look like this week has. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo, Process, and December Writing Goals

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I’m very proud of my efforts during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year.  I talked about that last week.  This week, I want to talk about NaNoWriMo in the greater context of my writing process.

Writing is a process.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.  That process also looks different for each and every author.  Some do more planning up front.  Some are like me and Terry Pratchett who said “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”  Some struggle over drafts and relish the chance to edit.  Others (like me) love the drafting process and get bogged down during revisions and edits. Continue reading

New Year, Same Goals

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In January, there’s always a lot of talk about New Year’s Resolutions.  The perennial weight loss goal being one that gets a lot of play in commercials and the media.  I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions, and don’t think I’ve made more than one or two in the past thirty years.

At the beginning of the year, I focus more on what I’m going to continue doing.  What goal that I’m already working on, am I going to focus on this month?  And it’s much more of a monthly check in than it is a New Year’s habit. Continue reading

2017 Writing Year in Review

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2017 has been a rollercoaster year.  In my wider world, the political landscape has been oversaturated with scandal, controversy, and fear.  In my financial world there have been a lot of ups and down, but we’ve managed to keep our heads above water.  In the world of my little two-person family, there have been a few very major lows as well as a few major highs, the top of which has been my husband’s graduation.  I’m not going to get into details on any of that.  I’m just going to look at the rollercoaster my writing has been on this year. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Day Seventeen

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It’s been a good week.  I crossed the 50k mark on November 13, which ties my record for fastest finish from 2012.  Though my record high word count was from 2010 and the site doesn’t have my graph, so I can’t be sure it’s a real record.  My jury duty got postponed and then canceled, so I didn’t lose valuable writing time to that.  And I’m staying at or above my goal of 3,766 words per day on average.

Stats so far:

Highest word count day was yesterday, November 16 with 7,538.

Average words per day is 3,889.

Total word count at the end of November 16 was 62,229.

And I’m looking forward to an amazing weekend full of writing.  We do a big all day writing event in my region on one of the middle Saturdays (usually the same weekend as the Night of Writing Dangerously HQ fundraising event).  It’s tomorrow this year and it’s going to be a blast.  We have write-ins planned all day, a spreadsheet to track competition over sprints and total word count, and great prizes for winners.  It’s going to be a long day full of fun, writing, and lots of great food.  I’ll be exhausted by the end, but it will have been totally worth it.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, how’s your project going?  Are you keeping up with par and/or your personal goals?

NaNoWriMo Day Three

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So it’s NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month), so I’ll be focusing on a fiction project this month.  I’m writing a story that takes place in the same world as Strong Fort Spathí, but focuses on different characters and locations.  This one is set at Black Ashe, the Wiccan University in Fort Madison IA (or at least my fictional version of it).

I’m excited about the characters and the idea and the story.  As of going to bed on the second, I have 7,556 words written so far.  Blog posts are going to be fairly short this month, and mostly center around my NaNoWriMo project, but I’ll still be posting the traditional 2nd Friday image prompt, and I’ll still post a response to that on the 3rd Friday.  (Because words are words, so I get to count my response sprint as NaNoWriMo word count.)

Good luck to anyone else out there doing this crazy challenge.  My personal goal is to beat my all time high word count in NaNo, which means writing at least 112,959 words this November, which is 3,766 words a day.  I’m on track so far.

Let’s do this!