Nancy: January Recap

One January 2015 project that did get completed: our patio.

One January 2015 project that did get completed: our patio.

This side patio connects to the back patio shown in the top picture.

This side patio connects to the back patio shown in the top picture.

As hard as it is to believe, the month of January has already passed! That means roughly one-twelfth of my word count/annual writing goals should be behind me. Now it’s time to address step 3 of my 3-step writing plan, which is to assess my writing progress against my goals at the end of each month. I’d like to say I’m starting off the year with a great big ‘Success!’ banner hanging in my office, but the truth is, the January results are mixed.

First, the good news. I did ‘touch the story’ every single day. If I wasn’t adding (or in many cases, subtracting) words, I was working through plot issues or building playlists or engaging in discovery for not only book 1 of my planned historical romance series, but for the other books and series as a whole, as well. And it really has helped. I’m spotting plot holes and fatal flaws much earlier in this draft than in other first draft I’ve done.

Keeping a running scene inventory of what I’ve written and what I still have left to write has allowed me to move, add, and delete scenes as needed to fix those problems. And boy, howdy, has this book (already!) had its problems. From a heroine who had a goal then promptly forgot after about page 5, to a h/h who lacked sexual chemistry and read more like an old married couple than young lovers, I’ve had to go back to the whiteboard almost every day this past week just to get things on track enough to allow me to get through the first draft.

Which brings me to the less successful part of my tale. According to my writing goal spreadsheet, the first draft of book 1 was to be completed last week, and by now I was supposed to have written the first 5,000 words of book 2. Yeah, about that…So, I did pass my January goal of 15k + new words. However, they’re all in book 1. And I probably have another 10-15k to go. In the end, this planned  40k-word long novella/short novel will probably be between 65-70k words, and that’s if I keep one of the subplots that’s important to establish the overall series really bare bones. At this rate, it seems unlikely that I will teach myself to tell a short story/novella/anything that takes less than 50k words any time soon.

To sum it up, I’ve stayed involved in my story (√) and made my word count goal (√), but have still managed to get behind schedule (√-). But tipping the balance of the scales is the fact that I got to spend two January weekends with writing friends! That’s one of those intangibles that can’t be reflected on a spreadsheet that not only adds joy to the writing process, but to life in general. During the first weekend, I got to share in brainstorming sessions and discussions of creativity and inspiration. During the second weekend, our conversations often turned to the business side of things (and I learned that friend of the blog Mindy Klasky will be publishing a business writing primer this year, and I have it on good authority that there will be spreadsheets – be still, my overly-organized, Excel-loving heart).

So I’m chalking up January as a success. How was your first month of 2015? Any successes or not-quite successes you’d like to share?

8 thoughts on “Nancy: January Recap

  1. I tried not to make too definite of goals for this month . . . but I do believe I put some down in the comments somewhere (can’t find them now). I did read at least one book a week on average about my time period, and found a couple of stinkers (mostly academic books on sewing and on housing) that didn’t give me much to work with, and some really good books that helped me clarify my thinking. I also read a lot of newspapers from the era, which gave me some of the details I was looking for.

    I didn’t actually touch the story nearly enough.

    I think you are amazing, though — patio completed, traveling AND progress on your book! Good job, you!

    • Based on our brainstorming sessions with you, it sounds like you’re really getting a handle on this time and place. Do IRC it’s turn of the century – 1899ish?

      I just started reading Cocaine Blues (the first Phryne Fisher mystery novel), which is set in 1920s Australia. There’s a lot more description (and sittin’ and thinkin’), at least in the early parts of the book, than I’d typically like, but it is fun to ‘feel’ that very different time period and place.

      • (-: You do, indeed. February 1899. And if the Girls are right, sequels in the summer of 1899 and finally in December of 1899.

        I loved the title of the Phryne Fisher novel I had, and I loved the concept, but just couldn’t get into the writing. It seemed that Phryne did a lot of moaning for a free-spirited flapper (-:. I wanted to see her do something cool, even if it was just get up and dance.

        And, now I see that problem from the writer’s side. Too much action and description may be skipped over because it makes things draggy (and the reader is going, “huh? Where am I?”). Too much description (and sitting and thinking dreary thoughts) and the action has no place to fit in. Quite frankly, as a reader, I would rather have more description than unsupported action. I like a detour into trivia, if it’s fun.

    • Thank you! The only thing wrong with the longer book is it means all my writing time estimates for the series are off. But schedule adjustments, much like plot devices, will ensue!

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