Writing – Whassup with me!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was a terrible commercial where people said “Whassuuup” to each other over and over, and this commercial had nothing to do with writing.  But…. I’m gonna use it as an excuse to update you on my writing anyway! Mwuhahaha!

First, I’m writing again. Yay!!! And for 143 days in a row!  Double yayyyy!!!

My minimum is 1 sentence, and many days I get less than 100 words. But word count per day has been getting bigger, and my last session I hit 2,300+ words. Triple YAYYY!!!

If you want to know what I’m up to, I’m doing my own version of the mini habits system by Stephen Guise. Basically, it’s a really low-bar checklist so I don’t wimp out. Here’s the book that got me started, and it’s working for me:

good writing habits!
Yes, this an affiliate link! But it’s a really good book about he started writing.

Getting stronger after hell

My writing muscles are building back up, and my prose quality is going up. I have better control over the pacing and emotional beats of my scenes, as well. Basically, I’m getting all those skills back that I lost after my Three Years of Hell (TM), where my mother died,  grandfathers died, my house burned down, and I almost died and lost a lot of mental sharpness because of a surgery gone wrong.

Writing novels only for now

Writing wise, I’ve been working exclusively on novels. Honestly, I don’t have the time or the emotional fortitude to submit my short stories, so no sales there.

I’ve currently got two projects in the works:

  1. A rewrite of novel (first book in a series)
  2. A new novel (second book in said series)

I work on both every day, minimum 1 sentence each, and I also work on outlines (minimum one step/spreadsheet cell) or scene sketches (minimum three bullets) every day. Them’s the rules, and they’re working for me.

The daily grind!

The rewrites on the first book are soaking up most of my word count. It was a particularly hard book to edit, and I edited it 3.5 times line-by-line before I figured out what was wrong: The writing just isn’t up to my standards, and a simple edit will never fix it. Normally I’d trunk it and move on, but the structure is strong, and there are some really kick-ass scenes, and I like the characters. Complicating matters is that I’m about 22,000 words into the second book of the same series.

So I’m currently in the process of taking scene sketches and rewriting the entire book 1 from scratch. It’s the first time I’ve ever done a rewrite from scratch, and it scared the hell out of me at first. Honestly, it’s not terribly hard. It’s just loooooooong. It takes a lot of time because you’re doing double work, scene sketches, then writing. I know someone’s going to say I don’t need the sketches, but I think I do; I need the buffer so the bad writing of the earlier drafts doesn’t “infect” this one.

Results for my Writing

The results so far have been fantastic. It’s gone from a book that I couldn’t say enough bad things about to one I’m actually satisfied with. Quadruple YAAAAAY!

I know I know, you still have one more question: What ELSE am I doing (because I can’t possibly be busy enough)? Well…

한국어 배우고 었으습니다. I’m learning Korean!

NOW…. Whassup with you? C’mon… WHASSSSSSUUUUUUUP with you?

I have quite a few articles  on  writing. If you’re interested in them, may I suggest you start here with “The Path to Mastery”.

Writing lots of words!

So, I mentioned recently that I’ve been researching productivity and how to speed up my writing. Well, it’s been going pretty well. Actually, I’m lying.

I’m bouncing with joy at the results!

–Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics–

Here are my results. As always, statistics should be taken with a grain of salt:

  • 51,780 Total Words for the entire month of January, 2016
  • Writing
    • 26,747 new words
      • all before Jan 16, when rough draft was complete
    •  2578.2 average WPH (words per hour)
  • Editing
    •  22,276 words edited
    •  869.7 average WPH

The remaining words fall into a misclellaneous bucket of brainstorming, plot noodling, etc.

–How Many I Keep–

I keep getting this weird question, over and over: “But how many do you keep?”

This is a weird question, that seems to assume that more productivity is worse productivity. I’ve actually seen a reverse trend. I’m getting out lots of words, and while they might not be perfect, I have, out of 17 scenes written with the process, only tossed half of one in the garbage.

…And that was a really complicated fight scene.

…And what I threw away gave me a much firmer grip on what needed to happen and what order.

So no real words lost. Instead, mostly, I end up expanding the words.

–Some Cold Water–

This is nothing compared to some authors, who get 10k words per day on a consistent, repeatable basis. I can only dream of getting there.

I’m currently at about 3-4k per day for new words, and 700-1.9k for edits.

That said, I’m doing pretty well, a lot better than any time I’ve had before. It’s massively more productive than the 0 words a day I had been getting, that’s for sure!

And, fingers (and toeses and noses) crossed that I’ll get better! Especially on my editing speed!

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. My stats are like completely unimpressive, but that’s not shocking for an unknown genre short story writer.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Novels, Old and New – and Doubts

I’ve been plugging away at my novels, up to 16k words on the new novel, a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-style adventure that uses Tai Chi Chu’an (Taijiquan) as a central element.

I’ve also been getting a reader to plow through my Great Depression-Era Range War/Western novel; when feedback is in from that, I will send it to an agent.

Writing-wise I am consistently, if slowly, scrimshawing out words. Submission- and agent-wise I am in the doldrums, drifting about the ocean sails-up with no wind in sight.

I don’t think there’s such a thing as a writer without self-doubt gnawing at his/her bones. The current, devouring ones for me:

1) If I sell both books, can I really get away with jumping genres so wildly?

2) I don’t seem to write as cleanly or as muscularly as I used to. Will I ever be as skilled again with words?

3) The current novel looks like it will be huge, and the themes are very scattered. Am I skilled enough to pull it off? Will I have to go back and do a rewrite, mid-draft, to keep making forward progress?

4) Will I ever successfully write a sequel to anything?

“Master of the Five Magics” and Me: A Peaen on Being a Rouded Individual

Once upon a time I was a twenty-year old in College and I read a book called “Master of the Five Magics” by Lyndon Hardy, and it was good. In it, young apprentice Alodar travels across his world, learning each of the five magics there, but consistently being defeated by his enemies. He doesn’t give up, though, and eventually overcomes adversity…

Fast forward to today, and here is me, S. Boyd Taylor, struggling to learn Mandarin, dedicating myself to 8 different martial arts — Baguazhang (Liang and Cheng Styles), Xingyiquan (Hebei Style), and Taijiquan (Chen, Wu, Wu-Hao, Yang and Sun Styles) — and doing my best to master the art of writing fiction. I am trying to be the Master of 10 Magics, and that doesn’t even count Spanish or any of the other languages that I want to learn.

This, I believe, is a noble pursuit: the pursuit of a better, more rounded self. Admittedly, I still need to learn music, but I have at least made a passable attempt at learning guitar, and one day I shall return to it.

There is a serious problem with this path, however. I am spread very thinly. I have very little time for each individual endeavor, and many skills that must be maintained or the fade quickly. And I also have a day job. And money problems. And, most importantly, I have a family, and I treasure every moment with them.

Arguably, it will take a long, long time to become a master at any of these skills, but my answer to this is that I have been doing several of them a very long time. I have been writing and alayzing fiction since I was 11. The internal martial arts I have been doing since 2005 (however, with a 3 year hiaitus — I am really in “getting my skills back” mode here). Chinese, of course, is new. And, accordingly, it is getting a lot of attention —  Pimsleur every day on the commute, Rosetta Stone in the morning.

But there is anther, more insidious problem with all of these hobbies: Opportunity Cost. I could focus on one of them (presumably writing) and become absolutely as good as I can be at it, more fully developed, more fully skilled. And from there, if I get lucky, I could possibly, one day, in a perfect world, in a dream, make enough money not to need the day job.

I am deeply conflicted about this. I really love my martial arts, and this drive to learn languages is almost an illness. But, though I really do like my job a lot and love my boss, and I am reading the Michael Palin Diaries: The Python Years, and it is amazing how much brilliant work he cranked out by the age of 35.

I am 38 now. And what have I done?

This troubles me greatly, in a very fundamental way. How can I achieve my dreams if I do not focus more tightly, more intently? But can I really be satified if I leave my other dreams behind?

A noticeable lack of writing that must be corrected

I have not been writing. Instead, I have been “researching” wuxia fiction and TV shows for the past several weeks — that’s my official excuse.

I’ve always wanted to write a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon style story — possibly a whole epic fantasy trilogy — and, for some reason, I decided to start researching it now.

That said, I still have not finished the Dark Sequel. Instead, I’ve been watching a Wuxia TV series. Bad me! I know! But now that series is done, and I have my life back — I believe it is time to start back on the Dark Sequel and knock the rough draft out of the way so I can start writing other stuff.


Things seem to be roaring along. +1350 words today.

I wish I had hit 2,000 words, but I think I need to build back up to that kind of output or I might sprain my brain. I also did quite a bit of work visualizing and high-level outlining Book 3 in the series. I just want to crank these two books out, so I have them done — mostly so I can prove to myself that I can write a series.

Once they’re done, I have dreams of going back and completely retooling my Epic Fantasy (Trunk) Novel from the ground up. Then finishing THAT trilogy. I need to be able to write faster, consistently, at least 2,000 words every weekday, so I can get all of these books FINISHED.

Also, side note — I practiced Kung Fu (Xingyiquan Ba Shr Chui and Wu Xing Lian Huan, also Yang Taiji 24 Postures.) I will try to play a little guitar when I get home to get a trifecta.

Reading Notes: (You have to read to write, it all goes into the grist mill)

I have given up on Milan Kundera for now, and have resorted to Abercrombie’s “The Blade Itself”, which is pretty damn fun.

I have finished the Michale Palin Diaries Audiobook and am listening to an audiobook of Graham Chapman’s “Liar’s Autobiography” still (almost done). I will re-listen to both of them immediately when I am done. It’s amazing how they dovetail together.


1) Already did Kung Fu today — 2 hours, different forms. I think I have finally learned the second Yang Fan form all th way through; it is a gorgeous form, and I’m happy to have finally learned it. Now I just need my knee to cooperate enough to hit the low stances cleanly.

2) About to take a shower and leave for writing; I have work to do reformatting my novel slightly. It is not new words, but it is something I can do to increase my chances of getting a novel sale; this will be writing for the day.

3) Since to hit a trifecta, I only need to play some guitar, right after this post (and before the shower) I will go play a few songs.

That will be a rocking day.

Accountability – Trifecta

Accountability details.
1) Writing: +1000 more words on that shortstory I am rewriting from scratch. It’s going pretty well, really. It’s a funny little story, all I can hope is it makes people laugh. I like it.
2) Kung Fu: Did Yang Taiji 24 today, and Xingyi Wu Xing Lian Huan (Xingyi 5 Element Linking Form). Not much, but some!
3) Guitar: Played the stuff I normally play. I really only have two songs.

Trifecta complete.

Writing Again

I’ve been writing again, +1000 words Thursday, +1250 words today (Friday). Rewriting an trunked short story that was more summary than action. originally it was only 2,000 words long, now it looks like it may hit 4k or 6k.

No trifectas recently. To be honest, I’m not sure that since the baby there is time to do trifectas anymore. Two things per day I could fit in — but three? Man, it will be hard. We will see.

Still, I intend to keep the posts up for personal accountability more than anything, but right now it looks like there won’t be any more writing until Sunday (or even Monday) at the earliest.