Category Archives: accountability

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.

Update

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.

Trifecta-in-waiting

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.