End of July Report

We got back from Vegas last night. My beloved had to go for a work conference, and he doesn’t fly without me, so I had a writer’s retreat. Nope, I didn’t gamble, didn’t see any shows, shoot, I only went outside twice, and the second time it was so hot we got about 100 feet and retreated to the air conditioning. I did a lot of writing, shopped some, and ate some really good (and some really not good) food. It’s not the traditional Vegas experience, but it worked for me.

The month didn’t have a great start. Early July never does since we always have company about that time. Mid-month it picked up a bit since I knew I had my retreat coming up. I got back on the wagon with some world building rather than jumping right back into the WIP, and it paid off. By the time we were settled into the Mandalay Bay Resort And Hotel, I had a clear picture of what I needed to do.

It wasn’t without drama. My laptop died last year, and since I only work remotely a few weeks a year, I write on my iPad with a wireless keyboard. It’s bare bones, but it travels light. This time, I arrived not realizing that while the Word and Excel apps are free, you need a subscription to actually use them. Not only that, but I didn’t have the current version of  my WIP, even though I specifically remember saving it in the right place.

Whatever.

I busted out a new Google Doc and worked from memory. Amazingly, it only required the sacrifice of 38 words when I got home. I’d started with basically what I ended with in Scrivener, but I wrote it better, so the old words got cut. I’m not heartbroken.

Here are the numbers for those of you keeping score:

July time: 32.4 hours

YTD time: 199.67 hours

July words: 12,981

YTD words: 101,227

Yes, that’s right! I broke 100k! Today, as a matter of fact. I haven’t gone back through my old spreadsheets to see if and when the last time was, but I’m pretty certain it wasn’t in July. I have a lofty plan to average 25,000 words a month for the rest of the year so I can break another 100k. I know, the numbers don’t match, but I’ve got a good month’s worth of activities (excluding Christmas, because I don’t know what we’re doing yet) that will keep me away from Balphrahn, so that will carry me right up to the new year. If I plan 25,000 and only hit 20,000 I might not end up too much behind.

In the meantime, the book 1 draft is done, and the book 2 draft is started. I call that a win.

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End of May report

I have no idea how it’s June already, but my calendar says it is. I think it’s a lying cuss, but I can’t prove it.

May was marginally better than April. Not that April was hard to beat. The goal now is for April to be the worst month all year. Numbers for the month: 8,296 words, and nearly 13 hours. I did manage a 12 day streak at the end of the month. The second half was far better than the first. Now it’s a matter of maintaining, although I’m starting to wonder whether I should allow myself a day off once in a while and not concern myself with the streak so much. Maybe focus on days/month instead of days in a row? That might be a more workable solution.

I made some progress on Balphrahn, and I read some books. I’ve also been working the new day job, and that’s been zapping my creativity a fair bit, but like I said, it’s better than it was. At least I’m down to one job now, and that’s freed up some time. That’s good, because I put my garden in. Between the garden and pots, I have 20 tomato plants and 10 green peppers. I did potatoes and sweet potatoes in pots, but I think I drowned the potatoes. They don’t seem to be doing much.

One sort of odd thing I’ve noticed is I’m watching less TV. It just doesn’t keep me occupied like it used to. I still have favorites I like to watch, but between DVR and the Netflix/Amazon/Hulu trifecta, I can watch when I feel like it. That’s helped productivity in other areas.

Oh, and I figured out why my dryer wasn’t drying. The outside vent had significant lint build-up, and there wasn’t anyplace for the moisture to go. I cleared it out and it works like a champ now.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Plugging along. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

 

April Wrap Up

It wasn’t pretty, y’all. In fact, after March, it’s almost depressing. Granted, I’ve been juggling two day jobs, had kids in town over Easter, and was gone for a week. Not making excuses. Just trying to give myself a little grace so maybe I’ll stop beating myself up.

For disclosure and accountability purposes, I wrote 7,840 words and logged 16.25 hours in the office. I did manage to keep up on the blog schedule. Also, it’s the best April I’ve had since 2014. Last year I didn’t write at all in April.

Silver linings. April is over, so it’s time to look ahead.

March Wrap Up

Wow, that month went fast. It’s been a ‘head down and gitter done’ kind of month. It wasn’t without disappointment, though. I realized yesterday if I pushed a little bit more, I could double my word count for the year. I tried. I stared at the screen, turned on some music, and pestered Walter The Muse, but there were no words. I finally saved everything I’d already done and walked away, planning to hit it again after dinner. It didn’t happen. I missed my goal by 895 words.

I’m actually not too broken up about it. It was a really good month despite the day job challenges. I continued my streak of writing every day, and put in nearly 57 hours. Total word count for the month was 27,443, bringing year to date to 55,781.

I also read quite a bit. Currently I’m reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (I read it often and highly recommend it), and “The Story Equation” by Susan May Warren. I also read all of Susan May Warren’s Heiress Trilogy (“Heiress,” “Baroness,” and “Duchess”) again.

Based on my progress this month, I’m awfully glad I went to Deep Thinkers last month. It seems to be just what I needed to get things rolling. Here’s to April!

February wrap-up

Were you waiting for this? I was traveling on the first, so while I could have compiled it on the plane, I decided to nap instead.

So. Raw numbers.

February word count: 16,802

YTD word count: 28,338

February hours worked: 35

YTD hours worked: 54

I worked every day in February except the first Monday. I didn’t get up in time to write before the day job, but I learned from that mistake. Also, note I’m counting the last week as work days but didn’t count the hours I was in classes or traveling. I just made a note in the spreadsheet that I was at the retreat. We were in classes 7-10 hours a day. I had enough going on without keeping track of actual work time.

I did have one minor set-back. The last day of the retreat I wrote a scene, which one of the instructors critiqued and made notes on. I forgot to save it. Yesterday I was going to fix it and move on, and the spot for it was in my Scrivener doc with no words. None. Luckily, it was only two days ago, and I’ve started rewriting. It’s not the same scene, but the important parts are there, and I’m writing with the teacher’s comments in mind.

It’s gonna be oooooo-kay.

January wrap up

January isn’t a productive month for me, but this one was better than most. When I packed for the rendezvous, I was intentional about setting things up to be able to work at least part of the time. I made sure to take a table and chairs for inside my tent, packed the wireless keyboard for my iPad and took extra batteries. I downloaded Scrivener, and made sure my WIP and my Excel tracking sheet were available before I left. I even asked Eric to send me back to the tent after breakfast, even if I insisted on washing breakfast dishes. (You saw the view from our kitchen in last week’s post. Can you blame me?)

In short, I used up all my efficiency for the month before January 10.

It did work, sort of. I wrote 5 days out of 14. Not much on the face of it, but usually I spend an hour or two the whole time with a journal and my lap desk, so I’m calling it a win.

The external batteries turned out to be a partial fail. We had a small one and a big one. If I’d been the only one using them, it might have been all right, but Eric was charging with them, too. I think we got one charge for each of our phones and iPads before we used up all the juice. The next morning I took the big one up to the charging station at the front gate and left it for a couple of hours. I went back to check on it, and it was 8%. The lesson learned there is to take multiple small batteries because they charge faster.

Scrivener was a mixed bag. It was great to have all my info with me and not have to copy/paste stuff when I got home. The transition between home and away was seamless, thanks to Dropbox. There were a couple downsides. Because I didn’t take a mouse, I couldn’t highlight text to count words. I got around it by noting total word count in Excel before I started writing, and subtracting it from the new total when I was done. Also, because I saved to Dropbox and not to a hard drive, I had to be online for at least the start (to retrieve everything) and the end (to save new work). That meant using battery time for the iPad and my phone since I used my personal hotspot to access the internet.

Maybe next year, if I do the batteries right, I’ll write more. I might not. We do a lot of visiting since we camp with family, and we have friends we only see there. This year I did a lot of sewing, and there was the one day out with Dad to go to the flea market.

Even apart from the rendezvous, though, it was a fairly productive month. I think word count was about 20% higher than the last 4 Januarys. I didn’t start tracking the amount of time I spend at the desk until the middle of last year, so I have no figures for that.

January 2017 numbers:

Words: 11,536
Days in office: 16
Hours in office: 19.25*
CPE: “Take Off Your Pants” by Libbie Hawker
Finished projects: The draft titled “Looking For Help” until I find the real title
Blog posts: 4
Newsletters: 0

Not great on paper, but it’s probably the best starting point than I’ve had. How’d January go for you guys?

Happy February!

*This is only writing time and doesn’t reflect time spent reading craft books or listening to podcasts. I should probably record that time, too, but honestly some days I’m doing well just to remember to clock in when I sit down.