Weekly Digest, Episode 1

Well, look at that. Here’s the first weekly post. I’m one for one, right out of the gate. 🙂

Let’s talk about the last several months to get up to speed here. Here are my word counts, totaled by month, since I started Chris Fox’s “sprint” methodology (August is low because it’s not a full month; only 20 days):

  • August: 31,275
  • September: 46,523
  • October: 42,226
  • November: 42,597

December is sitting at nearly 34,000 words (I’ll probably hit 39-40k by end of month).

Let’s talk about this past week’s counts (12/20 – 12/26):

  • Sunday: 1,203 words, 2 sprints
  • Monday: 1,418 words, 2 sprints
  • Tuesday: 1,015 words, 2 sprints
  • Wednesday: 1,556 words, 2 sprints
  • Thursday: 1,485 words, 2 sprints
  • Friday: 751 words, 1 sprint
  • Saturday: 930 words, 2 sprints

Total: 8,358

Friday was Christmas, but I wrote. How did I do it? I only did one sprint instead of two (it was Christmas, after all), but 30 minutes is easy to fit in. My wife took a nap and the kids were busy playing with their new crap. I sat down for 30 minutes and worked, simple as that. Then I took the rest of the day off.

If you didn’t read my other posts about sprinting, here are the Cliff’s Notes: a sprint for me is thirty minutes of uninterrupted writing time. I close the office doors, put on some music, figure out my next scene, set a timer and start writing. (In a later post I’ll go into more detail on what a typical day looks like for me, but for now this gets the point across.)

You can see some days I struggled with the words. Some days are harder than others. Just a fact of life. It doesn’t excuse me from putting in the time and hitting the quota.

See, my quotas are sprint counts, not word counts. That’s critical to remember.

I set a quota of two sprints per day. Rarely do I ever miss. I gave myself a break on Christmas, for example, but I still wrote. I strive to write every day. I’m currently at 41 consecutive days without a miss, my longest streak  yet.

I used to set a quota of 1,000 words per day. Once I hit it, I’d quit it. That produced fewer words in the end. By setting quotas around sprints (duration) I don’t artificially limit myself to a word count.

I break my sprints into 30 minute intervals. That’s about the longest I prefer to sit and peck away at a scene or chapter. Yours could be longer or shorter. I get up in between, usually to take a shower and think about my next scene, then I sit back down and get sprint #2 finished. After that, I’m done for the day.

Why only two sprints per day, you ask? With my schedule that’s good for me. It keeps me productive while not burning me out. I tend to be a workaholic, so if I don’t put a cap on things I’ll burn too hot and too fast. Two sprints nets me an average of 1,500 words per day. That consistency is key, but that’s a topic for another post.

How did you do last week? If you wrote more than 8,000 words then congrats, you’re better than I am. Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you wrote a thousand or so. Less? Maybe you didn’t write at all.

But…but…the holidays…family…work…responsibilities…porn…[insert excuse here].

That’s okay, let it go. The past is gone, so focus on the future. Remember, your future starts tomorrow; not next year, not next month. Tomorrow. Hell, today if you like.

Regardless of when you start it, your future should not include excuses. We’ll talk about that later too.

I’ll be back next week with more rambling, word counts and random crap. Until then, if you read, keep reading. If you write, keep writing and reading.


More In 2016

I’ll probably spend more time here in 2016. I’ll shoot for weekly posts, give or take, to give you some insight into what I’m doing and how it’s working. If you’re a reader, maybe you’ll get some insight into how I write the books. Maybe that’ll interest you, maybe not.

If you’re a writer, then maybe my lessons learned can also help you. I’m not a bestseller and I’m not an old pro, but I’m a full-time career person with a family who writes at a pace of six novels a year. So if you’ve been making excuses about why you “don’t have time” to write or writing feels more like work than fun or you just can’t squeeze out more than a book every other year then maybe my experiences can inspire you.

Or maybe just piss you off enough to actually write. That still counts as inspiration, right?

I’ve written eight novels. One of them will never see the light of day (you guessed it, my first novel). Three of them are finished, but waiting to go out to my editor. The rest are ready for you to buy. I also have some novellas and short stories out there. Buy those too.

I got back into writing five years ago and made out like a bandit during the “Kindle Gold Rush”. I’ve survived the sales decline after those glory days and I’m still hanging on after the “KU Apocalypse”. I’ve seen other writers come and go in the past five years, but I’m still here. I’m tenacious, if nothing else.

2016 will be all about production for me. No focus on marketing my books or frenetic sales checking. No worrying about sales rank and all that business. With my mind laser-focused on writing new words, we’ll explore that in depth.

I’ll talk about consistency and I’ll share word counts. I’ll talk about rewriting traps and bold choices, about making self-doubt my bitch and staying focused on things that matter (and ignoring things that don’t).

I’ll piss on uppity attitudes about “real literature” and being a “hack” and “writing fast”. I’ll talk about why consistent is better than fast. I’ll talk about the hard truths I’ve learned from this business and the craft of writing itself. And more. All kinds of stuff to talk about.

If that sounds like your kinda thing, then tag along. 2016 is going to be a fun year.

Looking Back at 2015

As we near the end of another year, I’m again reflecting back and forecasting the future. This is usually a time of rueful regret and desperate hope for me; regret that I didn’t achieve the goals I’d set for myself this year and a desperate hope that next year will be better.

This year I’m neither ruefully regretful nor desperately hopeful. And that’s a good thing.

If you’ve been following along with this blog you’ll know that I found a new writing methodology, a discipline if you will, that has allowed me to quadruple my output. Four months in and not a sign of letting up, I’m now producing at a rate of six novels per year.

You’re going to see a lot more books coming your way from me next year. Mostly that’s because I’m now more disciplined with my writing, but also because I’m going to forego rewriting in 2016.

What exactly is “rewriting”? For you writers out there, I’m following Dean Wesley Smith’s advice on rewriting. For you readers out there who don’t care about that, don’t worry. Just know that it means I’ll be able to produce much more quickly and that the books should, in theory, be better because of it.

Despite spending the first half of 2015 stuck in the mud, I still produced quite a bit of work this year. I finished a bunch of open projects, I wrote a new crime novella and a new Mothman-inspired horror novel. I’m currently halfway through writing a “weird western” novel (western meets horror) and while that won’t be completed in 2015 it’ll be finished by the end of January 2016.

Speaking of the Badlands trilogy…book #3, Out of the Badlands, is finished! Yay! It will go off to my editor in January, publishing (tentatively) late March. Once I get a solid date from my editor I’ll put up a preorder page and send out an email to my mailing list. So get on that list if you’re not already.

In additional to Badlands #3, 2016 will see publication of my Mothman horror novel (titled It Came From the Mountain) along with that weird western, tentatively titled The Saint, the Sinner and the Coward.

After that, I’m not entirely sure what’s next. I might just have another zombie book in me. I swore I wouldn’t do another one unless I had a unique story to tell. Well, I think I have one. If it survives the outlining process then I might start on that one in February. We’ll see. I’ll send out a spring newsletter to keep you in the loop regardless.

What’s the future look like? Pretty damn bright right now. I’m loving writing, loving the idea of not having to rewrite and looking forward to publishing as many as six books next year. If you like my work then hopefully you’re looking forward to reading them. Win-win, eh?

In the meantime, you can preorder my crime novella right now, titled Yesterday In Black, from Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. It comes out on December 15th everywhere, including Barnes & Noble (sorry, their system won’t handle preorders yet). Check out my other stuff here and don’t be shy about telling all your friends. 😉

Until next time, take it easy.