This year has both trudged on at the pace of a funeral march and has sped by in double-time. Thinking back on everything, I really don’t know how I got this far.
But this isn’t my Milwordy wrap-up yet. I still have more words to write. So, let’s talk about my penultimate week, shall we?
I moved on to a new project this week. I’ve been on a fairy tale retelling kick as of late, partially, I think because it makes the outlining a bit easier on me. I mean, there’s already a plot ready to go, I just have to make it my own. This is something that has been pretty important in the latter half of my Milwordy journey as I was not entirely prepared with what I would write for the whole year.
So, right now I’m working on a Sleeping Beauty retelling (with vampires!). Sleeping Beauty was never one of my favorites, so I can’t believe that I’m working on a retelling, but it’s been fun so far. Sometimes things that you don’t think you’ll enjoy turn out to be a blast. Who knew?
I guess that’s been one of the positives to Milwordy, I’ve worked on ideas that I would have discarded before and found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them. I’m hoping to take this attitude toward trying different things into the post-Milwordy world.
Which is very nearly here!
Next week will be my last Milwordy update. After that I will be doing a full Milwordy wrap-up where I will try to decide whether this whole challenge has been worth it or not. After that, I’m not quite sure what this blog will become. I want to keep writing of course, but after such a year, I will need a bit of a break. But then what? Another challenge? Or do I try to find a writing routine that is a bit more steady? I’m not sure of my direction yet, but I’m excited for what the future holds.
So, next time we meet I will have either triumphantly completed Milwordy or will have inexplicably failed, despite how close I got. Stay tuned!
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I had no idea how little I wrote this week until I sat down to write this update. That weekly total is…not good.
You would think that with how close I am to finishing, I would be more focused than ever. Instead, I have a case of senioritis. Now is no time to drop the ball though! I don’t have wiggle room anymore.
Most of the words I wrote this week were done with pen and paper, which has become pretty rare during this challenge. I can type or dictate much, much faster than I can handwrite and so it’s just not practical most of the time.
Still, there’s something really pleasant about writing in a notebook, particularly when I am brainstorming. Despite not having a big word count to show for it, I feel like this week was a very good week for writing. I did a good amount of brainstorming for the story I’m going to write after this challenge is all over.
But I can’t afford to lollygag here, so next week, I’m going to buckle down and get a lot of writing done.
Only two weeks left! Ah!
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Yep, I’m behind on my updates again. No, I have not yet completed the challenge, but I’m getting there. Anyway, this was supposed to go up weeks ago, so it’s a snapshot of where I was then, more than it is for where I’m at now. More to come soon!
I alsowant to note that there is a slight correction in my word count because 238 words that I wrote didn’t get counted last week. My spreadsheet game is a little off. Anyway, on to the actual update!
The total for this week doesn’t look great, I know, but remember that I don’t need as many words a week as I have for the rest of this challenge.
I’m under 40k away from finishing Milwordy. I think if I absolutely had to, I could finish that in a day. Like, I’ve never actually written that much in a day, but I’m pretty sure I could if I needed to.
That’s probably not a great thing for me and my procrastination-brain to be thinking right now…but it’s hard not to. It’s hard not to consider that there’s almost no way that I can lose this. That even if it came down to the very last day of August, I could probably still make this work. I’ve never been in that place with this challenge before. No matter how much I wrote on any given day, I would still have more to write the next day.
Oh, and don’t think I haven’t thought about just finishing this in one huge caffeine-induced spurt. Because I definitely have. As of yet though, that has not materialized as an appealing option. I will keep it in my back pocket though, just in case.
Anyway, the challenge is going well. I’m behind on the month, but ahead on the year—as has been true for just about every month during this whole challenge. What else is new, right?
That’s about it for this week. Wish me luck as I head into my last 3 weeks!
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If I’m being honest, I’m surprised to still be standing in this challenge. July was probably my toughest month yet. I just wasn’t as invested in continuing Milwordy.
You would think that I would be more invested, given the fact that I’m so very close to finishing. Yet, I could barely get myself to care about that million-word mark.
But as you can see, I did catch up on my July word count. I more than caught up in fact. I added to my lead. If you were strictly looking at the stats, July was actually my 3rd most productive month after September and October. So…I guess it wasn’t so bad after all?
Out of the 87,190 words I wrote in July, 85,814 of those words came in a single project. And yet…I still didn’t finish that project. Which means I didn’t meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal.
I lost every single NaNoWriMo during this Milwordy challenge, which is a phenomenon that I cannot explain to you. It doesn’t make sense.
Since we’re on the subject of NaNo, the word count that I need for August is 50k words exactly.
Yes, I did that on purpose. No, it wasn’t something I had planned all along, but once I stumbled into July and realized that hitting my July goal would put me close to 50k left for the year, something about it just felt right. Felt poetic. I may not actually be doing this last 50k during a NaNo month, but it still feels that way.
So, my daily word count goal for this month is roughly 1,614 words. That feels laughably easy compared to what I’ve been doing the last 11 months.
Then again, last month I only hit that target 14 out of a possible 31 days so…anything can happen. But we’re already a couple days into August and I’m sailing along pretty smoothly so far.
At this point, it’s difficult for me to imagine not finishing Milwordy. I mean it’s a month. A single month. How can I not finish? Yet, I know that if I don’t stay on my game, that’s something that could happen. I’ve got to be the tortoise, not the hare. No resting on laurels here.
I did consider trying to keep my monthly goal at the 83,334 words that it’s been for every other month of this challenge, even though that would be overkill. There’s a part of me that doesn’t like the unevenness of not trying for that same goal for a 12th time. But I think that I want to finish this challenge on a high note and I don’t think that includes continuing to push myself to my absolute limit. I think it means having fun and maybe taking it a little easy.
“Taking it easy.” Ha! I remember a time when 50k in a month felt impossible. What a weird, perspective-annihilating year this has been!
Anyway, I hope that you’re still with me on this journey. I know my blog has become sporadic and full of lamentations over my inability to keep up the pace, but we’re in the home stretch here. I might just finish this thing! You don’t want to miss that, do you?
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Note: Yep, still posting blogs that are behind the times. But after this one I can resume my normal schedule…if I even remember what that looks like.
Obviously, this was a big week for catching up. Aaaaand…I’m still behind for July. That’s how far behind I was. Still, I’m on track for the year. And if I somehow manage to make up those 27,330 words in the next 5 days, I will only have to write a little over 50k words in August to finish this challenge. Basically, a NaNoWriMo.
Oh! Speaking of NaNo…I might actually, almost by accident, win Camp NaNo this month. Almost all of my words for July have come from the same project. Whether or not I will finish that project in July is another matter, but it’s not impossible.
Another important thing to mention this week is that I crossed that very important 900k line. I have less than 100k words to write in order to reach the one million mark! It seems like it should be so easy!
But I’m going to do it anyway. I feel like that should be the motto for this challenge. It’s not easy; Do it anyway.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!
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Note: This post is a little out of date, but I wanted to publish it anyway, just to keep my record of this year without holes. It will still give you an idea of where I was mentally…you know…two weeks ago
Ha! Back on track!
This week I was almost exactly on par, which means I’m still behind for July. But, I’m on track for the year, which is the most important thing.
Milwordy is a rollercoaster of emotions and this week feels like I’m climbing the big hill before the drop. I haven’t got much of this challenge left to go and it feels like if I can just stay on track through July, then I’m home free.
I had one hiccup this week that almost made me quit. I lost probably a thousand words of work. That’s right, all that talk about backing up your work earlier in this blog, and I didn’t listen to my own advice.
Mostly it’s okay. I was working on some backstory stuff anyway, so losing that work wasn’t such a big deal, except…I don’t know exactly how many words I lost. Which means I didn’t count any of them at all.
I considered just estimating the word count, but in the end, I decided that it would never stop bothering me to not know for sure that I had written all the words that I said I did. So, I just didn’t count any of them. That’s a particularly heartbreaking loss when I’m struggling so hard to get words as it is.
But I’m still here. I didn’t quit. And I’m on track. That’s all that matters right?
That’s all for this week. I hope that you’re enjoying July and that your own writing is going better than mine!
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I mean you can see the stats. You know it’s not good.
I don’t have much to say about this week, mostly because this update was supposed to come out a few weeks ago and it’s no longer relevant. But I wanted to keep a steady record of my stats, so here it is—Week 45 in all its glory.
I didn’t write. Like hardly at all. This must have been my worst week during this challenge and I really don’t have any excuses for it.
I don’t have much more to say so I’m going to make this a small-word-count post for a small-word-count week.
I’ll be posting again real soon to catch up because, boy, am I behind on blog posts or what?
Yeah…those numbers aren’t looking good. Are we surprised?
If you’ve been following this blog for a bit, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling…for several months. That has not gotten better in July. Of course, during this particular week I was on vacation. That vacation was only actually 3 days long, but still…
Vacations are very distracting.
Not only are things not getting better, they’re getting actively worse. You may have noticed that it’s been a long time since my last blog post. That’s because I haven’t been even so much as turning on my computer most days.
I don’t understand why this is so hard. I can look back at so many moments where sitting down to write was easy. The actual writing may not have been easy, but committing to do it was simple. Now it feels impossible.
I have the uncomfortable feeling that this challenge may have taken a sharp turn from motivational into detrimental to my writing. It’s uncomfortable because I know that, if true, it means I need to step away from it for a while. Give myself a break to rejuvenate my love for it.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
And what would it matter? Writing is not my job. There are no outside expectations here. This is just a personal challenge. It’s just me who I’m disappointing.
But how on earth can I stop when I only have 51 days left to go? If I don’t finish now, what exactly have I been doing with my time for the last year?
I don’t think I would ever forgive myself if I quit now. But how do I go on? I can’t seem to get my butt in the chair and hands on the keys most days. How am I supposed to fix that?
Oh, also, I think I can pretty much kiss winning Camp NaNo goodbye. I guess Milwordy and NaNo really don’t mix after all. Who would have figured?
Anyway, I don’t mean to be such a downer, but I guess that’s the danger in jumping into a difficult challenge like this publicly. You can’t really hide your stumbles. And boy, am I stumbling.
I hope that your own ambitions are going better than mine. Let me know down in the comments what you’re working on. I can live vicariously through writers who are actually writing. 😀
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It seems foolish, I know. I mean, I had come so far. Nine months of this challenge and only 3 left to go…why give up?
I was feeling burnt out for one. This challenge is hard. And it’s only gotten harder over time. When I started this thing back in September, things were going so well, I thought I might even be able to finish this challenge early. I wrote 100k words that month! No problem!
It seems like if you can do something for one month, then you should be able to do it again for the next eleven, right?
I’ve never hit that 100k in a month again. Even in my good months, I just can’t get there. Because the excitement of beginning was a more powerful fuel than I realized upon starting this challenge.
It’s not only burn out though. My attention can be a wandering thing. It’s not that writing has none of my attention anymore (obviously) but it is currently taking up way fewer neurons than it did back in September. I haven’t spoken about this on the blog yet, but I’ve thrown myself head first into relearning the piano, which I have been away from for years.
Was it wise to start a new hobby while I’m still trying to do this challenge? Um, no. But I have found over my 34 years on this planet that fighting my interests rarely leads to the best outcome. Sometimes it’s better for me to ride that wave of attention and let it take its course.
Does that mean I’m done with writing? No. Again, it’s not that I’ve abandoned writing, it’s just not central in my mind. This is the way my brain has always worked. And despite many varied interests over time, I’ve always come back to writing.
And who knows, maybe this is my brain’s way of taking a break from something that had been taking a lot of its energy. Maybe this is its way of renewing itself.
This is not, I promise, me telling you that I’m quitting Milwordy. I only have two months to go! I can’t quit now! And if I manage to hit my July goal of 83,334 words—which I plan to!—August should be an easier month. It will basically be a NaNoWriMo month instead of a Milwordy month because I will only need a little over 50k.
Because 50k is so little, right? *cue hysterical laughter.
Speaking of NaNoWriMo…you guys…Camp NaNo is in July.
If you’ve been following along with this blog, you may have noticed that the NaNoWriMos have not been particularly successful for me. You’d think it’d be easy right? I’m writing 83,334 words a month and NaNo is only 50k, I should win by default.
Except I keep setting this extra goal that I need 50k of my 83k to be dedicated to a single project. And I keep failing. And I told myself after my failed Camp NaNo attempt in April that I wasn’t going to do this again…
But like…third time’s a charm?
You can’t say I’m not persistent!
So same rules as last time: 50 of my 83k words have to be in a single project to win NaNo. You guys, I have to win one NaNo during Milwordy. I have to.
I considered making my goal for this Camp NaNo to write 138k (in multiple projects) so that I could finish Milwordy off with a bang. Then I decided that would be a spectacular way to fail my 3rd NaNo of the year and chose a more sensible goal. It would have been pretty awesome though.
So, I have my assignment for July and I’m feeling pretty…okay…about it. Really, pretty okay. Hopefully, the next time we meet, I will have a good progress report for you all!
Who’s on the Camp NaNo bus with me? What are your goals for the month of July?
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As you can see from the stats, I’ve gotten back on track. I don’t know that I will be able to make my June goal of 83,334 words on time, but at least I haven’t fallen behind on the year.
In order to get back on track, I actually started two new stories, both without outlining, so they’re both kind of a mess. Hey, at least I’m writing again, right?
Neither of the stories that I’m working on are typical for me. The first was supposed to be fantasy, but somehow it turned into a contemporary women’s fiction story about a girl in college. See, this is what happens when I have no outline!
The second story is a Bourne-Identity-esque thriller. I say this as someone who has never read nor seen any of the Jason Bourne stuff, but my protagonist wakes up with no memories, yet has a bunch of survival skills that she discovers as she, you know, survives. That just about sums up what I know of the Bourne Identity. And my own story so far. I went into this with the idea that I would discover the story along with my protagonist. So far, I feel like this particular work is really earning me that “Rambling” title.
Even though I’m pretty sure that these two stories are not going to be things that I return to when this whole challenge is over, I think it will do me some good to write outside my typical genres for a while. It’ll keep me fresh, you know? And maybe it will give me some more ideas for other stories.
So, that’s it for this week. Hopefully I can keep chipping away at that word count. We’re nearly to July! It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this challenge for nearly 10 months now. Thanks for coming along with me on this journey!
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If I don’t get 1,022 words today, I will officially fall behind on the write a million words in a year challenge. I don’t mean fall behind for the week or the month. I mean for the first time since I started this challenge on September 1st, I will fall behind on the year.
I don’t know how I let this happen. I had a pretty decent lead on the year…nearly half a month.
But of course, in the month of June, I’ve only made my daily goal one time…on June 1st. So, you know, that’s probably how I fell behind. Who would have thought that hardly writing for two weeks would have such a profoundly negative effect on my word count goals?
I feel a strong need to get those 1,022 words tonight. If I fall behind on the year…I feel like I will give up entirely. That’s dumb I know, but this challenge is tough and part of me already feels like I should quit. Falling behind is just the sort of excuse that would push me over the edge to failure. I’m going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Honestly, before I did the math about ten minutes ago, I thought that I must have already fallen behind on the year. I was ready to just quit. But then I actually did the math and I did feel a sort of second wind—not as strong as I’d like, but still promising. Maybe the fear of imminent failure will be enough to refocus me. So far, nothing else has worked.
So, by the time I talk to you next week, I think we’ll have an answer to whether I’m going to complete or completely fail this challenge. It’s a little dramatic, sure, but if this second wind doesn’t work out, then I don’t think I can make it another two and a half months. If it does work…well, then I think I can make it. It’s only two and a half months after all.
Wish me luck!
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Okay, I’m sure you guys are sick of reading about me falling behind and…umm…those stats aren’t telling such a good story, are they? This week I had an excuse though, I promise! I had a sinus infection and it’s tough to focus on writing when your whole head is blocked up. So…yeah.
Yes, I’ve written while sick before—maybe I should have again. But I didn’t. I’m not perfect.
No one ever said the journey to a million words in a year would be smooth. Or if they did…well, they obviously hadn’t actually done it before or they never would have said something so laughably false.
So, June isn’t starting off with a bang, but who needs a good start when you’ve got sheer grit and determination?
Less than three months to the finish line! I can do this!
May was another mad dash to the finish line. I only made my goal this month because I wrote 24k words on the third-to-last day of the month.
Yep, I beat my 23k record.
Suddenly the gigantic word count days have become a part of my strategy for finishing Milwordy. That was…not how I thought this would go.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my big word days. They’re like little tests of endurance. Plus, there’s something fun about starting a story and just…continuing. For 24k words. In 24 hours.
But is it the best way to write? Probably not.
Don’t get me wrong, those 24k words weren’t all bad or anything. I’m actually really excited about how coherent they were, even the ones written after I was already feeling the fatigue of a long day. But while it can be a fun challenge occasionally to have a huge word count day, I’d rather not have my whole Milwordy success be pinned on that.
I only hit my word count target 13 days out of the 31 last month. If you’ve been reading along, you might remember that 13 is the exact same number of days I hit my goal in April. Only it’s worse for May because I actually had 31 days instead of 30 to try.
I thought I said I wasn’t going to be doing that again? Sometimes the hardest person to be honest with is myself.
So, I’ve got 3 months left of this challenge. I’d like to tell you that I’m not going to absolutely murder my vocal cords by writing 24k+ words in a day again, but I honestly don’t know if that’s a promise I can make. It’s an aspiration for sure, but nothing I’m writing in stone.
If I’m being really honest, I kind of can’t wait for this challenge to be over.
Is it obvious?
It’s not that I haven’t had fun with it—at times it was TONS of fun! And I’ve learned a lot, both about writing itself and about discipline. Plus, I now have a load of raw material to work with when this is all over.
Like…a LOT of raw material to work with.
But that’s part of the problem, I’m ready to dig back into what I’ve written, but mostly I still have to wait 3 months because, generally speaking, revision is not going to give me the word count I need.
But 3 months really isn’t that long and I think that there is value in finishing what you start. So, for the next 86 days, I’m refocusing and getting it done.
One million words—here I come!
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That remaining word count for May is…a lot. But hey! These stats are way better than last week’s, right? That’s something to celebrate!
I’m still struggling though. It seems very much like the third wave of motivation that I had been hoping for isn’t coming. That means that I have to make it through nearly 260k words on sheer willpower.
This is a good test of inspiration vs. perspiration. Right now, inspiration is failing me a bit, but man am I learning to sweat!
Gross metaphor is gross. Forget I said that.
Anyway, I’m also drawing close to three-quarters of the way done with this challenge. Whenever I thought of this approaching milestone, it always seemed important. Like if I made it to 750k words, then the final 250k would be a breeze. It’s all downhill from here, right? I’m not sure why past Robin was so foolish, but I like to believe it was the optimism. And possibly a healthy dose of caffeine.
This week (every week?) I learned that procrastination only makes things worse—but that it is also a habit that I may never break, no matter how many challenges I throw at myself. That’s okay. Sometimes you have to work with what you have and I have a tendency to procrastinate. And, as always, I’m going to keep on working with it.
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Woof. Those stats hurt to write. Especially that Week 37 average.
So…um…you can see by my stats that this wasn’t a good week. This, in fact, was the worst week I’ve had during all of Milwordy. I reached my goal a grand total of one day during the week and most of the rest of the time I didn’t write much at all.
I didn’t even realize how much I was slipping, not really. I mean, obviously I knew I wasn’t writing a lot. I just didn’t realize how much time was passing while I wasn’t writing much.
You fall behind quickly during a challenge like this. The daily word count is so high that you’re half a novel behind before you even you’ve realized messed up.
Technically I’m still not behind. Not for the year. If there is one thing I could recommend to anyone thinking of doing this challenge for themselves, I would say: Get ahead early.
Seriously, in September and October, when I was full of excitement over starting this crazy ambitious challenge, I got ahead by something like 10 days. That has been a huge help to me, not only because it gives me wiggle room, but it has insured that I’ve never actually fallen behind, no matter how my writing slows to a halt. And that’s important because there are times when I think if I had gotten far behind on the year I might have just quit. That lead has kept me in the game.
But that lead won’t last forever. I’ve got to keep writing if I want to finish this challenge. My focus for this next week is just writing consistently. I’m not going to try to catch up on the words I didn’t do this month (unless the mood strikes) I’m just going to try and keep my head above water.
I think one of the problems I’ve been having lately is a lack of an outline. I’ve gone back and forth on the benefits of an outline. During this challenge, I’ve pantsed my work, I’ve fully plotted my work, and everything in between. It’s all worked and failed in equal measure. Ultimately, I think I just need to listen to what my own brain is telling me at the time. Sometimes I need an outline. Sometimes I don’t. Right now, I need one. That’s part of what I’m going to work on this week so that hopefully I can get myself writing consistently in one project again.
Hopefully when you see me again next week, I will be back on track. Until then, thanks for reading!
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May isn’t going too terribly—a glowing review if I ever heard one.
I AM behind. I know, I know. Broken record. But I don’t feel too badly about it. I got my second COVID vaccine last Friday and it kind of put me out of commission over the weekend. I was barely awake on Saturday, so writing was not happening.
In spite of feeling behind though, I’m feeling good about writing again. I’m not super-charged. Getting my words in is still difficult. But I’m happy with what I’m working on at the moment, which is always the most important thing.
For the moment, shorter works of fiction are working for me. While I love writing novels, I don’t think it works well for me in this Milwordy format. Not back-to-back. Trying to go straight from my changeling novel into Mila was a mistake. It was a mistake I don’t think I could have possibly avoided—because how on earth could I have known that I shouldn’t start one novel just after finishing another—but a mistake none the less.
I’m taking some time off of novel writing, though I do hope to get back to it either in June or July. Hey, maybe I’ll try Camp NaNo again in July! Third time’s a charm, right?
There are some lessons I may never learn.
I’m also thinking of rereading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. It’s been a couple years and I could use the refresher. Plus, I’m thinking of trying to map the structure of some of my favorite pieces of fiction to help me cement plot structure in my head. Sometimes I struggle with the big picture part of writing. Trying to make sure that all the story beats work together is tough and I’m still learning, but I figure looking at what other people have done can help. Of course, I have done this before…sort of.
In the past, I’ve always looked at the way other people have mapped out different story structures. I look at it, and it makes sense. But I think it would really help for me to say, watch a movie and try to figure out for myself where the story beats are instead of listening to someone else TELL me where they are.
Then again, I could end up mapping it all wrong and confusing myself even more. But…um…hopefully not?
Anyway, I’m going to give it a shot and hope for the best—kind of like how I do everything during this challenge; It’s all on a wing and a prayer.
Do you have any good resources for learning plot structure? Do share ‘em if you’ve got ‘em! I’m always on the lookout for learning material.
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As you can see by the above stats, I did hit my monthly goal of 83,334 words. Plus, I’m still ahead of schedule for the year. So, that’s a win…right?
Sort of. I mean, I’m glad that I’m still on track for this challenge, but April was the toughest month I’ve had yet. I only hit my daily word count 13 out of 30 days. That means those 13 days needed to be BIG word counts for me to keep up with my monthly goal.
I can guarantee you that nothing that I wrote in April was particularly good.
This can, of course, be the problem with focusing solely on word count. Quality can suffer. That hasn’t always been the case with this challenge. When I write at a steadier pace, my writing is better. When I’m trying to catch up by getting as many words as I can in a single day…my writing sucks.
So…I have four months left to go in this challenge. Come August, I don’t want to just have one million words of garbage for all my effort. I want to have work I can be proud of. That makes my focus for May obvious: I need to write steadily (almost) every day. I plan to have some rest days—just not 17 of them like in April. If those days could be called rest days; I still wrote on most of those and I worried about writing for almost all of them.
And as for Camp NaNoWriMo…woof. I gave up on that early in the month, which I think was for the best. I did technically get over 50k words in a single project, but it wasn’t the project I intended and frankly, I don’t think much of what I wrote in that project is salvageable. It was good for discovery writing, maybe, but otherwise it isn’t worth much. So, I consider Camp NaNo a failure this time around. Who would have thought I would fail so hard at NaNo this year when I was already writing a ton of words for Milwordy?
On the upside, I am headed into the last third of Milwordy. Only four months to go! I’m feeling hopeful that I might actually make it through this challenge. I can do this!
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This blog was supposed to go up on Tuesday but I never got the chance, so the stats are a bit out of date, but they were only meant to reflect week 34 anyway. I’ll be posting my April wrap-up later this week.
April has been a rough one. In spite of the fact that I’m roughly on track for my monthly word goal of 83,334, I only actually hit my daily word goal 10 days so far this month. Those 10 days were BIG word count days and very taxing.
That’s not the way I want to do this challenge. I don’t want to spend three days barely knocking out a few hundred words only to save myself with a 10k word day on the fourth. That’s not sustainable. And it’s not how I do my best work. This challenge was supposed to be about making myself a better writer. If I’m not doing that, then what’s the point?
Last week scribblerstad suggested taking a break for a few days and not thinking about Milwordy at all. I thought it was a good idea, so that’s just what I did. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week I didn’t write at all. I didn’t even think about writing. When little errant thoughts about writing tried to sneak their way into my consciousness, I shooed them away.
It was surprisingly difficult. But also refreshing. I did come back to writing feeling better and less burned out. I still feel a little like I’m limping across the April finish line, but I’m not quite so scattered and frantic, so I definitely have to thank scribblerstad for excellent advice!
As for what comes next, I’m gearing up for May. I’m trying to find a little of that New Year’s motivation that helped me out so much in January. I’m two-thirds of the way through this challenge now and I think I can make it if I can just find that little extra oomph!
I’m going to try very hard to schedule two days off each week. That’s worked in the past, and this most recent break was a good reminder that rest is important. Moreover, something that I learned this last week that I don’t think I realized before is that breaks should be true breaks. I tend, even when not working on this challenge, to be thinking about this challenge. I need to give my brain time to rest. So, even though it’s hard, on my days off I need to not think about Milwordy. I need to let myself breathe.
And on a bright note, giving myself that rest allowed me to get some reading done, which was awesome. It’s easy to forget sometimes that my love of writing was born from my love of reading. Getting to dive into someone else’s story sparked a little bit of inspiration for my own writing, but more importantly, it just felt good. I’ll have to remember going forward that it’s just as important to take in other people’s stories as it is to create my own.
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This week I’ve been working on my superhero short story…and not a lot else. As you can see from my stats, this hasn’t been one of my more productive weeks.
This month has felt a lot like December. I feel drained. I feel like sitting down to write is damn near impossible. I feel ready to quit.
But I’m SO much further along in this challenge than I was in December. I can’t possibly quit. I’m never going to attempt this challenge again, so if I don’t finish it now, I never will.
But how do I find my motivation again? In December, I had New Year’s resolutions looming just around the corner. I definitely got a boost on January 1st and that has carried me all the way to where I’m at now.
So how do I inject a little more adrenaline into myself to get me through the next four and a half months?
I have no idea. But I need to figure it out soon because if I have a couple more weeks like this last one, my million-words-in-a-year ambition is going to die whether I like it or not.
On a brighter note, I’m have a ot of fun with my superhero short story, even if it is moving a bit slower than I’d like. Most of the words I have down for it are brainstorming words, not drafting words. But still, at least I’m enjoying what I’m working on.
What I’ve learned this week is that powering through the words when I’m not enjoying them isn’t going to carry me to long term success. While I’m a big advocate for the “butt in chair, hands on keys” philosophy, I know that without passion writing becomes a slog. And, especially for someone who isn’t earning money from writing or getting any other external reward for it, when writing becomes a slog I start to lose any drive to do it at all. I have to find ways to keep it fun.
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For one thing, I just discovered a problem in my spreadsheet and I have no idea how far back it goes, but my weekly totals are off. At least last week’s was, but I haven’t had a chance yet to go back and see if others were as well. I panicked for a moment, thinking that all my totals were off and that I was terribly behind on my yearly goal. Thankfully, my monthly and yearly totals have definitely been correct, but way to give myself a heartattack, huh?
For another thing, obviously my writing has not been going particularly well. The only reason that I am as far along in my April goal as I currently am is that I spent most of my weekend dictating. This is not a sustainable way for me to get to the million-word mark.
One thing that I’m learning from Milwordy is that adaptability is key. For the first three months of the year, I made a three-month plan to finish one novel and outline another. That plan did a very good job of keeping me on track, so—of course—I planned to do the exact same thing for the next three months: Start and finish a novel, outline the next. Simple, right? I’d finally found my process!
I’ve found that from project to project, my process changes. If I try to cling desperately to what worked in the past, even when it’s not working now, I stall. I have to adapt and find what will work for this project.
I don’t know if this is a function of each project requiring a new process, or of me just needing more variety in my life, but either way, I think I’m going to have to learn to accept it. I have this fantasy of my future self as the writer who has her process figured out down to every last detail and can repeat it for every book ad nauseum.
That fantasy version of me doesn’t exist. I don’t think she ever will. Maybe some writers can be that consistent, but if I’m being honest with myself, that’s never been who I am. And trying to fight my own nature has only resulted in frustration and a lack of progress. It’s time I accepted myself for who I am rather than who I’d like to be.
So, what does that mean for where I am with my writing currently?
Well, while the structured writing of January through March worked pretty well, I’m feeling the need for a little more freedom to write what I please. I’m putting Mila on the back burner. If I get inspired to write in that world, then I will, but I’m not going to push it.
Instead, what I’m planning to work on is some shorter fiction. I think that this will give me some freedom to hop from project to project as I see fit. Currently I’m working on a short, superhero romance that popped into my head over the last week. And then…who knows?
The other thing that Milwordy has taught me is to trust that I will find something else to write, even if I don’t know what it is yet. There is always another idea around the corner.
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Given the fact that my Week 31 total is one of the biggest I’ve had so far, you might think that I’ve started April out with a bang.
You’d be wrong.
If you’re paying attention to my April word count or if you read my last post on high expectations, you’ll know better. You guys, I’m struggling. Most of this week’s word count actually comes from the tail end of March. You know, when I had to rush to catch up from the slump I was going through at the end of that month.
The strange thing about Milwordy is how I can be going through this big slump, but thanks to my great start in September, I’m still ahead for the whole challenge. And yet, it doesn’t feel like I’m ahead. It feels like I’m on the brink of failure.
Sometimes I think that the reason that I’ve gotten as far as I have in this crazy challenge is that I tend to panic at the slightest hint of falling behind, whether that’s a real danger or not. Is the fact that I’m high-strung and anxiety-prone the reason that I might actually make it to the million words? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? Would I be better off just chilling out?
I have no idea. But it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about during this slump. If I find any answers, I’ll be sure to let you know.
I’ve also been considering taking a break from novel writing (forcing myself to give up on my Camp NaNoWrimo goal) and focus on novellas or short stories. Maybe mixing things up would help get my motivation back on line. There’s still a part of me that’s clinging to Camp NaNo though.
I made a chart and everything!
But I think I have to let that go. Milwordy is the more important challenge to me. There will be other Camp NaNoWriMos. I can’t imagine ever attempting Milwordy again—succeed or fail—so this is a go big or go home moment for me.
I plan to go big.
How do you handle your writing slumps? Do you give yourself a break? Do you refocus on another project? Or do you just grit your teeth and work your way through it?
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I’ve talked before about all the different problems that can pop up for a writer and cause writer’s block. There are probably a million different reasons why a writer might show up to their writing time, feeling ready to get to work, yet when it’s time to put fingers to keys they just can’t seem to get any words out. Lately, though, there’s one reason that’s been plaguing me more than any other:
Having too-high expectations.
Don’t get me wrong, I think having semi-high expectations is a good way to keep improving. If you’re not bothered by low-quality work, then what motivation do you have for learning and doing better?
There is a dark side to high expectations, however, and it is when your expectations are unrealistic.
Look, I’m still very much learning as a writer. Often, the ideas in my head are better than my ability to actually flesh them out on paper. This discrepancy causes a lot of lamentation from me and probably quite a few of you. The story we write is never quite as good as what we have in our head, is it?
The novel that I’m currently working on for Camp NaNoWriMo is one that I’ve actually written before. Back in 2018, I wrote the first draft of “Mila” for, you guessed it, Camp NaNoWriMo. The end result was disappointing. I just couldn’t get the plot right, even though I loved the world and characters. And since then, I just haven’t been able to let the idea go entirely.
Two years on, and I’d like to think I’m a better writer. I’d like to think that I’m more able to tackle this novel which is, admittedly, a more difficult plot to pull off than most of the others I’ve tried.
But…I’m not sure that’s true. I struggled over the past few months to get my outline ready for Camp NaNo. I’m still not sure it’s where it needs to be, despite working on it every day for three months. Now that I’ve started drafting it, I find that the words just don’t want to come. And I have this mental block where every time I think about sitting down to write it, I think of some other more important thing I need to be doing instead.
That’s not totally abnormal for me, but I can say that through the whole of my Milwordy challenge—going all the way back to September—I don’t think I’ve been quite this avoidant of a project. And this is a story I’m more excited for than most that I’ve done before.
But I just can’t seem to get into it.
I think I figured it out though. I think that I’m scared. Scared to get this one wrong again. After all, I’ve already tried this once before and failed miserably. Now I’m expecting this draft to be so much better than the first one and I think it’s putting too much pressure on me to write it perfectly. I don’t want to fail again at the same project.
One of the reasons that challenges like Milwordy and NaNoWriMo work is that they allow you to turn off your inner editor for long enough to actually write something. With my inner editor hissing doubtful thoughts in my head every day, I’m finding it hard to create.
Maybe the truth is that this isn’t a good project for NaNoWriMo-style writing. Maybe I need to really take my time with it. Or maybe I need to stop myself from feeling like it has to be perfect.
Or maybe, as far as I’ve come, I am still not a good enough writer to pull off a more complex plot.
I don’t know what the answer is, but if my writing doesn’t start to pick up in the next few days, I’m going to have to abandon the Camp NaNo goal because it’s stalling me on Milwordy and I’ve come way too far to let that happen.
Do you ever hit stumbling blocks like this? What do you do to get back into the writing groove?
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It started out great. I was all hopeful and excited. And then somewhere along the line, my enthusiasm just seemed to die.
I missed hitting my goal 15 days out of 31 this month. That’s the worst I’ve done in this challenge so far.
Now, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. I planned to take 8 days off for the sake of my writing stamina. But what happened the other 7 days?
You guys, seriously, I don’t even know. There were some minor distractions and life issues that popped up, but looking back, I really don’t think they should have affected me as much as they did.
Is that Milwordy fatigue rearing its ugly head again? And worse than before? I don’t know, but I have this deep sense of foreboding. I have five more months to go, and I don’t have another New Year to kick my motivation into high gear again.
That being said, thanks to some bigger word count days, I did manage to scrape by with just enough words to meet my March goal. It was tough, to have to over-exert myself on those days, but ultimately, I got it done.
So, besides the word count, what else did I get done this month?
I finally finished my changeling novel. It took me three months, which normally is not such a long time frame. In Milwordy time, though? It felt like ages.
I’m really happy with how it turned out, or at least, I think I am. I won’t know for sure until I go back and reread it, but I enjoyed writing it which is usually a good sign. I probably won’t get the chance to reread it until after August when Milwordy is over, which is a bummer. I’m itching to dive back into it right now.
I also worked on my outline/brainstorming for my Camp NaNoWriMo novel which I have been calling Mila because that’s my main character’s name and I can’t come up with titles to save my life. I’m a little scared to get started on this one. It’s been haunting me since…2017-2018? Somewhere in there I wrote a first draft of this story and…it was bad. But I love the world and the characters so much that I’ve been itching to jump back in and try again with a total rewrite. I’m just not sure that the plot is any better than it was years ago. Time will tell.
Those were my main accomplishments this month. I worked on some brainstorming for a few other projects, but nothing that I was too focused on. I was trying to give enough attention to my changeling novel and to the Mila outline, so other things fell by the wayside.
So, Camp NaNoWriMo has begun. I’m as ready as I can be (I think) and I’m hoping that it provides a little extra motivation to push me through April and beyond. Then again, I hoped the same in November for Main NaNo and it kind of had the opposite effect, so…
I’m trying not to think about that part.
If you’re enjoying my blog, please like, follow, and share. I’d love to hear about your own writing adventures. Are you going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you working on? What is your goal?
I know! I’m late with this update again! Again, I had this post written last week, but I haven’t had a chance to publish it until now. I’m sorry for the delay. I’m going to try to get back on track with my March Wrap-Up on Thursday.
This week didn’t go quite as well as last week. I’m still pretty much on track, but it was just a lot harder this week. Mostly it has to do with life stuff. I had a minor medical thing to take care of, plus I was having some extra anxiety over work stuff so I was just having a hard time focusing on writing.
There is something else that has been making writing harder this week and I’m not surprised to see it rearing its ugly head, but I’m still not happy about it.
I’m having doubts.
I’m having doubts that this whole Milwordy thing is worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I think Milwordy up to this point HAS been worth it. I’m just not sure that finishing out the remaining months will bring the same level of progress. I mentioned last week that I’ve come too far to quit, but is that really true?
I still have over five months to go!
I’m also having doubts about my writing in general and if this is a thing I want to keep doing. These doubts are nothing new. They come. They go. I know this. Yet still there is a part of me that doesn’t think that I will ever be a good enough writer to actually publish, so what’s the point?
That’s not to say that if I could never publish my work, it wouldn’t be worth writing at all. I enjoy writing. I would be happy to do it for fun.
But I certainly wouldn’t be trying to keep myself to such a regimented schedule if this were not in pursuit of publication. If I wasn’t hoping to write something good enough to publish, I would just write when the mood struck and be done with it. The idea of it is rather freeing, especially after seven months of writing to exhaustion.
But I do want to improve as a writer. I do want to be published. I do want to have other people read my work and actually enjoy it. I’m just having doubts that I’m ever going to get there.
I wish I could peek into the future. I wish I could know for certain if all this work was worth it or if I should just relax and let this be a sometimes-hobby instead of an everyday-pursuit. I can’t though, no one can. The future is unknowable. All I can do is keep moving forward and hope that I’m headed in the right direction. And even if I get a little lost along the way, maybe I’ll find myself somewhere even better. I won’t know until I get there.
What I learned this week is that stress is a creativity-killer, but then…we all knew that already, didn’t we?
Fun Fact: I had this blog post written by last Monday night and here I am, nearly a week later, and I’m only posting it now. Why? I have no idea. Because I like to self-sabotage, I guess. Who knows? Anyway, here is the update that should have happened a week ago:
This week went VERY well. I mean, it certainly wasn’t my highest ever word count, but it felt good, you know? I wrote extra words Monday-Friday so that I could have the weekend off.
Oh, the luxury!
It’s my plan to keep that up because those rest days were absolute heaven. AND I came back to my writing refreshed afterward, which to be honest, hasn’t really been a thing for a while.
I’m also reaching the end of my changeling novel, which is awesome, but I’m starting to feel like I don’t want to let it go just yet. The past few weeks I’ve actually been itching to finish it so that I could move on to something else, but now that the time to actually get it done is nearly upon me, I find myself reluctant.
I LOVE these characters, especially my main character. And I’ve been really enjoying the voice for this novel a lot. I’m kind of not ready to move on.
Of course, I won’t be saying goodbye forever. There’s always revision. Plus, I planned this one for a series, so I’ll be returning to the world for more drafting eventually. But that’s not what I’m doing next, so it’s hard to let go.
I think part of the issue is that it’s always hard to start something new. I mean it’s fun, it’s exciting, but it’s also scary. What if I can’t get passed the blank page? What if the idea is really terrible and I only discover it after I’m a few thousand words in? What if I haven’t done enough pre-writing to really give the first draft a proper try? Terrifying stuff.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Milwordy, it’s to always keep moving forward. I’ve only got five and a half more months to write over 400k more words; There’s no time for dragging my feet.
What I’ve learned this week is something that I’ve learned multiple times over the course of this challenge, but have—on numerous occasions—ignored completely: I need to give myself time off. If I’m going to make it through this challenge, I cannot write every day. I will burn out. I will quit. I will fail. And I’ve come WAY too far to fail because of a silly mistake like never taking a break.
Oh, the burden! To have to take a day off!
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I’ve been working on my changeling novel for a little over two months now—that’s nothing. Writing novels takes a long time. But here I am, feeling like I can’t wait to be done with it so I can start something new.
This is partly just who I am (impatient) and partly a result of Milwordy. Having such a high daily word count means that I tear through projects pretty quickly. It has only fed into my natural propensity to move on to the new and shiny project quickly. In short, it has made me less patient.
On the other hand, it has also gifted me with the discipline to work against that impatience and stick to a project, even when I’m losing steam on it.
I think that’s what I’ve learned most this week, and perhaps over this whole challenge: Milwordy is a double-edged sword. Yes, it can make me more impatient, but it can make me more prepared to deal with impatience. It can make me a faster writer while also teaching me that fast is not always better. It can make me a better writer in some ways, but perhaps a worse writer in others.
I’m leaning on dictation of a character’s backstory again. Don’t get me wrong, working on character backstory is important, but sometimes it can be a way for me to get my daily word count in without having to work too hard for it. After all, I don’t really need to worry about those words being good because they aren’t meant to be part of an actual novel. I can be lazy with them if I want, and when I’m dictating, I usually want. That’s not teaching me to be a better writer. It is getting me my word count however, which is all the Milwordy challenge ultimately requires.
That’s not why I started this challenge though. I didn’t do it just to see if I could.
Okay…it was a little bit to see if I could.
Mostly though, I wanted to become a better writer. While I think that I am improving, I can also see clearly the moments where I’m just spinning my wheels and wasting time. Those moments feel like failures even when I net a high word count. But I don’t know how I would ever get this challenge done without those moments. Sometimes my brain needs a little bit of a break.
It may sound like I’m being a bit of a downer on Milwordy this week. I suppose I am, really. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this challenge it’s that this feeling of doubt comes and goes. It’s another double-edged sword. Milwordy has given me doubts about my writing, but it has also given me the perspective to realize that those doubts are temporary. If I just keep chugging along, they will pass.
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You know, this challenge to write a million words in a year has taken me through a lot of ups and downs and everything in between. September was a time of chaotic excitement and productivity. October brought me a load of new ideas. November was a month of stagnation. December nearly had me quitting. In January, I found steadiness in my writing.
February was all of those combined.
If you haven’t read any of my previous posts, you may have missed the fact that my daily word count goal increased for the month of February. I set my monthly goal as 83,334 words for each month of the year, so obviously with a 28-day month, my daily word count was more challenging. I knew that going in. I knew it would be hard.
I don’t think I realized how hard.
My daily goal in January was 2,688 words. In February it was 2,976 words. That’s only an increase of 288 words per day, which I know doesn’t seem like a lot. But it is. The biggest problem is that it was just enough to stop me from getting extra words each day. Which meant that I could take very few breaks. In fact, I didn’t have a single day in which I didn’t write some, and only 3 days where I failed to reach my daily goal. And yet, I still only ended up with 312 extra words for the whole month of February. That’s not much for writing every single day.
The month started out really well. I was writing steadily and I was excited about what I was working on. It seemed like I could do it forever.
Readers, I could not do it forever.
My steadiness disappeared quickly and I found myself struggling to make my word count for half the month. I did it, but boy did it tire me out!
Going into March, I don’t feel like I have a lot of energy to keep this up, but I’ve come too far to quit—no matter what my tired brain tries to tell me. I’m over the halfway point. As of today, the year is officially half over! And I passed the 500k mark over a week ago. How could I even think of quitting now?
But, in order to keep going with this challenge, I think I need to make days off a priority. It’s something that I haven’t really done in this challenge for the most part, but I need to if I’m going to continue on. It’s funny, at the beginning of this challenge, I had dreams of hitting my word count every single day of the year.
What on earth was I thinking? Was I out of my mind? Bad, bad, very bad idea. We’re leaving that fantasy behind in the dust for good.
Now, I plan to try and get 3,764 words for five days of the week and take two whole days off.
Yes, I know. I just told you how hard a 2,976 daily word count goal was and now I’m talking about increasing it by nearly a thousand. But I think having two days off a week will be restorative enough to make up for it. Or at least…that’s what I’m hoping.
That’s what my focus in March is going to be. I’m going to go hard for five days and rest for two. Hopefully this isn’t something that I’m going to be calling a bad, bad, very bad idea in my March Wrap-Up, but we’ll find out together, right?
Anyway, despite my exhaustion from February, I’m feeling pretty good about my progress. Not only did I manage to hit my monthly word goal for the sixth straight month and hit the half-Milwordy mark a week early, but I focused on the two projects that I’m most concerned with at the moment. I added 23,978 words to my novel about changelings (my goal was 21,000) and my outline for my April Camp NaNoWriMo novel is getting closer and closer to being ready. In March, I hope to finish the changeling novel first draft and my outline for my Camp NaNo novel.
How was February for you? I know those New Year’s resolutions get a little tougher once January passes us by, but I hope that you were able to stick to your goals and are ready to start March strong. We can do it!
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That’s a huge milestone! I only have to do exactly what I’ve already done one more time to hit the one million mark.
I feel both more prepared and less motivated to get that second 500k. After all, I’m a little weary from everything I’ve already done. Yet, I’m much more experienced at working through that weariness. So…it all evens out. Right?
At any rate, this was a decent week for me. I’m still feeling that fatigue I talked to you about last week, but I’m still holding on. The only day I failed to reach my daily goal (for the entirety of February so far) was Friday. I probably could have pushed through, but honestly, I needed the break. Plus, that was the day I hit the 500k mark, so I figured I deserved a reward. So, I rested. Kind of. I still got nearly 1,400 words that day, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s pretty far from the regular 2,976 goal, though.
What I learned this week is that, despite how much I’ve written, I still have a backlog of ideas that I don’t think will ever be reduced. It doesn’t make sense, does it? I’ve written 500 thousand words in less than six months and I still have too many projects vying for my attention.
Currently I’m still working on my urban fantasy novel about changelings, plus I’m outlining what will be the novel that I work on in April for Camp NaNoWriMo. But I’m also brainstorming for two separate possible series and I’m brainstorming for my revision of a previous project. And all of these are projects that I’m itching to work on now. But I can’t do everything. I’m trying to keep steady on my previous path and hope that it will eventually lead me to those other projects.
I know that having too many ideas will seem a silly thing to complain about to some of you, but it genuinely makes it hard to focus when I have several undeveloped ideas tapping me on the head while I’m trying to write my current work in progress. My brain can get a bit…scattered.
That’s it for this week. I hope that you’ve been enjoying my blog. If you have, please like, follow and share it. All comments and questions are welcome! Thanks for reading!
You guys…I’ve written 500,000 words in less than six months.
If you’re new to this blog, you might not be aware that since September 1st, I’ve been doing the Milwordy (write a million words in a year) Challenge. You can check out My Milwordy Declaration if you want to know where this all started.
It occurs to me that if I had chosen to do a half-Milwordy, I would be done right now.
I would be lying if I said that wasn’t appealing, but we’re not changing the rules halfway through the game. Instead, let’s celebrate!
Five hundred thousand words! Can you believe it? I can—because I had to be there for every single one of them. It wasn’t always fun.
It does feel a little surreal. I feel simultaneously like it’s only been a week since I started this challenge and like it’s been 84 years. Milwordy, it would seem, is capable of bending the time-space continuum.
Oh, the power of words!
But in all seriousness, I wanted to take a moment here to look back on the last six months of this challenge. Let’s see if we can come to any conclusions about whether I’ve wasted my time trying to write an absurd number of words, shall we?
First off, let’s talk numbers:
I have completed:
1 novel-length backstory (yikes!)
1 short story
I also briefly kept a journal and I’ve—surprisingly—kept up with this blog. Technically I’ve published 56 blog posts, not including this one, but I’ve actually written many more than that. I recently found a cache of blog posts that I wrote earlier on in the challenge, never posted, and completely forgot about. Most are outdated now because they were based on my experiences at that particular time, but I might still be able to salvage a few of them. Regardless, those words count toward this challenge.
Currently I’m 50k-ish words into another novel, which I hope to finish by the end of March.
I’ve been brainstorming for three other novels as well. Plus, there was brainstorming and outlining that happened for the completed works above, which also contributed to my word count.
As impressive as that amount of work is, I’m looking at it and feeling like there should be more. Like, only one complete novel? In 500k words? That can’t be right! But it is.
Now, let’s talk about time because I’ve been keeping track of hours logged during this challenge and so I might as well throw those out there as well. In truth, this probably isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s pretty close. I’ve tracked it every day, but sometimes it is a little difficult to figure out total time—especially on days where I have several small writing sessions rather than one continuous one. Still, I think these numbers are interesting.
September: 79 ½ hours total
100,070 words total
1,259 average words per hour
October: 64 hours total
91,494 words total
1,430 average words per hour
November: 47 ¾ hours total
83,418 words total
1,747 average words per hour
December: 40 ¾ hours total
85,660 words total
2,102 average words per hour
January: 52 ¾ hours total
83,878 words total
1,590 average words per hour
February (as of the 500k mark): 35 ¼ hours total
55,480 words total
1,574 average words per hour
What I didn’t realize until just now is that I have indeed gotten faster. I mean, I could sort of sense this, but truly I didn’t know for sure. I think we have to take December out as an outlier because of how heavily I leaned on dictation that month (particularly for my 23k day). But even without December I think it’s impressive that my speed as improved by several hundred words an hour since September.
But you might be thinking…Robin, it’s great and all that you’ve gotten faster, but is that really what matters? What if speeding up has actually made your writing get worse, not better. To that I say…you’re right. That is something I worry about. I don’t think that’s what’s happening here, but it’s difficult to be sure, especially since I haven’t had much of an opportunity to truly reflect on what I wrote in the beginning of the challenge vs. what I’ve been writing lately.
What I can tell you is that there are things that I know I’ve improved on, even if I can’t quantify it for you. For instance, I know that I’ve gotten better at showing rather than telling. Not as much as I need to perhaps, but I find myself naturally making more of an effort towards showing than I ever had in the past. In fact, in the past it wasn’t something I gave much thought to at all. I knew I needed to, but I went into it with a sort of “That’s Revision Robin’s problem” mentality. Now it’s a Drafting Robin’s problem. Drafting Robin is also thinking more about things like setting the scene and using all five senses. I think this accounts for the fact that I’m beginning to be less of an under-writer than I used to be (*ahem* Did someone say novel-length backstory?).
Another thing that I’ve been working on is overused words and phrases. Every writer has certain words or turns of phrase that turn up incessantly in their work. What this challenge has helped me do is identify a lot of my own personal repetition. I’m still struggling to rectify the situation, but hey—knowing what to look for is the first step isn’t it?
My outlining process has also improved. I keep intending to write a post about how I’m outlining my current novel—and how much I’m loving it, but I’ve been putting it off. Hopefully that’s coming soon, but for now I will just say that I think I’ve finally found that balance between plotting and pantsing that I’ve always been longing for. And I think that it’s really improving my plotting overall.
Quality and speed are both important things to improve, but that’s not the end of the good things Milwordy has brought me. Milwordy is teaching me to be disciplined in my writing. Showing up to write every day is becoming a habit in a way that it never has been for me. When I don’t feel like writing…too bad. I need those words. And the important lesson showing up to write has taught me is that the words will come if I simply sit down and do the work. I don’t have to wait for inspiration to come to me. In fact, I shouldn’t.
Not only am I disciplined in getting in words every single day, but over the past month and a half, I’ve started to become more disciplined in what I work on. I’m learning how to follow a schedule so that I finish a particular project in a certain amount of time. I’ve been aiming to finish my current novel by March 31st and I have been working on that project before anything else each day to make sure that I get there.
Milwordy has also taught me things about myself as a writer that were counterintuitive to what I believed about myself before. Despite always seeing myself as a night owl, I am most assuredly a morning writer. I am more productive in the mornings. I do better work in the mornings. And I love the feeling of having gotten my writing in before going to my actual job.
I like having my dedicated writing space. Prior to Milwordy, I was a “write anywhere” kind of girl. It’s taken me several months to set up my desk in just the way I want it, but now that I’ve gotten it right, I never want to write anywhere else. It’s so nice to have all of my writing books, notebooks, and various office supplies right within reach so I don’t have to go hunting for them. Plus, it’s been much better for my wrists which is challenge-saving.
Before writing this post, I don’t think I was aware of just how much good Milwordy had done for me. There have been times during this challenge when I wanted to give up—in part because it’s hard, but also because I just wasn’t sure if it was getting me anywhere. Now I’m convinced. Taking up the Milwordy gauntlet was the right choice. I hope that the last 500k words will be as helpful as the first 500k, but even if they aren’t, I genuinely think this challenge will have been worth it.
If you want to read more about my Milwordy journey, you can start here. You can also check out my monthly wrap-ups starting in September, or my weekly thoughts like this one from last week. And feel free to keep coming back to see how I do with the final 500k. I’d love to see you again!
Let me know down in the comments if you have done, are doing, or are considering doing the Milwordy challenge. What has your experience with it been? Also, let me know about any other challenges you’ve given yourself. I’m always interested in hearing about how other people are working toward their personal goals.
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Way back in the first few weeks of this challenge, I wrote about fatigue setting in. That first shot of eager adrenaline was wearing off and I was beginning to feel worn down. I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to keep up this challenge for a whole year.
What I didn’t know then, is that this was a cycle that would come and go repeatedly over the coming months. Now, I’m nearly halfway through the challenge and I feel that fatigue settling heavy on my shoulders once more.
February actually started off really well. For the first two weeks, I was writing steadily with no problems.
Then this past weekend hit me like the hardcover edition of War and Peace and I find myself wishing for a break.
Don’t get me wrong, I still got my word count in. I’ve been pretty good about not falling behind in this challenge. But the level of difficulty increases exponentially when I’m feeling fatigued—not to mention I don’t think my work is as good. And when the work gets harder, it takes me longer to complete, thus increasing my fatigue. It’s times like these that I wonder if trying to keep up with this insane word count is really worth it.
Part of my current problem is simply that I haven’t had a break from writing in weeks. I knew that was how February would be, and I was prepared for it, but it’s still taking its toll on me. And I’m only halfway through the month. I just can’t seem to get enough extra words a day to give myself the cushion I would need to take a day off. So, what am I supposed to do?
But, one of the benefits of having gone through this cycle before is that I know—for a fact—that this, too, shall pass. If I can work through this weariness, I can hit my stride again.
That, I suppose, is what I’ve learned this week. I’ve learned that good times will go and bad times will come, but they never last. Milwordy has given me enough experience with my own writing cycles to know that the best thing I can do is just keep going. Just keep writing. I can make it through.
And unless I fall completely apart, I will be hitting the 500k word mark next week! It’s all downhill from there, right? I just need to keep hanging on.
If you’ve been enjoying my blog, please like, follow, and share it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them down in the comment section. Thank you for reading!
That’s what I called the novel I wrote in 2017 and partially revised in 2018 while I was trying to come up with an actual title.
Spoiler alert! I still don’t have an actual title.
I never finished revising it and currently it’s sitting in my document folder, staring at me like my cats do when it’s 20 minutes until dinner time and they’re convinced I’ve forgotten about them.
I have not forgotten.
Though I would never give up on my cats, I am debating giving up on Pirates! It’s not that I don’t like it anymore. I do. I just feel like I was an entirely different person when I wrote it. My life is entirely changed and I don’t know that I can go back to it without completely rewriting it.
It’s heartbreaking. I loved that story, those characters, that setting. And I still do. But sometimes you can’t go home again, you know?
Also, in keeping with the theme of pirates, I have plundered that novel and used some of the elements for other stories. For instance, I apparently have a fixation on over-protective older siblings and rebellious younger siblings finding a way to coexist. That theme has appeared in more than one of my stories since I originally wrote about it in Pirates! Is it repetitive to keep returning to that well? Would that make returning to Pirates! pointless?
I mean…the stories are different, but seriously…find a new theme Robin.
On the other hand, is this just example of not finishing something I start? Am I making excuses to follow the shiny new ideas, which will inevitably lead to me never completing anything at all?
When is it time to tough it out and keep going? When is it time to move on? How am I supposed to know the difference?
I don’t yet have an answer for this, but I think I’m going to start by rereading what I already wrote and see if it sparks any joy for me. Marie Kondo isn’t just for physical possessions, you know? If it doesn’t, then maybe it’s time to say goodbye. If it does…well, I guess I’ll have to figure out my next step from there.
Have you ever chosen to quit a project you loved? Have you stuck with a project to the end, even when you weren’t sure you should? Were you happy you did?
I told you last week that February was going to be a difficult month for me. Because of the shortened month, my daily word count increased from 2,688 to 2,976. Sounds a lot harder doesn’t it? So far…it hasn’t been.
I think part of this has to do with the fact that I was anticipating that it would be hard. I made sure that I got up by 5:30 AM every day this week because I was so worried about falling behind on my word count. And every day, I managed to get the full 2,976 words before I went to work. It feels fantastic to have written all my words before my day has even really started.
An observation here, though: I’m not getting many extra words. In other months I would typically have some days where I just happened to write 4-5k. This was an advantage because I could afford to have days off. The highest word count I’ve had so far is 3,010 words, which is awesome, but it’s not going to earn me much time off in February. I don’t know if this is sustainable for the whole month, even if it is a short one. I haven’t gone a month yet where I haven’t had several days off. I’m not sure if I’m capable of getting nearly 3,000 words every single day for 28 days in a row. I guess we’re about to find out together.
One of the most important things that I’ve learned from Milwordy so far is that having a solid routine is key. That’s never been truer than it has been this week. If I do make it through this more intense month, I think it’s going to be entirely due to the fact that I’m starting to respect the routine and make sure I stick to it.
That’s all for this week. I hope you are enjoying this blog. If you are, please like, follow, and share it. Let me know your own thoughts on routine. Do you have one? Or do you thrive on spontaneity? Or something in between? I would love to hear about it!
Sometimes I’m so excited to work on a particular novel that it’s all I can think about. I’ll sit down at my computer, the smell of my apple pie wax-melt wafting directly into my olfactory receptors, and I’ll put my hands to my keyboard. And as I stare at the blank screen in front of me, I’ll urge my fingers to just move. But they won’t. My brain just won’t work.
Why does this happen? Why, when I was so eager to get started, do I have such a hard time beginning?
I suppose there are probably a lot of answers to this question, but the one that I’m finding to be my biggest problem is the fear of failure.
The thing is, I don’t have any problem sitting down and banging out a few thousand words of backstory. But when it comes time to write the actual story, then suddenly the words flow like molasses.
A lot of my words during this Milwordy challenge have been backstory/outlines. I’ve done a lot of drafting as well, but it’s noticeably more difficult.
What it comes down to, I think, is that those backstory words aren’t meant for anyone but me. I don’t have to worry about them being particularly well-written because the prose isn’t really the point. The story is the point. Getting to know the main character is the point. Worldbuilding is the point. But with drafting…well, I do hope for people to see that writing someday. And despite the fact that I’m still just talking about first draft words here, I put so much more pressure on myself to get things right. Sometimes I can’t get myself to commit any words to paper for a story that I was previously obsessively excited to start. And it sucks all the fun out of writing.
Now, I’m not saying that I shouldn’t put any pressure on myself to write better first drafts, but everything has a limit. If I’m so afraid to fail that I can never begin…well, that’s its own kind of failure, isn’t it?
This isn’t an advice post. I’m not offering up any solutions to a paralyzing fear of failure. I don’t know the answer myself. Like, I can tell myself or you—until my fingers bleed from typing it—that perfection is the enemy of finished, but that’s not actually practical advice. It’s true, but it doesn’t change the reality of sitting down to a blank page and being afraid to get things wrong.
This is more of a declaration of intent. The fear of failure is something I want to overcome. More than anything, I think this is my biggest obstacle to learning to write well. So, as someone who wants to write well, this is what I have to tackle first. I’m still working on the how to get over this fear of failure, but it wouldn’t be a journey if I just arrived at my destination in an instant.
If you have any suggestions for how I’m going to tackle this problem, I am all ears (or eyes). Have you dealt with fear of failure yourself? Have you moved beyond it? How? Or does it trouble you still? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
I hit my monthly goal of 83,334 words, but only just.
In fact, of the five months I’ve been doing this, only in November did I get fewer words than January.
So, why did January feel like my most successful month yet?
You know, Milwordy is a challenge that is entirely focused on quantity. The only real requirement of this challenge is to write a total of one million words in a year. It doesn’t matter where those words come from or if they’re any good. I just have to write one million of them.
I have been attempting to make sure these words aren’t completely wasted. I am trying to learn to be a better writer here, so I’m not satisfied to simply get as many words as I can without concern for quality.
Admittedly, during the first few months, I know that there were plenty of times when I wasn’t giving this challenge my all. I was only concerned about the number of words I wrote. The day I got 23k words comes to mind. That day wasn’t about quality. It was about quantity.
Yet, in January I feel like a switch flipped in my head. I’ve still been writing a lot, and fast, but I have slowed down a bit. I have been allowing ideas to percolate in my head longer. I’ve been more focused on quality. I truly believe that when I look back at what I’ve written during this challenge, my work in January will stand up better to critique than what I’ve written before.
Especially if I’m comparing it to December. Oh, boy, that was a train wreck.
Another reason why January has felt like a success is that I’ve gained focus. With the exception of November, I’ve pretty much allowed myself to work on whatever I want which can be freeing. But it can also mean that I’m not making a lot of forward progress on a particular project.
This past month, I set some extra parameters for myself. I dedicated a minimum of 750 of my daily 2,688 words to my urban fantasy/faerie novel, and at least 15 minutes daily to brainstorming for another novel I’m hoping to start drafting in April. I feel like I’ve made so much more progress because of this, and I’m so grateful that I chose to put these boundaries on what I work on daily. Structure helps.
I’m hoping to carry this renewed sense of purpose into February and beyond. But February is going to be extra challenging for me. You see, instead of keeping an even daily goal of 2,740 words per day throughout the year—I gave myself a monthly goal of 83,334 words. That’s all well and good when the month has 31 days, breaking my daily goal down to 2,688 words.
But as you know, February got short-changed on its number of days. With only 28 days to get 83,334 words, my daily goal becomes 2,976.
I know that an extra 300 words a day might not sound like a lot, but when you are already writing A LOT, even just a few more words a day can feel like a burden. We’ll see how it turns out. Wish me luck!
How was January for you? Did you find yourself sticking to all those New Year’s resolutions? Are you feeling hopeful about what you will accomplish in February? Let me know down in the comments!
The total for this week is a little underwhelming, but it doesn’t feel like a failure. I’m ahead for the month. I’m ahead for the challenge. I’m making steady progress on a novel I started before I began Milwordy.
I’m feeling good.
So why are my numbers for this week less than stellar? It’s because I took two whole days off. I needed those days off. I’ve made my daily goal every day of January except for those two days, and that’s the best streak I’ve had so far. It was bound to end sometime and I’m just happy that it was at a time of my own choosing.
This week I learned the value of making steady progress on a single project. Before Milwordy began, I was a one project at a time kind of girl. It was incredibly rare for me to work on two stories at a time, and it didn’t usually last long. Typically one story would perform a hostile takeover of my brain and I’d be helpless to work on anything else. But since I started this challenge, I’ve suddenly become the girl with all the balls in the air.
In December, I worked on NINE different projects.
That would have been unthinkable to me a year ago.
And in January, I still have a lot of different projects I’m working on, but I’ve prioritized one in particular. I’ve devoted a minimum of 750 words of my daily goal to this project and I don’t work on anything else until I have those words.
Now, it’s true that I sort of did the same thing for NaNoWriMo, and that—if you’ll recall—didn’t go so well for me. The difference is that I am loving the book I’m working on now. It’s an urban fantasy about changelings and it’s really been such a joy. I only have a short, vague outline for it, and so I feel like I’ve been discovering the story as I go. Prioritizing this story was absolutely the right call for getting me out of the funk that November and December had put me in.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!
If you have been enjoying my blog, please like, follow, and share. I’d love to hear about the progress you’re making on your own goals. Let me know if you’ve had any epiphanies this week!
This week has been stressful. Half my family has tested positive for COVID. Thankfully, everyone’s doing okay so far, but we’re not through the woods yet.
Given this anxiety-inducing situation, one might expect that my writing slipped this week, but as you can see from the stats, it isn’t so. In terms of writing, I actually had a pretty good week.
You know, it seems like people always go one of two ways: Either writing helps them get through the tough times, or they have to take a break from writing for self-care purposes. I’ve been on both sides of this coin and I’m not sure what makes me go one way or the other. I wish I did because then I would always use stress to fuel my writing. It doesn’t always work that way, though.
I’m grateful that, for at least this past week, writing has been a comfort for me. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m really enjoying what I’m currently working on. It makes escaping into my fictional world so much easier. I wonder what I would have done if this had all happened a month sooner when I was struggling to find something to write that I was really passionate about. I’m grateful that I don’t have to find out.
Anyway, what I learned this week is that writing can be healing. It can be a distraction. It can be a release.
I hope that you and all the people you love are doing well. Take care. Thanks for reading!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, only to quit before you even make it out of January.
Come on, be honest.
I know at least some of you are guilty of this because, for Americans at least, today is the day that we are most likely to quit our New Year’s resolutions.
It’s only day 17, you guys, and most of us are giving up! Why is that?
I suspect it’s because a lot of us make resolutions that we’re not really prepared to keep in the first place. We want to lose weight, but we don’t actually want to eat healthier. We want to learn a new language, but we don’t actually want to study. We want to write a book, but we don’t actually want to spend time every day putting words on paper.
Don’t worry, I get it. I’ve been there. But I also have experience with overcoming the urge to quit. So, for those of you not quite ready to give up, I present 5 tips for beating National Quitter’s Day:
Remind Yourself Why You Started
You made this resolution for a reason. Remember that? I know it can get a little lost in the day-to-day struggle, but you wanted something. Today, take a little time to remind yourself what you wanted and why you wanted it. Ask yourself if it’s worth the effort. Ask yourself if you’re going to be making the exact same resolution next year if you quit this time. Ask yourself if you’re going to be disappointed to have to start all over again from day 1.
I recommend writing all of this down. It sounds silly, but writing things down is a commitment. You might find it harder to convince yourself that your goals don’t matter when you have it on paper that they do.
Readjust Your Goals
This isn’t cheating! I swear it’s not!
Look, I know the bright-eyed optimist that you were on January 1st thought that you were going to be perfect. You thought that you were going to wake up every day and do exactly what you were supposed to, when you were supposed to, how you were supposed to.
Time has a way of making a liar of the optimist in us.
By now you probably have a better idea of what is realistic to expect of yourself. For instance, if your resolution was to write for an hour every day and you’re finding that too demanding.
Readjust. Can you commit to a half hour each day? Fifteen minutes? Ten? Pick something that is challenging, but achievable for you.
Ask yourself which is better:
To write for a fraction of the time you’d hoped each day, or not to write at all?
To make small, healthy changes to your habits, or to give up on health altogether because you didn’t manage to become an Instagram-worthy health guru overnight?
To only read a couple more books than you did last year, or to give up on your reading TBR pile because you will never get through as many books as you want to?
You already know the answer.
Contrary to what you might think, there is no special prize for going it alone. There’s no award for suffering in silence. There’s no glory in refusing to find help when you need it.
Now, support can come in various forms: friends, family, strangers online, and even professionals. You can find someone to be your cheerleader, or you can find a group of people that are trying to achieve the same goal as you.
Whatever you choose, just find someone you can talk to when you’re feeling like quitting. I’ve found that even the slightest encouragement helps to keep me on track.
Break Your Goal into Smaller Pieces
I talk mostly about writing on here, so we’re going to stick with that as an example, but you can apply this to just about anything.
So, let’s say your resolution was to write a novel this year.
That’s amazing! An excellent, worthwhile goal.
But it’s also a BIG goal. It doesn’t tell you anything about how you’re actually going to achieve it. And when you sit down to your dedicated time for achieving this goal, you won’t have any idea what you need to do each day to make it happen.
Novels aren’t written in a day. You need to break this big, year-long goal, into smaller daily/weekly/monthly goals.
You can set a daily word count goal. For instance, if you were trying to write a 100,000-word novel in a year, you could break that up into a daily target of 274 words—if you’re writing every day. Or you could set a weekly goal of 1,924 words if you aren’t interested in writing every single day, or if you’d rather vary the amount you write on each day.
You can set a time goal instead. Perhaps you want to work on your novel for ten minutes a day. Or thirty minutes. Or an hour. Whatever is both challenging, and reasonable to fit into your schedule. This one may be a little tougher to set if you’re a newer writer because it can be difficult for you to know how much time you need to devote to writing each day in order to finish the novel by the end of the year. Still, this can be a good way of ensuring that you’re making progress every day.
Not only does breaking your goal up into smaller chunks take the guess work out of how you’re going to achieve your bigger goal, it gives you something to celebrate each day.
If you’re new to my blog, you might not be aware that I’m in the middle of a challenge called Milwordy (writing one million words in a year). I started in September so I’m nearly halfway through. If I hadn’t broken that big one million words goal into smaller daily goals, not only would I be totally lost about how much I have to achieve each day, I wouldn’t be able to feel any real accomplishment until I finish the challenge.
That’s a long time to work without feeling any sense of triumph.
Instead, every day when I hit my daily word count goal, I feel like I really achieved something. Hitting 2,740 words today isn’t my ultimate goal, but I congratulate myself for it anyway. That, believe it or not, has kept me going strong for over 400,000 words in the past four and a half months.
Keep Going for One More Day
This is a little trick I use a lot. If I feel like quitting, I ask myself to keep going for one more day. Just one. If tomorrow I feel like I absolutely cannot continue, then I’m allowed to quit.
What this does is power me through a moment of uncertainty. I find that, more often than not, I can always make it through one more day. And the lesson I typically take away from that day is that I really can do it if I set my mind to it. I find my will is stronger the next day, so I’ll make the same deal with myself: One more day, then you can quit.
I’ve gotten through entire years like this.
Now, of course, sometimes you get to tomorrow and you still want to quit. And that’s okay. You can either take it one day at a time, making this same deal with yourself without ever feeling the smothering obligation of a year-long commitment.
Or…you can quit. Sometimes it’s okay to quit. If you find that you really hate what you’re doing, and the goal you set isn’t worth it after all, you don’t have to keep going. Your goals are your own and they should serve you and what you want for your life.
But, at least for today, I recommend that you keep trying for one more day. After all, if you make it through January 18th without quitting, you’ll be doing better than most Americans when it comes to resolutions. Isn’t that worth trying for one more day?
So, tell me how your New Year’s resolutions are coming along. Are you ready to quit? Or are you still going strong? Let me know down in the comments!
If you’ve enjoyed reading, please do like, follow, and share this blog. You can also check me out on Twitter and Instagram @RamblingRobinJ. Thanks for reading!
This was a pretty good writing week for me. I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride again after a couple of rough months. The biggest thing that has helped me is just getting up and writing in the morning again. Let me tell you, this challenge is SO much less stressful if I get my words in before I go to work than it is if I have to get them when I come home.
I worked a lot on what was supposed to be backstory for a novel I hope to write in the near future. Only…I’ve written over 50k words of said backstory. And I’m not done.
So…um, I accidentally wrote a novel.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with it when I’m done. I don’t even know when it will be done. I’ve tried pantsing before, but never like this. I have, at the very least, always known how the story would end. But I didn’t mean to make this a full story. I didn’t really mean to make this a story at all. It was supposed to help me build the characters. I didn’t need an end. But now I do and I have no idea what it is.
I kind of understand now what other writers mean when they say that they are telling themselves the story. That’s what it feels like. Even I get surprised by what happens next.
I’ve also been working on a separate novel, though that one has been much slower going. I’ve really been enjoying it, but I feel like I might be chipping away at this one for several months before I finish a draft. That’s okay I guess…but I feel like I have so many other projects I want to get to! I don’t want to start until I wrap up some of what I’m already working on. So, they’ll have to wait.
That’s a big thing I’ve learned this week: The more I write, the more ideas I have. This isn’t a total shock to me, but I thought it had a limit. I’m beginning to suspect that my imagination is a fish that will grow to the size of its tank. And Milwordy is a big tank.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good problem to have, but sometimes I can feel a little…unfocused.
I also started journaling recently and this week I learned that…I kind of hate it.
At least, I kind of hate daily journaling. If I only journaled when I had something specific to get down on paper, it might not be so bad, but sometimes my days are just boring and I don’t have anything to say about them. So, I’m not sure if I’m going to keep up with the habit or not.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for sticking with me and check back next week to see if I’m still going strong or if my million-words-in-a-year aspirations have crashed and burned once more. We’ll find out to together!
Do you find yourself saying, “I’ll have plenty of time to write tomorrow, or this weekend, or on vacation”?
Do you tell yourself, “I meant to write today, but there just wasn’t any time”?
Are your writing goals going unfulfilled because you never seem to actually get around to writing?
Let me tell you…I can relate.
I have gone years feeling like time was just slipping away from me and I was never getting any actual writing done. I had a ton of ideas for what I wanted to write, but they always seemed to get stuck in my head. I never managed to get them out onto paper. There was more than one reason for this, but a big one was time management.
Since starting Milwordy, time management has become a huge factor in keeping up with a grueling word count goal. Writing one million words in a year is no easy feat, and you can’t do it if you don’t write regularly.
So, I decided to share some of my tips for how to get more writing in your day. All of these may not work for every person, but I’m betting there’s at least one thing here that can help you.
Schedule a Dedicated Writing Block
The smoothest writing days for me are the days when I stick to my schedule. Now, I’m not much of a schedule person most of the time, but I can see why other people are. It works.
For me, waking up two hours earlier than I normally would means that I can get my words (or most of them) in before work. This is important for two reasons: First, it reduces the risk of some unplanned catastrophe preventing me from writing that day. Usually, 6am is too early for my day to fall apart. Second, though I don’t particularly like getting up early, I do find that I’m more productive in the morning. I generally spend more time writing the same number of words if I start in the evening than I do if I start in the morning.
Mornings may not be the best time for you to schedule a writing block. Try it, though, just to make sure. And try the evenings. Try the afternoon if you’re able. Figure out what time works for you and stick with it. Let the people you live with know that you’re writing time is yours and it is not to be interrupted beyond emergencies.
It’s also helpful to set a routine around your writing block. I like to make myself some coffee or tea. I start up my wax warmer. I read a little bit of what I wrote last time, just so I can get myself back in the write headspace. Then I put fingers to keys and get to work. These rituals, once formed, can signal to your brain that it’s time to write. It will become more of a habit rather than something you have to force yourself to do.
Write in the Gaps
Okay, so now some of you are saying that you don’t have any open blocks of time to dedicate to writing. I get it. Some of you are parents. Some of you are taking care of aging parents. Some of you work two jobs and go to school. Life can be busy. So, sometimes you have to be a little unconventional when it comes to finding time to write.
Instead of blocking out specific times to write, you’re going to have to learn to jump on any opportunity that presents itself.
You can’t sleep? Write.
You’re in an hours-long line at the DMV? Write.
You’ve got 10 minutes before you have to leave the house? Write.
This method is going to take a lot more time and patience because you probably won’t be able to get as much writing done each day. But let’s say you were able to find 10 minutes each day to write. Most people—even very busy people—can find 10 minutes a day. I can write about 500 words (of a first draft) in 10 minutes. Not everyone writes that fast. I’ve worked my way up to that over many years. But let’s say you were able to do half that:250 words. That’s a whole page of writing. In a year, you could have a 365-page novel. And if you can’t hit 250, then just get what you can. It will take longer, but you will get there much faster than if you sit around and wait for magical free-time to appear.
I know that probably isn’t as fast as you’d like to go, but if you have very little time it may be what you have to do. And it will work if you stick with it.
Even for me, as someone who blocks off time to write, there are certain days where I have to use this method. Or some days, when I’m trying to get extra words, I do this in addition to my dedicated block of time. Learning to recognize opportune moments for writing, and to use them to your best advantage, is a vital skill for anyone that wants to write regularly.
I feel like I’ve been singing the praises of dictation a lot lately but it really has helped me. The nice thing about it is that you can write while doing other things.
I’ve written while cooking dinner.
I’ve written while doing laundry.
I’ve written while cleaning the house.
If you don’t have a lot of extra time, but you do have a lot of repetitive tasks during the day—like cooking and cleaning—you may be able to get a lot more writing done than you think.
Plus, in my experience, dictation is quite a bit faster than typing, so you may even find that you simply get more done during the same amount of writing time as you would if you were typing.
Dictation is probably not for everyone. A good dictation program is expensive, and there’s definitely a learning curve before you really get the hang of it. But if you’re able to try it, then I think you should. It’s worth a shot, especially for people who are having difficulties finding time to write regularly.
Set a Timer
Let’s say you’ve got your time all blocked off, but you don’t seem to be getting a lot done. How can you learn to get more writing done in the time you’ve allotted?
I find that a ticking clock helps.
No, it doesn’t have to actually tick.
I like to use Write or Die because it has a progress bar that lets me know if I’m falling behind during a writing session. It also reminds me to keep writing when I’ve stopped. Having used this method for years, I can tell you that it has increased my writing speed by nearly 20 words per minute. And I have not seen a dip in the quality of my work. In fact, I’ve actually gotten better over the years.
You don’t have to use Write or Die, though I do think it’s worth it for the progress bar. Even setting a timer can help you speed up. There’s something about knowing that time is limited that gets those fingers flying!
Be Honest with Yourself
Yes, like I said, there are some of you that really don’t have much extra time in your day. But there are some of you who only think you don’t have extra time in your day. I’ve been there. Time just seems to slip away sometimes, doesn’t it?
But let’s be honest with ourselves here. Check your screen time stats on your phone. How much time are you spending on the internet? On social media? How much time are you spending watching Netflix? How much time are you spending hitting that snooze button in the morning when you could be getting out of bed and writing?
I’m not saying that you should give up all your leisure time. In fact, you absolutely should not do that. We all need down time. But really look at your day and think of your priorities. Look at your non-essential activities and ask yourself if they’re more important than writing. The ones that are, can stay. The ones that aren’t…well, you might have to make some tough choices here. If you really love writing, some sacrifices will be worth it.
Again, this applies only to non-essential tasks. Do not make cuts to eating, sleeping, exercising, taking care of your dependents, etc.
Adjust your priorities so that writing fits in.
This honesty thing also applies to those of you who truly don’t have much time to dedicate to writing. You have to learn to accept that writing might be a slower process for you than it is for someone with more time on their hands. That’s okay. We all have to work within our own circumstances. Be honest about what you can manage and be kind to yourself when you’re comparing your progress to someone else’s.
I’ve thought about this a lot during the Milwordy challenge because I know that I have more time to write than many people. I have a full-time job and a husband, but—especially with the pandemic—I don’t have a lot else going on. I know plenty of you are parents or go to school as well as work or have any number of other obligations demanding your attention. It’s easy on the internet to only show people the best of your life and give people the impression that your life is perfect and that theirs doesn’t stack up. I don’t ever want to make people feel like they should be doing what I’m doing. I’m fortunate enough to have time in my day for this, but if you don’t, you absolutely shouldn’t feel bad for that.
If you’re doing your best, then that is always good enough.
These are the tips that have helped me find time for writing. Like I said, they may or may not help you, but I encourage you to give them a try if you’re struggling.
Let me know if you have any tips of your own that I’ve missed. I’m always looking for ways to improve this whole Milwordy experience!
If you’re enjoying my blog, please like, follow and share. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @RamblingRobinJ in both places.
How is 2021 treating everyone? I have to say that so far, the new year has been pretty great for me.
I could see how someone could look at my week 18 total and think that I had a bad week, but that’s not the case. You see, the first three days in the week happened to also be the last three days in December. Since I had already reached my December goal, I decided to give myself a little break before the new year. So, it was a planned break, and I’m not actually behind at all. In fact, for both January and the year, I am ahead.
I told you before that I love New Year’s resolutions, and the first few days of this year are an example of why.
In November and December, I was foundering. I had lost focus for Milwordy and I considered giving up several times. I made it through, but it was through sheer grit and determination—not because I was feeling passionate about writing or this challenge.
But then January hit and I haven’t felt this focused since September. I know it’s still early; Maybe this boost in energy won’t even last through next week. But honestly, I’m just so happy that it’s happened at all that I’m not going to be looking a gift horse in the mouth.
So, what did I learn this week?
New Year’s resolutions are awesome—okay, no I already knew that. But they’ve been a big help in getting me back on track. I am aware that I’m going to have to harness this energy again. I’m sure that a couple of months down the line (if not sooner) I’m going to be feeling the way I was in December, and there’s not another New Year’s coming up before the end of Milwordy. So…I’m going to have to figure that out. But it’s good that I know that now so I can start making a plan.
I learned that slower writing can sometimes be better writing. Not always. In fact, I often find that when I look back and compare things that I’ve written quickly vs. things I’ve written slowly, the things I’ve written quickly are better. I mean, they usually have more errors, for sure, but they also tend to be a bit punchier with better dialogue and more interesting actions. I don’t know why this is other than writing fast seems to tap into my more creative brain. Maybe when I write slow, I just let myself get bogged down in my own insecurities about writing. I don’t know. In any case, fast drafting usually works for me.
But this week, I was working on a novel that I had started before Milwordy, but kind of abandoned, and I was writing slow. Or, well, slow for me. And it was a real joy. And it didn’t make the writing worse—at least I don’t think so, though I can’t be sure until I’ve had enough time away from it to come back and reread it.
I think the reason why writing slowly on this particular project is working is because I’m enjoying it so much. I usually need to work fast to get into the flow of writing, but with this project that seems to happen no matter at what speed I’m going. So, I’m pretty happy with that.
That’s it for this week. I hope 2021 is treating you right. I hope that we all have a better year than we did in 2020. If you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to send them along in the comments.
If you’ve been enjoying my blog, please like, follow, and share it. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @RamblingRobinJ. Thank you for reading!
Since I’ve made it through 1/3rd of this challenge we call Milwordy, I thought I’d give you guys some insight on what tools have been helping me through the process. I’m not saying that you couldn’t write a million words without these things; I’m saying that I couldn’t.
Well, at least these are the things that have made it easier. I’m sure that with enough determination I could do this challenge with nothing more than a pen and a lot of paper, but…yikes! Would I want to?
Anyway, I’ve made a list of my favorite tools for you to peruse and see if any of them would work for you.
It may seem like a weird tool when we’re talking about a writing challenge, but the monthly spreadsheets I made before the challenge started have been a surprisingly motivating factor for me. The conditional formatting that changes my daily word counts from gray to whatever that months theme color is (January is blue) dings a little area in my brain that makes me want to see the color change. That is just a little extra incentive for me to hit those daily word counts.
Also, it’s obviously important to have a way to track all these words I’ve been writing and the truly nice thing about Excel is that it will do the math for me. Such a treat! Plus, it makes it easy for me to look back and see which projects I worked on during the challenge, which is something that usually gets a bit messy for me. I’m also tracking the amount of time I spend writing each day, as well as the time of day so that I can get a better idea of if I’m more productive in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings.
My Bullet Journal
It didn’t have to be a bullet journal exactly, but I definitely needed something to keep me organized. I have my calendar spread which lets me make notes and plan for days when I might not be able to write. I also keep track of my blog posts there. And I do have a spread each month to keep track of my words—though not in the same detail as the spreadsheet. This may seem a little redundant, but I really enjoy being able to keep track of my progress in a physical rather than digital form. Plus, it gives me a chance to be a little artistic, which can be a nice break from all the writing.
Basically, how it works is I draw a different themed spread every month and I leave parts of it uncolored, so that I can color them in for every 2,740 words (that’s my daily Milwordy goal). There’s not so much math involved and it’s fun to see the picture get colored in as the month wears on.
Write or Die
If you don’t know about Write or Die, you can check it out at their website here. Basically, it’s a program that allows you to do timed writing sprints and reminds you (gently or forcefully, you choose) to keep writing. I have the program downloaded to my computer and it’s pretty great. I don’t like to use it for all my writing, but on days when I know I don’t have a lot of time to write, it helps keep me focused and pushes me to write faster so that I can get all those words in. Plus, it has helped me figure out what my typical writing speed is so that I can better plan for how long writing a particular number of words will take me.
This one is pretty new to me, but let me tell you it has been a life-saver.
Again, I don’t like to use this for everything. It’s relatively accurate, but definitely not perfect. Plus, I feel really weird speaking my writing out loud. Still, I can write much faster through dictation than I can through typing. To give you an idea, if I were to write for an hour in Write or Die, at my absolute top speed, I can get about 3,000 words in. And if I’m being honest, that doesn’t happen that often. That’s me pushing myself to my absolute limit, and usually I would have to break for a long time afterward. More reliably, I could get about 2,000 words in an hour.
An hour’s worth of dictation, on the other hand, will reliably net me between 4,000-5,000 words. And my absolute top speed got me to 5,500 words in an hour! An I don’t feel so completely exhausted after. Plus, I can get up and walk around if I like, which is a big plus for me. I think that I might even be able to get this count higher if I tried it with an extensively detailed outline, though I’m not absolutely certain about that.
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’ll remember that in December I had a 23,000-word day to catch up after I had fallen behind. There’s no way I could have done that with typing alone. Dragon absolutely saved the day.
Music Apps (Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music)
I already made a blog post about how important music is to my writing, so I’m not going to wax poetical about it here. I just thought that the music apps I’ve been using deserved a little nod.
The nice thing about these music apps is that I can listen to music without having to own it. Sure, they come with commercials (if you don’t pay for premium, which I do not), but that’s a small price to pay for getting to listen to nearly limitless music without having to own any of it.
Not that I don’t enjoy listening to the music I actually own, but sometimes I need something specific that I don’t have. For instance, during the month of October I was working on a Halloween short story. Being able to tune into a Halloween station that I didn’t have to curate myself was a HUGE help. Plus, it really got me in the mood for the holiday.
I had some serious problems with my wrists at the beginning of this challenge. Like, so much so that I thought I might have to quit. Dictating some of my words helps, but I still generally prefer typing, so that’s what I do most of the time. So, I invested in wrist rests. One goes in front of my keyboard and the other in front of my mouse. They have helped tremendously, as well as trying to be more aware of my posture while sitting at my desk. I still get a little pain on big writing days, but it’s nothing like it was in the beginning
It didn’t have to be a blog, but what I mean by this is that having accountability to someone other than myself has pushed me ever forward. If I had decided to embark on this challenge without ever telling a soul, I would have quit already. I’m not even sure I would have made it through the first month, and I know I wouldn’t have made it through December. Knowing that there are people out there following this blog reminds me every day that I need to keep going and for that I thank anyone who is reading this, but especially those of you who have taken precious time out of your day to like, comment, and follow. You keep me on track.
I’d also be remiss not to mention my husband here, who asks me how I’m doing with this challenge every day, and is always ready with encouraging words. If you take one thing away from my experience, let it be this: Having support and accountability is the best way to see yourself through this kind of challenge. Even though you are ultimately the one doing all the work, you aren’t actually alone. That makes all the difference in the world.
What are your favorite tools for writing? Do you have any that you feel you just can’t write without? Let me know down in the comments!
If you’re enjoying my blog, please like, follow, and share it with anyone who you think might be interested.
Good morning! It’s a new year and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a fresh start! And what better way to get a fresh start than to talk about New Year’s resolutions?
Don’t roll your eyes at me. We’re doing this!
I love New Year’s resolutions. I know that it’s pretty much a cliché at this point to make lofty goals that you are almost certainly never going to stick with. I mean, National Quitters Day (the day people are most likely to give up on their New Year’s resolutions) is January 17th. Most of us can’t even make it three weeks, let alone a full year. I am no stranger to this phenomenon.
So, why do I like New Year’s resolutions? Well, the thing is that while I have failed many, many times in my life, there have also been a number of occasions in which I’ve succeeded.
One year I gave up caffeine and managed not to drink it again for nearly four years. Okay, yes, eventually I went back, but four years is pretty good, you must agree.
One year I vowed to organize my home, and while I did give up a few months in, many of the spaces I organized have remained so, even several years on.
And one year I said I would write every single day, holidays and all, and you know what? I did just that. And that was the only year I participated in—and won—all three NaNoWriMo sessions. I wrote three separate novels that year, which at the time was a pretty big deal for me. Milwordy was not yet a glimmer in my eye. In fact, if I hadn’t made it through that year, I don’t think I would have had the confidence, or the mental tools, to give Milwordy a try.
So, in spite of all the failures, I’ve had some real wins. Even when I don’t make it through the full year, I often make some real progress that sticks with me.
That brings me to my 2021 goals. It’s been hard for me to pick out resolutions for the coming year because I sort of feel like my big project is finishing Milwordy. I can’t exactly call it a New Year’s resolution, can I? I started last September! Of course, I am resolved to continue on, and reach the million-word mark, but it feels weird making that a resolution when it’s already in progress.
I considered vowing to write every day, but I don’t actually think that’s a good goal for me this time around. Because I have to write so many words, I’m finding that having a couple days off is an important use of my time.
I don’t even necessarily feel like I’m in a place where I can say, I will completely finish X project before the year is over, because with Milwordy I’ve found that the only way to power through is to follow the path my brain wants to take me on. If I force myself to finish a certain project, it may end up meaning that I stall on my word count. Plus finishing a project means revising it, and I still haven’t quite figured out how to fit revision into my Milwordy work—not extensive revision. I don’t know that I can commit to a long-term revision project during the Milwordy challenge.
So, what am I going to resolve to do for the new year?
First, I want to keep up with this blog more regularly. In particular, I want to make sure that I’m getting my weekly update out every Tuesday. I’ve gotten kind of lax with that. I would also like to put out at least one additional post each week. So that’s my first goal: Publish two blog posts a week, including one Milwordy update every Tuesday.
Second, I want to get back into a good groove with social media. I’ve pretty much let Instagram slide entirely and my Twitter posts are sporadic at best. Yet, I don’t think the way I was doing it back in September was a good long-term plan for me. I was posting to Instagram twice a day for a few weeks there, which was just too much to keep up with. I’d like to post there 2-3 times a week. On Twitter, I would like to post 1 time a day. This is the resolution that I think that I’m most likely to break, but I’m going to give it a try.
And finally, I’d like by the end of the year to have found myself a critique partner. This is something I’ve never done before because I’ve always been a bit shy about sharing my work. I’m also just shy in general, so finding someone to partner with has always seemed daunting. Especially trying to find someone that has both a similar skill level and a similar taste in genre. But I sort of feel like I’m at the point in my writing that I can’t improve further without outside help, so this seems like an important step. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to start searching for a partner immediately, or if I want to wait until later in the year when Milwordy is over. Then I’ll have more time that’s not entirely devoted to putting as many words to paper as I can, so I can focus on someone else’s project as well. But I’m hoping that by December 31st, 2021, I will have found myself a fitting critique partner.
I have some other non-writing goals: reading goals, exercise goals, organizing goals, but I figured you guys wouldn’t necessarily want to hear about those. Basically, what I’m telling you is that I have a lot of goals. I’m certain that I won’t be able to reach all of them, but I do think having something to reach for is important—even if you don’t end up grasping it in the end.
Are you making any resolutions this year? What are they? Are you in the habit of following through on your goals, or are you planning on celebrating Quitters Day on January 17th? Let me know down in the comments!
If you’re enjoying my blog, please like, follow and share. You can also check me out on Twitter and Instagram. I’m hoping to be more active there soon!
I’m calling the first third of the Milwordy challenge a success.
You heard me…read me…I am officially 1/3rd of the way through Milwordy and I’m actually ahead of schedule as far as word count goes.
I think one of the biggest things I learned about myself this month is that I tend to judge my success in an endeavor, not by my actual progress, but by how I feel about it. You see, I got way behind in December…sort of. I never actually dropped behind on my year-long goal because I had gotten such a head start in September and October. But I was, at one point, nearly 20k behind on my December goal, and in spite of being on track for the total Milwordy goal, I felt like such a failure. I began panicking that I was going to lose this challenge after having worked hard for nearly 4 months.
And then I had a 23k word day.
Oh yeah, you read that right, 23k words.
Looking back, that was a ridiculous thing to do. I mean, the chances of those 23k words being any good are miniscule. It doesn’t totally matter, because much of it was discovery writing/brainstorming work anyway, so it didn’t have to be good…it just had to help me learn more about my characters and plot. Still, why did I feel the need to do that?
Because I didn’t want to feel like a failure. Also, because I’m obsessed with my Milwordy spreadsheet and the way that the cell for each month’s total word count will only turn to (my favorite) purple if I hit my goal and I couldn’t bear to miss a month. Yeah, I know, weird motivation, but seriously would it be right to leave it red?
So, I scrambled to get as many words in one day as I possibly could. I didn’t even know it was possible for me to get that many words in one day, and admittedly, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it if I hadn’t been using a dictation app. There’s no way my wrists could handle 23k words in a day. They can barely handle 3k.
The thing is, I need to learn not to be so hard on myself. I mean, I need to be a little hard on myself in order to do a challenge like this. If I’m too lenient, I know from experience, I will not finish it. However, there really was no reason for me to feel so badly about my progress this month that I needed to write 23k words in one day. So, I’ll be working on that.
I’ll start with saying that in December I managed, not only to reach my monthly goal and have the largest word count day I’ve had in my entire life (by a wide margin), but I also managed to finish my NaNoWriMo novel, restart an old novel that I’m absolutely in love with, write a whopping 42k worth of discovery writing for a brand-new project, and keep up with this blog (barely). That’s all pretty good as far as productivity goes and something to be proud of (even if saying that I should be proud of it gives me a sense of embarrassment and discontent—working on it).
Not only am I headed into the 5th month of Milwordy, but we’re all headed into a new year. It’s a time for fresh starts. Let’s all agree to let our 2020 baggage go as much as possible and work toward a brighter future!
Did you get a lot done in December? How about 2020 as a whole? I know it was a rough year—for basically the whole world—but I hope that you were able to make the most of it. And I hope that we’re all about to have an amazing 2021!
You can see those stats. Not only did I not catch up from my poor showing last week, but I didn’t even reach my regular weekly quota. I’m now behind by over 15k for the month of December, which feels insurmountable with the holidays coming.
I have no idea what happened here. I am in full on panic mode about it though, because I can’t keep going this way if I want to succeed at Milwordy. And yet, I can’t seem to force myself back into a respectable writing schedule.
I feel…tired. And a little out of ideas, which is unusual for me to be honest. Usually I have more ideas than I can force myself to sit down and write. Now I feel like a well that’s dried up.
I don’t know if this is just a slump. I don’t know if it’s caused by a lack of interest in my current projects. I don’t know if this is the natural result of trying such a demanding challenge. Is burnout inevitable? I just don’t know. Which means that I don’t know how to fix it.
I wrote a post earlier in my blog about writer’s block. I came to the conclusion in that post that you have to figure out why you are having trouble writing in order to fix the problem. But how does that help if you can’t figure out why you’re having trouble in the first place?
Anyway, this week I learned that getting behind is bad for morale which inevitably leads to getting further behind. So, I guess the moral of this story is, always try to stay ahead.
PS: I’m posting this a little late because of Christmas. Those of you that follow me on Twitter will know that this post is not exactly accurate to where I am now in the challenge. I wrote it before I had a giant writing day on the day before Christmas Eve, so we’ll talk about that for my Week 17 post, which I’m pretty excited for. Until then, just know that writing is going much better for me now and I’m eager to head into the New Year.
December Total Wordcount: 25,712 (not where I wanted to be)
Year Total Wordcount: 300,694 (OVER 300K! WOO!)
Words to go:
December: 57,622 (I can still do this! Christmas looms large though)
Year: 699,306 (So. Many. More. Words.)
Technically, I’m still ahead. For the year. For December, I am horribly behind.
I know that being sick is actually a pretty decent excuse, but that doesn’t actually stop me from feeling bad about this past week, you know?
The thing is, I was sick back in September also, and yet I still managed to keep up with my words. In fact, September was my best month so far. December is shaping up to be the worst.
I still have half the month to work on it, of course. Getting to my December goal is not actually out of reach. Except that, of course, the end of December is Christmas and New Year, and even with Covid making gatherings unlikely, I’m still probably not going to get a ton of extra words in that last week.
So, you know what that means? This week is basically going to make or break my December. I’m going to try my best to get in a lot of extra words. It would be easier if I hadn’t (finally) finished my NaNoWriMo novel, or if I had something really solid to work on next.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m restarting a novel that I had begun before Milwordy, but I’m still feeling a little shaky with it and I really wish that I had something that I could really bang a lot of words out with, you know? But you have to work with what you’ve got. So, wish me luck!
As for what I’ve learned this past week…I suppose I’ve learned that stumbles will happen. As much as I told myself that I wasn’t going to have any big gaps in my writing time this year, if I had been honest with myself, this was bound to happen. And I think there was a part of me that always knew it because that’s why I pushed myself to get so far ahead in September and October—which was goal-saving by the way. Even having (basically) not written for 5 whole days this week, I’m still ahead for the year. So…yay?
Other than that, I don’t think there’s much I could really learn from not writing, so that’s about it for this week.
I hope that your December is going considerably better than mine. Are you still writing, or are you taking a holiday break?
You may have noticed that this post is a bit…um late. It’s a real shame because I actually had it written a week ago, but then I caught a stomach flu (or possibly food poisoning?) and my whole week got derailed. Spoilers for week 15: It has not been going well.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re talking about week 14.
After a rough November, I actually had a pretty good first week in December.
But why though?
Nothing was different. Not really. I mean, I guess one deviation was that I made sure to write in the mornings again, a habit that I had kind of lost in November.
Listen, one of the big things that I’m learning on this journey is that I know nothing. Seriously. I can think that I have this whole writing productively thing completely figured out one minute only for it to fall completely apart the next. And then I can think that I’m slowly descending into inevitable failure, only to pull myself back up the next week. I legit don’t know what to tell you here, except that this is a journey and sometimes you don’t see the curves or potholes or squirrels until you’re swerving to avoid them.
I think that metaphor was getting away from me a little bit.
Anyway, the good news is that I’m very nearly done with the Regency Romance novel I was working on in November. The final word count is going to be right around 80k, which is, I think, the longest first draft I’ve ever written. Granted, I know that I started my story too early, which is probably the reason for the higher word count, but I’m kind of proud of having written that much in one story. That’s around where I’d like my word counts to actually be, I just chronically under-write, so I don’t usually expect it.
I’m also still working on brainstorming a new project, but I’ve got a long way to go before I can begin drafting that. Instead I’m going to be returning to an old idea that I have a partial outline and about 5k of a first draft for. It’s an urban fantasy with faeries and changelings and a magic system that I hate and have to rework.
So that’ll be fun.
I’m also trying to brainstorm some ideas for Christmas short stories because I found that the Halloween short story I did in October really got me in the mood for the holiday. I think it would be a lot of fun to do the same for Christmas, but so far nothing is reaching out and grabbing me.
So, to reiterate, what I’ve learned this week is that I know nothing and I never will. And that’s okay. Life’s a journey, blah blah blah.
I hope you’ve been having a fun and productive December so far. Are you writing anything new? Let me know about it down in comments!
I am officially ¼ of the way through Milwordy! That’s worth celebrating, right?
Okay…so, if you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed that last month was, um, a little rougher for me than the previous two months. I feel kind of like a broken record actually, I’ve talked so much about what a struggle November was for me.
And yet, I made it to my November word count goal of 83,334. I’m pretty proud of that. In a way, I’m actually prouder of this month than I was of the previous two. The thing is, those months were a lot of work, but they were also tremendously fun for me. Writing when it’s fun is not exactly a burden. But sometimes you have to write when it’s not fun. Sometimes you have to struggle with it. And I am proud that despite the fact that November was indeed a struggle, I made it through.
But you guys, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t glad November was over.
I think that a big part of my problem here has been working on a novel that I lost interest in pretty early on. Or at least I’m hoping that’s the problem, because otherwise I might be in for a very long 9 months here.
So, what did I accomplish in the month of November?
Well, I wrote 62,664 words in my NaNo novel, which any other year I would consider a win, but….
Why did I set the goal to actually finishing the novel as my criteria for winning NaNo this year?!
Because, as an under-writer, I assumed that would be no problem at all. Yet here I am, 12K over the word count goal for NaNo and I still have 18 scenes to write. How did this happen?
It’s fine. Seriously, this is actually a great accomplishment and technically I won NaNo, even if I didn’t reach my own personal goal of finishing the whole book in November.
I also wrote a ton of blog posts that I decided I didn’t like and so didn’t post. I don’t know if that’s an accomplishment, but it did give me more writing practice, so, you know…progress?
And I wrote over 6k words during my brainstorming of a new project. Plus, some personal/journal words, which was helpful for me at times when I found it difficult to focus on my other writing. Usually I could focus better on my fiction after I got some of the thoughts that were chaotically swirling around in my head out onto the page.
November was a tough month, but I think, ultimately, I did learn a lot from it and I’m going into December, still with a lead on my words for the year and hope for my next project.
Let’s just hope that Christmas doesn’t derail me entirely.
How was November for you? Did you participate in NaNo? Did you win? Did you struggle like me? Are you still working on your NaNo project? Let me know in the comments!
If you have no idea what Milwordy means, you can check out my first post on this blog for more info: My Milwordy Declaration. In short, it is a writing challenge. I am trying to write one million words in a single year.
You guys, I’m still struggling.
I feel weird saying that because I’m still doing okay on my word count, especially if you look at my year total. It’s just gotten so difficult. I’m spending so much more time on this challenge lately because my writing has slowed down quite a bit. And I’m just not finding as much joy in it as I did at first. It’s been rough.
I’m still trying to figure out whether this is because I’m feeling uninspired with my current NaNo project or if this is the natural settling after the boost in creative energy I got from the start of such an ambitious challenge. I mean, I knew that it was possible, likely even, that I would not be able to maintain the same level of enthusiasm for the whole year, but if I’m being honest, I did expect it to last through November and NaNoWrIMo.
I suppose I won’t really know if it’s this particular novel or Milwordy itself that’s weighing me down until after I can start something new. And, I still probably have a week before I can do that. So, um, stay tuned, I guess?
The main thing I’ve learned this week is that discipline may be the single most important skill I need as a writer. When enthusiasm doesn’t keep my fingers on those keys, I need to find a way to force myself to sit down and do it anyway. While I have managed to hit my word count targets, I know I’ve wasted a lot of time on sitting in front of my computer screen, waiting for my brain to be ready to write. Sometimes you just need to sit down and do it.
How is your road to achieving your writing goals going? Is it as bumpy as mine?
We’re headed into the last full week of NaNoWriMo 2020 and I feel like I’m dragging myself across the finish line here. I’ve had this weird sense of impending failure all month, in spite of the fact that I’ve never once fallen behind where I should be. I, in fact, only missed my NaNo daily target once, but I was already ahead so it didn’t matter.
So why has this NaNo felt so hard?
For one thing, I think that NaNo always feels difficult. Like, I forget how much work it is because this fog of nostalgia and excitement overtakes my brain and all I can think about are the good parts of NaNo—the Twitter words sprints, the forums, the sense of accomplishment when it’s over.
And the progress charts! The beautiful, wonderful progress charts!
Yes, I’m a nerd, what of it?
But I forget how much work it is. I’ve said it before, but I’ve actually found this month much more difficult than the two previous months of Milwordy, mostly because of my self-imposed commitment to a single project that, in all honestly, lost my interest rather quickly. It has felt like I’ve been trudging through rapidly drying concrete. If this were just another regular Milwordy month, I would simply switch projects and be done with it.
But I’ve come this far—too late to turn back now. I have to finish this project, but I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to December 1st. I’ve got a couple of projects that I’ve just been aching to work on, but haven’t had much time for due to NaNo.
I hope that your NaNo is going better than mine, that you’re still having fun with it and are still passionate about the project you’re working on. If you’re struggling to maintain that level of enthusiasm though, I want you to remind yourself that we’re nearly done. That the sense of accomplishment at the end will totally have been worth the journey through metaphorical wet concrete, and that the book that you’re working on right now is probably not as bad as it may seem to you now. And even if it is, that doesn’t mean that it can never be fixed. But you have to finish it before you can fix it.
Keep going. Don’t give up. We’re almost there!
Bonus Writing Prompt: Your main character wants to give up their goal. How do they find the strength to keep going?
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I had several days this week where I did not hit my Milwordy word count goal. These were not planned breaks. These were simply days where I didn’t get it done.
On one of these days, I did work pretty late and I don’t feel too bad about missing out on that day. It happens. I’m sure it will happen more as the year goes on. But as for the other days…I don’t have a good reason to have slacked off. The only real excuse I have to offer is that, I haven’t built in rest days this month and I can see how that may have been a mistake. My daily word counts have, in general been lower this month even when I’m hitting my goal. That means I need to hit my goal nearly every day to make this work. And I think that’s a bit unreasonable to expect.
Rest days seem to happen whether I plan them or not. My brain will not allow me to do the most every single day, so I need to plan for these lapses ahead of time by getting more words in on the days I am feeling most productive.
Fortunately, my plan of getting ahead in my word count, both at the start of this month, and at the start of Milwordy in September, has given me a nice buffer and I’m still quite a bit ahead. That lead can vanish quickly though, if I’m not careful, so it’s important for me to stay on track.
The days I got the most words were the days that I allowed myself to do some brainstorming for a new project that I’m just developing. When I’m working on that, writing seems nearly effortless. Instead of forcing myself to sit down and hit that word count, I end up having to force myself to stop writing so I can attend to the other necessities in life like, you know, eating, working, sleeping etc. It’s times like that when I remember what I love about writing. I wish every moment of writing could be like that, but sadly it doesn’t work that way. If I want to finish the things I start, I can’t just write when the words are flowing easy. I have to write all the time.
So, what have I learned this week?
NaNo makes Milwordy harder, not easier, which is the opposite of what I expected. I believe I have talked about this before, but having to stick to just one project (or mostly to just one project), feels confining to me. But more than that, I’ve found my brain naturally reforming its expectations to the 1,667 daily NaNo word goal rather than the 2,740 Milwordy goal. If I get to 1,667, I always sort of feel like I’ve done enough, even though I know that’s not true. I can’t get through Milwordy like that. Yet, I can’t get my stubborn brain to accept that fact and I’ve started to get, a little lazy.
As I already said, I’ve also learned that rest days are vital and even though I think I can just skip them, in reality, I can’t
And finally, I’ve learned that committing to an imperfect project is better than seeking out the perfect project and never finding it.
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I’m going to have a full Milwordy wrap-up soon, but I want to take a little time to reflect on the whole experience before I let out my thoughts on the challenge as a whole.
For now, it’s enough to say…
I did it!
One million words in a year—in 361 days to be precise, since I actually wrote those last words a few days ago.
I have to say, August felt a little anticlimactic to me. Maybe it’s because I had fewer words to write this month than in other months, but I don’t know…I thought finishing would feel bigger. Instead I’m left with a feeling of incompletion. I know I finished Milwordy. I got all the words. Yet, it doesn’t feel like it’s over somehow.
Maybe I just need time for the truth to sink in. Or maybe I don’t feel done because I’m not. I’m not done writing. I didn’t finish the Sleeping Beauty retelling I was working on, so I still have that to do. Plus I have a mountain of first drafts now that I can sort through and figure out what to do with.
And, of course, new ideas will be just around the corner soon. This is only the end of a writing challenge, not the end of my writing.
So, Milwordy went out with not a bang nor a whimper but rather a kind of “Huh?” I don’t know exactly where my writing journey will take me next, but I have some ideas. I hope that you’ll stick with me on the way.
And stay tuned for my big Milwordy wrap-up where I will tell you just what I think about this crazy challenge now that I’m finally done with it.