Writing Journal 13 September 2022: If I could have a week like this every week, I would

Again, I’ll keep this short.

This past weekend felt like actual September should be like, not like an encore of August or maybe July. I would say October and either March or April are about the only months in Iowa where the weather is about perfect for my taste. Most older people are sick enough to want to retire to Florida or Arizona – I would prefer to retire to Minnesota. I would prefer to live somewhere where there are cool temperatures and that I won’t be either out of water or get flooded by seawater, thank you very much.

Minnesota does look pretty, doesn’t it?

Here’s another look.

Anyway, the writing went all right last week. Not a record-breaking week, but… honestly, if I managed to get this much writing taken care of every week, I would easily meet this year’s goals of 200,000 words written and meeting my daily writing goals at least 70 percent of the time. As I reported recently, I’m well on my way to making that goal, but I want to keep consistent. Making sure that I have that consistency has been what I have found to be a key to being productive.

Just a quick reminder: I’ve got an event this Saturday at the public library in Badger, Iowa. Here’s a link to all the information.

Anyway, here’s the numbers for this week. Writers keep writing and everyone keep safe.

Writing statistics for the week ending 10 September 2022:
+4,473 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for  120 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

A Self-Publisher’s Progress, or Lack Of It: Why I’m Going to Go the Self-Publishing Route

These are interesting times.

You might remember that I managed to get a book published with an outside publisher a couple of years back. That was a feather in my cap, certainly, and I crossed a big item off my bucket list in the process.

Since then… I have not yet had a chance to publish another book. The publishing company I worked with previously is not accepting new fiction, so that avenue is closed to me. I have at least one or two possibilities for projects I could move forward with. I have at least one that is almost publishing ready, except for a few items.

So, I am faced with two different possibilities. First, there’s option of trying once again to find a publisher or agent willing to work with me to put together a new project. They would have a better idea of the current publishing climate than I would, obviously, and more connections in that area as well. Usually you won’t get a look from any of the Big FIve publishers – Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan – without an agent1. It’s a long-term process, as well – getting a book through the publishing process even if you succeed can take months and even years at a time, not even counting the initial writing process.

Or, I can go the self-publishing route. Selling physical books on demand is easier than ever thanks to Amazon, and e-book distribution can cut out even more middlemen out if you want to go the all e-book route. (As for me, I am too much of a traditionalist to totally abandon physical books. There I would be my own boss and have the majority of the profits. How much of those profits there would be is an open question. Some people can make a tidy career out of this. For others, the revenue is few and far between.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this. As a result, I have elected to go the self-publishing route.

There are two main reasons that I’ve made that decision.

The first has to do with fame and fortune. When I was a kid, I may have had a small little dream to be a Stephen King-level writer. He was one of my idols, so of course I was going to think that. Then it turned out that for a long time I didn’t write a lot of stuff, as a young man. It would take me a long time to build up to being a consistently productive writer, and even then I wouldn’t imagine that I could be as productive as King, even in the early cocaine days2.

There are so many writers out there trying to make a name for themselves. A good number of them are truly great and talented, and most have at least some talent. Very few of them “make it,” just like so many talented actors, dancers, musicians, and other artists don’t make it. The ones who make it are successful enough to have publishing contracts, book advances, and teams of agents, attorneys, publicists, and other handlers to make their lives easier.

I don’t think that is going to happen to me.

I’d say that realistically, I am at the halfway point of my life. If it hasn’t happened at this point, I see an even smaller chance of it happening to me, even as you hear the tales of older authors becoming an “overnight” success. So if such a fate is not likely to happen to me, I shouldn’t want to concentrate on doing things with that in mind. I’d rather have full control over my fate, no matter what sort of financial rewards there are in it.

And that brings me to the second reason for this. I just want to write.

I’m tired of putting so much effort into finding publishers and agents, putting in so much time into it and not getting anything out of it. If I’m going to spend my time on this passion of mine, I want to start putting out the stories that I want to put out, and getting them out to anyone who wants to read them. Yeah, I’ll have to do promotional work, and other things like formatting and cover designs, but it will be a lot less foolishness than if I went the traditional route.

I know I only have a limited time in this existence, although I hope I still have many years still left. I want to do it telling the stories I have in me.

It’s going to take some time, even with the self-publishing route. But I’m looking forward to getting it started.

Footnotes:

  1. I should qualify this by saying that I would not include pay-to-play publishing or agents in this category. I have had past experiences and meetings with such people, and I’ve concluded that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
  2. I do not endorse using hard drugs for any reason, but especially creative ones. Anyone who thinks it is sustainable needs to read The Tommyknockers and watch Maximum Overdrive. When he had a prescription drug relapse after getting run over by that van, he wrote Dreamcatcher. I rest my case.

Writing Journal 7 September 2022: Shaky week, but still keeping pace

Last week was not the best writing week, given me getting adjusted to school once again, a weird schedule, and the Labor Day weekend messed with my plans.

However, my overall numbers (and progress toward my writing goals) continued to look good, and I got started on Substack, so things are actually looking up.

So, here’s the numbers for last week:

Writing statistics for the week ending 3 September 2022:
+2,517 words written.
Days writing: 4 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 60 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

And, here are last month’s numbers:

Writing statistics for August 2022:
Words: 19,312
Revise/Plan: 240 minutes
Daily Writing Goals Met: 74%

Remember, the goal I set for myself was to write at least 200,000 words of original content and meet my daily writing goals 70 percent of the time. As of right now, I am at least 15,000 words ahead of that pace and am currently meeting my daily quotas an average of 74 percent of the time. I’ll be a very happy writer if those numbers hold up.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Writers keep writing and everyone keep safe.

Writing Journal 10 August 2022: Sort of slacked last week, but I’m feeling good about the year, honestly, even if I’m not getting as much done this summer as I’d hoped for

[PHOTO NOTE: This was a shot of the skies around Duluth, Minnesota, in July 2022. I wrote that blog post about writing while on vacation there while I was on vacation. Clever, I know.]

So, I am getting big into August and it is getting ever closer to the start of a school year. I am far enough into the summer that I am now actively thinking of the next school year and not about “vacation time.” That typically happens around July 31 on the calendar for teachers. I likely mentioned this at least once or twice, but the fact that I will be teaching language arts exclusively rather than just special education over the course of this year after not doing so for a decade is… a curious and unexpected development. I do not anticipate it being a horrific or difficult development, but I will hope that things went as pleasantly well as the previous year. One can always hope, and my situation is much more favorable than many of my fellow teachers in this country and even in this state. I also am wondering whether the increasing shortage of teachers will affect my district.

However, such thoughts and debates are not really part of the theme of this blog. Likewise, some things that have happened with my family have been interesting, but all in my family are well and I likely will not mention them here unless absolutely necessary.

In preparing my youngest (my daughter Madeline) for moving into her new apartment to continue her college career, I ended up not getting a lot done. In addition, her continual playing of Minecraft got my curiosity and I might have started building a medieval castle in single-play creative.

However, I did get some work done this week, although not too much work in researching KDP publishing. However, I am planning on getting more of that done before meeting with my writing group this week.

Also, I was running the numbers for how much I have written this year, and I estimate that I am now 10,000 words ahead of pace to make my goal of 200,000 words this year. Good times.

Well, here are last week’s numbers, such as they are. I should get at least another post out this week. Take care everyone.

Writing statistics for the week ending 6 August 2022:
+3,146 words written.
Days writing: 3 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 60 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Writing Journal: 3 August 2022: Good numbers

I’m going to keep this brief.

Last week went well – not perfect when it comes to writing productivity, but I will take these numbers most any week. I came close to my productivity of last week, which is a good thing, and my overall July numbers are also seeing an upward trend.

I felt bad honestly that I wasn’t able to get out the blog post I wanted this weekend. Part of that was because I was helping my daughter move into her new apartment this weekend, so that took some time away and might affect some of next week’s numbers… but hopefully not by much.

School will be upon me in 20 days from now, essentially. I’ll be teaching all-language arts this year as opposed to being mostly special education as I had been for the past seven years. I think that should go all right? It’s been a while since I was teaching all language arts.

I also need to read some more from the people who have subscribed to my blog. There are a lot of good writers out there.

So, more of that, another blog post this weekend, and more work on the self-publishing front. See you later.

Writing statistics for the week ending 30 July 2022:
+6,081 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.
Writing statistics for July 2022:
Words: 20,392
Revise/Plan: 390
Daily Writing Goals Met: 72%


Recap: First Half of 2022:

[PHOTO NOTE: Get it? Because it’s in halves… anyway.]

And just when I think that I have been doing horribly, I find that I actually have been productive writing this past six months.

For those not in the know, I have been keeping track of all the stuff I’ve been writing, all of the words whether fiction or nonfiction, on this blog, for the past five years. (I’ve been doing it longer than that, but the early notekeeping was for me.) For the past four years, I have been keeping records in the present format. It’s more than a little bit of data.

This year, I decided to actually set a goal for the entire year rather than just try to make daily goals. Based on what I had done over the past four years, I decided to try 200,000 words written for 2022 and meeting my daily writing quota (500 words per day or 30 minutes of planning and/or revisions) at least 70 percent of the time.

How am I doing so far?

Obviously, at this point in the year I should be at 100,000 words written and meeting my daily writing goals 70 percent of the time. Time to open the envelope and see what there is to see. (Reminder: all revise/planning numbers represent total number of minutes.):

Writing statistics: First half of 2022:

  • Jan:
    • Words: 13,954
    • Revise/Plan: 165
    • Daily Writing Goals Met: 68%
  • Feb:
    • Words: 16,770
    • Revise/Plan: 90
    • Daily Writing Goals Met: 86%
  • Mar:
    • Words: 27, 101
    • Revise/Plan: 375
    • Daily Writing Goals Met: 86%
  • Apr:
    • Words: 20,791
    • Revise/Plan: 225
    • Daily Writing Goals Met: 86%
  • May:
    • Words: 12,563
    • Revise/Plan: 255
    • Daily Writing Goals Met: 54%
  • Jun:
    • Words: 19,163
    • Revise/Plan: 240
    • Daily Writing Goals Met: 66%
  • 1st part of the year:
    • Words (total): 110,342
    • Words (avg.): 18,390
    • Revise/Plan (total): 1,350
    • Revise/Plan (avg.): 225
    • Daily Writing Goals Met (avg.): 74%

So, I am 10,000 words ahead of schedule and above my percentage of daily writing goals met… by a good margin, if not a comfortable one. However, it is much better than the same stats for the first year of 2021:

  • 1st half of 2021:
    • Words (total): 86,852
    • Words (avg.) 14,475
    • Revise/Plan (total): 1290
    • Revise/Plan (avg.) 215
    • Daily Writing Goals Met (avg.): 57 percent

So, I’m ahead of last year in all statistical categories. That’s a great feeling.

I am definitely not going to get overconfident with making my goals this year. But I am cautiously optimistic. My current yearly word record is 208,919 set in 2020, and my current yearly record of daily writing goals met is 78 percent set in 2019. Could I possibly make those goals? Maybe, but for now I am going to take the win and start writing some other stuff. I’ve been doing too many journal posts and not enough other stuff.

Take care, everyone, and for any Americans reading this – have as good of a Fourth of July as you can.


Writing Journal 6.15.2022: I think I’m pulling out of the slump… and an anniversary

[PHOTO NOTE: It was what happened when I typed “progress” in the image search.]

I’m glad that the month-long writing drought that I had last year around this time has been cut down to perhaps a week and a half. Two weeks ago was the worst writing week I had all year but the numbers have been going up since.

I managed to put out a blog that was likely a jumbled mess but that I was happy that I finally got done. You ever have those writing projects, where you know that maybe it’s not your best but you want to put it out so you can just have a sense of completion? Yeah, it was like that.

I also have some other ideas for blog posts that have been kicking around… and some planning to get a project to fruition, as well. I’m going to get some plans together to make that work.

Oh, and it’s apparently my fifth anniversary on WordPress? I’ll have to officially celebrate that later in the week. Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Anyway, the numbers are below. I’m looking forward to seeing how the first half of the year numbers look in a few weeks.

Writing statistics for the week ending 11 June 2022:
+4,199 words written.
Days writing: 3 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 3 of 7 for 120 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 4.20.2022: No jokes to be made

Heh heh.

Right, on with it.

Despite my slight self-handicapping, a slight hiccup regarding my writing space, and the Easter weekend, I wound up having… not a bad writing week? And maybe one of the better writing weekends that I’ve had for a while, despite not typing anything during Easter Sunday. Anyway, I’m going to keep up with my new routine and see if that doesn’t have repeat results%.

I’m also happy that I wrote some blogs, even though they were sort of first-person-heavy, but I think some people might have gotten something out of it? Anyway.

My plan for the next few nights:

  1. Write, no matter what it is or what type of quality results.
  2. Somehow complete this review regarding Wheel of Time that only I think I probably care about all things considered.
    1. Again, at this point quality is not the primary concern, completion is.
    2. This is more a point of pride at this moment than anything else.
  3. Maybe, possibly, fool around with Substack and see what sort of information I can find out about writing there.
    1. It could be an interesting idea where I would build a small side living with writing.
    2. I have a long way to go before I get things going there.
    3. It would not take the place of this site. Somehow, I would crosspost somehow.
  4. Start thinking of a gameplan of how I’m going to use all this free time from mid-May of this year to mid-August. I don’t want to waste it like I did last year.
  5. Keep up the writing pace. At least that’s working for now. Even with the lighter numbers, I was still on pace for this week, both in total words and the percentage of days I met my quota.

Anyway, here’s last week’s numbers. Hope your Easter/Passover/whatever season worked out for you.

Writing statistics for the week ending 4.16.2022:
+4,229 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5  of 7 days.

% – I’m not getting into what the routine change is. Honestly, it’s so mundane that it would hardly qualify as good advice for anyone. Some things I’d prefer to keep to myself.

Writing Journal 2.9.2022: Trying to pick up the pace, or, have you ever had that one project that keeps sticking around…?

Today’s featured photo is a bit of home, a bald eagle in flight around Muscatine courtesy of Dad (William Liegois) who’s one of the best photogs I ever saw not working at a newspaper. Even though I do like my home, I do miss the Mississippi River and seeing bald eagles now and again.

Anyway, on to the writing. It went OK last week. Not mind-blowing, not a disaster… but OK. But I am driving myself more than I have ever had on just sheer writing.

It was probably about six or seven years ago that I started keeping track of my writing output, and the total number of words that I would write for any given day, week, month, or year. At first, I wasn’t pushing myself. I was just reminding myself that I did want to consider myself a writer and maybe, just maybe, I should write. And that was enough to get me out of the funk where I spent years without typing a single word of fiction or writing that had nothing to do with my day jobs.

Then, I started putting quotas on myself. I’d had some experience with NaNoWriMo, but 1,667 words a day (which will give you a 50,000-word manuscript in a 30-day month) was a little heavy, so I decided to dial it down to 500 words. I hit that number… a lot of times, but not every day. There was at least one day last week where I was so yakked out by a cold I couldn’t even think straight. I’m doing better now, and I had maybe the best weekend (Friday/Saturday) numbers that I’ve had for a while.

And now that I have had a few years of writing statistics, I felt comfortable for the first time setting a total word count goal for the year ahead of time – 200,000 words in total, and a hope that I meet my daily quota 70 percent of the time. (I count time toward planning and revision work toward the latter total – 30 minutes a day of that activity is the same equivalent of 500 words a day.)

Did I meet that daily quota every day this week? I did not. But, I did manage to get more than 4,000 words written. And even with the modest start to the year, if I manage to average at least 4,000 words a week for the rest of the year, I’ll make 200,000 with at least 5K in words to spare.

And I can manage 4,000 words a week as a “weekend warrior,” as my one writing group calls guys like me who have a job but write on the side. I just did that two weeks in a row. That’s a victory I’ll take.

On another note… I am going to write something other than journal posts. Eventually.

There were long stretches of this blog where all I did is post only journals. Sometimes it was all I had to talk about, other times I had losses of ambition. This time it is because I’m trying to finish up the last chapter of a passion project (fan fiction) that I’ve been working on for a while. And I’m so close to getting done. I think I have maybe two scenes left until I can put this story to bed. I’ve felt compelled to finish it, so that needs to get off my plate before I can concentrate on anything else.

I will write about other stuff, eventually. Trust me.

So anyway, here’s the numbers. Take care everyone and I’ll be back here soon.

Writing statistics for the week ending 2.5.2022:
+4,332 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for  30 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 1.12.2022: Sticking to my writing goals… for now

These posts are getting a bit repetitive… but it’s interesting now that I have a target.

For the past few years, I have kept to daily writing goals. I have often fell short of them, but sometimes matched or exceeded them. Before now, however, I didn’t really have a target total that I wanted to reach. Since I have all this data from the past few years, I felt more comfortable shooting for a yearly total, and it is a total that I have communicated with my writing group Iowa Writers Corner.

These will be my goals for this year:

200,000 words in a year

Meeting my daily quota at least 70 percent of the time (an average of about five out of every seven days in a week)

Liegois

That will wind up being about 3,850 words per week – slightly over a “quota” week of 3,500. However, I think it is attainable, and I want to challenge myself. As a result, I’m going to add some additional points to the weekly totals to show where I’m at and do the countdown on a running basis.

Obviously, the question is “How do we know that you’re not just making up the numbers?” Reader, you really don’t know that, it is true. I will say, however, that if I wanted to make up numbers, they would be a lot more impressive than some of them I have posted over the past four-plus years on this site. Just look up the category “Journal” on this blog and take a look for yourself.

Anyway, as always, here are the numbers – with some of the format alterations I mentioned. Enjoy and I’ll eventually write something more than journal posts soon.

Writing statistics for the week ending 1.8.2022:
+3,881 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 30 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.
Yearly totals:
GOAL: 200,000
Weekly average (Approx): 3,850
Monthly average (Approx): 16,667
So far: 3,881
Percentage of daily quota to meet: 70 percent