Writing Journal 3.30.2022: Spinning the wheels… but still writing

I’m not going to prattle on this week.

I’ve been typing up the fan fiction, stuff I have been reluctant to fully publicize… but that’s OK. I think.

One of the advantages of writing it is that I don’t feel as much pressure to write that material as the “serious writing” that I feel like I have to get going on. I’m still trying to work that out, so I’m not going to do it

What I will say is that although I’m not going to take a look at the overall numbers until next week, I do feel confident that I am actually going to be well ahead of pace toward my target of 200,000 words this year and reaching my daily quotas at least 70 percent of the time.

I’ll recap the monthly totals next time I post a writing journal, but I have the feeling I would be over pace even without the fact that there are five weeks in March rather than the usual four. However, I estimated last month that I’d need to exceed 16,928 words every month from March to December to make that goal. I managed to pass that two weeks ago.

How about that… and it happens to be my birthday today. Not that I’m making a big deal about it. Even though I think progress in what I’m trying to accomplish is slow, I feel like progress is being made. By the time I’m ready to pass on, I just might actually know something about writing.

Anyway, here are the figures. I’m looking to have a good last week of the month. Take care, everyone.

Writing statistics for the week ending 3.26.2022:
+6,618 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 150 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Writing Journal: 3.23.2022: I’m writing, but not what I’m “supposed” to write – or, the difference between total writer’s block and “situational” writer’s block/procrastination

Well, this is a bit frustrating now.

I’m doing… all right with the writing, I guess? I’m well into March, which is one of those “extra week” months where I can get five weeks of writing sorted out rather than just four weeks. Last week’s totals (I’ll spell that out in a moment) were the best I’ve had all year, bar none, and by the time that this post goes online, I might already have achieved my writing goal for this month, to keep on pace with this not-so-crazy 200,000 words in a single year goal for 2022.

But, I’m getting the feeling that I’m beginning to separate my writing into the “serious commercial or semi-commercial writing” and the “totally frivolous and fun writing.” Two different areas, and categories that represent two different emotions for me. I have been associating the first category with success, accomplishment, “being a serious writer,” and procrastination on a very measurable level. The second category is filled with slight embarrassment because most of the writing is “frivolous,” “not serious,” “fan fiction,” “not intended for commercial success or even intended to appeal to a wider audience” and it’s supposedly not something I should invest a lot of time and creativity.

But I’ve had more fun doing that latter sort of writing than any other type of writing during the past few weeks. So, since I’ve been thinking on this subject for more than a little bit, maybe it’s time to take a step backward and see if my behavior makes any sense. Many people have complimented me, both in past times and present times, that I have a good self-analysis of my behavior, my reasoning, and my emotional reactions. Maybe it’s time to apply that to my current writing status.

(I usually post writing journals that either just say “here’s my totals for the week” and hello, or go into a deep dive about what I am thinking, writing-wise, about what is going on. I get the feeling, as I am putting this together, that this entry is one of the latter kind.

So, buckle in.

Some dude found it on Facebook, then posted it on Reddit. I saw it there and thought it was a good visual representation of the weirdness that I was considering regarding the writing output I had recently. Now, it’s on WordPress. You’re welcome.

So, we have the “serious writing” and the “fun writing” categories that I came up with for myself because I need to write about something and I might as well get it out here. My other experience is that once I talk something out with myself, once I analyze it and try and explain it to myself, I usually am able to work my way for it. I often times have eventually found myself repeating behavioral patterns, but it almost always keeps me from repeating not so good behaviors in the short term because once I figure out what is actually going on inside my head, I am able to correct things. So, I think it is good to talk about that here, especially since it concerns itself with my writing and what I am doing with it.

Essentially, what is happening is that I’m doing well at the latter writing but not the former. So, I’m going to make a brief effort to see why that is the case, and also if this classification into good and bad writing actually makes sense or is just some arbitrary malarkey that I decided on.

I’m going to try to, anyway. Or, at least summarize it.

As of right now, I’m seeing the “serious” work as something that I have to do but have to really motivate myself to do. There’s plenty of stakes in it, such as getting better known and possibly making this pay off. While my “fun” writing has no chance of doing any of that, but I enjoy myself when I do it and find the process a breeze to put out new material – new material, that is, that is not even intended to be commercial or be exploited commercially.

This is an interesting conversation… but I think I need to think on it a bit further before I tease out the implications and see the reasoning, whether accurate or false, behind this thinking. For now, just know I had a very productive week and looking forward to many more. After some of the weeks I’ve had last year and early this week, that is a nice change.

All you writers keep writing, and everyone keep safe.

Writing statistics for the week ending 3.19.2022:
+6,787 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 120 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 7 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 3.16.2022: Producing

Time to keep things short.

I’m celebrating this week for being productive, but I’m not going to make a big deal about it. So many times I have celebrated a good week only to get down when I fall behind on my goals.

However, now that I know what I am shooting for, which means 200,000 words in a year and meeting my daily quotas 70 percent of the time, I’m feeling more confident that this month will be great and that I will be able to keep up my pace.

And I actually made some progress on what has become a white elephant of a blog post… but I did write some more on it on Sunday and I plan to continue with it throughout the week. Call me the George R.R. Martin of bloggers. (Yes, I know he blogs too. Probably more than me. At least I’m not going to make you wait 11-plus years for what I’m writing, heh heh.)

So, with that being said, I’m not promising anything that I’m not sure that I can deliver. However, I can deliver the stats for last week, so I’ll do that below and wrap this up. Writers keep writing and everyone keep safe.

Writing statistics for the week ending 3.12.2022:
+5,062 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 75 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 7  of 7 days.

Writing Journal 3.9.2022: Shaking it off

This is going to be quick because there’s not much to say.

I was thinking that I had a lot streak just because I was writing a few things, but I had one slow day and one day I totally took off. And thus, I’m right back at the level I didn’t want to be. It’s not horrific, and compared to my average last year it’s not bad.

But, I can do better. And, I will.

As I write this, I am on a six-day winning streak that I plan to extend into… at least 11 days? That would be a trip. Then again, you’ll believe me when you see me, right?

Anyway, here’s the stats. See you down the line.

Writing statistics for the week ending 3.5.2022:
+3,809 words written.
Days writing: 6 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 Journal 3.2.2022: Sucky last week but February was better than January

Get ready for Number City today.

This week was not the best writing week I ever had… but it was not disastrous, and what runners might call the “split” numbers for the year so far make me both feel like I improved over a sucky January and might be on pace to meet that 200,000-word goal for the year, and things are looking very nice for me to meet my daily writing goals at least 70 percent of the time.

Usually, I leave the stats toward the end, but they kind of build on each other, so best to tackle them right away. First, last week’s numbers.

Writing statistics for the week ending 2.26.2022:
+3,869 words written.
Days writing: 6 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.

Again, not the most impressive weekly stats I ever had, but they are not a disaster. And when you compare January’s numbers with February’s, I see a big increase.

Monthly Statistics, 2022:
January:
Words: 13,954
Revise/Plan: 165
Daily Writing Goals Met: 68%
February:
Words: 16,770
Revise/Plan: 90
Daily Writing Goals Met: 86%

So, nearly a 3,000-word jump from last month, a little lower on time revising/planning, and a big jump in the amount of times I’m making quota. What does that mean for my goals?

Word Count

I’ve already written 30,724 words for the year 2022 so far, leaving 169,276 words left toward my goal. If I would divide those words evenly over the remaining 10-month period, I would have to average about 16,928 words per month.

That is not far off my February pace… and I am going into March, which is a longer month by about one week than the last two. So, I am feeling confident that I can get a good run going in March and manage to put myself well on pace to getting that goal met.

Daily Goals Met

This is looking even better. I am meeting my daily writing goals 77 percent of the time, well above the 70 percent I was shooting for. A few more months like February and I’ll have that goal pretty much locked up.

Well, I actually put out a non-writing journal blog post last week, so that was a positive. I’ll try and put out another one later this week.

Try to stay safe, everyone – it’s not that easy to do sometimes. But give it a shot. Until later.

I Finished My Fantasy Game of Thrones Fan Fiction (At Least One of Them)

About two and a half years ago, I was paying attention to the final season of a really popular fantasy series on television known as Game of Thrones. I had been interested in the series for a while, but I was getting obsessed with the season and the ending of the series.

It was a weird situation. The television series that was based on George R.R. Martin’s book series was about ready to be done even though the book series itself wasn’t yet done (it still isn’t lol). So, the decision of how the series would end would rest largely in the hands of two TV producers (henceforth referred to, collectively, as 2D) who convinced Martin a decade or so back that they would take good care of his life’s work.

And they had done an all-right job. I loved the main story, its grittiness and the twists and turns behind it. The production design was fantastic and put me into this world of Westeros, and the casting to a person was spot on.

To be honest, the entire experience made me fall in love with the whole fantasy genre. It’s a wild situation, because I live in a world that’s so technologically advanced it looks like nothing in the pages of Martin’s books or what I saw on the screen. But I was falling in love with the world, and admiring the stories I had previously read. When I was in late elementary school, I had discovered The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander and now, thirty or so years later, I was actually combing bookstores for a serviceable copy of The High King to see if it still held up. (Reader, it did.) That led to me starting (but yet to finish) The Lord of the Rings and be foolish enough to dip my toes into the deep ocean of story that is The Wheel of Time series. I would have to say that the entire experience was enough to propel my interest in fantasy fiction – one I half-fear, half-thrill at, will be what dominates my fiction writing interests moving forward.

Anyway, with that much of an impact on my fiction fandom, I was itching to see how it would all end up. And I was more than half dreading it, as well.

Because I knew about television series endings. Hollywood is starting to take ending television series a lot more seriously than the bad old days when they’d try to carry on a series forever until everyone got sick of it and they just canceled it with no concern about whether they ended it in the middle of a story or right after they got to a cliffhanger. I liked that they were trying to be civilized and try and consider a series to be part of a longer stories that could be told in just a couple or a few seasons, rather than rambling on and on with no concept of a finite story or making sense (looking at you, Simpsons and Supernatural after Season 5 or whatever it was). British television has managed to do that for years (except for Big Brother, Coronation Street, Eastenders etc.).

Getting that ending just perfect, however… a writer has to stick that landing/that ending right. Because when you stick that right, it can cover up a multitude of missteps along the way and make everything right in the end. Most people know those series – The Sopranos, The Shield, The Wire, Six Feet Under.

But the ones who screw it up, the ones that just foul up the last things devoted viewers loved about a series – their infamy is eternal. There are so many that fit that category. Lost and Dexter are just a couple of many.

(And I’m still not over the idiotic way they ended the second Battlestar Galactica series. Ancient humans colonizing Earth? Forget that nonsense. They did Adama, Apollo, and especially Starbuck dirty.)

I was desperately hoping that Game of Thrones would be one of the former types of series – the one with a great ending that overshadows everything – rather than the latter, the ones with horrible endings that poison all that came before it in regret. Guess which one it was. Go on, just guess.

It did not work out, Readers. [Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com]

Yes, in May of 2019, what I was feeling was an overwhelming sense of… disappointment, sadness, and frustration, watching what unfolded across the small screen. And finally… I started thinking.

I knew that I could do better than what I was seeing. I knew I could turn out something better than these idiots, and I didn’t need a $10 million per episode or whatever budget they had to do it.

So, I dipped my toe into the waters. I thought, what if I had one more season to salvage the wreckage that was left at the end of the series. The result was a 40,000-plus word story I decided to call “The Reunion of the Pack.” I didn’t know where I could post it – I tried to set something up on FanFiction.Net and I did have it there for a time. Then I discovered Archive Of Our Own. I really loved how you could set up the stories into separate chapters, series, and also the tagging system.

I was happy with what it was. It wasn’t a perfect story, but I thought it did a decent job of salvaging the story and getting a nice enough ending to it. I got a decent reaction from it, based on the number of kudos that I received (the AO3 version of likes)… but I was still a little unsettled. Was there a way I could make a better ending for the story?

That’s when I thought if I had the chance to rewrite the entire final season… that would be something. It would be crazy. but it would definitely be something.

And then I started writing. I just thought that it would take maybe 40 short chapters, maybe 60,000 words at the most. I figured I would knock it out in a year at the most.

I’ve now not only finished that story, but added some other stories to it and it is now a series. It’s a series that now spans over 400,000 words and is likely to top a half million words sooner than later. It’s not something that I’m ever going to make money on it, because, of course, fan fiction. And I’m doing fan fiction on an author (George RR Martin) that has gone on record speaking out against fan fiction authors. (Personally, I think it would be hilarious if someone started doing fiction based on my work as long as they’re not trying to cash in on it.)

And, I’m likely not to publicize it here. By that, I mean linking to the story and so forth.

For one thing, I am considering eventually monitizing some of the stuff on the site, and maybe utilizing Substack. So, I wouldn’t want to try and do anything that might hint at trying to make money at that.

Secondly, I am a teacher in the public schools. Right now around the country, there are people who are trying to get books banned and teachers fired from their positions for either daring to tell the truth about history in the United States or teaching materials their parents consider too “difficult” for their kids to handle.

My students know I am an author and blogger. I have never promoted my book The Holy Fool to my students because the subject matter is definitely for adults, and adult situations definitely happen in it. I know some of them have even glanced at this blog, which I have no problem with. This blog is a writing-based blog for all ages, essentially.

However, the fan fiction that I do is also not aimed at children. I do not want any hint that I might encourage kids to read my fiction. If it had a movie rating, it would definitely be an “R” rating. I want to keep this separate from my professional education life, and I have no reason to stir up the waters, to be honest.

Besides, this experience has proven to me that I can enjoy writing for the sake of writing. All throughout the process, I never had to think about whether there would be a market for whatever this was, whether it would be easy to promote under a certain genre, or whatever it is. I just got to enjoy writing for the sake of writing, and I have gotten such a positive response for my fiction from the readers on AO3. I’ve also had the chance to read some writing on that site that is absolutely the equal of any that have been on my bookshelves.

So, what now? Although I will not likely put out fan fiction at the rate I have been putting it out over the past couple years, I will certainly continue to do it. There are a few other stories I want to wrap up there before I’m done, and I’m having a blast at it. I’ve gotten great feedback on my work, and I’ve gotten to talk to writers I never would have met otherwise.

So, this will leave a little more time for this blog – and perhaps some original fiction as well. But I won’t

Writing Journal 2.23.2022: Feeling better about productivity

[Photo note: This is what popped up when I searched for “Productivity” on Pexels.]

I will keep this relatively short. There’s a few good reasons for that, which I am happy with.

First, I finished (or at least finished the first part) of a passion project that I’ve been obsessed with for about the past two years or so. Yes, it’s the fan fiction project I’ve mentioned here before. I’m not going to link to that story, and there’s some reasons for that. However, I am going to talk about it more in-depth in a post I’ve scheduled for Friday to explain why I devoted so much time and energy to something that won’t ever make me a dime and I don’t even want to do anything that would hint at that. Again, I’ve got that story cued up for Friday night.

Some other good news… we had a meeting of the Iowa Writers Corner last week. We got some awards for the year. Crazily, even though I did not join the group until midway through the year, I managed to snag the “Weekend Warrior” award for 2021. That’s the award the group gives to the guys who do not write full-time but write in their free time. (I might have explained this in an earlier post. Oh, well).

And, I managed to get two awards – one the old one (2021) and one for last month in January.

The 2021 award…
…and the new 2022 award, received for winning the month of January.

As for my writing totals, I did better on overall word count than I did the previous week, but I only made my daily quota six out of seven days rather than all seven days. Remember, one of my goals (other than 200,000 words written this year) is to meet my daily writing quotas 70 percent of the time. If I keep meeting my quotas at least five out of seven days, I’ve got it covered easily.

Anyway, I’m also going to shoot for getting another blog post out Saturday, on the subject of The Wheel of Time that I’ve been fooling around on for a while. Hopefully I can get to it… and have some more regular posts on here. Wish me luck.

Here’s the totals. Keep safe, everyone.

Writing statistics for the week ending 2.19.2022:
+5,144 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 2.16.2022: Not the best of numbers, but some clarity on my pace… and a bit more consistency… plus some other news

Welcome again.

Although it doesn’t look like it, I have been getting some blog writing done behind the scenes, yet not published yet. However, I’ve been making more progress. There’s at least three posts that I’m working on in drafts, and they are getting closer to getting done. I had wanted to get them done earlier, but I’ve been busy with a little passion project that I finally got finished up. (That’s the subject of one of those draft blogs. Maybe Friday I’ll post it?)

So, this week. I got more than a little writing done, pretty consistently across the week. The weekend wasn’t total garbage, even though I only wrote 55 words one day. At least it wasn’t zero, right?

I’m also looking to make some adjustments to the number of words I need to shoot for every day. I mentioned previously my goal for the year is 200,000 words in a year, roughly 16,667 words a month on average. I was a little below that monthly average last January, but I’m hoping to make up the difference over the next two months, especially since March is going to be a slightly “longer” month than the others.

Usually, my goal is to get to around 500 words per day. However, I have done some recalculations and realized that if I am going to make this 200,000 word goal with some words to spare, I am going to have to get closer to around 600 words per day.

That’s not a problem. One of the good things about setting a writing goal in advance and working toward it is spot checking how much you are getting done as the year progresses. I can check those stats and see if I have to make adjustments to daily or weekly totals if I get ahead or behind. Now that I have that goal ahead of time, I’m finding it to be a little easier to see where I am relative to that goal and how much I have to do to get there.

Visualization and goal-setting… seems to be working? We’ll have a better idea after a couple of months, likely.

How am I going to get those numbers up? Well, I have a blog about writing, maybe I need to… write a little more than just once a month about how much I’m writing? (Man, talk about insider baseball.) I need to get a little further into the self-publishing area, especially with this book project I’ve had sitting on the sidelines. I want to get more into Canva for design and Substack for writing – it might be a way that I can get paid for writing directly than what is going on now. But I’m also staying here on WordPress because I consider it to be a very intuitive site and not something that I need a lot of programming skill or cash to keep going.

As for last week’s numbers… they were both good and bad. For the first time in a long time, I managed to write at least something every day. Yeah, I did wind up just writing 55 words on one of those days, but I managed to make my minimum daily quota of 500 words.

(Now, however, I know I’ll have to lay on a few extra words every day to get to 200K. Again, not a problem now since I know how much I need to still write.)

Also, I managed to meet that minimum quota of either 500 words a day or 30 minutes of revisions or planning for writing a day every day last week, which isn’t a nothing statistic. After just meeting my daily quotas just 58 percent of the time, I’m going to be gunning for meeting daily quota at least 70 percent of the time. So, an entire week when I match my daily quota one way or another is going to be a big win in my book.

So, here are the weekly stats. And, it turns out all this is a bit over 600 words. Another good day of writing for me, at least.

Writers keep writing and everyone keep safe.

Writing statistics for the week ending 2.12.2022:
+3,425 words written.
Days writing: 7 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 60 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 7 of 7 days.

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.