May 2024 accountability

My word counts dropped in May. I know why so it’s not a big deal. I wrote 5,291 words in May.

On May 20th, I lost my > 200 words a day streak. The rest of the month wasn’t better. I had too much to do, and everything just got a little overwhelming.

I’ve tried to pick the streak back up, but it hasn’t been easy. My routines have changed significantly, and things are still not settled around here, so I keep missing my goal. Overall, though, I do expect better from June. And since the halfway point of the month is a good restarting point, I’m going to try to make yesterday the last missed writing day in June. :)

April 2024 accountability

It’s a fact that if writing is going well for me, I don’t blog as much. I just realized I never wrote my accountability post for April 2024.

In April, I continued to write every day. I wrote 12,013 words.

I had hoped to start writing earlier in the day each day but that hasn’t been easy to do.

March 2024 accountability

Accountability? Progress? Summary? I honestly just don’t know what to call these posts. So for the moment, I’m going to stick with accountability because that was what I called the last few I wrote.

In March, about mid-month—or actually, at exactly mid-month on March 15th—I decided to start writing every day again.

Usually, I avoid setting a word count goal for that, but this time, I knew I wanted to see real progress, and I wanted it to add up to something. So, I set a goal for > 200 words a day. No more of this “one word counts” or “negative words still mean I did something that day.” This was intended to be a goal that would get me some real forward progress on my stories and get me back into some semblance of a writing routine.

I’m not good with routines. Past posts on this site are littered with the proof of that, so feel free to go looking if you want. :)

Maybe because I was also posting about this goal on a Discord server of fellow writers (it’s a small server of writers from my state), I found extra motivation to keep going even when I might have normally said forget it because it was 2 am and I still hadn’t written 200 words, but I did keep going.

In March, I wrote 9,259 words, and more than doubled my February word count.

506 of those words were from March 1–14, and 8,753 of those words came during March 15–31.

My year started off weird because my daughter was home a lot longer than planned, and I really needed this push to get started writing again. :D I’m glad I did it.

I decided not to change anything for April, because it’s working, and I don’t want to blow it up just when it’s picking up steam. ;D

The only small, teensy little thing I’m hoping to do different in April is start earlier in the day. But it’s not a requirement, and it’s not a real goal. Just a hope.

May 2023 progress

I’ve written a few posts throughout May that explains some of the reason why my May writing wasn’t on part with March or April.

Those problems alone don’t seem like a good enough reason, logically, or rationally, for my reduced output. But if you add in all the things they touched off, I’m comfortable calling those things the root cause.

The bats in the attic have caused some secondary problems with the house, which has caused me a great deal of stress. I had a period of about two weeks where I was getting far too little sleep. Without enough sleep, I don’t focus well, and I don’t have energy. It was easy to just say screw it and skip the writing.

The problem isn’t solved, but I have reached a place mentally where I’m finally getting more sleep, and that has made a marked difference in my energy levels and my desire to write. I expect June to be a lot better.

May words: 1,579

And even though I don’t have many words to show for May, I did have some good ideas and do some other stuff related to publishing. I also learned a lot about generative AI and spent a decent amount of time playing with story ideas and words that I didn’t count with ChatGPT. (It doesn’t mesh with my storytelling style or process at all, but it was fun to play with until it got boring.)

Sometimes, my well still feels empty, and writing the next sentence feels like walking through wet concrete, but I still think I am much improved, and I hope that all I need to do is keep doing my best. I do believe that the more you use it, the more you have when it comes to creativity, so moving forward is the best way to get out of the hole!

June’s plans are basic. Write about 1,000 words a day every day if I can, try to reach 2,000 words at least half the time, and maybe hit 3,000–4,000 words a few times a month. That’s about 50,000 words a month, which is somewhere I’d be very happy to be.

I’m going to end this here, because I feel like I’m wasting time that I should be spending on my next story. :)

June 2022 progress

This is my first monthly progress post in a while. I thought I was about to get back to productive writing in November, and I did for a while, but then some life events happened that threw me back into the place where my ability to write creatively disappeared again.

I lost both my father and an aunt I was very close to in June. My father passed after multiple strokes, the first of which we thought he had come back from remarkably strong. It was a false win. Less than a month later, he was hit by an even bigger, more devastating stroke, and in the end, I had to let him go even though I wasn’t ready. Dad died without life insurance, a will, or any beneficiaries listed for any of his accounts. This has created a lot of financial issues that will have to be resolved, but I’ve done what I can on that at this point.

Things are settling now and I am ready to try again to get back to my plans for 2022.

Emotionally, I still feel out of sorts and not quite able to draw on whatever part of my brain it is that drives my creativity, but I don’t think it’s ever productive after a certain point to sit around and wait for it to get better.

I have big goals for July. Even if I fail, I will succeed as long as I try, because that will mean I’m getting better.

I am surprised that I got any words in June at all but I did putter several times and end up keeping alive a streak of no zero or negative word months for 2022.

Today, I’ll try to start a 1,000 words a day streak for the rest of July. I have a better than average chance since this is a Camp NANO month and I’ve set a goal that will break my record for words in a month. The record is 57,249 from April 2016.

June words: 335

Year in review—2021

Oh, boy. 2021 was not a great year for me in a lot of ways. I feel like I escaped it by the skin of my teeth, and in some ways, I feel like I’m still stuck there, trying to get out.

I wrote that first paragraph before things went bad in 2022, but I do think I finally escaped 2021 at the end of the year. I started off 2022 in a way that feels good. It didn’t last, but at least the issues of 2021 didn’t linger past their expiration date.

If there’s anything I learned from the mess I made of the year, it’s to not wait when I’m stuck in a book.

Looking back, I can see in February 2020 I was having an issue with a book that didn’t get resolved until I sat down in 2021 at the end of the year and made myself just claw my way through the material until I had something that worked. A lot of the stuff I was unhappy with ended up in the end product. It wasn’t bad. I was the problem. And the hardest truth is the one that says if I had just tossed all those words back in 2020 (multiple times if necessary) and started over from any point that felt like a good place to restart, I could have finished several more books instead of staying stuck.

2021 was my worst year for production of words since I started keeping track in 2012. It edged out 2020 by 1,515 words.

Two bad years in a row could be a death knell for my career unless I can improve dramatically in 2022.

The first half of 2022 has been just as bad, but I do still think I can recover.

Here’s the plan.

1) Start a 1,000 words a day streak. That would get me about 183,000 words before the end of the year.

2) Focus on finishing each book quickly instead of jumping between projects.

3) Work on more than one project at a time. This doesn’t contradict number two, because it is based on working on the same multiple projects each day. I have two pen names. I also have three types of stories under one pen name (novels, short stories, and my experiment with a serial). I also have different series. I will settle on a way to choose which projects get worked on and then I’ll work on them until they’re done.

I’m not going to post my month by month word counts for 2021. Too much trouble, and no one cares to be honest.

I published a novella, started a serial, and published a short story in 2021.

2021 words: 34,134

February 2020 progress

February was not much of a writing month, to be sure. I spent a lot of time avoiding my book, because I knew something was wrong and didn’t want to deal with it. The last week of the month, I finally gave in and started reading it, about five to six chapters a day, and yep, once I got to chapter sixteen, I saw that everything I had been worried about was true.

The book is good. Until it isn’t.

Starting in chapter twenty-three or so, I’ve written a whole bunch of stuff that is completely incompatible with what came before. Up to that point, this is an awesome book. It works great. It’s exciting and fun and I love it. After that point, it doesn’t work. I don’t like it. And frankly, in places, it doesn’t even make sense.

That’s my fault, because I wrote a bunch of stuff for that damn streak I should have let die much sooner than I did (I quit the daily writing streak on Feb. 8th and could not be more happier that I did), and then I tried to fit those pieces together like a puzzle, and that’s just not the way I work best. So I made a mess. Of course I did. ;D

But—finally!—I’m ready to fix it and move on.

By tomorrow, I’ll be back to writing full steam ahead. I made a pact with myself on that and I will be honoring it. :D

However, that doesn’t help February’s word count.

It’s bad. My best February day was 697 words. My worst was -1,697 words. That’s pretty much how the month went. February had eight zero word days. The rest were mediocre at best when it came to word counts. The last week of the month was my most productive, if only because I finally got over my reluctance to read back through the book and tackle it head on.

February words: 228

January 2020 progress

I’d almost forgotten to write my January progress post, and although it’s a few days late, I don’t want to skip it because January was actually a pretty good month despite falling far short of the goals I had set for myself. I didn’t come anywhere near 3,600 words a day—or 4,000 or 2,400 or even 2,000.

But January did become my best January on record and that’s not nothing.

January words: 24,213

My next best January was back in 2014, when I logged 23,650 words. That said, none of the other Januarys really come close. My January average now stands at 9,161 words even with the new best January.

I also decided at the end of the month to quit coffee and tea, so that’s something I’m doing now to improve my sleep. I can’t say it’s working, yet, but I have hope! :)

Over the course of the month, I realized the daily writing posts weren’t working for me, so on January 31, I made the call to end them. I also realized that I needed to try something different for a while, so I’ve started putting the focus back on finishing one thing at a time.

I mostly do that anyway, but sometimes I don’t. From now on, the general rule is going to be to keep pushing at one thing until it’s done before I start working on anything else. It’s just too hard to tell the difference between self-sabotaging behaviors like procrastination and beneficial ones like dwell time. I might end up with better word counts on any one day, but I lose interest so easily that letting myself get distracted by other stories only seems to be hurting me in the long-run.

Now, back to focusing on February and working on this book I’m trying to finish. I’m trying to end it this week but if that’s going to happen, I definitely have to get in some words.


Year in review—2019

I wrote 239,236 words in 2019.

January — 577
February — 1,573
March — 15,742
April — 50,137
May — 52,460
June — 10,272
July — 966
August — 24,113
September — 24,609
October — 19,168
November — 22,797
December — 17,322

My slow months are the same as in the past.

Over the entire time I’ve been tracking, January, December, and June are my worst for word count, and even though 2019 numbers are just a little different, the pattern held. Early and late year months are off, and the middle of the year dip extended into July.

Otherwise, I’m not too disappointed with 2019. It ended up my third best year for word count.

2012 — 146,821
2013 — 268,191
2014 — 217,641
2015 — 250,011
2016 — 220,071
2017 — 126,581
2018 — 92,198
2019 — 239,736
All years — 1,561,250


December 2019 progress

Gotta backdate this one so it doesn’t overtake my Year in Review. :-)

I wrote 17,322 words in December, which is a far cry from the 60k goal I set out with at the beginning of the month. I realized quickly enough that 60k in December was going to be tough, and then just as quickly, I started realizing it wasn’t going to happen. I was getting behind in the beginning of the month, and all the holiday time was staring me down from the last week of the calendar.

Still, I’m actually not that disappointed with my December total.

As far as Decembers go, it was my third best out of eight. That’s not a bad result at all. :)

Now, on to the new year. I have big, big, big plans. :D

November 2019 progress

I forgot to post my November progress.

I’ve almost decided to stop calling this thing “progress” and start calling it a report, because that’s what it feels like. After 7 years, progress that isn’t really progressing is getting me down. I’ve been chasing a 2,000 words a day plan, now 2,200 words a day, for years and I’m just not getting there.

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll rename them in the new year or not. I guess we’ll find out in the new year!

November words: 22,797.

December is tracking to be a little better, but not by much.

I have been trying a few new things this month, but what worked in November was a return to timers and my daily writing streak.

The daily writing streak is still going, by the way, with a small tweak. I have to write 50 words for the day to count, and although that doesn’t mean I won’t have negative days because of the way I count my words, it does mean I have to prove to myself that I did write 50 words and make a note of that proof on the days I can’t look at the numbers and tell I hit 50.

Hasn’t happened yet, though. :D



October 2019 progress

I forgot to post my October progress post. :) That shouldn’t be a surprise. I also forgot I was going to post about NANO. That update is out of the way and now I’m going to do the October progress post. :D

October words: 19,168.

That’s far under where I wanted to be for the month, but it did continue a streak of months in the five digit word counts.

There’s not a lot else to say. I continued writing on whatever interested me, and that has been a nice change of pace. I also have stayed away from timers and schedules and I’m not feeling the pressure to go back to using them.

On the other hand, I’ve now finished two stories that I haven’t yet published and I don’t like that. I much prefer finishing one at a time, getting it published, and then getting back to writing. That’s been a side-effect of writing on more than one thing at a time. I now have a lot of stuff that if I continue with that, will end up finished in lumps. Not really a fan of that, now that it’s actually happened to me.

So that’s something I won’t be doing in the future. I’m about to drop the multiple stories thing again, but only sort of, and with a purpose.

Here’s what I mean by that. I like moving between stories, but I also need to maintain a high interest in each story and finish it as quickly as possible. So… on days when I just cannot seem to get moving, I plan to allow myself to change stories. But as a general rule, I think I’m going to have to try to keep myself working on one book, no matter what, and finish it as quickly as I can so that my interest doesn’t wane and I don’t lose a lot of time to trying to get back into the story after an extended break.

I really don’t think those extended breaks do anything good for me. I lose a lot of love for my stories when I take them, and getting restarted is a bear. Seriously, it’s the worst.

I’m now at day 99 of my writing every day streak. I can’t count today because I actually haven’t written anything yet. But as soon as I do, it’ll be 100 days long. The number to beat is 122 (in the sidebar over there somewhere if you want to see it).

The changes to my sleep habits have also been helpful, maybe. I actually can’t say. I do know I’m doing better than I did during my massive downturn, so there’s that. I don’t really know how I can quantify this in the long-term, except to continue to adhere to better sleep habits and see where things stand many months from now. If I can make it through the holidays writing, that’ll be a win. It’ll be a tough proposition once the school breaks start, so I’ll have to stay vigilant about the earlier bed times! :D

So that’s where things are.

November has been (so far) about trying to do what needs to be done to get those finished stories out, and move on. And pick my next focus and really hone in on it and plan to get it done ASAP. And stop all this dilly dallying around. It feels less like fun than you’d think. It feels more like puttering, and there’s no sense of accomplishment at all. My ability to self-motivate depends on how I feel about what I’ve done.

And finally, I’ve set a challenge for myself to make November my first 60,000 words month. I’m behind at the moment (of course), but I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to do it.


September 2019 progress

September passed much too quickly. I wanted to finish more projects in September and it didn’t happen.

September words: 24,609.

I did keep my “no more zero word days” streak alive. Yesterday marked 62 days of daily writing. But there were a few days there when I’m not sure I like how I did it. I didn’t cheat, because my only rule is that I write something but I still don’t like the way I went about it.

On the other hand, I really don’t want to set a minimum, because it messes with my head when I know I need to delete stuff and don’t want to because it’ll leave me with a negative word count and I need a positive word count for some streak or other (like the 1,000 words before sweets rule I had for a while).

Maybe I’m going to have to set a minimum of some sort whether I like it or not. If that happens, I’m sure I’ll go with a time based minimum, because the word count is pretty much out of my control. Some days are productive and good and some days I struggle to move forward in my stories no matter how much time I devote to it. Time is a good compromise. In fact, as I type this, I’m becoming convinced I need to set that minimum time.

I stopped editing my work every day. I think mostly because I kept getting far ahead of my writing and there’s no point reading something twenty times! I just need to read for errors or things to fix, because I edit as I go when I write, and that meant I was often rereading stuff I’d read the very day before for the third or fourth time.

That said, I might pick it up again, because there were some benefits to it (it kept my stories very alive in my mind).

October is already passing quickly, so I’m hoping today to regain some momentum I lost at the beginning of the month because my refrigerator died on me and I had to deal with that and get it replaced when the repairs didn’t fix it. :)

It’s just been one thing after another lately but I am determined to get back on track and have a 50,000 word month! I want to make October–December all 50,000 word months. April and May were my last two 50,000 word months and I was disappointed when I didn’t make June another one. But it did set a new personal best for me, because I’d never had two 50,000 word months back to back.

Now it’s time to set another personal best and have three 50,000 word months back to back. :D

Day 50 of no more zero word days

Today is day 50 of my challenge not to have any more zero word days. During that time I’ve written 41,200 words, and today isn’t over, so that number could get better, although admittedly not by huge amounts. It’s only one day after all. :)

But I really don’t see this streak ending, as long as I’m able to write, because there’s something about knowing that if I have a zero word day (two to be exact), I’ll cross that line from 998 zero word days to 1,000 of them. I really don’t want to cross that line.

That’s what you call intrinsic motivation, and it’s pretty strong in this case!

Just as a reminder, this is fiction only. I could write tons of stuff every day and not keep my streak alive, because fiction (fiction I intend to publish one day, at that) is the only thing I count for this streak.

The other big thing I have going for me this time is that I’m not limiting myself to working on what I need to work on. I work on whatever story I want to work on each time I sit down to write, as long as I suspect it will be something publishable.

That’s a hard limit for me. Even though I love reading fan fiction, I don’t love writing it any more than I love writing wholly original stories, so there’s no point to even thinking about going back to writing fan fiction now that I can publish and earn a living. :D There are story ideas I come up with for my favorite shows, but I pretty much just let them write themselves in my head and move on. I don’t bother trying to make them into cohesive stories.

Now, if I could ever crack the egg that is my slow pace and start writing enough every day that I don’t feel behind on my stories all the time, I might be tempted to write fan fiction again. Who knows? But as of right now, there’s just no way to ever find the time. I have so many stories I want to write and I take far too long to finish them.

Anyway, that’s the update for the active streaks. I’m reading fiction every day too, still, but I’m not tracking it, even though I am unfortunately still reading far, far too much fiction! :D As someone who loves reading more than writing, this is a thing I have to keep a close eye on!



August 2019 progress

I had a nice recovery in August. Not a fantastic word count for the month by any means, but a vast improvement over June and July. In fact, in August, I wrote more words than in June and July combined.

I finally finished a short story I started a few months back, and started another one. I’m still not working on the novel I set aside for the short stories, but I’m going to try to get back to it soon.

I still just don’t know what it is about that story that has me stumped, but it’s clear to me that I’m suffering from project block of some sort on it. It might be that the only way through it is to dig in again and just keep pushing until something gives.

That worked for the short story. I restarted it something like five times before I finally wrote something I wanted to be writing.

August words: 24,113.

My August word count was nothing to be unhappy about, even if I wanted to accomplish a bit more.

  • My writing daily streak is alive and well. I haven’t had a zero word day since 8/5.
  • My editing daily streak is alive. I’ve read and edited a little something every single day since I started that on 8/7.

On the other hand, I’m not sure the daily editing is serving the purpose I want it to serve.

I’m still going to read the entire story I just finished writing, despite having read through it a number of times now as I went. In the end, I don’t trust myself not to have missed something, and I can’t let go of the need to read it through from the start right before publishing. It’s just how I have to do things to feel comfortable letting it go.

We’ll see if I continue to find the daily editing a useful habit. I don’t think it hurts anything, but I just can’t see where it’s really helping either. As I become more prolific, it might pay off. We’ll see.

Onward to September.

July 2019 progress

Ah! I forgot to post my monthly progress post for July. :) I’m forgetting a lot of things lately, but I blame it on the fact that my brain has been full of plans to make the writing work and the worry that maybe the boredom is deeper than any one book. I realized yesterday that was probably not true, and I had that proven today.

Yesterday, I dropped the plans and goals and quotas, and lo and behold, I had no trouble at all getting started today. I’ve already been writing and I even did some reading of two of my works in progress and found no errors to correct at all. :)

July words: 995.

OUCH. So many ouches.

As you can see, all those things I’ve been trying to do to get myself to producing more words again have not been working. You’d think I’d double down on those plans now that July numbers are in, but nope.

I am apparently allergic to goals and quotas. :-o

In lieu of all those things, here’s what I’m doing for August.

At the top of my calendar I have three recurring all-day events.

Screenshot of calendar events

1. Read some fiction every day – This keeps me in the creative frame of mind and makes me a lot less critical of my own writing. I read a lot, but this is meant to keep me reading fiction every day. If I’m going to be writing fiction every day, I need to be reading fiction every day to dull the bleat of my inner critic.

2. Edit some of my fiction every day – This is to ease the burden of the final proofreading and copy editing I do right at publish time. I find all that reading right after I’ve finished a book a lot tedious, and keeping things done ahead of time makes that last read through before publishing go much quicker (fewer typos, continuity issues, or other errors to mark and correct). Mostly, though, this is to keep me focused on my stories, and why I like writing. I love to read my own work, and when I don’t love to read it, I know something’s going wrong in my head. I only ever don’t like it when my critical self gets control of my brain.

3. Write some fiction every day – This is there so I can put my “+” beside it and feel a little thrill that my streak is still alive. It’s also got three separate reminders on it so I get a little notification three different times of the day. That’s to help me be aware if I’m frittering the day away. :)

This little set up will create three separate streaks for me to track and that will keep my analytical self happy and occupied. :)

I’m really happy with this set up and I’m feeling good about it.

I am still worried about the novel that I’m bored with, but I’m going to read it today sometime, mark any errors that need correcting, and look for the place where I might have taken a wrong turn.

I don’t think it’s the first few chapters. A bit of a niggle of an idea has been coalescing in the back of my brain since early this morning, and I have a feeling I know where I need to chop off the book and restart from. :D

Fingers crossed!

I’ll lose a lot of words but in the time I’ve been away from the book, I could have written another novel. I don’t want to let that drag on.

So, although July was the pits, really, I’m pretty happy with the course corrections I’m implementing for August. I’ve written more already this month than last, and I’m going to consider that a good sign this early in the month. :)

It’s still entirely possible this will become my best (most productive) year ever, with approximately half the year to go.

June 2019 progress

I’m a little late posting June’s progress, but since I’m not really making progress of any kind, I haven’t been compelled to update. I’m dealing with some kind of unknown health issue at the moment and doing it with June and July temperatures in the southeast without air conditioning.


A doctor visit didn’t really give me any hope that I’m going to figure it out soon, or get better soon, or even relieve my anxiety over it all.

So my writing productivity has fallen off, drastically, and I wish it were otherwise, but apparently I’m totally spoiled by modern temperature control and I’m wilting (melting) (dying) in this heat. The house is staying a reasonable 80-83 degrees while it’s heading toward 90 outside every day so that’s good, but I am not doing great with the 90%+ humidity we’re dealing with right now.

June writing: 10,272 words.

Bonus: July 1–9: 0.

That said, today is the day I attempt to recover and get some real writing done. I have a couple of more things this week that’ll make it difficult to make lots of progress, but all I’m asking of myself is to make some progress.

I’m sitting in front of a fan with the laptop and it feels pretty good right now.

June 15–27 progress

Oh dear. June has really been a down month for me. After such a run of good writing days, I’m pretty bummed to be honest. However, I didn’t fall completely off the wagon. I just slowed way down.

I am kind of stuck on my current project, and I’ve been writing some short stuff while I let it rest. I need to decide if it’s time to cut back to a previous point and go at it again, or just push through. I can’t seem to make that decision, but I know something is wrong and my brain just isn’t letting me move forward until I figure it out.

This is kind of an intermediate progress post and I’m hoping that spelling it all out this way will help me move forward tomorrow.

I still have time to get to about half my monthly goal if I push myself a bit over the next three days.

We’ll see if it happens. :-)

June 15–27 words written: 4,435