Writing Summary for October 2013

October is behind us, and so I present a summary look at my writing last month. For those just joining, these number are gathered automatically by a set of scripts I’ve written for Google Docs. These scripts are available on GitHub for anyone who wishes to use them.

Here’s what my writing looked like in October. This first chart includes only by fiction and nonfiction1 article writing and excludes blogging.

October 2013 Writing

My day-to-day writing was down from September, although my 7-moving average (the red line) pretty much stayed above my goal of 500 words/day. There were two days where I wrote very little.

Part of the difference in October was that I did not do any work on the my novel, the first draft of which I finished back in September. I worked on three things in the month of October:

  • A new fantasy story, which went through two drafts and a polish
  • A new science fiction story, which has gone through one complete draft and upon which I am about to finish a second draft.
  • A nonfiction article.

Because of this, I was working in smaller chunks. Also, October was just a busy month and I felt my writing time squeezed a bit, although I did manage to write every day, even those days we spent up in Hershey, PA.

Here is how October compared with the rest of 2013, going back to March:

Writing Summary October

On this chart, the blue bars are my fiction/nonfiction writing, while the red bars represent my blog writing. You can see that I did not quite hit 20,000 words of fiction/nonfiction in October, although with 19,595 words, I came close. It was lower than the last several months, but not as low as July.

That said, I was pleased to see that my blogging continues to be a fraction of my fiction-writing. I noted back in July that my blogging word counts exceed my fiction word counts and I was determined for that not to happen again. This doesn’t necessarily mean less blogging; it just means more fiction-writing. August and September were outliers in the fact that I was really pushing to finish the first draft of my novel.

Overall, I think October looks pretty good given that I was writing short fiction and articles, and had an unusually busy month otherwise.

If you stack the writing and blogging to get total monthly word counts, you get this:

Stack Summary October 2013

I sometimes get questions about why I track all of this stuff and why it matters, but the above chart provides a good illustration of the insights I can derive from the data and put to use in the real world.

I seem to average about 50,000 words of writing each month (the exact number is 48,432, but 50,000 is close enough). This has been consistent all year. What this tells me is that regardless of what is going on in my life, 50,000 words per month is my writing “capacity.” It allows me to determine how I best want to use that capacity and make changes accordingly. In several months, the blogging was a large fraction of the fiction writing and in some months, it exceeded my fiction. Knowing that I probably can’t do much more than 50,000 words per month, I can use this numbers to begin a more targeting shift, aiming for, say, 30-35K words of fiction and only 15-20K words of blogging each month. These numbers help me understand my capacity and strike a workable balance.

In November, my plan is to finish the second draft of this new science fiction story, write another (possibly longer) SF story, and write a nonfiction article I’ve discussed with an editor.  If there is time left over, I hope to get one additional short story written for a new project in which I have been invited to participate. December will be the really interesting month because in December, I will finally revisit my novel, first reading it, and then beginning to write the second draft.

As far the other numbers:

  • I completed 3 story drafts
  • I made 1 sale in October, a nonfiction article that I sold to Clarkesworld.
  • I made 2 story submissions in October

How was your October?

  1. Nonfiction makes up a very small fraction of my monthly writing at this point, but it also makes up a larger percentage of what I’ve been selling lately.