Posted by on Jan 14, 2017 in Pentamerone (Tale of Tales), The Fourth Orange, Word Count Updates and Writing Goals | 0 comments

This is the latest I’ve ever posted one of these monthly updates because life is still a hurricane here in Duckburg but I wanted to pop out of the duck blur for a minute and give you my numbers for December. 

Here’s what December 2016 looked like in writing…

Total Words Written This Month
43,268 words

Average Words Per Day
1,396 words

Monthly Goal
I did not set a goal for this month. Between holiday rush and everything else going on, I wanted as much pressure off my life as possible.

Yearly Goal
43,268/200,000 words (22%) <-keep in mind that my “Writing Year” starts in December

Things completed:

  • Updated new Yearly Writing Goal Spreadsheet for 2017 Writing Year
  • Created new spreadsheet that automatically compares all months and years since I started this project

Other Works Actively in Progress this Month:

  • 4th Orange


I know that fact that I’m already 22% into my goal for the year makes it seem like I should increase it, but that’s because I’m building myself a cushion. As crazy as stuff is now, it’s about to get much crazier so I don’t want to assume I’ll get any writing done at all beyond the first few months of 2017. If that seems pessimistic, understand that my life in 2017 will most resemble my life in 2013 and then look at this chart showing how little writing I got done then. I’d rather go into this year assuming the worst and surprise myself than the other way around.

The majority of this month was taken up by Christmas and, as ever, moving and other house crap. While I still managed a decent word count, nearly all of that was free writing like blog posts, making those spreadsheets and journal entries. The one thing I really did some good work on was 4th Orange which I thought was only a few days away from totally done… until I realized a whole section needed to be overhauled. Ugh.

I also worked on WoC1 but it was only for a few minutes one day to jot down some notes so I didn’t count it.

Everyone has been sick for weeks over here with one thing or another. Sinuses, stomach, throat, they’ve all had their turn at being the problem. Unfortunately, in-laws don’t take no for an answer so we had to drag our diseased selves out of state for an at least abbreviated visit at the height of our illness which was an absolute low light that resulted in a turn for the worse for all parties. But once that nightmare was survived, the actual holiday week was nice and much less busy day to day than it had been for many months. Even sick and completely miserable can be kind of nice when you can actually sit in your own house for a change without everyone demanding you do x or y.

Unfortunately, the chaos started right back up again as soon as New Year’s Day had passed so we’re right back at breakneck pace. People keep asking when exactly we’re moving and where and the answer is a big ole shruggie emoji because everything keeps falling apart and changing so we’re in the endless lurch. It’s really hard to plan for anything when the plans change every five seconds. Couple this with the fact that we’re constantly having to scramble to get the house cleaned and everyone out for showings and whatnot on short notice, which is Not Simple with the Tiny Human, it’s an extra level of stress hovering over every day.

And there’s the national turmoil everyone else is experiencing casting a long shadow, especially the decision to put down roots at a time like this. And, of course, there is another big looming life change coming complicating everything else above that I’ll tell you about soon enough that will make some of these vague posts a little clearer.

Everything is bees for the foreseeable future, basically.

Up Next

The biggest hurdle I’m facing right now is that I am being tugged in a thousand different directions. My personal life is unmitigated chaos which means that a) what little writing time I had is limited or gone entirely and b) when I do have time to write, my brain is tapioca. I’m still writing, of course, but it means something it would normally take me minutes to write takes five times as long. So there have been many days where I wrote 2 or 3 lines in the morning, another 2 or 3 at night and that was all I had time for. It’s slow going, obviously, but it’s also really hard to focus on the big picture of a project when the only time you have to think about it is the 20 minutes that is also all you have to write. Add to this that I know this may be the only time I’ll have to write at all for a year or more so there’s added pressure to produce I simply can’t seem to live up to.

In the immediate, I’m working on a short play which should, in theory, take very little time to write. In practice, because of all the reasons above, it’s taking forever. That one is my priority for the immediate future because it has an actual due date that is fast approaching.

Before this short play came up, my original plan was to focus on 4th Orange and getting it done before the end of January. Unfortunately, I realized that with the new characterization the entire middle that I thought could just be tweaked needs to be completely rewritten. It’s a short section, and should be an easy one to rethink… if I ever got a chance to borrow some brain power from EVERYTHING ELSE going on to think about it. Or writing in general, really.

On top of this, I realized a new problem. Remember a few months ago when I realized I’d included too many tales and the play was way too long? That crisis turned out to mean I really had written two full length and eight one-act plays instead of the one full length and six one-acts I’d planned. Now, more plays is always a good thing. So that was fine.

But as I’ve been shaping these two full length plays, I realized that that two of the tales needed to be switched between them. This is a problem because the tale that is currently in 4th Orange is finished and polished and ready to go while the one that would need to replace it is still a second draft mess. Making the switch is the right thing to do for the projects as a whole, but it’s frustrating to know I have so much work to do when I thought I was almost done. Add to this that the play that’s destined to go into 4th Orange was the one I was thinking of expanding into a full length and now I have a chicken and the egg situation where I need the short version of the play first to get 4th Orange out… but I should probably write the long version first and then cut it down for better writing. Argh.

What does that mean? It means I’m taking it a day at a time and not making any promises. Maybe they’ll be an opening where I can get more writing done but probably not knowing what’s coming so it’ll get done when it gets done.  For now, things with a hard deadline, like this short play, take priority and everything else will have to wait.

How did December 2016 stack to up past years?

This is something new I’ll be doing going forward. I have a new spreadsheet that compares each month to it’s counterpart in years past so I’ll lay those tables & charts on you at the bottom of the post like this. You’re welcome to duck out before this section if you don’t care, but looking at changes year to year is super helpful to me which is why it’s here.

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total Words 19,293 11,770 4,121 55,667 57,149 43,268
Average Word Per Day 622 380 133 1,796 1,844 1,396
Total Writing Days 15 9 5 26 26 22
% month I wrote 48% 29% 16% 84% 84% 71%
Focused 7,609 0 601 36,050 40,055 6,496

I always get less writing done in December but considering everything going on, I’m proud this year ranks as high as it does. When you look at the chart below, it makes it clear that I either use the holiday week to get a ton of writing done… or I take it off entirely and at least this year it was the former.

December Day by Day

December Day by Day

Total Words Written in December Year by Year

Total Words Written in December Year by Year

There is something slightly amusing about how low the amount of focused work is for this year. But when you consider that most of my “free” writing this month was making spreadsheets (something I find very important as a tool for refining my writing process) and writing marketing blog posts (which is necessary) it’s certainly not a bad thing. I’m still writing more than I was in the past so that’s a good thing to focus on going forward, especially as I look ahead to what has the potential to be a very poor year for writing indeed.