Turns out, it’s waaaay easier to be transparent when things are going well…
I usually write this monthly recap a few days before the month ends, whenever I have some spare time, and update the numbers later. That’s because I’m usually eager to get to it and get a feeling of accomplishment to see everything I got done in the last month. This time I’m writing this on July 1st, forcing myself to do it just to get some words down because I’m having one of those days when I’m pretty sure I should quit being a writer and go into underwater merchant banking or something. This should give you some idea of how my month went, particularly how I’m feeling today.
Anyway, let’s get to it shall we?
Here’s what June 2016 looked like in writing…
452,798/600,000 words (76%)
After the insanity of May, I didn’t set a number based goal. My only aim for this month was to get everything I needed to get done, done.
Total Words Written
(There is a theme here that the months I get the highest word count are always the ones when I’m the most stuck with my writing/get the least done.)
Average Words Per Day
- Four freelance articles
- The final version of the The Myrtle adaptation for the Tale of Tales play
- First draft of everything for 4th Orange that isn’t part of a tale
- First draft of a one-act parody of Pride and Prejudice
- Several drafts of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (only slightly abridged) which is a short comedy I may yet change the title of
- Several drafts of Masks, a short drama
Other Works Actively in Progress this Month:
- The MG novel nicknamed WOC1 (only worked on this a couple of days, just mostly to jot down notes for when I can get back to it)
- The Tale of Tales full length play nicknamed 4th Orange
- The Fourth Orange (which is one of the tale plays within the full length Tale of Tales play nicknamed 4th Oranges and, yes, this is all painfully confusing)
I am a numbers girl which is why it always sneaks up on me just how mental this writing thing is. I just noticed that, yet again, up at the top of this post I designated this as a month where I was “the most stuck with my writing/get the least done” but looking at the list of things I completed above, I got a ton done this month. Here I am, with the numbers right in front of me that show I’m getting things done and making forward progress, but I still feel like I’m not getting enough done. THIS is why these monthly check-ups and progress reports are so incredibly important to keeping yourself grounded and on track. My mind always wants me to believe I’m way crappier at life than I am and I have to constantly remind myself that, no, you’re crushing this. Stop fretting.
On these same lines, I really want to add a new calculation to my spreadsheet to track hours per month/week/day etc because the average words per day isn’t all that useful when I know I’m not working every day. It’s also good for me to remember that I’m not working anything even remotely near full-time so, instead of beating myself up over not getting more done, maybe I could remember exactly how much I did get done on 2-3 hours a day of stolen moments here and there. Maybe I’ll get that organized and added to my spreadsheet by next month. It will just involve a bit of a mental shift because I don’t always track time spent writing, which I really should start doing.
In my last monthly recap, I said, “It’s all 4th Orange, all the time, for the foreseeable future” and yet, clearly, I have been working on other stuff and 4th Orange isn’t done yet. Well, that’s because I screwed up big time (as detailed here) so I had to stop and rethink that project. It’s still coming out soon, hopefully before the end of summer, though that will depend on a variety of factors. For those of you looking for a Hillary DePiano original full length for this fall, though, I’ve got you covered anyway so join the mailing list to get the first notice of that which should come in a few weeks.
The x factor that messed everything up was cockiness. (Isn’t it ironic that all of my problems stem from either being too confident or not confident enough? Is there a perfect amount of confidence someone could school me in, please?) I got an opportunity to participate in an anthology that was right up my alley. It was a short play so it wouldn’t take too long (the lies! the lies we tell ourselves!) and would be a good thing to be part of for a lot of reasons so I agreed. This was the end of May. I outlined that play right then (you’ll notice it on May’s list under “Outline for a new short play that’s an adaptation of a popular novel”). It was a parody of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and I was feeling super confident that I could get it out quickly because I know that novel inside and out and have been in two different play adaptations of it. Cocky, I went back to 4th Orange for a while, convinced the other play was in the bag. (Totally wrote “in the bad” the first time, you will see, is actually more accurate.)
A week or so later, I was asked to be in another, completely different anthology. No, I thought at first, I can’t do it. I have way too much on my plate already and I don’t even have an idea for– Crap. Because just as I was ready to say No, as my brain likes to do, I had the perfect idea for it. I could do it after all. I wrote the first draft of that play, called Masks. (You’ll get more details about all of these projects when they are ready for primetime, I promise you!)
At this point, I started to realize that I’d bitten off more than I could chew (two food analogies in a row, can you tell I’m writing hungry?) and really needed to do the two anthology plays I’d committed to, which have a firm deadline, first and then work on 4th Orange where there’s more flexibility. Masks wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be (still isn’t as I write this BTW) so I took a break to write the “easy” Pride and Prejudice play. The play was indeed easy and very funny and… came out waaaay longer than what I was asked to write.
Crud. I tried to cut it down but it wasn’t happening. I finally decided I liked it how it was and that, when I someday have a minute, I will clean it up and release it as a standalone one-act play. But what about the anthology? I still didn’t have anything for it. I basically scrapped the first draft of my Pride and Prejudice play for parts (don’t worry, I kept the original for future use) and salvaged a new play out of those parts that I’m currently calling The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (only slightly abridged).
So I wasted a lot of time writing an extra, too long play I didn’t need to write right now. and then had to scramble and write a new play from parts of that one. The new one involved a ton of extra research which took more time. So while, in the end, my screw up will yield an extra new play I hadn’t planned to write which can only ever be a good thing in the big picture, it the short-term it meant I felt like I was spinning my wheels and spent most of this month in a complete panic.
I carefully wrote out everything I have to write before the end of the year on my Writing To Do list last night because I thought it would seem less threatening organized in black and white. Instead looking at it just makes me panic even more. So… there’s that. For now, I’m only focusing on one project at a time.
Which brings me to right now. I still don’t have a draft of either Masks or Complete Austen that I’m happy with so I’m afraid to touch 4th Orange until I’ve got those two ready to go. That said, the good thing about short plays is that, as many drafts in as I am now with both of them, sometimes all it takes is a single epiphany and night of writing to finish them up so I could be as little as a week away from wrapping them up… or not. I also have to write four freelance articles this month but hahaha let’s not think about those right now, shall we?
Once I finish those two short plays and articles, I’ll be back to Tale of Tales. After that? Well, there are things written on my list but I’m not going to commit to the order of them because after all this deadline insanity, it’s going to be so nice to be able to go back to just working on what I feel like writing instead of having the deadline beast on my back.
But you know what? One of my greatest fears as a writer has always been that, sure, I can write something coherent when I have all the time in the world, but what will happen to me when I have to write under all the pressure of constant deadlines and balancing multiple paid projects? Will I be able to handle it or will I crumple like a napkin? A lot of my goal for this year was to try to replicate that kind of environment for myself to see if I could cut it and, um, mission accomplished there. The pressure is absolutely on! And while it remains to be seen how the month plays out, the fact that I’ve gotten through several mostly coherent drafts of my first fiction for hire done under these conditions and I’m not sobbing in a cover wearing my underwear as a hat seems to indicate that maybe I have got this after all!