As 2017 draws to a close, let’s take a look at how my year in writing went. I’m going to try to keep this short. I’ll fail, mind you, but that effort surely counts for something, no?
For more details on any of this, you can see my whole writing year month by month here. (Keep in mind that my Writing Year starts in December, ends in November.)
Here are the numbers from December 2016-November 2017…
Goal for the Year
originally 200,000, later upped to 500,000 words
Total Words Written
610,622 (122% over final goal, 305% over my original goal)
Average Words Per Day
Average words per month
(anytime this is at least 50,000 it gives me endless joy after all the years I struggled to even hit 50k in a month once a year)
Days out of the year I wrote
(less than half BUT not that much less than half so I’m cool with it)
September with 31,753 words
(kind of a plot twist that it’s not February aka THE MONTH I GAVE BIRTH)
November with 85,858 words (’cause NaNoWriMo)
- The (Completely Inaccurate) Legend of the Mummy Witch House (Published by Playscripts)
- Scared Silly (Halloween anthology published by Playscripts which contains my play, The (Completely Inaccurate) Legend of the Mummy Witch House)
Also Out the Door (freelance stuff or plays currently available for productions but not yet published)
- The Fourth Orange (one-act version)
- Arm Candy
- Mix n Match Tale of Tales play which consisted of new versions of all six of those fairy tale plays
- Premiere productions of
- The Complete Novels of Jane Austen: Now New and Improved (New, abridged version for inclusion in an upcoming anthology by YouthPLAYS)
- three library talks (two on NaNo Prep and a new one on Author Platforms and Branding)
Works in Progress this year
- Journal 17.65% <-considering I use this as a baby book, this number could be even higher and I’d be 100% cool with that
- Unpublishable Pennings 16.01%
- NaNoWriMo ML work 11.59%
- Mummy Witch House 10.86%
- Pintosmalto 9.59%
- 4th Orange 8.43%
- Tale of Tales Overall Stuff 6.01%
- Career Stuff 5.66%
- New Parent Writing Book 4.70%
- That Carlo Gozzi Play I Refuse To Admit That I’m Adapting 3.39%
- Personal Life Stuff aka Letters to my reps 2.56% <- I call or write daily and only started counting the written words halfway through the year
- Misc 1.40%
Things that were so little they didn’t make the chart…
- The Whine Seller 0.86%
- Misc 0.37%
- NaNoWriMo Prep Book 0.30%
- Commedia Thing 0.25%
- The Months 0.19%
- Misc Free 0.11%
- WOC 0.06%
I wrote exactly 379 on WOC (the middle grade novel of my heart based on my play Polar Twilight that’s been my main noveling focus for the last few years) this year which makes me very sad, even though that was the plan because I knew I wouldn’t have time or the brain power I needed for that rewrite. That NaNoWriMo ML work was my third biggest project FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR also really shows part of what I was complaining about in this post. Mostly I floundered around and worked on this and that with one big exception.
What that little list above doesn’t properly show is just how much work I did to get The Tales of Tales ready to premiere this fall. I actually wrote three completely seperate versions of each of six plays (a standalone version and a mix and match version for all six of them and then a truncated version just four of them) AND then two additional versions at the request of the producing groups (one for length, one for content). It was a lot of (very confusing) work because I was editing several separate versions of six different plays on no sleep in whatever writing time I could grab here and there but I think it was all worth it to finally get to see those plays on stage and have that project as close to done as it is.
This was a big year in my personal life with lots of changes. In February, we moved out of our house of 10+ years into a new one. Then, just about a week later, I gave birth to an amazingly wonderful baby girl who joins my already awesome beyond-all-reason preschooler. Husband got a promotion which meant he was working more and thus unavailable at many moments when his presence would have been helpful. These things, as you can imagine, caused complete upheaval to any kind of routine I had in the past.
How in over our heads are we? There are still boxes everywhere. We are FAR from unpacked. The baby is almost a year old and has never taken a nap in her crib because we still haven’t gotten a chance to hang curtains in her room. Our ish is not even remotely together… but the kids are happy and thriving so… meh. We’ll catch up eventually.
It was a hard year for my big girl who had to adjust to new house, new school AND new sibling all at once and did not always do so gracefully. We never experienced the Terrible Twos or Threes but joked that this year was the FML Fours because of all the turmoil. In a lot of ways, it felt like I took my eyes off her for a minute to look at the baby and turned back and my sweet little toddler was gone with this big angry kid in her place. There were some bumps and missteps from all parties but I think we’re finally getting the hang of this Family of Four thing now. But the way I’d pictured the year going, both personally and productively, was not even remotely how it went.
Of course, outside our little personal sphere, the world was going mad and that bled into everything. Anxiety and anger and frustration cycling over and over at what was happening to our country, our world. There was this constant darkness poisoning the good moments, intensifying the bad and the worst part is that it has only just begun and there is so much more ahead of us. Being a parent is parcels of anxiety for their future health and happiness at the best of times and being a parent to a newborn is double that, so you can imagine how all of that quadrupled over and over this year.
It was a year of fear and feeling so utterly helpless. It was a year of rage and fighting and sooo many phone calls and letters to my representatives because it was the only thing I could do. It was a year of reading too much news and analysis because I was desperate for a glimmer of hope and the toxins from all of this souring every moment. It was inescapable, taxing and exhausting when we were already tired from lack of sleep and baby wrangling.
Writing this year was basically exactly like this…
And, it turns out, all of this was not great for productivity, though I certainly tried. Forcing myself to stay far too up late to get something, anything written after a night of obsessing over the latest bad news. Writing standing at the kitchen counter, with the baby strapped to my chest, because it was the only way to keep her happy and asleep. Sitting on the floor, prepping for a talk I had to give that night on my tablet while my preschooler was literally waving a toy in front of the screen I was trying to read.
The uncertain nature of the future also resulted in a big mindset shift. Afterall, how would you parent if there was a chance there was no tomorrow? As the year wore on, I surrendered a lot of what had been my writing time to my kids so that they’d each get special one on one time with me which made for a happier household, even as it made for a more harried Hillary overall. Pre-baby, I used to write during naps and evenings, while my husband put the big one to bed. Now, naps are gone as writing time and I’ve taken bedtime back so the big one gets her alone Mama time so I’m staying up later and later at night to get things done which is not ideal but it’s the only time of day when no one needs me. (Mostly. Baby’s both sick and teething right now so she gets up a lot at night.) Nighttime is still interrupted time… but at least it’s time!
BUT, nevertheless, even if I got less done than I would have liked, I still go things done. I also had a FAR better writing year after the birth of this baby than I did after her sister was born four years ago. Afterall, I freaking moved AND had a baby so I shouldn’t be giving myself a hard time for this not being the most productive year of my life… but I’m me so you know I am anyway.
Because I had no idea what to expect with the baby and the move and the political turmoil, I set a lesser goal this year of 200,000 words (about what I struggled to hit the year after my first baby was born) but I hit that on April 8th so I increased it. In the end, 2017 was my third highest word count year. Not too shabby when you consider that the year after my first baby was my lowest year ever and literally everything about this year was harder.
2017 Goals Revisited
At the end of this post, I laid out some goals for this year. Let’s see how I did.
- Survive. My expectations were super low for this year with the move and the baby and the political turmoil. All I really wanted was to not completely drop the writing ball and keep making forward motion and I absolutely did that. Check this one off.
- My only project specific goal was to get the full length 4th Orange out the door before the end of 2017. And I didn’t accomplish this one… but I also sort of did. Because I got all the pieces of it out the door and staged… I just didn’t manage to get the actual full length itself done. So I’m kind of annoyed that it’s another year gone without getting to check this one off but, when you consider that I was only rushing to get it out the door so that I could premiere it, it feels closer to checked off than not.
- Stop comparing apples to carrots aka grade yourself on a curve. This goal was about not comparing myself to someone with no kids who has a regular full-time writing schedule when I’m sitting here snatching moments when I can with a newborn and then beating myself up because I’m not accomplishing what they are. And since I really was too busy to be paying much attention to what anyone else did this year other than to cheerlead my buds with books out, I think I did pretty well. I mean, I’m always going to be an overachieving weirdo who beats myself up for not doing more no matter how much I do and I’m not sure I’ll ever change that but this year felt like a good step in the right direction.
So, that’s a wrap on my 2017 writing year. I’m going to hold off on my goals for next writing year until a future post because this is getting stupid long. But one thing was abundantly clear… everything is different now and I need a new process to match it. So while I did pretty well this year, consider, I know I can do better in the future if I just rethink some things.
This was a hard year for a lot of people so the biggest take away from 2017 is this: as long as you’re still here and still trying, there’s no reason to be discouraged. Sometimes the biggest triumph is not stopping when that would be the easy thing to do. So, my fellow word warriors, no matter how this year went, we live to write again another day. Onward to bigger and better words!