This might be the latest in the month I’ve ever gotten one of these updates out but December was a wild month so let’s get right down to it…

September 2018

Total Words Written This Month

New Words Only

After massive writing months in July and August, September was relatively smaller, in part because we went away for a week that month. Vacations in the past ended up being somewhat productive for me because I used to write when my daughter would sleep but now the big one doesn’t nap and the little one will actually sleep on the go (something the big one would never do!) so I didn’t write even a single word the whole week. Which was fine because I kind of needed the break!

I started this month finishing up some of the standalone Tale of Tales plays from the month before and working on the NaNo books, still with the somewhat deluded hope of getting them out in time for NaNoWriMo. I also prepped some talks I gave this fall and dabbled with a few plays in progress to decide what to work on next.

And there was also a lot of NaNoWriMo work to prep for the big event, a theme of this quarter and something that will continue well into…

October 2018

Total Words Written This Month

New Words Only

See that huge difference between total words and new words? That’s because most of my “writing” this month was really NaNoWriMo ML work that I gave myself credit for hourly (like I do for editing / research) because it was all I was getting a chance to do. Writing pep talks and regions emails ahead of time, planning (and giving) talks and workshops, moderating the forum and dealing with dozens of daily emails from libraries partners and participants, it was all consuming.

At the top of the month, I did some work on a really fun play I’m working on (commedia meets Muppets, very on brand) and did some more work on Fourth Orange, mostly finalizing things and getting it ready for publication. But, beyond that, it was basically just all NaNoWriMo, all the time. And while I love NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo ML-ing is ALWAYS a ton of work and I felt like I overall had a better handle on it all this year, when I don’t have a lot of time to begin with and it takes up every last bit of that time… that’s not great.

November 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 winner, baby!

Total Words Written This Month
125,057 <- my highest total word count month of ALL TIME

New Words Only
111,704 <- also my highest month of ALL TIME

NaNoWriMo is high holy time for writers and is usually my wordiest month of the year but this accomplishment has lately been marred by the fact that, all the ML duties I have to do leading up to the event leave me no time to prep anything of my own to write so I usually end up floundering around and working on random stuff instead of spending November working on something useful or productive (see last year’s lament on this). This year, I was determined to take back NaNoWriMo for myself and find a way to make it work for me and the writing I needed to do despite all the ML duties.

Phase one of this plan was to just be zen about the fact that I couldn’t work on a novel and, instead, to prep a ton of smaller projects I’d been meaning to write for a while. (Because, after all, isn’t that what NaNoWriMo is really about? Giving yourself a deadline to write that thing you’ve been meaning to write for ages?) I called this quest YESvember because I am a dork.

I set out to write six plays (five ten minute plays for a collection I’m working on and one maybe full length, maybe one act play, the aforementioned Muppet commedia thing) AND two non-fiction books (specifically, the two NaNoWriMo books I’d been hoping to get done for this year so I’d at least have them ready for next year). Over the course of the month I only wrote 2.5 of the plays (though I did significant work on the longer one even if I didn’t finish the draft) but ended up writing four non-fiction books. I finished the two NaNo ones and then started another non-fiction book I’d been meaning to write on playwrighting which quickly morphed into something else and I realized I needed to split it into two books. So I did and outlined both and flew through both by the end of the month.

Whenever I am being a NaNo Rebel like this by not writing a novel, I always aim to write at least twice the NaNo goal so it feels more “fair” to the novelists but my stretch goal for this month was to beat my previous best month (which was 117,831 total, 117,831 new words only from November 2015), which I did. I added this little section to my writing goals spreadsheet that shows me my top writing days and months of all time and chasing my past daily goals was a big reason this month was as huge as it was.

The other big factor was that I embraced dictation again for the first time since 2010 when my joints were at their worst because a) dictation is faster than typing and it let me get more writing done with less time (so necessary when I have so little writing time as it is) and b) my joints are still no good and I just can’t type at the NaNoWriMo rate the whole month without a lot of pain so dictation was a hero in letting me write when my hands were over it. The plus to this was that I wrote a ton in not a lot of time, finished projects that have been lingering for ages and realized that I should start using dictation much more often to make more of my dwindling writing time. The downside is that I kept feeling like I was somehow “cheating” by using voice-to-text which is silly because I was only writing about 13% more per sprint than I average while typing and I was still coming up with those words, even if my fingers weren’t putting them onto the screen. But some of my highest word count days of all time were accomplished using dictation and I feel like they need an asterisk on them Barry Bonds style.

Two days over 10k! I did the 11/4 one entirely with typing, no dictation at all, but the 11/10 one is the most impressive because I wrote it all in a few hours in a mad race to midnight so I could be part of my regions 10k on 10 day challenge AND hit 50k on my earliest day of the month ever.

Yearly Word Count Goal Progress

Overall Word Count for the Year
623,128 / 500,000 words (125%)
(Original goal for the year was 350,000 so 178%)

New Writing Only
449,485 (72% of total)


Reading my past quarterly updates from this year (Q1, Q2, Q3), I feel like I was possibly the hottest mess in 2018. BUT, looking at the list of things I wanted to focus on this year, I did make some significant progress on almost all of them so maybe I am too hard on myself? But I knew this year was going to be a hard one for writing with not a lot of writing time and so it’s really impressive I got as much done as I wanted to. I just need to get my brain to believe that.

I’m not sure the writing time situation will improve that much in 2019 (I think I’m looking at the grab and go sporadic writing time until the kids are both in school full time which is sooner than you’d think and certainly sooner than I would like! My babies!) BUT I have a couple of plans of how I can make the most of the time I have even better next year. More dictation, more tweaking the process, more focus on doing more with less and we’ll see how we do!

Overall, the SWOOPS method and Kanban boards were a big help this year and I’m only tweaking those a bit for 2019. Taking care of myself and sleep are both HUGE fails but I am hoping that will change when baby starts sleeping better and I implement my new writing while walking dictation / fitness plan which should help with the insomnia (I hope I hope!). Mostly, this year went by in an absolute whirlwind but I’m still here and still getting things done without feeling like I’m neglecting the rest of my life too much so I guess that’s all you can ask for!