Saturday, June 29, 2013

Some Stats and Experiencing "That Moment"


Scott D. Parker

Today is the penultimate day of June 2013 so it's close enough to list some statistics. I've been blogging about my restarted writing after a long fallow period. One of the things I wanted with this reinvigoration is to have some metrics. I wanted to see numerical proof of my progress. One thing I did was set a daily goal: at least 500 words. That's really doable, if you just carve out 30 minutes a day. I achieved that goal for 27 of the 28 days in June. I so wanted to be perfect, but I messed up on one day. Darn it! But I'm more than happy about my progress and the new habit of writing. Even on the day (10 June) I didn't meet the 500-word threshhold, I *did* write. That makes 33 consecutive days writing. By the time this post goes live, it'll be 34 (since I'm writing this on Friday and I write around 6am in the mornings).

Here are the actual stats:
  • Minimum threshold: 14,000 (500/day for 28 days)
  • Total words: 31,159
  • Difference: 17,159 words above the minimum
  • Average: 1,112/day (Somewhat misleading because I only topped 1,000 words 9 days, but those days were usually nearer 2,000)
  • Best day: 3,571 (2 June)
  • Worst: 313 (10 June)
  • Items worked on:
  • --Finished one story, an 18,000-word "whatever" (novelette?) (1-2 June)
  • --Started and finished a 9,500-word short story (3-8 June)
  • --8 chapters of the current book (9-28 June)
  • --New scene of another short story (22 June)

So, I include the data here not to toot my own horn--I'm am much more proud of myself for the consistency than the numbers--but to demonstrate how metrics can spur you on. I have a calendar in my office on which I write a nice giant red X onto each day I write. Using the Seinfeld chain concept, it starts to get to the point that you force yourself to write something just to keep the Xs going and not break the chain. That was the story on 10 June when I only managed 313 words but I wrote something, got to write my X, and moved the novel forward.
Speaking of the novel, I had a little breakthrough yesterday morning. I've been plugging away at it for most of the month and I've had one mantra: move forward and make progress. Get it written. You can fix later. So I've not been looking backward except to check on character names. [BTW, this is where Scrivener is great because there is a special little folder for character names.] As I've forged ahead, I've realized that I will have to tweak the order of some of the scenes but I'm okay with that. All I care about now is getting this story that's been in my head on paper and pixel.
Yesterday, literally as I was wrapping up my session, something in the tale clicked into place. For all you writers reading this, you know what I'm talking about. It's not as great as typing "the end," but it's in the Top 10, maybe even the top 5. To quote David Bowie, "The moment you know you know, you know?" It was that little moment when I knew that threadwise, storywise, I was moving forward and had reached a place where, while the end of the road was not yet in sight, I knew I was on the right road. Man! That's a great feeling.
Do y'all ever keep metrics on your writing? If so, mention it in the comments and we'll all go read about your successes.

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