I’m a writer: 2014 in review.

It’s that time of the year again. The time where we all look to each other, smile, and say everything is fine.

For me everything is fine. Sure, I could need a job. Sure, a partner would be splendid.  But all in all, I am fine. I live in a “first world country” if you follow that classification system. Lucky that I was born here, on this particular patch of this planet we live on.

I like to think that I am a man who has little to say, and a lot to show. However this last part of the year has shown me that it is actually somewhat the opposite. I wrote 342k words in the last 128 days of the year 2014 that’s 342 000 words. This is all thanks to Jeff Goins‘ My 500 Words-initiative.

Most of those words were spent on the Bookverse I am working on.  It is a fantasy/scifi multiverse, that has daemons, gods, a bunch of “pure-blooded humanoids”, Man, and a multitude of crossbreds that the kinky nature of man truly can appreciate.

There is magic, laws and rules to that magic that are as different for every culture that taste-buds are to us. Cults that make you cringe with their horrid thoughts and practices.  There are strange phenomena, classes of magic that boggle the mind, and mages and wizards that make your skin crawl.

All in all, I am looking forwards to writing more in this bookverse, and maybe, just maybe, get a few books out of it; Perhaps bringing more writers into it.

Looking forward to new opportunities, new characters to write about, new friends to make, and last but not least: A new year!

Lastly, I want to thank a bunch of people for kind words, a great community, and a little kick in the bum when that was needed: My 500 Words

If you got all the way down here, I thank you for your time. And hope that you got at least something out of my rambling 😉

100 Days of writing

love,   #171 in explore !

ashley rose, via Compfight

227 241 Words later

Hello there. Yesterday, I ended up hitting a milestone. I have been writing with focused writing for a hundred days.

I want to start out with a couple of statistics because I love me some stats.

When I first started out, for the first month my goal was a minimum of writing 500 words per day. This made me most days write between 500 and 1000. Some days I went above 1000, but that wasn’t often, I think there are six or so.

After my first month, I upped the ante, by adding a target that would slowly increment. It will round to the nearest 500 upwards. I would spend somewhere between 25 minutes and 50 minutes to write those 1000 words.

NaNoWriMo was coming up, I decided I wanted some training in the increased workloads of the NaNo month… So I increased my own minimum target to 1500.

At this point in time, I knew that I would beat NaNo

The first of November was here, NaNoWriMo was in! I decided to go for 2k words per day. This would bring me well into the 50 k that was required.

Two days passed, and I was inspired. I decided to go for 100k words instead of the regular 50k words. Therefore, I would need to write at least 3334 words. This had me write 3402 words the third, and 3885 words on the fourth. I had decided to simply double my previous word-count. I was aiming for 4000 words per day.

Thanks to my at this time around sixty days of experience with focused writing, I KNEW already on the third that I would manage to get 100k within the months end. To me NaNoWriMo was an excuse to be a little more focused on my writing. Therefore, I allowed myself to be even less social than what I usually had been.

The first half of my month writing on this novel was spent in the WPM-ranges of 31-37, this was a rather good improvement upon the previous speeds I had had when I started.

During the time up to the thirteenth, I had heard a couple of murmurs about a site called ilys.com. It was apparently a writing aid. This one site skipped my writing speed 9 words per minute up.

This happened overnight. Three days of practice later, and I would not under normal circumstances go below 50 WPM. There was this one time, where I was on vacation, and had forgotten to write before I left, so I wrote in the car. Yeah, that day I had a WPM of 25. All other days, the WPM kept in the higher scale of 50 (55->60).

There is a downside with ilys.com, well to me at least for now. My fingers have still not caught up with my brain. While they can type at 60WPM, they have still had problems actually hitting the right keys. So from time to time (about 10% of the time) it hits a second or third key. This makes it a chore to spell check. Which one should do straight after getting done with the writing.

During NaNoWriMo I was called crazy multiple times, I even called myself crazy, so I could make jokes about the speed at which I wrote, and how many words I required of myself.

During NaNoWriMo, I wrote 141 000 words. That’s 41000 words more than I had planned to write. What did I do? I started writing on another story that is set in the same bookverse. I decided to add this story to my NaNoWriMo book.

Have I learned something from all this writing? Yeah.

  1. The faster your writing is, the more will you write. If I like I want to, can get my WPM up to 120, I will be writing at 7200 words per hour. This is a lot of words. And will assist on my ultimate goal (Breaking a NaNo event by having over 999 999 words to submit without cheating).
  2. Until your fingers grab themselves enough accuracy to hit the letters they were meant to hit, you will get typos (And that is fine).
  3. Even if it is not fun, even if you do not want to write, write. In the end this also makes experience, you are not practicing at optimal condition. However, you are practicing.

I learned that the system is key.

Detach yourself from the goal (I did that, since I knew I would get the goal by the end, there was no pressure), and trust that your system will bring you there.

50 days, 43000 words later.

(picture from Marc via Compfight)

What happens when you write something 50 out of 50 days?

The Beginning

At first I wrote 500 words a day, then something changed. I made a spreadsheet that noted my progress. (you can download a clear one at here) Since the third day, I started taking minute counts, to make “Words Per  Minute”-measurements. At first my cruising speed was 18.35WPM I’d had two days below 10, where they were 9 and 7. This was before I started taking breaks.

I believe both days were times I had real troubles writing my required 500. I learned a couple of coping mechanisms, taking breaks if things move along too slowly, write on completely different pieces (A journal entry, or blog post, Et. Cetra),  and last but not least: Get rid of distractions. That application constantly bothering you to go update something? Kill it, just murder it.

Isolate yourself from the world. I found music without actual or lots of speech works really well. I’ve come to love FlicFlac for this. If this is not your musical can of worms, that’s fine the main thing is that you’re not supposed to sing along in your head. Anything carrying energy away from getting those words down is your enemy.

Statistics and how they helped

The maths for getting words per minute is really simple, Words/Minutes. That’s it, at day 3 in the challenge I was putting down a timestamp when I started, and another one when I ended. Along with word counts for each. Later on I started writing required word count just to make it simpler to remember when it was okay to quit.

Later on (day 10-20 of the challenge) I wrote a Google Docs SpreadSheet, and after filling in that with the data collected, I saw room for improvement. The spreadsheet gives you an idea of how fast you are writing. In the beginning it helped getting to see patterns. Like how I would work far less efficiently with distractions.

If I felt that I’d written myself into a slump I would stop the time, and take a break. Getting back to writing was then easier than before. This I think resulted in gaining faster WPMs overall,  I’d quickly grown to be above the previous cruising speed. Well, quickly is overstating it I think. But rather quick I would say.

My current WPM is 21.6 and with me learning touch typing, I am expecting that to increase lots faster once I actually end up “getting” it.

The best WPM I have had until now 38 (that’s 22 away from writing one word PER SECOND) and was obtained through a headset with accompanying music, my glasses off, so I couldn’t see typing errors, other than the most grave ones, and the no-pressure of writing a freeform (no plan) entry for my bookverse. There I am writing my heart into a textual form. There needs not be corrected words. It is not that important.  So yeah, moral of the high-wpm: Ignore the world, don’t edit, and write whatever lets you write whatever your most unobstructed thoughts say.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with, when doing things like these is motivation, while not on the OCD-level (I am not forced by my brain to fix things) having a 49 day streak on Lift.Do does help me keep motivated. That and statistics I’d have to write zero on if I didn’t do it one day. (Which would make the next few days easier, but it would be hurting me on the inside. For no other reason that I could’ve been better.)

Late days, and how to deal with them

When I write, I write for a specific day. (At least with the My 500 Words Challenge) To me as long as I haven’t slept yet that day, I am fine. That said, I won’t stretch it longer than a few hours across the border of that date. Technically, a day is 48 hours long because of timezones, so there is a lot of leeway here. But I don’t want to be “catching” up on writing. That’s a situation I don’t ever want to be in.

I’ve now written enough words to satisfy the My 500 Words Challenge, I won’t go tick it. I could. But I’ve not timed it, and I haven’t gotten to 1000 words.

PS: I’ve written not counting these words: 1167 words, over a time of 48 minutes, which I found that the revisioning tool of my blog actually kept accounts of. Fancy. So I lied to you earlier. I will be ticking that box. 

How 500 turned into 1000 and with time will turn into 2000
Rather quickly with the statistics document, I started adding small tidbits of information based on some math acrobatics with the gathered statistics. Average WPM (Above this is a personal goal on every daily assignment), Average Words Per Day (became the basis of the daily target), Highest WPM (reach for above this), Lowest WPM (Never let this become lower.), Total Words Written, Target Words Next Day, Days Counted, Average Minutes Spent

This segment is for the Target Words Next Day, with this I wanted to make sure the average words per day always went up. If not quickly, at least surely. I might not be able to directly control my WPM, but I can control how many words I am satisfied with. The current formula is: Round to the nearest 500 Average Words Per Day+250. This will make sure that my target is ALWAYS above the current average.

Making it slowly crawl upwards.

Going Forwards

It is my goal to always improve my statistics, by slowly increasing the amount of writing, I will be giving myself a stamina-boost over time. But it’ll be so gradual that the WPM-speed should be increasing with it. Making me able to write more in less over time. And I am talking about by day maybe 100. As it is I have added Touch Typing to my scheduled enhancements. (I might increase the Target of the day to WordsPerDay+500 to get a faster increment in daily words required. If I am to reach the 1333 goal for nanowrimo… Alternatively, I could just ignore the target in the spreadsheet and write with the nanowrimo goal in stead. I kinda like that idea better, it would force the wpd up, at a slightly faster rate.)

Looking forwards to actually making real headway with that. As it is, I am doing somewhat similar things to what touch typing wants you to do. While there are no “proper” spots for my current writing technique, it has been serving me up until now. But I am in need of something faster, and I’ve heard that touch typing can help.

That said, I’ve looked into the dvorak keyboard style before, when doing research for keyboards to buy. I might end up on one someday, but for now,  I can do well enough with the tools that are at my disposal. For where I live, money does not yet grow on trees. And a rent one has to pay.

I do intend to partake in Nanowrimo. I mean, it’s the natural step forward from the “My 500 Words Challenge” especially when I already write at 1000 Words Per Day :3

How about it? Do you want to write 43000 words? (A novel) Try the My 500 Words Challenge today.  ~ Tweet this?