Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October writing wrap-up

In September I started using a lovely little word-tracker website, WordKeeperAlpha, which allows you to track your daily words on different projects, as well as progress towards goals. I've found I haven't used the goals part of the website at all, but that's because of how I've divided up my projects. I have too many different projects for each to be its own category, so I've roughly divided up my writing into four categories:

  • Blog posts (yay, I get to count these words for my daily word count!)
  • Nonfiction (including words written on my textbook What Is Logic?, journal articles, book chapters, conference abstracts, etc., but NOT blog posts)
  • Fiction (self-explanatory)
  • Admin (referee reports, reports for committees, letters of recommendation, teaching prep like writing up homework assignments or answers to homework assignments)

The site keeps track of running totals per day, per month, and all time, and also gives you an average words/day for each month. There are also a couple of nice charts plotting out what percentage each project gets, both all time and per month.

September saw "blog posts" as receiving the biggest percentage of the words I wrote -- not surprising as I was gearing up for the launch of, a new review site for short sci-fi and fantasty stories. Now October has come to an end, and I can pause to reflect on my writing accomplishment that month.

In October, I wrote every day except for two; and of those 29 days, all of them except for two I wrote more than 400 words. In fact, my average over the course of the month was 1188 words/day, for a total of 36,855 words:

It's clear from the relative proportions of the four categories that the academic term started in October: My admin writing saw a huge jump compared to September, but also (very pleasingly) my nonfiction writing saw the same:

But what I find most pleasing is that my jump in admin and nonfiction writing did not occur at the expense of my fiction writing; slightly more than ~4500 words in September compared to ~6300 words in October. This is evidence for a claim that I've made before, which is that writing breeds writing: The more I write, the more I write. (It's hard to find a non-tautological way to express this sentiment. But it's not like I have X number of words in me to use up each month, and if I spend them all on nonfiction then I don't have any left over. No -- the more words I write, the more words I get to write.) Also pleasing is just how many days when I managed to write in three out of the four categories (I don't feel the need to strive for all four -- if I have a day when I don't have to do admin writing, I'm not going to count that as a loss). In fact, very few days did I write in only one category, and as the month went on, a clear correlation developed between making good progress on my nonfiction during the day setting me up well to work on my fiction during the evening (writing breeds writing).

I sometimes feel a bit guilty about writing fiction. One reason I like tracking my progress like this is that seeing these numbers and percentages makes it clear to me that I have no reason to feel guilty. I wrote over 17,000 words of nonfiction in October. If I had done nothing else, that would still have been a tremendous accomplishment. If I can maintain that, and write fiction along the way, I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

November is going to be interesting. I'm participating in NaNoWriMo, so I hope to hit the 50,000 word count this month. But I'm not going to let that happen at the expense of my academic and other writing, which means my overall total for the month should hopefully be closer to 70,000 -- almost twice what I did this month. That's going to be quite the task, and I look forward to attempting it!

This post is a start. 747 words down, who knows how many left to go.

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