April 2014 Writing by the Numbers

I wrote a little over 20,000 words of fiction in the month of April. It is far less than what I managed last summer, but still a small achievement in that it is the second month in a row that the overall monthly numbers have gone up. I beat march by about 100 words, but February by about 3,000 words.) Still, it’s down about 30% from last April, when I wrote 26,000 words. Here’s what April 2014 looked like for me.

April 2014 Writing

The  blue line represents day-to-day word counts, captured automatically by my Google Writing Tracker scripts. The green line is my 7-day moving average. I use this number as a guide to how well my writing is flowing. When the green line is moving up, I’m working pretty steadily and pretty hard each and every day, and as you can see, I finished pretty strong, with a 7-day moving average of about 900 words/day. For the entire month, I averaged 677 words/day.

As the chart indicated, I started on the second draft of my novel back on April 13, and the writing definitely took an uptick for me. Second drafts are my favorite part. In the first draft, I tell myself the story. The second draft is where I tell the reader the story and it’s fun because I know where the story went in the first draft and now get to make it interesting. But finding the right voice and tone, to say nothing of the right place to start, can be tough, and I struggled with that all through the second half of the month. I think I have a toe-hold now, however, and I expect to do much better in May.

I also have 4 outstanding freelance pieces that I want to get finished over the next few months. Three of these are nonfiction and one is a short story for an anthology. Having projects like these comes in handy on the days that the novel work isn’t progressing well. I can switch to a non-fiction project–which for me is much easier than fiction–and move ahead, feeling like I’ve accomplished something, and return to the novel the next day.

For those keeping score at home, as of today I’ve written for 283 consecutive days. And I’ve written for 426 out of the last 428 days. The last day on which I did not write was way back on July 21, 2013. In 2014 I’ve written 82,765 words, averaging 690 words/day. Since I started this streak back in February 2013, I’ve written a grand total of 357,088 words, averaging 834 words/day.

Now that I have a model for tracking time, that 834 words/day amounts to about 35 minutes of writing each and every day. Which is really not a lot when you think about it. I generally write while my kids are getting ready for bed and watching a cartoon before we read books. If you can be disciplined, and can learn to write in short snatches of time, 35 minutes a day adds up to more than 300,000 words/years. Which is a lot!


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