Writing Updates: January 2008

I’m going to strive to be a bit more transparent about my writing this year. It’s something I have a hard time with, which might date back years to when I learned answering “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “Be a computer programmer” seemed to be a more acceptable answer to most people than “Be a writer”. So to start I’m going to talk about the past month, and provide a bit of an info dump into what I think the future holds.

I’ve been making time to write each and every day, even if it’s only ten minutes, and even if it’s very difficult to do. I’ve written over 14,000 words this month on various projects, which isn’t to shabby. I’ve learned a lot in this experiment, but I think it needs some adjusting (more on that later).

WIP Novel

first Draft
60,865/90,000 words

I’m still plugging along at the novel I started during NaNoWriMo, adding 8000+ words in January. I’m happy that the book is progressing, but considering I wrote over 50,000 words in November, the current pace seems sluggish at best. My current pace is pretty much all my time allows, but the work seems much harder. My internal editor seems much happier to shut up and go away when I’m producing 2k words a day, but not so much when I’m producing 500.

I started this book with an outline that was only partly finished. It had a beginning, an ending, and a number of bits that needed to happen in the middle. I started the new year with a lot less of those planned bits unused. That means I’m spending more time thinking “now what” where before I had a sentence saying “X needs to happen now”.

I did have a terrible/wonderful moment this week where I wrote something and realized at once that it invalidated some of what I’d already written. Keeping it would mean big re-writes later, but it solved a problem that had been nagging at me for some time. One character is arrested for theft and murder. He committed the theft, and at one point he admitted it, but his reasons for the admission didn’t sit well with me. This week a minor character took off running (both in the story, and with the plot). I didn’t expect it, but the story is so much better for what he did I’m going to keep it and deal with the consequences in rewrites.

Looking at the outlined scenes I haven’t written yet I’m not sure I can fit it all in the remaining 30,000 words I have planned for. I’ll either have to drop some of them, or write a longer story. The latter is probably a better idea since I know I’ll have to drop or rewrite some of the earlier scenes now.

Future Plans

Writing every day has been good for me, especially after taking some time off in December. That said I don’t think I can keep it up. I have a wife, three kids, and a full time job. So for next month I’m trying something different. Each week (which will start on Mondays) I’m going to either write 5000 words, or write every day. So if I finish 5k by Friday I’m going to relax a bit more on my weekends (which are possibly the most stressful part of my life right now). If now, then I make time to write Saturday and Sunday. Just like my writing every day experiment I’ll try it for a month and see how it goes.

The plan is still to finish the first draft of my WIP Novel, then re-start the edits on Miracles. Both novels take place in the same world, but not with the same characters, or even in the same time frame. While they’re both stand alone, the work I’ve done for the current book should have a positive influence on the revisions for Miracles. I know more about the world, it’s history, and the outcome of some of the events that happened in the background in Miracles.

Beyond that I’m not sure. Obviously I’ve got to revise this book too, but I think after Miracles I’d like to work on some short fiction for a while, if only to have more things on my “finished” pile.


  1. Trillian1117 says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Jason. It helps me to hear the struggles other writers have, especially in making/ taking time to write. I still seem to think everyone else just has the time and it’s easy. Mental block of mine, I guess, since that doesn’t make sense. Anyway, I appreciate hearing how you’re working to make it work for you, and trying different things. I think you’re doing great and making writing a priority in your already “full” life is wonderful. Reading what you wrote inspires me to consider working something out, also. Thanks!

  2. Rob says:

    I think the invisible man idea has already been done….

  3. Jay says:

    Trillian1117: I’m glad to hear you found the post helpful. A few years ago I realized I’d been waiting years until it was time for me to start writing. I kept thinking I’ll have more time, or I’ll have a better idea how to go about it, and then I’ll start. I’d still be waiting if I didn’t just start.

    The other big mistake I made was believing I needed big chunks of time in my schedule. Learning to write is small bursts is still something I’m working on. I picked up How to Find Your Writing Discipline by Holly Lisle, and went through it recently. While (sadly) it didn’t help me carve out more time it taught me how to make much better use of the time I had.

    Rob: Did you just read the first sentence, or did you hold on to that line the whole time?

    Both: Thanks for stopping by, and especially for leaving comments.

  4. Rock on, Jay! Keep pushing!

    By the way, I think you turned me on to some of Holly Lisle’s non-fiction writing stuff. Fun reads, so thanks for that!

  5. Paul says:

    Hi Jay.

    Glad things seem a bit more organized. Your writing goals seem challenging – thats for sure! While I’m not sure your writing is taking requests, I’d like to suggest that your future stories include verbage like “GadZooks”, “Dadgummit”, and other like minded terms for added flavor. I just dont see these sorts of things used enough over the course of my daily readings.
    Take care,

    ps. if you talk to PaulN – give him my best!

  6. Jason Penney says:

    Matthew: Thanks for the encouragement. Good luck on your 200k in 2008. I mentioned Holly Lisle’s books on Writers Talking if that’s what you are referring to. I’m glad you found them useful (I have).

    Paul: Glad to hear from you. Hope things are well. I’ll take your suggestions under advisement (just the thought is making me smile, dadgummit). Perhaps these endangered terms could be used to liven up technical manuals.

  7. Rob says:

    I suggest using “whatchamacallit” as a catch all term, much like the noun/verb/adjective/adverb super word “smurf.” You could also receive product placement revenue from Hershey’s.

    Come to think of it, product placement in literature has been a dramatically underexploited market. Think of the revenue posibilities for the “writers.” You can’t tell me that Doyle wouldn’t have sold out to Red Bull– its the kind of drink that’s right up Holmes’ alley.

  8. […] all the way through the month without missing a day of writing, which if you remember my plan from last month means I didn’t have any weeks were I wrote more than five thousand words. I did write 14,732 […]