Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: 500-words

The 2012 500-words-a-day experiment: Final

The 500-words-a-day experiment ran from 19th January to 30th June, 2012. Originally it was a way to work daily on Victim #14 but it became something else along the way – yes, I am aware that there were four blank days early in February, but sometimes life sucks. Eventually blog posts became part of the deal, since they were writing about writing (note: in the graph, the blog posts before May are counted for the day they were published even if they were written in two different days, since I was not keeping track by then).

This is how the final result looks:

I threw all the numbers together today, and the final count is 161546 words for the whole period, 136902 of them in stories. Wow. I had not counted the whole until now XD” (This makes me remember that I haven’t updated my wordcount spreadsheet since forever, too).

The first thing that calls my attention when looking at this graph is that apparently I am not as irregular with the blog as I thought. Second, I think it is obvious that Victim #14 holds the highest word counts, with those two over-four-thousand-words days.

Some of the Inferno coursework is available [link], as is Autumn Lullaby [link], they are very short one-shots.

I wrote a very silly piece having Kim from Victim #14 meet Aaron and Masaharu from the Retriever universe that did not even get a title. It is a bit strange because I did it for laughs, but I’ve eventually written a lot in the Retriever universe [link] lately, during the experiment I developed Binary, which I did not finish until recently to be honest (more about the Retriever universe to come). I’ve told you about Lifequake [link] and I have mentioned Wren a couple of times [link] but never really ellaborated (*into the list*).

“Terazuma” is a background character in the Osaka Guardians universe [link]; he might not even be featured in the main series, but writing him was fun. Infatuation Trap was a free writing exercise that in the end looked nothing like what I had imagined, and that brought Hyakki Yagyō’s Satoshi [link] back to the front of my mind.

Evaluating the whole experiment I have learnt a few things about my writing and myself:

  • Is relatively easy for me to keep going with the daily-writing scheme when I have something I am actually enjoying and looking forward to work on everyday
  • I have revived a couple of old / zombie plotbunnies with interesting results, none or few expected
  • When I write things I am not convinced about, I don’t enjoy it and I find it more tedious than fun.
  • Even something I love can burnout me if I force it too much. Sometimes it is better to give it a break and come back with renewed energy. Writing Hyakki Yagyō felt awesome compared to the last 2000 words on Binary.
  • My brain is flexible enough to work on two stories / different verse on the same day. However, I need to either focus on writing or editing

In short: it was really awesome, but I am glad I stopped when I did to take a mental break when things became too much and writing too difficult and tedious. I am however wondering if I would have done better having a complete back-up plan and always a story to write without having to force my brain.

Also, there’s a short story lost somewhere in those numbers, I think it is camouflaged as a blog post. It’s about a doggie who makes a trip to the community trash can and brushes the heaven of a four-pounder…


Inferno second update

Following up on my last temper explosion here [link], I took a deep breath and tried to reason with the teacher. I did try my best to be really civil and not argumentative. I got told that the course provides extensive material and that teacher’s role is to correct the given assignments so those pieces of writing are better, nothing to do with teaching the students to write better in general. However I got offered some critical feedback instead of the usual kind of feedback the course offers. I accepted, and you know what? Suddenly I am not the only one wanting critical feedback.

To be completely honest the material is decent, but not massive. Half of the prompts exercises are repeated, and the longest is just a bunch of ‘inspirational’ paragraphs from utterly random books. But really. Getting told to get rid of the adverbs? I’ve heard that before, tons of times, and for free (and do you know what? I like adverbs. But that’s another story).

Anyway. Current summary on my feelings towards the course:

  • Motivation levels: 0 %
  • Enjoyment levels: 30 %
  • Overall usefulness levels: 50 % (found the Lisa Gardner toolbox through it, after all [link])
  • Value for money: 20 %
  • Feedback usefulness: 10 %
  • Fun / Challenge: 10 %
  • Technical resources: we’re supposed to have a real-time chat on a forum. I know first years in university who can build you a chat room. As a matter of fact, I know that Moodle has a chat plug in… so hm… Let’s say 50% cause the page has not crashed once

I look back at the ratings and wonder if I am being too harsh, or whining. Dunno, don’t really care. Maybe the course structure is just not for me. I just know that on April 16th I was really motivated to work on Victim #14 and now I only open the files for the assignments.

So yeah. I really need to find myself some motivation…

Is fun, because if you look at my wordcount (oh, yeah, remember the 500-words-a-day-thingy? It’s still going on) I seem to be super effective lately:

But motivation? MIA. Although I have to say I don’t regret having taken the course. Gives you a perspective of what to expect from “professionals” and gives me a writing credential ^^

Write, goddamnit!

I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.

Peter De Vries

Considering that today is Friday, you can say that I am two weeks into the Inferno writing course. And I am still not sure of what is going on. I have to say I am a tadbit on the disappointed side. On some ways I feel substandard. I haven’t read many of the shiny, deep, cool novels mentioned. I don’t know the buzz words, I haven’t read tonnes of how-to-write manuals ( I did get How Novels Work by J. Mullan, which is the course workbook, I’ll review it in the future for your reading pleasure).

Anyway, I digress. I was saying that I haven’t read the manuals nor know the buzzwords. I don’t devour pages on how or what I should be doing, and how. I… am apparently someone strange who… writes. I don’t have to force myself to write, nor need to set a deadline to write, nor need to blackmail myself into writing. I just write.

I am not saying that style manuals and how to are wrong, I am not defending that they should not exist. I wonder, does a manual show you how to write? Like… can you learn how to drive from a manual? Without actually haven’t been behind the wheel at all, ever?

If you want to write, write. Sit down in front of your computer / paper / notebook / whatever and write. Don’t read about how others write. Or do read about how others write, if you like, but write something yourself. (Please note: Not saying that all my classmates are like that, there are good people who put a lot of effort into writing, whether I share their views on life or not).

In my unpermissioned [note] opinion in my little corner of the Internet.

*Deep breath*. Rant over.

On a different topic, I’ve gone through with the 500-word experiment through April, due to a challenge and bad time prediction on my part. Tomorrow is day #100. The cumulative wordcount would reach 50,000 words if not for… the fact that it reaches 93,825.

I’ve used the time and the words to freewrite, be silly, write stuff that makes no sense, backgrounds for secondary characters with no libido and… I find myself facing a dilemma now. Go on with the 500 words? I know that if I extend it for too long I’ll just eventually relax it and fail more than stop it.

Today, however, someone has talked me into this sci-fi / fantasy / dark fantasy contest idea, and I know that I can’t write sci-fi to save my life, I’m too much of a Newtonian physicist for that (urgh, it hurts even thinking about it), but I can do fantasy, and I can do dark.

So try this with the 500-word rhythm or not… that is the question. Opinions, anyone?

Note: This is a reference to the feedback method that we need to use in the course, where we need to ask for permission before offering any kind of opinion. I’ll tell you about it in detail some other time. [back]

My 500 words a day experiment (3): Victim #14 is done

Mixed feelings. After 85455 words, 26 chapters (+ a prologue and epilogue), and 86 days of writing (from Jan 19th to April 14th, minus four days), the first draft of Victim #14 is done and there is a blank in my mind. Like static on tv, only in my brain. Nothing much to say, except that rewrite starts on Monday. For now, have a few graphs with word counts on them.

I owe you a scenery post, and depending on how long that one becomes, I might break it up in two, and make one about the (in)famous kilts on all its own. Catch you then, stay tuned for more Scenery and the bonus of the decade: Google maps with locations for all the main events!

My 500 word a day experiment (2)

It is day #59 of the 500 words experiment [link] and I just hit the NaNoWriMo magic number, 50000 words. Technically, if I were following the actual progressive count I should be at 29500 today. I guess I am not too good with limits XD

Sometimes Victim #14 flows better than others. Yesterday I struggled to write 500 words during the evening and then I had a random boost of productivity and reached 1200 in an hour after midnight (I count “awake” days and not “natural” days). Today I got my first 500 in under 20 minutes. It makes me proud that even if I am going through harsh times – again – I am managing to keep my wordcount most of the time, with only 4 days missed until now, and all due to serious circumstances, not random procrastination

Here’s the progress until now:

Upper graph is the cumulative wordcount, with the blue bars being the actual increment my writing has every day and the dark yellow line the 500-word-a-day trend line. Lower graph shows the amount of words written per day in green. Blank days are the days in which I did not write at all – apparently this is an all-or-nothing thing?

While this is way far off than a random NaNo day wordcount, I have to say that during NaNo the only thing I do aside from work is writing, and in this case I am doing my research as I go along and doing lot of reading, both on research and on the side. NaNo projects are usually pre-researched and pre-outlined or don’t need much work on those fronts during the actual writing process – even more this NaNo, with zero Internet around!

I am absolutely in love with the Amazon marketplace and the cheap books I can find there. Even when one of my last orders got lost in the post, it was promptly replaced and I have it here. It is good to have a reference on actual murder investigations in the UK. Some things will have to be added in the revision, but now that the book is here – even if a month late, I can incorporate what it teaches me into the ongoing investigation.And what the hell, Victim #14 is fun to write.

Meanwhile I fend off evil plotbunnies that want to distract me and consider enrolling into a Strathclyde University short course or two…

My 500-word-a-day experiment

It might come out a little silly to talk about a 500-words-a-day experiment when you see my last NaNoWriMo word counts [link], but it is not. After all, NaNo is one month, and this tries to expand in time. The idea is simple, for as long as I am working on Victim #14 and hopefully beyond that I aim to write at least 500 words every day. While yes, I can churn out 10k in a day for a first draft, I usually get to November 1st after about 3 months of planning and an outline three pages long.

Victim #14 is different because I am both working on it and planning ahead. I chose 500 words because it is a reasonable number, not high enough so I have to force myself to reach it but consistent enough to hand me a consistent daily increase and to make the story advance a little bit on each writing session. It also gives me time to read and do research on the side, along writing.

I started on January 19th, and I did pretty well until this week. I kinda failed and broke the rhythm though, as you can see, with a day that I had to stay at work until midnight, the next day when I was too tired to write, and the next one when I was too depressed to write; three blank days.

In general I have noticed that while my bulk productivity has gone down since I got Internet at home, the general reliability of what I write has improved, since now I am able to double check my facts – aside from being a lazy bum and chatting the nights away. Of course in general I write a bit more on weekends than on weekdays, since I have more time, but I don’t boost the word count up because I spend long planning and deciding on the course the story is going to take – or trying to decide, anyway, you might know how things go sometimes.

One of my goals in this work is to keep this with two point of views through the whole story (prologue was different, and probably epilogue will be too), which forces me to balance information. What Kim knows and thinks is not the same as David knows and thinks, and is an interesting exercise. The Glasgow Calligrapher is a serial killer who has been roaming Glasgow undetected for the last ten years, killing about two victims per year. However, nobody wanted to realize that he was around, until now. David, the detective, and Kim, the medical examiner, see the cases in different light, get different information and react differently.

What can I say? I might have failed my experiment, but I am having fun.