New month. It’s February. And as we await the results of two important events in Pennsylvania (Groundhog Day… and oh, the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl), I felt it fitting that I review what I wrote last month. It might be a good exercise in my keeping track of what I write by forcing myself to sit and write a blog post with all of the details.
I keep an excel spreadsheet tracking everything I write every day. It’s a simple 8 column form with date, project, whether that project is fiction, non-fiction, or blog (I don’t actually track my poetry or journal writing), Starting Word Count, Ending Word Count, Words Written (done via a built in formula), whether it is written by hand (Y or N), then a field for comments or notes. For those with a little bit of skill in excel, I run a pivot table for all of that data which allows me to easily filter all of that data down in any manner I wish. I can see total words for a date range for each category, how much I am writing each day via computer or by hand in a notebook. I can see what I write per day on a given project. All of it is easy to sort and filter without messing with the data overall. Here are the stats for January:
Total Words Written: 20,326
Avg Words per Day: 655.7 (based on 31 days in January)
Total Days Written: 29 out of 31
Total Words Fiction Written: 9,747
Avg Fiction Written per Day: 314.4
Words Written by hand: 1,290
Top Projects: Of Earth and Ice part 2 (7,251 words), Gravity books 4 & 5 (writing them together – 2,493 words)
For the lifestyle I provide myself, averaging 655 words is a good number. I used to shoot for 500 words, so to me, this is solid. I would like to be up closer to 1,000 words a day by the end of February. 1,500 per day by March. As I am tweaking my habits, this should be possible.
Where I definitely need improvement is that only 314 of those 655 words each day is going towards fiction. It is not even 50% of what I wrote last month. My goal is 75% or better. Not 100%, but not less than 75%. Although the split isn’t in the preferred direction, writing more for blogging and non-fiction has been a result of keeping up with putting things up on my site. That in itself is favorable. I want to shift it the other way. It will take some effort though to keep the blogging sustained while pushing for more fiction.
While a part of me doesn’t like to get too wrapped up in the numbers, this turned out to be a positive exercise. A lot of times, I would just work off of feelings, pushing out a 1,500 or so word day only to not write again until a week later, push out another 1,500 words and then think I was doing good not realizing I wasn’t writing those other days. This tells me in black and white what I am writing, how I am writing. For instance, it told me that I did better on the backhalf of the month on average than the first half, writing over 12,000 words in the last 15 days of January, a 50% improvement over what was done in the first half. Forward progress!
The big tell for me was just how much effort I was dedicating to my blog. It isn’t a bad thing, just not directionally what I want to focus on. When I want to be a novelist and I am spending more than half my actual writing time on writing other things, it’s the sign of a problem with my focus. My blogging needs work, but that’ll come over time as I continue my journey.
For now, this will be a nice thing to do every month to review just how I am doing. If anything, it should help keep me on track.