This week has been good to my hands, more specifically the fingertips that get to feel the immediate satisfaction of generating stories via the keyboard. Wow, you might say, that is a weird way to put it. And you’re not wrong. I am a writer; words do funny things around me. What, you ask, is the point?I wrote an average of 2,644 words a day this week. My goal was #3KaDay, but I will take the 18,511 words that I completed on Dragon Land and be happy. (This total does not count blogs or other social media writing, it is strictly creative fiction I am talking about right now.)I firmly believe that it is impossible to ever become a fulltime writer without being able to produce in sufficient quantity. If I were building houses for a living, I would need to construct as many as possible. Writing is half art and half work ethic, if you ask me.Hard work doesn’t scare me, especially when it is this much fun.
What do you do after you finish the final draft of the final book in a science fiction series? Take a couple of days to work on your Urban Fantasy series, right? That is where I am at and let me tell you it feels great to be in a fresh project. Taking some time off from sci-fi is already paying huge dividends. For example, today I wrote over 4,500 words on Dragon Land.Mornings are for writing new words. Once I hit 3k a day, I start editing and revising finished drafts. Fridays are always my best writing days and today has been no exception. After easily exceeding my “new words” I started reviewing Weapons of Earth from start to finish for consistency of plot and story. When that is done, I will be using Pro Writing Aid and saving money for at least one professional editor.Today was has been a great day so far. I hope you are finding success wherever you are as well.
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Like many writers, I read Stephen King’s nonfiction book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. When I first learned that he wrote 3,000 words a day, everyday it seemed like a lot. Now, many years after reading his advice, it the ideal seems either daunting or totally doable, depending on the day. I work full time, and according to contract, that means forty two and a half hours before I am eligible to put in for overtime. I also work two side jobs.There are days when three thousands newly created words is more of a challenge.And what about editing? How do writers who are attempting to get consistent word counts everyday deal with writing. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I am editing a large project, it isn’t uncommon to go into negative word production (which is another King axiom; cut ten percent during the edit).We will get to some methods of addressing that particular issue in a moment. For now, there are a few other word count productivity questions I want to throw out, because admit it, this is exciting stuff. #writinggeekShould I count blogging?Email?Social media?It might sound crazy to even worry about these details, but generating three thousand words a day is the same as writing 1,095,000 words a year.Pow!The Words I Track1) New words: these can include story summaries that will be expanded into regular narrative, outlines material, and story beats (for fans of the Self Publishing Podcast crew). Story building can be counted, but it isn’t wrong to forbid yourself from logging this category. I know a very good writer that will probably never finish a novel, but will have an entire universe created to the smallest detail — so writer beware.2) Blogging: I say count it, but set limits. Even though I awoke this mrning with ideas for several different blog articles (a rare occurrence) I am limiting myself to five hundred words. (Because I have a novel to finish, Hello Moon!)3) Email words: no, this is like an Olympic sprinter bragging about how she walked to the mail box every day — not something that will bring home a gold medal.4) Social Media: if the raw number of words spent on social media make a great novelist, then I am in trouble. This should probably be subtracted from the daily goal. (Look at me mom, I wrote eight thousand words on Facebook! Ah, no. There are so many reasons not to do this.)Summary: Today, I start adding the words I blog to my daily log. The reason is simple; I don’t blog consistently and it is something that can help aspiring novelists.Bonus: The best way to meet word count goals is to join, or start, an accountability group. Josh Hayes, Scott McGlasson, and Roy Upton have allowed me to be part of their word count team. So far, 2016 is looking to be a good year.Results: I have not made 3k a day, but I have done better than 1k so far.Here are some good books on writing productivity:2k to 10k (by Rachel Aaron)5,000 Words Per Hour (by Chris Fox)Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly (by Jim Denney)Also:During the last several months I have been extremely inspired and entertained by the Self Publishing Podcast of Sean Platt, David Wright, and Johnny B. Truant. Writers who are not afraid to work hard might give it a try.
What is happening in Cathy’s Town?Last night, at a ridiculously late hour, I read through my work-in-progress, which began as a largely seat-of-the-pants narrative. After about 6,000 words and some research on Nevada, Smith & Wesson revolvers (.44 caliber Russians…thanks for the idea, Elmore Leonard), and the Aleut people and Alaska) , I wrote a new opening scene that sets the entire story of fire!So far the Characters for Cathy’s Town: Piano Players, Gunslingers, and Widows include:- a woman and a Russian Orthodox Priest priest fleeing from the Northwest to the East Coast with a major problem in Nevada, during 1880 plus or minus a few years,- her son that must find her, protect her, and admit that his father died in a gun battle with a rival family,- a piano player with a mysterious Civil War and Reconstruction history,- a young woman running a frontier empire with only her intelligence, courage, and desire to be the richest widow west of the Mississippi,- and some bad-ass Cossacks bent on revenge in the American WestI am enjoying the creative process on this project so much that it takes everything I have not to publish the book in blog posts as it is written. Fortunately, I learned the pitfalls of that method once before and will not publish until the story is a great as it can be and I have contracted a professional editor.Merry Christmas!
Last week I began to write a western and loved every inspired second of the process. There was a mixture of seat-of-the-pants writing and pre-planning stuff (beats, or at least that is what Platt, Truant, and Wright call it), and some research (on-the-fly as I went stuff). The project feels both ambitious and natural.So what is the problem?I am in the middle of several projects and awoke with feelings of dread and guilt that I was being irresponsible by constantly starting new things. I set a minimum amount of time that would be spent on the original project, not really expecting to have time for other stories.Happily, I was able to dig back into my western just before midnight. After a day of banging my head against a project that has tortured me for almost a year, the fresh and exciting story premise of Cathy’s Town was like a divine gift. I feel so much better now and happy writers sleep better, I hope. Chances are that in an hour or two I will wake up with some random idea and chew on it until I just get out of bed.My goal is to keep the first draft clean, and by clean I am in no way referring to sexual content. I have a tendency to move writing platforms. Scrivner’s the best! No, move it all into word. Hey, what about Google Docs. All right, let’s reformat for Scrivner.If all goes according to plan, I will write Cathy’s Town: Piano Players, Gunslingers, and Widows in Google Docs, with periodic back-up dumps into Scrivner for the next stage of the process. The first draft should be done without starting over twenty times.Wish me luck.
Not a lot of time to share thoughts today. Raw Recruit, book one of the Legendary Austin Kirk is underway. I wrote about 6,500 words shortly after devising the concept and premise. That has all been filed for future reference and included as world building material and back story, but probably won’t be used. I am exploring the story and taking my time on this one. What I have written is fun and each draft version gives me new characters and insights into previously conceived characters.
The Forgotten Prince by Josh HayesThis version of the Neverland stories combines all the things I love in fiction; scifi action with great characters and a bunch of surprises. I like the way Josh Hayes shows the cast of the original story in interesting new ways. Bella is my favorite, but Wendy and Pan have found themselves in roles that promise a lot of fireworks as the mystery of Neverland is explored.The first chapter sets the tone the book. Hayes uses suspense topped with action to begin his sketch of Hook. I knew I was going to be entertained as soon as I started reading the first scene. Without going into the specifics of the plot, I can say the world building is good. The more I learn about the place where Lt. John McNeal finds himself, the more I want to discover who or what created this alternate world.I can’t wait for book three in this series.
Last night I found Once Upon a Time in the West (C’era una volta il West) on Netflix. The opening scene shows the difference between modern action thrillers and even most of the new westerns. There is so much build up to the initial gun battle, which is short. Lots of setting and character visuals. Over the next few months I plan to explore Netflix for all of the old classics. I don’t have time to write a long article on this movie, but hope to check in later during the week.Once Upon a Time in the WestDirected by Sergio LeoneWritten by Sergio Donati and Sergio LeoneStaring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale
THE BEST PART of starting a new project is running around with a new character having adventures like something out of an action movie. World building just happens this way. By day two of the project, I am waking up with ideas and scrambling to get them all down. There are many ways to do this, although none of them seem to really capture the magic of “morning imagination.” I have paper, a smart phone, and a computer. Still, the ideas come too fast when I wake up.
The middle of the night is a good time for story revelations, apparently. Getting back to sleep can be a chore. Last night I was able to hold a picture of void-centric aliens in my mind long enough that I believed I might remember the idea in the morning. Every science fiction tale needs a FTL (faster-that-light) mode of travel, and in the universe of Austin Kirk, that mode is void-centric aliens.Hint, these benevolent creatures are not our friends. They would have us believe the galaxy is a peace and they exist only to serve us.Yeah, right.I hope that you will find The Legendary Austin Kirk a rich and entertaining series. Writing it is a blast and I can’t wait to share.#TheLegendaryAustinKirkTwitter: @PayneAuthor
AUSTIN KIRK is the protagonist of a new science fiction novel by S. E. Payne. As young heroes go, Austin has everything stacked against him. His parents signed up for a hardship tour in space to pay for family medical expenses and left him in charge despite his lack of formal education and physical disabilities. Tough, smart, and no stranger to the street, Austin has a dream and will make it happen if it takes all the iron on Mars. Starting out small is no disadvantage to Austin; he is used to it. So what if he moves with a limp; that started when he was still crawling. And if the doctor wants a small fortune more than the sacrifice of his parents made for little Madeleine, Austin was born with an extra eye to sell. Who needs two? The only real problem, the only force stubborn enough to stop him is a S.K.I.P.P. android left by his parents to keep him out of trouble.Twitter: @PayneAuthor #TheLegendaryAustinKirk
I want this guitar (and many others)! The best thing about this picture is that my daughter took it while we were hanging out after her bass lesson. Yesterday I met a friend of mine at Barnes and Noble for some writing sprints. I live closer to the last major bookstore in town. This gives me a huge edge in getting there too early and sitting in the parking lot dying for coffee. Over the last month or two we have tried meeting at various locations. Barnes & Noble is still my favorite (despite the crap internet connect yesterday).Backstory: Thursday night to Friday morning was a not atypical workday for me. “I don’t always work late on Thursday, but when I do, it is until two a.m.” Hah! Anyway, I hit the rack at three a.m. and punched my alarm at eight o’five.Breakfast burrito.Shower.Driving with an audiobook.Next thing, I am staring at the front door of Barnes & Noble wondering why people don’t realize the bookstore opens at nine a.m. There are young adults, moms with kids, older men and women, and others sitting in their cars (like me) (probably kind of interested in coffee but just going with it). I saw people who obviously worked there slide right in the front door as though their manager saw them coming across the lot. I saw people walking to the bookstore from a distance and others from vehicles.It occurred to me that each time I execute this ritual, I see basically the same thing: people waiting in line to enter Barnes & Noble. As a writer, this makes me happy. All is well with the world. I am not the only person who is book crazy. Once a year there are a crazy shoppers who line up for deals on Black Friday. Here in bookland, we just roll like that.Post Script:It bears mentioning that I am not overly concerned with grammar in my blog posts. I just want to share, but since I am a writer and constantly wish to improve, please feel free to comment on anything you see here whether it seems intentional or unintentional. Thanks-like-crazy in advance!Today’s Friendly Call to Action :)I do hereby, with all grace and ceremony, invite you to join my mailing list. There is no free gift to clutter up your computer or phone. I have yet to actually send an email to the mailing list. Doing so without a good reason seems like something that might annoy people. However, when I have something to offer that is valuable, exclusive to my email subscribers, and free, you will be the first to know. #CTAFriendly