Week #1 Overview

So I’ve done it. I finally started “living the dream” on Monday. I’m now at the end of my first week of full-time writing. And, boy, does it feel good!

I’ve worked out I’ll have 20 writing days in September and, since it’s my first month, I thought I’d set myself the target of reaching 20,000 words by the end of it. That’s 5,000 words a week, 1,000 words a day. I thought this seemed reasonable, realistic—a decent target to aim for and a good amount to break me into the writing routine.

So how’d I do?

Well, I couldn’t be happier with how my first week went! I was aiming for a total of 5,000 words, and by the time I closed the lid of my Chromebook on Friday afternoon I’d finished the week with 9,483 words!

This may not sound like a lot, especially when it only covers the Prologue and part of Chapter 1, but it’s nearly half of what I wanted out of the whole month. If I can produce a similar word count week after week, then my running total is going to stack up very quickly.

Now I was pretty surprised by this, especially as Monday started off slowly (no surprises there) and Thursday seemed staggered—I think this is because on both days I began new chapters. Also, during my MA and BA, I don’t think I ever wrote for five consecutive days producing words so fluently. This, I’m sure, is down to my planning—which I am very happy with—and the fact I’ve been thinking about Everborne for over a year now.

With the exception of Monday, I started every day by reading and editing what I’d written the day before. This would take about an hour to two hours. Afterwards, I’d then continue where I left off. This seemed to work well for me. Although it felt incredibly satisfying to finish the Prologue on Wednesday evening, a nice clean-cut to finish the day on, I much preferred starting the day half-way through a chapter or scene, as I’d return with the same energy of the previous day. Not only that, in the back of my mind between writing, I could think about what I’d written and any changes or additions I may make.

As I began my days editing, this made me question how I’d actually work-out the amount of words I’d written in a day, since I’d be removing and adding words during my edits. I decided the best way was to keep a track of the document’s total word count, opposed to just highlighting the paragraphs written each day, as this wouldn’t include the changes from the edits.

This is how the days stacked up for me. I could’ve produced more on Wednesday but I took Mum (and Cass, of course) out for a pub lunch—it’s not every day your older brother moves to Australia.

Week 1 Word Total Daily Words
5 Sep 2016 2190 2190
6 Sep 2016 4460 2270
7 Sep 2016 5942 1482
8 Sep 2016 7226 1284
9 Sep 2016 9483 2257
Total 9483

I’m writing on my Chromebook and am therefore using Google Documents which doesn’t have a running word count at the bottom of the screen. Initially, I thought that was a bit naff. However, this turned out to be a very good thing. It meant I only checked my words when I broke for lunch, for a dog walk, and when I finished for the day. I wouldn’t allow myself to peek at any other time. Psychologically, I think this really helped, as I’d see the words jump up, as opposed to counting them every sentence and see them trickle by. If they hadn’t jumped up, it also spurred me on to try for a productive afternoon.

This week, I aimed for writing around 1,500 words a day, knowing I’d settle for 1,000 words as a minimum. (I’m going to keep at this for next week, too.) Checking irregularly was a good way to measure myself against my daily target as well.

Not only was I happy with the amount I produced this week, I was also pretty happy with what I wrote. Though, earlier today, I was doubting the quality of I wrote on Friday, but I think that’s because I’ve been away from the writing since Friday and because I’m a natural self-doubter. So I just kinda had to tell that part of me to shut it. He did. I supposed I’ll find out tomorrow morning!

In my plan, I’d expected the Prologue to be between 2,500-3,000 words, that’s roughly ten book-printed pages. However, I surprised myself by reaching 6,000 words. I believe this is down to the fact I was introducing four characters—who I know well (sounds weird to say I “know” someone fictional) as I planned them thoroughly and thought about them extensively—so I hope this was just story coming out of the telling, and is actually a good thing. Though I’m a firm believer it’s better to have too much and to cut it down, than to have too little and be trying to make it up.

It’ll be interesting to see how Chapter One (estimated at anywhere between 5,000-7,000 words, though I expect the latter) goes in terms of its total word count, as well. If this also exceeds it, I may start finding my estimated word count for Everborne to be wildly inaccurate. Along with it, my predicted time it’ll take to finish a first draft.

Of course, I’m only lightly editing at the moment. When I start to more thoroughly edit, I may find the word count shrinking closer to these estimates (I expect to lose at least 10%  of words overall), so the current excess may be a good thing!

I’ll be interested to see how next week goes. Not every week is going to be the same. Some, like this week, I may produce twice the amount of words I hoped for. Maybe more. Other weeks, I’m sure I’ll only produce half of what I wanted. Maybe less. So I’m going to keep my September word count at 20,000. After all, I may need the next three weeks to get to it. Or, if I exceed it, then it’ll be a good psychological boost to see how many extra words I have written by the end of the month (if I have any).

I’m just glad that my first week went as well as it did. It’s given me the confidence to continue next week. It’s reassuring to know I can actually produce a couple of thousand words a day, that it’s realistic to expect this—good motivation for those days when the words are trickling. (I hope they stay as far off into the future as possible!)

I ended on Friday with a cheek-to-cheek grin and and a real sense of pride at what I’d accomplished during the week—I don’t think I ever got that during my previous job. Sure, I’d felt happy, proud, accomplished. But not like this.


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