Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day 32 - A Look Back at the First Month

It has been just over a month since I started this new ... focus?

I'm not sure what to call it.  It's not a dare or a challenge because it doesn't really have goals.  "Focus" seems the best word.  Okay, yeah, the "175 Day Focus Project."  I like the word project.

So, the main thing I did was change the blog: I'm posting only updates on writing progress, and other than the occasional post like this, no thinking ahead.  If I feel the need to write a serious, thoughtful blog post, I save it for later.  This has had several interesting effects...

I expected to lose readers, but a look at my stats tells me that I haven't. I may have lost some and gained new ones to replace them. Or I might have fewer followers who visit more often.  But overall, I've had slightly more activity than I was getting before I started this.

Book sales are the worst they've ever been, but I think that's mainly due to the usual reasons. (Slumpy time of year, and I haven't put out any new books in a while, and those I put out most recently were not in the same genre as my regular book, etc.)  But it could also be partly because I tend to get most of my sales from piquing people's interest on the blog. I guess we can test that hypothesis when I go back to regular blogging in the fall.

I have written about 25,000 new words since the start of this.  I've also done quite a bit of related work -- editing, developing ideas, etc.  I also probably wrote more than I reported because sometimes I forget to count. And I don't count words I add in while editing.

I have also come up with 2 more story games, finished the rough draft of two short stories, have a bunch more in the queue.  And I have at least one interesting story in that queue for each genre I want to follow up on. (That is, I only have one contemporary children's horse story out there in the wilderness, so I need another to go with it.  Need more Mick and Casey stories, etc.)

I've made great strides on In Flight, the first of the story game romantic suspense stories (which was supposed to be a novella but now looks like a short novel), and reasonable progress on The Man Who Ran Away.  I was hoping to finish both of these during the effort.  But it's not looking so hot for that goal.

Still, I do think my habits are accelerating, even if it doesn't look like it because I'm doing a lot of editing.  I am focusing better and longer.  I hardly ever go hang out on writer boards now, and I hardly ever check my stats.  I spend a little more time on Twitter, but Twitter is much less time consuming.

My biggest vices are games on my iPad.  Especially Spiderette. Oh, and this Risk knock-off game called Lux USA. (I stumbled across it during an election year, though I don't think it's meant to be political. You war for control of the U.S. with four other armies.  I figure Blue is Democrat, Red is Republican, Gold is Wall Street, Black is the Tea Party, and Green is obviously the Green Party.  Because it's a freebie, they don't give you a choice -- the player is Blue. So I play it while listening to public affairs television on MSNBC.  Whenever I hear Rachel Maddow's voice, I have this uncontrollable urge to take over the world now.  It must be a conspiracy.)

One thing I haven't been doing is drawing.  This is bad because it is my best source of income.  Also, it's the thing that I would be doing if I wasn't playing games.  So art is what I'm doing tonight, and possibly tomorrow.

I am also reading more again.  This is partly because of Amazon's special pricing on so many audio books.  I can afford them, at last.  This would encourage me to draw more, except for the whole Spiderette addiction thing.

The cat keeps me doing my morning exercise routine.  He lets me eat my Cheerios, but once I'm done with that, he yells and threatens mass destruction until I hit the basement for 20 minutes of walking and running and jumping with him.  I have lost two or three pounds since we have added the Blues Brothers and the Tijuana Brass to the song cycle, although this may be more due to the fact that writing is going well. (I eat less when I'm writing.)

Here's to the next month being better than this one.

See you in the funny papers.


David Michael said...

You haven't bored me yet, so I keep reading. =) (Unlike DWS, who bored me *months* ago with deadly dull daily posts.)

I've been pursuing a similar course lately. That is, focusing on getting the writing habit back in place while divesting myself of a lot of baggage I accumulated starting in 2010.

My current plan is to focus on short stories...but the first story has stretched longer than I expected. I was thinking 7K-ish words when I started, but it'll probably finish up around 25K. I guess a few years spent mostly on novels has hammered my short story word-length discipline. When I finish that story in the next week or so, I'll start another one with a bit more emphasis on the *SHORT* in "short story". =)

So, yeah, good work. Keep it up. And all that. =)

Have fun!


The Daring Novelist said...

Dean's updates were fascinating for about a month, but once I knew his routine, I hung on just for the occasional pictures of the legendary white cat. (Who is actually a flame point.)

I suspect, though, that the routine of doing those posts is working for him.

As for the "short" stories: I know what you mean. When I have to shake that tendency to write long, I'll dive into a bout of haiku and microfiction.

David Michael said...

I still have DWS in my Feedly list, but only because of the other, non-daily posts he (more and more infrequently) puts up. The daily stuff I just ignore.

I have my subscriptions to Asimov and Ellery Queen feeding me short stories, and I figure some practice will do me no end of good.

It was shocking to realize earlier this year that I hadn't written a short story since February 2011. 3 years is a long gap. Too long. I just got too caught up in getting novels written and indie published, and I put short stories on a back burner.


The Daring Novelist said...

Now that I've figured out how to get Amazon NOT to delete old issues of magazines, I should re-up my EQMM and AHMM subscriptions.

(The problem is that the Kindle won't let you put magazine issues into groups. I don't know why.)

BTW, if you like audio books, some of the Dell Magazines have a monthly podcast of stories from the magazine. Both mystery magazines do. Not so sure about the SFF magazines.