I go back and forth about tracking words as a useful metric when writing fiction. Currently, I’m back on again.
Over the past few days, I’ve created a spreadsheet along the lines of the one Toby provided in his post on creativity and word tracking. Mine is simpler than his; I don’t have a deadline, so I don’t need to track progress toward one.
My main input is simply the length of the current draft. From that I calculate the words written that day. I’m also tracking a 5-day moving average (although I’m thinking of changing that to a 7-day moving average, to smooth out the impact of weekday issues). I calculate a “words to go” value (by subtracting words written from an estimated final length) and a “days to go” value (“words to go” divided by the moving average). Currently I’m using 60,000 words as my estimated final length–a reasonable value for a short novel, I think–but if I come up with a better guess as I proceed I can change my estimate.
I’m currently at 7555 words and my current 5-day moving average is 745 words per day, so my estimated days to completion of a first draft is 70. We’ll see.
Is this useful? I’m not sure yet. But I do know that I wrote 318 words of fiction yesterday, even though I also wrote a new Wise Bread post and was feeling a bit burned out. The fact that I’d otherwise have had to plug a zero in for words written yesterday was significant motivation for getting me to put in the time to get some fiction written.
Across the street from our apartment complex is a microwave relay tower. From where we used to park, outside our previous apartment, the apparent size of the round face of the antenna is almost exactly the same as the apparent size of the moon, and appears over the horizon in about the same place the moon rises.
More than once we’d park our car around sunset, look up, see the round disk of the microwave antenna, and mistake it for a full moon. (The red letters aren’t visible once it gets a little darker.)
In this picture it’s pretty obvious which is which, but on a dark and slightly misty night when the moon isn’t visible in the sky for comparison, it’s a surprisingly convincing illusion.
I’m not doing NaNoWriMo (because I’m not going to try to write this in a month, and also because I started a couple of weeks ago), but I am going to be cranking away producing novelish prose over the next month, so I feel a certain kinship with others doing the same.
I’m doing several things differently this time. In particular, I don’t have an outline. In fact, I have only the barest notion of where things are going. This will no doubt mean that a whole bunch of rewriting of the beginning will be required (so that it ends up being a beginning that heads to the end that I end up writing), but that’s a small price to pay if the result is a novel that I’m pleased with.
The other main thing that I’m doing differently is giving chapters to Jackie to read as I write them. Doing so has prompted me to try to make each bit exciting, which I think is having a positive effect.
Of late, though, I’ve once again felt like keeping a writing journal, and found that, for various reasons, LiveJournal wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. However, as I do have a number of friends on LiveJournal, I thought I’d see if I could get a crossposting plugin to work.
Hence, this post, which is largely an test of crossposting.
If you are also spending less time on LiveJournal or for some other reason would rather read my blog directly or in your feed reader, check out https://www.philipbrewer.net/ for posts, feeds, etc.
[Updated to allow commenting on LiveJournal as well.]
We went to see the premier of the locally produced indy film Revolting last week—a fine movie.
It’s the story of a writer of serious plays, who had written one frivolous piece for his wife that had gone on to be a huge success, launching his wife’s acting career, and making the local theater group a bunch of money. Now divorced, and with his serious plays all flops, he finally gives in to pressure to write a sequel to his one lighter piece, only to have his characters start complaining about the quality of his writing—at first on the page, and then in person. And, since he visualizes his characters as the local actors likely to play them, the result is confusion for the character and humor for the audience.
I’m always a big fan of movies that accurately portray the writing life—movies like “Shakespeare in Love,” for example—and that’s where this movie is at its best. The scenes where he’s preparing to write—dusting and cleaning his workspace, arranging his paper and notecards in perfectly aligned rows and stacks—are wonderful.
Unless you’re local to Champaign, I don’t know if you’ll have much of a chance to see “Revolting,” but if the opportunity arises (and you’re interested in accurate portrayals of the writing life), don’t miss it.
There’s a surprisingly active bunch of local filmmakers. We’ve previously seen the local films Disconnect, Act Your Age and Press Start, after having gotten started seeing premiers of local films with “Gamerz” which was shown at WorldCon in Glasgow—also a locally produced film, but local to Scotland, rather than Central lllinois. All are worth seeing, if you get a chance.
I don’t walk around Centennial Park as often as I might. I’m a lot more likely to walk around Kaufman Lake, or just walk to downtown Champaign or to campus—places I can do something (like go to the library). Centennial park is nice, though, and whenever I do walk there, I make a mental note to do it more often.
The one downside to the walk is going past Centennial High School. It is, as near as I can tell, a perfectly good high school—I don’t really have any visibility into that. My perception of the place is based almost entirely on the signs posted at the entrance to the parking lot that I have to walk past whenever I go that way.
So, there’s the “private parking” sign and the “smoke-free environment” sign—both fine. The “guests must register” sign bugs me only a little. But then there’s the “Search of Vehicle” sign, claiming that just entering the parking lot amounts to consenting to have your vehicle searched, and the “video camera in use” sign which says that just entering school district property amounts to consenting to have your image captured in “video, digital or other such format as may be appropriate.” I’m not fine with those.
I not entirely sure why it bugs me as much as it does. I never drive there, so I can pretty much ignore the “search of vehicle.” I don’t know if the video cameras are aimed at the sidewalk or not, but my actions on the sidewalk are public anyway—anybody could be taking my picture, not just the school district. And yet, it does bug me.
Probably the biggest reason is that I hate the example it provides to the students. Three or four years of walking past those signs every day—and experiencing what they really mean in practice—no doubt desensitizes students to what it means to be free. I hate the idea that a whole generation of students is growing up thinking that this is acceptable behavior, or at any rate that tolerating it is just something that people have to put up with.
Today was Taiji class. The instruction is following an interesting direction. It’s our third class, but we have yet to do a taiji form. Instead, we’re learning pieces. We spent two days doing the upper-body parts of Cloud Hands one-handed. Today we did them two-handed for the first time. Separately, we’ve done several bits of footwork: shifting weight, empty step, etc. We’ve not yet done anything that combines upper-body and lower-body motions. However, I have a strong sense that we’re building a proper foundation. By the time we do our first actual piece of the form, I expect we’ll have most of the moves for doing the whole thing.
Got some writing-related work done today. I put two manuscripts in the post. I also revitalized my old submission-tracking database, which I hadn’t gotten properly set up when I got a new computer several years ago. I wasn’t actively submitting manuscripts, so it didn’t seem urgent. Then when I started sending them out again I didn’t want to wait to get my tracking system working, so I just did the tracking in a spreadsheet. Today I got the old tracking system working again, and moved over all the data from the spreadsheet. So, I once again have complete submission information for all my manuscripts, including a few old manuscripts that hadn’t yet been submitted to every market.