2015 Year-End Post

Well, it’s the end of the year. It’s time to look back and reflect upon what I’ve done during the year. I hope your 2015 was, like all important ones, a year where you learned a lot.

For me, 2015 was definitely a learning experience. One thing most authors who do well in this business have in common is that they have a lot of books. Those with a decent number of titles tend to be able to pull in readers with new stuff, and keep them with a backlist they can happily explore.

So, one of my goals for 2015 was more output. I set as my writing goal 1,500 words a day. I fell short of that goal — intentionally at the end of the year. However, in the early part of 2015, I definitely tried. During that process, I learned a lot about how I write and what works for me.

One of the things I realized is that writing every single day–with an expected output–is wearying. I need time to decompose. And most importantly,  I need time to edit and revise. My brain doesn’t multitask that well, apparently. So I need dedicated time for writing and dedicated time to actively revise and edit.

My precise goal when this year started, was to write 1,500 words a day, everyday with an exception of 2 weeks (or 14 days) of break. There are 365 days per year, generally (let’s not worry about leap years). If you subtract those 14 days out, the total writing days that comes out to 351, or 526,500 words written for the year. That’s with the goal of writing every single day, no weekends off.  That was my intention–figuring some days I’d write a little more, and some days a little less, but 1,500 would be a good average. If you wanted to remove weekends from the year, that would drop writing days to 261 (there are 52 weeks per year, so presumably 104 weekend days; though this doesn’t include a 2-week break). Under that measurement, you get 391,500 words per year. So you lose 135,000 words when you take the weekends off.  Frankly, I think that’s about where I want to be. It’s a little less than what I ended up with for the year (final word count was 429,000). After NaNoWriMo, I was wiped out, and really wanted time to edit, without forcing out the word count. So, I took December off.

Now, even when I’m editing, I do get little word count bumps and shifts. But it’s nowhere near what I get when I’m completely dedicated to writing .For me, I think the approach to the new year is going to be periods of intensive writing followed by periods of intensive editing. So, maybe I’ll up my daily word count goals to 2,000 words per day for a month, and then the next month, just spend my time editing, so I can get that work into pretty decent shape.

I think that approach will get me output, which was the goal of having daily word count goals, without making me feel like I’m drowning in stuff to do. For me, it’s hard to get that dedicated focus when I know I’ve got to slog through some editing stuff later, or vice versa.

I think having that dedicated editing time will also help me get more projects out the door. Even though I wrote a fair amount during the year, I’ve got two-thirds of a three-book series sitting on my hard drive unpublished. There are some strategic reasons for holding off on my series, but I still think I’d be closer to publishing if I had a more cyclical writing/editing season. I also wrote under a pseudonym in 2015, just to try out a different genre. That was interesting, but, also split focus so I didn’t get as much published if I were writing under a single name.

So did I get done in 2015? Here’s a rough rundown of where all those words went.

Published Books:

As RJ Crayton

  • The Self Publishing Road Map -55,000 of the words written in 2015

Under my Pseudonym

  • 1 novella – 0 words written in 2015 (published in January)
  • 1 novel – 65,000 words published (75,000 written–did some major cuts/rewrites)
  • 4 short stories – 36,000 words

Unpublished writing:

As RJ Crayton

  • Virus series Book 1 – 49,000 words
  • Virus series Book 2 – 64,000 words
  • Virus series Book 3 – 50,200 words (NaNo project)
  • Humor Book – 15,000 words

Pseudonym:

  • 1 novel – 49,000 words
  • 2 short stories  – 10,000 words

Other Published Writings

  • Blogposts/Wattpad/Book Descriptions/Website Extras – 26,000 words

Word count by Month:
Jan – 49037
Feb – 50592
March – 31601
April – 50712
May – 34700
June – 24269
July – 25534
August – 17258
September – 47336
October – 32009
November – 55298
December – 10872
—————————
Total – 429, 218

About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at http://rjcrayton.com/subscribe.
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6 Responses to 2015 Year-End Post

  1. Congratulations on your writing success, RJ. You highlight something critical, which many of us have learned the hard way: writing every day is a good philosophy, but in practice, it can be deadening. Even though writers, especially fiction scribes, are supposed to do it for the love of the craft, it shouldn’t lead to an unhealthy addiction. In the novel I’m working on now, I’ve found some of the characters to be incorrigible; they know what’s going on, yet they won’t tell me. So I’ve backed off and turned to other projects. We all need time off or time away – even from the people and things we love the most.

    Keep up the good work and Happy New Year!

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Thanks, Alejandro. You make a good point about burnout. I think the key is knowing when to back off a project, and how to structure the work so the output is doable. I’m looking at my calendar now to figure out if it’s reasonable to try to accomplish all the projects I want to get done next year.

  2. DV Berkom says:

    Wow! You rocked this year! I lost the plot a bit over the summer. Had to deal with family stuff–I know, no excuse, but I’m dedicating 2016 to more work. Congratulations and happy new year!

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Thanks, DV. I know how you feel about losing the plot in the summer. It’s a rough time to get stuff done. Good luck to you in the new year. I was just putting together my spreadsheet for the new year and noticed it’s a leap year, so one extra day of writing is a good omen. 🙂

  3. Oh boy, you are so much more organized than I am. Congrats on a great year. May 2016 be even better.

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