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Writing Progress Report – First Quarter 2018

Progress Report – First Quarter 2018

First quarter 2018 proved to be a good time to write. Since this is the first of my writing progress reports, here are the details.

I write all the time or at least I work on something to do with writing. The process generally runs from idea to percolating that idea or combining it with other ideas, outlining, drafting, preliminary editing, and reading aloud to my husband (a HUGE help for spotting flow errors). Then it’s beta readers sending feedback which I work out, off to the pro editor, write the query letter, query, wait for acceptance or rejection.

Accepted work? Then it’s time to work on promoting it. Rejected work? Then it’s time to regroup. This may mean more editing on my part, or changing the query or just shelving a work for a while.

Finished Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | First Quarter 2018
First of all, I worked on a number of new short stories. A lot of these had been drafted on paper and so I spent some time fixing and polishing them.

Here’s what I created and improved.

January

I wrote well and regularly this month. It was a great kickoff to first quarter 2018.

January 1 – 7

During the first week of first quarter 2018, I wrote a piece every day. there are two pieces over 2,000 words long: The Resurrection of Ditte and A True Believer in Skepticism. Another four are under 2,000 words: Short, Sharp; Dragon for Sale, Cheap; Too Tired (tiny!); and The Landing. The seventh was also under 2,000 words and is a little scene from The Real Hub of the Universe trilogy: Snowy Allston.

Of these seven short stories, Dragon and Landing are both comedies. Allston is kind of melancholy. Tired was really just so I could get something written that day. The other three are somewhat ironic and all of them give off a Twilight Zone sort of vibe.

My favorite for this week is a tie between Ditte and Skepticism. They both having something to say about the human condition.

January 8 – 14

Then I wrote more stuff during the second week of first quarter 2018. All of the pieces are under 2,000 words. I wrote: The Forest; I Used to be Happy; The Star; I Hate Promises; A Kitten; The Outside World; and  The Meeting.

Of these seven short stories, The Star; I Hate Promises; and The Meeting are comedies. The Forest and The Outside World are more like fables, with the former being about helping a stranger and the latter about being curious about freedom. A Kitten is heartwarming and could be read to a child.

My two favorites for this week are I Used to be Happy and A Kitten. Both should make a reader think, and I love writing like that.

January 15 – 21

And I wrote even more during the third week of first quarter 2018. These are all under 2,000 words: The Other, Canada Saves the World, Worthy, Nothing Good Ever Happens at 3 AM, Who Do We Blame for This?, None of this is real, and Inventory.

Of these short stories, The Other is another fable. Canada Saves the World and Inventory are comedies. None of this is real is more of a nascent romance. Nothing Good Ever Happens at 3 AM and Who Do We Blame for This? are both tragic first contact stories. Worthy is kind of an odd story about what is a sort of dystopian society that has lost its way.

This week, I had a lot of favorites. In fact, the only one that wasn’t a favorite was Canada Saves the World as it was just kind of silly. Even Inventory was better.

January 22 – 31

So I wrote a lot more during the final ten days of the first month of first quarter 2018. Everything was under 2,000 words long. And there stories were: Soul Rentals, And the Horse You Rode in On, The Guitarist, The Metuchen Mystery, So Long, Will’s Dog, I Used to be Cruel, Just Married (sequel to The Meeting), Justice, and This is My Child.

Of these short stories, Soul Rentals is kind of spiritual. And the Horse You Rode in On is historical. The Guitarist is YA. The Metuchen Mystery is fantasy. So Long is tragedy. Will’s Dog and Just Married are more fluff pieces. Justice is dystopian. I Used to be Cruel and This is My Child are both drama.

For these last ten days, my favorites were pretty much everything but The Metuchen Mystery, which felt too light and silly. I’m not a fan of dragons, even if they are in New Jersey. The Guitarist was a particular fan favorite. I wrote almost 29,000 words during this month.

February

By design, I did no writing. However, I edited Mettle and The Enigman Cave. I didn’t do any promotions although I was busy with some work for Wattpad (I’m an Ambassador there). Working with beta readers was iffy/spotty at best. Since I do my best to nurture those relationships, but I also need to get a lasso around version control, I created a Facebook group and started using Google docs. So far, that’s had a mixed reception. Plus I didn’t work on promotions. It’s not so much that I was busy; it was more that I’m just kind of burned out on that.

Beta readers, so far, have enjoyed The Guitarist, The Obolonk Murders, None of This is Real, and The Forest. Who Do We Blame For This? got a mixed reception, as did So Long and This is My Child. I’ve been trying not to be too pushy but unfortunately Facebook algorithms require a lot of activity. I’m still trying to find a good groove there while, at the same time, respecting everyone’s time and interest levels. And my own, too!

Plus I worked some more on the plot for Real Hope of the Universe.

March

There was even more writing!

March 1 – 7

I started off the month with a bang, writing Kelvin 505.928, Oh Little Town, Almost Shipwrecked, Courage, Hot Mess, Enchantment Street and Clay. These were under 2,000 words long.

So of these short stories, Kelvin 505.928 is science fiction. Oh Little Town is horror. Almost Shipwrecked is humor and is a lot like The Meeting. Hot Mess is a prequel to Almost Shipwrecked. Courage is a romance with a twist. Enchantment Street is kind of dreamy and it’s one of the more positive stories I’ve written this quarter. Clay is a kind of odd deep future type of time travel story. Yeah, it’s weird.

My favorites this week included the one-two punch of Hot Mess and Almost Shipwrecked, plus Courage is a sweet story.

March 8 – 14

And then I kept it up by writing Blue Card, Protection, Shadows, The Path, Guinea Pigs, Loud, and It’s Five O’clock Somewhere  …. These were under 2,000 words long.

Hence of these short stories, Blue Card is dystopian and might even be the Nazis or something like that. Protection is a bit of a true crime story. Shadows and It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere are both time travel stories and they are representative of how I’ve been thinking about that premise lately. The Path is another dystopian story but there’s a bit of hope in there. Guinea Pigs is a weird science fiction story that’s kind of underdeveloped.

My favorites this week included Blue Card as it’s evocative and creepy at the same time. I also liked Shadows and It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere. 

March 15 – 21

During the following week, I wrote Space Con, Daybreak, AM/FM Ghosts, The Interview, Modern Sonnet, The Witness and How Much?…. These were all under 2,000 words long.

Therefore of these stories, Space Con is something of a science fiction true crime story. Daybreak is a medical miracle. AM/FM Ghosts plays with some urban fantasy I’ve been considering. The Interview and How Much? are both truly creepy science fiction. Modern Sonnet is a touch of poetry. The Witness is a little crime drama.

This week’s favorites included the matter-of-fact vibe of Space Con and the creepiness of How Much? But the big winner is also the fan favorite: The Interview. Beta readers told me they wanted to see more, which is always a great sign.

March 22 – 31

During the final 10-day period, I wrote Appealing, The Cause, The Invaders, Halfway, Merciful, Wicked Ways, and A Trip (there are three more but they’re being posted after this blog goes live) … These were under 2,000 words long.

Hence of all of these, Appealing is an after-prison story which I admit I cribbed from my own fan fiction. The Cause and Halfway are historical. The Invaders is a little bit of unexpected humor. Wicked Ways and Merciful feel like they relate to each other, as an oppressive society turns to good. A Trip is similar to a work I did for an Alzheimer’s charity Anthology, called Props.

This week’s favorites included Appealing (one beta reader liked the main character’s strength) and Halfway. I also like Merciful; it’s a hopeful story. During this month (apart from three stories which won’t make it to this blog post), I’ve written just under 19,000 words. The big drop-off in production makes sense as work ate me alive.

Milestones

Also, I have written over two and a half million words (fan fiction and wholly original fiction combined). So right now my stats on Wattpad for wholly original works are as follows:

  • How to NaNoWriMo – 5,662 reads, 74 comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 969 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 57,999 reads, 523 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 11,870 reads, 587 comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 436 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 248 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 236 reads, 8 comments

WIP Corner

The current WIPs are as follows.

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy is a futuristic crime story where our society is divided into three parts – humans, semi-sentient and sentient robots, and aliens. I may end up writing a sequel trilogy. I’m not sure, so stay tuned.

The Enigman Cave takes place about a half a millennium from now and imagines a first contact where the aliens are at the level of Australopithecus.

The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy takes place about 140 years ago and covers an Earth overrun by alien factions during the Victorian Era.

Mettle takes place only a few years from now and is the story of how society crumbles when metals begin to disappear.

Prep Work

So currently, I have been working on some writing prompts to keep me sharp and keep the words flowing so first quarter 2018. My intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I will probably write the third novel in the Real Hub trilogy. But I need a plot! So a lot of this year will be spent on that. And – heh – I might actually have a different plot for this year’s NaNo, taking place in, of all things, the Obolonks universe. But I really should finish Real Hub. Really. Shut up, plot bunnies!

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

Work, and what else during first quarter 2018? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. Plus I have all sorts of offline junk going on, including house renovations and the inevitable lousy New England weather which means shoveling snow and also running the car when it’s really cold out so it won’t stall.

Another productivity killer was my own mood. Not only does winter do it to me (I get Seasonal Affective Disorder), it’s also that, as I mentioned above, I’ve got some burnout. Sometimes the writing days did not come so easily.

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Categories
Career changing

Writing Progress Reports – Coming Soon!

Writing Progress Reports

I hope you’re interested in writing progress reports. Because I will be adding them.

writing progress reports
Yes, writing progress reports are coming soon!

I love to write and I try to do it on a somewhat regular basis.

For 2018, one of my resolutions (a fancy word for plans) is to write a lot more like the late, great Ray Bradbury. Bradbury did two things.

  1. He wrote something like 2k words per day.
  2. He wrote whether he was feeling it or not.

And that’s a great attitude right there. For Bradbury, there was no such thing as writing 52 bad short stories in a row. Because, yes, those weekly writing sessions would turn into short stories. I am certain some of these did not sell nor see the light of day. Others did, and became parts of The Illustrated Man, etc.

Practice Makes Perfect-ish

So the chances of writing a good story vary, of course. However, the chances of writing a good story if you do not write at all are, naturally, a big, fat goose egg.

Writing is also good practice for more writing. And I have also found that, at times, I have cribbed from an older work and stuck it in a newer one where it worked better. But I would not have had that bank without writing the older story first.

A Word About Fan Fiction

Egad, I wrote a ton of it! As in, over 2.5 million words – no lie! It wasn’t until around 2014 or so where I came to the conclusion that I had learned everything which writing fan fiction could possibly teach me, so it was time to let it go.

However, that cribbing I mentioned, above? I’ve done it with fan fiction the most. Obviously, I don’t copy the canon stuff which other people created. Instead, I use my own in new ways.

Current WIPs

You’ll be seeing a lot about current WIPs (works in progress). The truth is that any work not yet published is technically a work in progress, for it can be altered at any time up until release, and that’s even after a successful query (a query is where you fling your work off to a publisher or an agent to try to get it published). A WIP even encompasses works tossed into drawers and kept from the light of day for a long time. So those will be in these writing progress reports although, I admit, sometimes they’ll just be a placeholder for “nothing much happened”. Because not everything is worked on all the time.

Ancillary Activity

Writing is not all that there is to writing. Uh – what? What I mean is, you don’t just write. You research and plan. And you also edit and send out work to beta readers and address their feedback (which is sometimes to reject their feedback, by the way). Plus you put together queries and send them. In addition, you promote published works and collaborate with a publisher or an agent, a cover artist, etc. Or you self-publish. And you handle rejection. And bad reviews.

All of these are important activities. However, they are also all dependent upon writing. You can’t query without a written project. And you don’t get reviews on the dreams in your head. So writing is paramount, a good chunk of all of it. But these other things matter as well. If I may, I think this is a pretty decent breakdown:

  • Idea generation 5%
  • Research and outlining (planning) 10%
  • Writing 30%
  • Preliminary editing 5%
  • Beta reader contact, nurturing, and addressing feedback 10%
  • Work with a professional editor 10%
  • Querying (including creating the query letter and blurb) 5%
  • Working with a publisher or agent (or both), and a cover artist 10%
  • Promotions 10%
  • Handling reviews and rejections 5%

Short Stuff

Idea generation, preliminary editing, querying, and dealing with reviews are all small because they shouldn’t take too much of anyone’s time. Ideas are everywhere. Usually you’re stuck trying to choose among them. Preliminary editing is really just for glaring errors as you run spellcheck and also handle anything you know is a problem for you (for me, it’s the word ‘that’ and also too many characters saying ‘all right’). Querying is small because you really can’t simultaneously query most places, so you send a query out, wait a month, etc. Handling reviews, etc should also be fast. Don’t get cocky with glowing reviews and acceptances, and don’t let rejections and bad reviews get you down. Learn from all of these things and move on.

If you’re self-publishing, then querying is 0% and working with a cover artist should probably be a quickie 5%. The 10% you just saved should be shunted off to promotions because you’re it.

The Middle of the Road

Middle ground activities like outlining, working with beta readers, working with an editor, and with a publisher and cover artist, etc are middle of the road because you’re often working on someone else’s timeline. Plus outlining isn’t for everyone. If you don’t outline, then that time should be split between preliminary editing and working with beta readers.

Beta readers are important and perhaps I should give them more weight. It kind of depends. Some give detailed, helpful feedback. Others say nearly nothing or are s..l..o..w. Same thing with pro editors, and I do mean pros. Editing should be paid for. But if you’ve done good preliminary editing and gotten (and acted upon) good feedback from beta readers, then pro editing should take less time. And it might even cost less. As for time spent with a publisher, these days they are rather hands-off and that is especially true for newbie authors. Unless you’re JK Rowling, you’re probably not going to get the royal treatment. Particularly because publishers are so hands-off these days, you’ll have to pick up the slack when it comes to promotions.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Of course writing is the big one – it’s why we’re here in the first place!

Resolved

I will do my best to write at least 1,000 words every day during odd-numbered months (January, March, etc.). This includes NaNoWriMo in November, when that number should rise to at least 1,800 words per day.

I will do my best to work on the ancillary activities for at least one hour per day during the even-numbered months.

Oh, and you’ll see writing progress reports at the end of every quarter, so look for the next one at the end of March of 2018. You will also see stats if I can put them together. And I will occasionally give you the specifics about the WIPs and published works (and will try to keep those spoiler-free) so you’ll have a better idea of what the heck I am talking about in these writing progress reports in the first place. Thank you for your kind support!