If you’ve been following along with my writing updates this year, you know I was pretty slammed with projects even though I promised myself I wouldn’t over do it like I did last year.
Last year I posted about how many words/projects I set as goals to finish through the year. You can check it here. But tl;dr is this:
November: 50,000 – won NaNoWriMo WOOT!
Total words for 2013: 413,332
Novels: 4; Novellas: 4.
That was a ridiculous year. At the end I felt drained and tapped out. So I told myself I wouldn’t do that to myself in 2014. This year I would take my time with projects and write at my pace and allow myself to take time out if I needed it. But, keep in mind, I am a full-time writer. So here is 2014 at a glance (I rounded down this time):
May: 0 (editing)
November: 50,050 – won NaNoWriMo WOOT!
Total words for 2014: 355,415
Novels: 4; Novellas: 0.
I don’t even know how I did that. I didn’t even set word or book goals for myself. I told myself this year would be slower, easier on me. But I still managed to keep writing the same number of novels. The first was written from Jan-March (Time of Ruin). April was the first 10k of a novella that I shelved because I wasn’t digging it – see! Giving myself a break! June through August was the second novel (Yuletide). The third novel was written from August-September, which is where I started to lose steam, so I took the first half of October off to recharge and outline the fourth book I wrote this year from the end of October to mid-December. But telling myself to take time off only meant that I had about a 60k word difference from 2013-2014.
But I suppose that’s what forming a habit breeds. I write full-time. When I take too much time off, I start to feel guilty about not writing and when a particularly difficult book is looming, like the last book I wrote this year, I start to get nightmares. Very vivid nightmares. The monsters need to get out and if it’s not on the page then they’ll take my sleep.
But I finished writing the last book on December 8th. Somehow I wrote 30k words in less than a week (5k was adding to the third book after I took a break). On the last day I wrote over 12k words and walked away from my desk a little glassy-eyed and manic. Then I refused to do anything for 7 days. I watched holiday specials and Christmas movies. I wrapped presents and listened to carols. I went to parties and spent time with friends and family. I lit a fire on the Solstice. I didn’t have anything to write or edit. I didn’t even really read that much that week. Then, knowing that my deadline for my third book was looming and the book was 5-10k too short, I felt good enough to add those missing 5k words in 2 days and make my deadline days ahead of time. And you know what? I haven’t done anything since. This is the most I’ve written since sending that project off to my editor.
I’m going to start beta reading a book this week. And next Monday I’ll start going over the rough draft of that fourth book I wrote. But taking these three weeks off has been amazing. I had no idea how much work I’d done because, though it seems all back-to-back, I take weekends off and plan outlines. So, the other night, we were driving home from seeing The Hobbit, and a song came on the radio and a new character burst into my mind like Athena from Zeus’s head – fully formed and ready for her story to be written.
She is still a glimmer, not much more than an idea right now, but because I’ve taken time off, finished one trilogy, I know I am ready to start again in the new year. I’ll give myself the same break I gave myself in 2014 because it obviously worked well. I was almost as productive as 2013 without finishing the year feeling burnt out. Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t get any goals for myself. Maybe I won’t set any for 2015 either and just see what happens.
So take your time. Let your projects form organically, but don’t dismiss the need for discipline and goals. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish too.