Run the mental math.
Uncover all potentials,
but wait not that one.
Run the mental math.
Uncover all potentials,
but wait not that one.
Now that we’re nearly five months through the year, and with my writing progress not going as quickly as I had hoped to this point, I’d like to take a look at the particulars of my writing habits this year. This is on my mind, because I’d like to start doing conventions again in 2022, and I would like to have some new material to showcase.
My ongoing work-in-progress has been a two-part novella that I will publish as separate stories in ebook and then print as one volume for conventions: Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1 and [untitled], The Herb Witch Tales #2. I haven’t technically finished the first draft of part 2, and I am really only just starting a third revision of part 1, followed by a pretty significant overhaul of part 2.
In short: I’m not nearly as far along in this process as I had hoped to be, considering I would like to have these stories published and ready for readers in the next 12 months, if not less.
So, I’m going to examine my own writing progress so far this year and try to identify where I can improve — aside from just Writing More.
First let’s look at the overall progress I’ve made month to month compared to my goals for those months:
Okay, that’s not bad. I came up short, but still made really solid progress.
The last three months were markedly worse, although after a significant drop-off in writing productivity in February, I’ve started to climb back up.
Still, that’s a deficit of 7,728 words written in the first four months of this year. Let’s break this down further.
That image is from my NaNoWriMo writing goals tracker, which I’ve been using all year to track my daily writing progress and my monthly goals. The light blue line is a daily average to achieve my writing goal for the month; the dark blue line is my actual writing progress. Looking at my January progress above, a few things become immediately apparent:
There are some obvious conclusions to draw there, but let’s look at the other months first.
There’s February. My progress was a little steadier, but I still only logged progress 10 days out of 28. There are also two noticeable gaps where I went a few days without any progress. My pace looks steadier in that line graph than in January, but I just didn’t write enough.
And it’s much the same story for March and April, respectively. I don’t want to overload this post with screenshots of line graphs, so I’ll just summarize those months:
So out of 120 possible writing days from January through April, I only logged writing progress on 32 days. That’s time spent writing only 26% of available days. If I extrapolated that across the year, I would only write about 95 days in 2021.
I’m never going to be an everyday writer, and I haven’t tried to be in a long time, but I feel like that effort is pitifully low.
For the 32 days I actually sat down to write, my average word count per session is 566, which is honestly higher than I expected. If I can have that same kind of output over the course of more days, my writing progress could take a noticeable leap.
I’ve also had a habit of getting a late start in in the month, going several days or even a week before logging my first writing progress. This leaves me far behind my goal and scrambling to catch up.
Finally, I too often have gaps of 3+ days between writing sessions. That is obviously part of what contributes to me only writing somewhere around 10 days out of each month. I just need to write more consistently.
As I said at the top, I need to be a bit more proactive than just trying to Write More. I need a better strategy to fit writing into my day, even if it’s not every single day.
I started to try one new strategy at the end of April, and it really seemed to help. I think it’s also helping me write mote often in May.
I started to bake writing time into the end of my work day. I’m still working from home for at least the next couple months, so I started to logoff my work computer around the usual time, and then login to my personal/writing computer for 15 minutes or even up to an hour to focus on writing.
This allows me to use the mental energy that I typically still have at the end of my work day to focus on my writing. Otherwise, I logoff work, spend time with the family, prepare/clean up after dinner, try to relax a bit, and by that point it’s 9 or 10, and I’m exhausted.
Writing immediately after work allows me to decompress, tends to be more fruitful than writing later in the night when I’m tired, and allows me to relax with my family more without the weight of not-writing hanging over me.
I’ve written 7 out of 18 days in May so far, and my word count per session is around 400. With two busy weekends in a row coming up, I need these post-work writing sessions to carry me for the rest of the month. We’ll see how it goes, but this is already working better for me than my previous non-strategy.
It’s (roughly) the beginning of a new year, so it’s time for another edition of one of my favorite series on this site: Numberbrag! If you’re new here, Numberbrag is my generally annual post where I review how my blog performed the previous year, using only WordPress stats. Here’s last year’s edition.
In that post, I alluded to a new blogging routine that really carried me through 2020: one long-form post and one haiku, on the same days and at the same times, every week. I occasionally missed my usual publication time, but I never missed a day. In short, my blogging routine for this year was nothing short of a massive success, for me personally and for my number-bragging.
Let’s get to it.
First of all, very strange that 2021 is the eighth year of this site. Secondly, 2020 was pretty solid!
Now, some folks might find the slight downward trend from 2018 to 2020 a little odd or even disconcerting. However, 2018 was the year I published my first novel. As part of the run-up to that publication, I used pay-per-click ads to drive traffic to this site, boosting the totals for 2018 by over 1,000 Visitors and Views. So that peak is a little inflated.
Secondly, I’m not the least bit concerned that 2020 did not match even 2017’s total Views. In 2017, we had two bloggers posting 3-5 times per week for a total of 262 posts. Want to know how many posts were published the last two years? 214 and 134. One hundred and thirty-four posts in 2020, in a year that started slowly, and my numbers are still on par with, if a little short of, past performance. That’s efficiency.
It also indicates quality of content. Check out this deeper annual comparison. (Note: I realize that the Total Posts in the below screenshot say 131, whereas the image above says 134. I know there is a logical if annoying reason for that happening in WordPress’s system, but I don’t remember what it is.)
2020 posts were waaaaaay down from previous years — every year since we started, in fact. Comments per post are steady, and Total Words are down. But Average likes per post is up (7.0), the second-highest rate we’ve ever had, and Words per post (404) is the highest ever. That means that the content we’re publishing here is more popular, even at higher word counts, where readers may get bored and leave.
This post is officially longer than 404 words, by the way.
I’m going to skip over the usual Top 10 Posts section, because there’s not much different to say from any other year. Our new Home page clocked in at #4 with 184 Views. The other 9 on that list are old-familiars that were published prior to 2020.
What I’d rather look at are the categories I personally posted in this year. Marcy contributed 25 posts of her own, and I’m so happy she did. But this section is about me!
I ended last year’s Numberbrag by guesstimating how many posts I wanted to write in each category, so of course I have to follow-up on that. Here’s the gist of what I predicted/wanted to achieve this time last year:
So what did I actually write last year?
Wow. Chalk. I’m honestly surprised at how close my predictions were. My Reviews were only down by 3, even though I stopped commuting to work and thus couldn’t listen to Audible as reliably. Creativity Sessions and Marketing Your Novel were each down by 2, but that can be explained by the 3 extra Haiku I posted on non-haiku days when I was too busy or stressed to write a real post.
Also, I definitely would have written at least two more Marketing posts if I had gone to a number of conventions greater than 0.
So, a boring rundown, if precision can be considered boring.
I honestly thought that section was going to be longer, so I’ll round out this post with some more generic stats.
We’ve done “Thank You” type posts in the past when we’ve reached certain milestones, but I didn’t do any of that this past year, because my more sensible blogging schedule meant I consistently had other things to talk about.
As of this writing, we’ve eclipsed 28,000 Visitors and 40,000 Views. We also now have over 700 followers. (Shout-out to all the fitness bloggers who likely found us because I talked about yoga a lot in 2020.)
That’s awesome. Thank you, dear readers, for your continued support. Despite the lack of humility in this post (it’s called Numberbrag!), I really am chuffed that this site has evolved so much over the last 7+ years, and yet continues to have an audience. I don’t particularly care that we don’t see 100 hits per day or thousands of followers. I’m always happy to see familiar avatars liking and commenting on our posts, so I hope you all keep coming back. I’ve firmly settled into a rhythm with this site, and I’m sticking to it.
At least until I need another change-up.
2019 was a weird year. I helped raise an infant into a toddler. I lost my job, was unemployed for four months, and found a new job in a totally unexpected place. And, oh yeah, I transferred five years’ worth of website content to a new domain!
I legitimately forgot that we switched from Red String PaperCuts to Evening Satellite as our main site in 2019, until I read over my numberbrag post from this time last year.
In that post, I focused on the types of content featured most heavily on this site in 2018, and some loose ideas about where I thought we were going in 2019. I’ll do something similar for 2019 and 2020.
In case there’s anyone who has yet to notice, 2018 is over, and that means 2019 is full of hope and promise… or maybe cynicism, depending on your outlook.
Before I get into my own plans for 2019, I’d like to stick to my now-annual tradition of looking back at our stats here on RSPC for 2018.
Time for some humble number bragging, a.k.a. the Numberbrag! Continue reading “2018 Numberbrag and 2019 Plans”
Goals are funny. Sometimes, when they’re outside of your direct control, it’s better not to pay too close attention to them.
I lost sight of any specific marketing or statistical goals for this website for this year, since most of my efforts focused on publishing and promoting The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. So without particularly trying, we’ve hit a lot of goals… from 2017.Continue reading “Belated Numberbrag and Marketing Goals”
Well, it’s probably time I laid out our 2016 year-in-review post, because that’s the thing to do in January, and because I like numbers. So here we go! Continue reading “Numberbrag: 2016’s Big Three & Top 10”
Looking over my website stats today I realized that we have eclipsed 4,000 visitors. With some basic arithmetic, I calculated that we surpassed the big 4k on March 16th. I don’t really know what this means, but it’s a cool little number. Continue reading “Numberbrag: 4,000 Visitors”
No, the arbitrary milestone has nothing to do with NaNo, although I will cover that in a bit. I am happy to announce that Red String PaperCuts has reached a new, totally arbitrary and not-at-all-indicative-of-future-success milestone!