A Year in Review
Well… there are certainly a lot of words I could use to describe 2020, and none of them are particularly nice. But despite the title of this post, I’m going to try and not talk about the ups and (mostly) downs of the year, that’s not what this is about.
I want to talk about my writing, where it is at, and where it is going (or not going, as the case may be).
Where I started.
2020 started with me playing a bit of catch up, as I collected together all my writing into one place. At the time, I was doing most of my writing on my phone during my work lunch breaks, and needed an app or space that I could write on from any location. If I’m honest, I hadn’t really done much writing for about a year, 2019 had been a bit of a bust, especially compared to what would come in 2020.
I chose Notion for the task, after a little research, and found it was mostly up to the task despite the limitations of the free tier causing me issues at the very start. This did mean I moved onto the paid tier quite quickly, but I have since realised I could move back to the free tier since they removed the cap on the number of blocks you can use, but I feel like I want to support the app in my small way – as I do now use it every day.
After I had collected together all (read most) of my writings, which spanned across Scrivener, Microsoft Office (OneDrive), Drop box, notes apps, and Google Docs, I went through a phase I like to call ‘over organising’. This is something that seems to happen to me in all digital formats, and I then regret it, undo it, before over organising again at a later date. What I mean by over-organising is, I had folders and sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders. Honestly, it was folders all the way down.
This is one of the risks of Notion, where every page is also a folder, and a table, and pretty much anything you need it to be. I’ve still got a few remnants of this organisation system in place, but most of it has been dissolved into a much easier to navigate system.
So now for the juicy bit with little context (I’ll get to that later). Lets take a look at some of the raw numbers for the year, and how my writing year has gone.
These are the writing stats for the year, as of the 20th of December 2020. I’ll go through each of these categories in more detail shortly.
2020 Total: 91,396
Approximately: 7,616 words per month, or 250.4 words per day.
First, here are the Fiction writing totals.
|Untitled Project 1 (2020)||2,404|
And now the Non-Fiction totals.
To begin with, my word count isn’t where I want it to be. Most days when I sit down to write, I push out a few thousand words easily, but my big problem is taking days off…weeks off… in between. I’ve had a lot going on this year, as many people have, but I feel like if I took the general advise to pop out at least 500 words per day, the days when I actually can sit down for longer to write will make
Looking at the numbers I can see that spreading myself too thinly across multiple projects isn’t something that is working too well. I hit a wall in my fiction writing because of real life events that caused me to lose my inspiration to continue. I have since picked it back up, but in the meantime I did focus a little on my non-fiction writing – most of which will never be posted anywhere, but was more of an attempt for me to not atrophy my writing frame of mind.
Finding Time is certainly the thing that I’ve focused most of my writing on this year, but it’s clear that if I had focused more on it then I could have easily finished the first season. Unfortunately though Alteri Chronicles will always hold a place in my heart as it is the first serious writing expedition I went on, in Fiction. I think I’m always going to chip away at the Alteri Chronicles and maybe one day it will see the light, but it is a long way off being a functioning story.
I definitely start too many projects, but I feel like getting something down on paper (or screen as it is) allows me to let go of a lot of ideas.
I think it’s time to take a bit of a closer look at each section, and look at what I’ve achieved, and what I want to achieve moving forward into 2021.
Fiction is what I want to focus on, and I’m glad that it made up the majority of my writing for 2020, and by a big margin. I’m disappointed that I didn’t manage to finish any projects this year, but with all my projects being large ones I am not surprised. That being said, I think starting this website and actually putting some of my writing into the world for the first time, is a huge step in the right direction for me.
48,374 words seems like both a lot of words, and not enough words. I know that it could be considered at least half a novel, or even maybe a novella, and really that is what I was aiming for with each ‘season’ of the Finding time story. Given the turbulence of the year, I feel like I was on track to write double this before having to move house and change by job at the end of the summer.
At the end of the day, this is a hobby right now. I wish it could be more, but I don’t have unlimited time to write. 500 words a day was my goal, and I hit only 50% of that, but the days when I did write, I wrote much more than that. So looking at finding time for ‘Finding Time’ next year, I’m hopeful that I will have the opportunity to double my output if I play my cards right.
Of what I wrote, I was quite pleased. I know the areas I need to work on next, and some of the writing that I’m producing in other areas that aren’t public are really learning from some of the mistakes I made with my first run at Finding Time.
I think ultimately the written version of the story is going to be quite a bit more expansive than the audio podcast version. There isn’t going to necessarily be anything in it that breaks the story from the podcast, but I think there are a few places that I want to go into more detail, and explore a bit more – especially the points where I skipped weeks of time.
The word count also includes a lot of foundational work I’ve done for the future, including a (subject to change) plot that covers the next 16 seasons (4-5 books) and timelines, and family trees, for some of the important characters we have already met and are upcoming. This stuff isn’t anything you will ever likely see, unless I decide to post them on a blog post one day, but it is something that will really help with the story as I move on.
I’ve also been working on some extra chapters that fill in the blanks, as I mentioned above, as well as some expansions on some of the Elsewhere stories that I have enjoyed writing. Needles Eye being one in particular that is becoming more fleshed out in its plan every week when I take a look at it. These however are low priority tasks that I do when I have a little time to kill, or a thought to add.
The eagle eyed among you may notice in the screenshot I posted earlier in this post that there is a section for ‘Keeping Time’ listed in my Finding Time Notion folder. This is a prequal story intended to be a short story following three men who become quite influential in the events that will unfold in the greater story, a group known as ‘The Gentlemen’. I’m having a lot of fun writing this, and it is the newest project I have been working on with Finding Time – it really got me back in the swing of things after my lull since summer. I honestly don’t know where this story belongs, so once it is finished I might end up posting it on here.
My Lost Love. The One that Got away.
Alteri Chronicles has been a mess for a long time, and really needs unravelling. It’s a living world in my mind that has a depth of history and culture beyond anything else I’ve worked on so far. It is something that I started over eight years ago now, and I’d really like it to be something of a solid foundation by the time I hit the ten years of working on it. For Christmas, I hoped to publish a sample chapter on the website, but I’m really not sure if I’m ready for it yet.
The Chronicles are just that, and despite a shift in ages from a couple of characters, the foundation I had put in place in 2012 is still there today. The story planned out now however is much more interesting and directed. We follow a young boy called Harrin as he looks for a way to escape his homeland, and a young girl named Sigya who will do anything to protect hers. It’s a story that I love to write, but find it very difficult to write compared to Finding Time.
Untitled Project 1 2020.
This untitled project is a bit of a secret because I don’t know what is going to happen with it. I started planning out and writing a story, which expanded quickly into a plan for a trilogy. Usually when this happens I have to shelve the project in order to give myself some space from it – as I tend to find that this burst of excitement leads to (lots of) bad writing.
After I took a break from it, I started to see some flaws in the story and decided I needed to put it on the shelf to revisit when I had a bit more time to offer it. It is a story that I am very intrigued by, but not something that I think I can put together and fix in any reasonable timescale. So for now, this is shelved.
The section I have called here ‘assorted writing’ is something I used to call the Bargain Bin, before calling it snips, and then deciding to call it assorted writing. It’s basically a dumping ground for sections of fiction writing that doesn’t have a home. Some of it will fit in a story I have, but not yet, some of it becomes Elsewhere stories for Finding Time, but most of it will never see the light of day. Nonetheless I like to keep it all, just in case.
I like to dabble, and I like to start projects that I will struggle to finish. This number includes a book that I have started (which could also be a podcast) exploring the history of a particular topic, and all the blog posts that I have written (excluding this one) that have mostly gone unpublished. This does include a few upcoming gaming posts, like the review I did for Warplanes: WW2 Dog Fights earlier this month, but there are also a lot of remnants of blog posts and rants that I never finished and probably never will. The number for the blog posts looks fairly massive, because of this, but actually it isn’t that bad once you’ve taken out all the small bits and pieces that are crowding the folders. While doing this I did decide to re-organise the blog folder to make it a bit easier to navigate through the crap in the future.
Hopefully I will continue to write the Book I was writing, but I kind of lost steam after smashing out the first 6,000 words. I know where it needs to go, but there is an awful lot of research that needs to be done first.
In terms of future projects, I hope to keep them focused towards the Fiction, but I sometimes can’t help myself.
Conclusions, and 2021
So what comes next? Well 2021 is on it’s way and honestly it fills me with a little anxiety. 2020 has been crazy, in a way that I struggle to put into words, and in some ways I am afraid that 2021 will be worse. I obviously hope not, but I’m cautious as we approach the year because I went into 2020 with the honest belief that this year would be one of the better years of my life – and it turned out to be pretty bad. It wasn’t all downs, there were some positives, but the general sway of the year was down.
With my writing I plan to do more of it. I want to aim for 500 words a day over the course of the year. It’s definitely doable, but I am at a loss for how to track this without causing myself unnecessary pressure or anxiety. For the time being I think I’m just going to try harder to put something down in a day, even if it isn’t any good. Every thought has a chance to grow into something bigger and better, so 500 words a day is the target I’m aiming for.
I want to finish off the first season of Finding Time, and maybe get my teeth into the second season. I’d also like to plan the E-Book launch of the first season as a novella on Amazon Kindle. I don’t know how this will go, or if anyone will buy it, but I think it is an important step for me to get my words on another platform.
As for this blog, the podcasts, and everything else? I think we will just have to see what happens. I definitely want to finish the first podcast run – but until I have some time to dedicate to it, that’s just not going to happen.
All my negativity about not writing enough aside, I think 2020 was actually my most productive creative year, and that is something I am very grateful for. I’ve never stuck to something for so long, creatively, and never let other people hear or see my words – with all the vulnerability that is included in that – before. So I am grateful for the positive response I have received for what I have released so far. I hope you’re all ready to join me for the journey in 2021.