books

March Update: How Many Words Are Enough?

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At the start of the year I decided I set myself the goal of releasing four books in 2017. I recently sat down and did some rough maths to figure out how many words I need to write per day to achieve that. I discovered, rather unsurprisingly, that it would require a pace that’s just unrealistic to keep up every day. So I decided that instead of rushing out content I’m not satisfied with, I’m scaling back my expectations made during that naive period of New Year enthusiasm and aiming to release a more realistic target of three books this year.

The Maths

Working 5 days per week (everyone needs a few days off sometimes) gives me ~20 days per month.

3 books per year means I get 4 months to spend writing each book, so that’s 80 days.

6 drafts at ~80,000 words each means 480,000 words written/edited per book.

480,000/80 = 6,000 words written/edited per day.

So that’s my target daily wordcount to stay on schedule and release 3 books this year. I’ve been keeping to it for a couple of weeks now, and it seems achievable. I wrote a post about the wordcounts of some famous writers back in 2015 when I took part in Nanowrimo. Back then I was averaging just over 2,500 words per day, so I’m happy with the progress I’ve made with my productivity since then.

The downside of all this is that I’ve hardly found any time for reading so far this year, which as a writer, is a shameful thing to admit. Also my blog has suffered, with my posts coming nowhere near as frequently as I had hoped at the start of the year. (Weekly posts? Hah, past me was so naive).

So what do you think, is 6,000 words a day too many or not enough? How many words do you write per day? Every writer is different, and I’m always interested in other people’s methods, so let me know in the comments below.

Current Project

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Solace Within, the second book in the post-apocalyptic Fielding series and follow-up to my first book, Forged in the Dawn, is coming along well. In a couple of weeks it’ll be nearing completion, however I’m holding off on rushing it through and releasing by the end of March like I originally planned. Instead, I’ll be pushing it back a month to line up with my new 2017 schedule. An extra benefit being that I get more time to polish the finished product and make sure it’s up to a standard I’m satisfied with before releasing.

Planned Release: April 2017.

If you would like to follow my work, you can keep up to date with progress on all my writing from my current projects page, otherwise you can follow my blog for updates.

Other Random Stuff

Despite having already been covered a million times, I’ve been thinking about making a post on the subject of opening lines for a while now. Until I find time, here’s a Reddit discussion on people’s favourite opening lines in a fantasy book.

I stumbled over this song by Weird Al Yankovic and it made my day. Anyone with an affinity for words or irrational hatred of the lazy way people talk on social media will appreciate this one.

Lastly, here’s a video of the rockstar author Neil Gaiman himself giving out some advice for aspiring writers from a couple of years back. Pretty inspiring stuff.

So that’s my update for March. TL:DR is things are moving forward and my next book is coming out soon, but it’s at the expense of finding time for everything else I want to do.

I hope your own writing/reading projects are going well. Until next time, never give up, never surrender.


Solace Within images Copyright © 2016 Gavin Zanker

Yearly Plans And How To Write A Novella In 24 Hours

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So far this January, I’ve spent most of my time knee-deep in editing land. After stalling a bit during the holidays at the end of last year, I rediscovered my drive and it feels good to be making progress again. I’m even confident of releasing a finished product by the end of March.

I remember clearly writing this stage of my first book, and how agonising it became. I slumped in the middle of the second/third draft and it sapped all of my energy. I would open the behemoth manuscript, tinker with it for a few minutes, then lose all enthusiasm at the sight of how much work lay ahead of me. In the end it dragged on for so long, taking months longer to finish than it should have, that I promised I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

One of the reasons for my renewed enthusiasm lately is this short time-lapse of author Ed Davis attempting to write 50,000 words in one day. Watch it and be uninspired, I dare you.

How did he manage it? An abundance of coffee and determination I think. Here’s a blog post by the man himself, explaining some of his reasoning for making the attempt. In the end, he managed 28,000 words in just over twenty hours before calling it a day. I think any writer would happily call that a success. I’ve never achieved a word count quite like that in one sitting, but watching it has inspired me to buy some coffee and put more hours into my writing.

So in directing this newfound eagerness towards my writing, I’ve decided to set myself a minimum target of releasing four novels in 2017.

These include Solace Within (book 2) and Zenith Rising (book 3) which will complete the Fielding trilogy I started with my first novel. Then I’ll be moving on to two new standalone novels, tentatively named Crawlers (a science fiction story revolving around giant wheeled machines the size of towns on a hostile desert planet) and Journey (a story about a young man forced to make a journey across an unfamiliar world, experiencing fantastical people and places which change him).

I’ve already done a lot of the outlining work for these projects, and I’m genuinely excited to see how they turn out. I keep my current projects page updated regularly, so you can keep an eye on my progress there. While I have already published a novel, it probably won’t be until the end of this year when I have a good few books under my belt, that I’ll truly regard myself as a professional author. Something I’m looking forward to more than I can put into words, which is probably a bad thing for a writer.

Now stop reading my ramblings and go write something awesome.


Photo by david silver licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Writing Resolutions 2017 – Deciding What’s Important

I wasn’t going to make one of these posts as I find the idea of new year resolutions, while well meaning, inevitably hollow. They’re generally attacked with a level of effort that’s impossible to maintain and end up being forgotten about until the next year rolls around. However, I was reading J.A.Konrath’s blog post listing his past resolutions the other day and his 2013 resolution caught my attention.

The thing that I have seen, over and over, is people finding success by writing good books.

I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else.

Now it may be that I’m just an introvert (like almost every writer ever) but I would much rather spend my time writing rather than marketing, networking, engaging on social media, or any of the other dreaded activities that writers are told are necessary for self publishing. So reading that little paragraph gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Something not unlike the burst of guilty pleasure that comes with profiteroles.

Could it really be possible to go against common belief, focusing almost solely on the actual writing aspect of being a writer, and yet still manage to make a decent living? Well, I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer to that as everyone’s experience is different, but Konrath has made a more than respectable living in the self-publishing business for years, and I would tend to listen to the words of experience over yet another person trading generic ‘How To Use Social Media To Sell Your Book’ guides for views and subscriptions.

I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but I only use it occasionally  Facebook? Haven’t been on there in eight months. I witnessed the rise and fall of MySpace. I’ve opted out of Google+ because I saw no benefits. LinkedIn? I can’t even remember my password.

I’ll never do another book tour. I doubt I’ll ever do another official booksigning. I’ve stopped speaking in public, stopped attending events. Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email.

Partnering with your publisher? Why would you do that, when they offer so little? 17.5% ebook royalties with them, vs. 70% on your own.

I haven’t blogged or Tweeted in months. I’ve been busy doing what writers should be doing: writing.

And guess what? My sales have remained constant.

So if you’re looking to self publish but hate the thought of having to set aside precious writing time to learn how to be a salesman, then take heart. I’m still firmly in the belief that if you write well and put in the time, then good things will happen. There’s no guarantee that marketing and all that other fluff will help because there’s just too much luck involved. But writing consistently, improving your craft, and putting a library of your content out there for people to discover and read? That’s the thing that’s always going to keep you moving forward.

We all want to believe we’re doing something good for our careers, so we abuse social media, buy ads, rigorously defend our good name, cultivate media contacts, make appearances, and celebrate our own very minor celebrity.

Let it all go. Spend your time working on your books. That’s the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over.

Happy New Year, and have a great year of writing.


Photo by jeff_golden licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.