Two Down, Three To Go… (Or: The Importance of Numbers)

…days, that is. Until I have a break from the Day Job for a couple of weeks. We’re not going on holiday or anything like that… mostly we’re staying here and getting some household things sorted out. There will be trips, no doubt. There are too many castles and bits of old Roman wall up in this neck of the woods to resist!

Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort. Where the view probably hasn't changed an awful lot since the Romans packed up and left.

The Day Job isn’t so bad just now. After recently having a very good conversation with a friend, I simply tried shifting my perspective a little and it’s been very good advice. I’ve applied it to several situations and all in all, things are pretty much ticking along in the world of work without too much hardship. Things have eased off considerably now that the team is back up to full strength again; we’ve had a few months where we’ve been struggling to cope with our own workloads and those of two full time members of staff who’ve either moved onto new things or gone on maternity leave. But we’re all still alive, so things are good. So that’s the Day Job. Two days of this week down, three to go. Numbers, numbers, numbers.

The Other Job though… man. I’m so, so busy right now with so much going on that I keep having to pinch myself. The bulk of work I’m doing is for the Black Library – biggest project being Valkia the Bloody, with a couple of other smaller things going on. There’s also two or three non-BL projects going on as well which whilst they aren’t eating up as much of my time are still pretty hectic. I’m still keeping myself to a limit though: if I spent all night every night when I got in writing I’d go quietly mad. More mad. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. My daily 1,000 word base target has recently increased to 1,200 minimum (on ALL projects, not on each) and that’s going well. Those extra 200 words make a hellish difference to an overall word count and thus do wonders for your morale.

For example, I just went over the halfway mark for Valkia the Bloody. I’m not quite at my end of August target, but if I keep up the 1,200 words per day between now and then, I’ll be 8k ABOVE it. Whilst this doesn’t mean that I’ll back off and slow the pace, it certainly gives me a bit of room to breathe during my two weeks off. Knowing I won’t be sitting there day after day muttering to myself whilst attempting to do housework, entertain Small and the Chimp and generally enjoy being off work is very encouraging.

So yes. Numbers are important. I was always interested in ‘how many words have I written’ in the days when I was writing short stories and that’s now become something massively important. I’m more and more frequently being asked for advice and stuff like that (gawd, people, don’t ask me – I’m only PRETENDING I know anything!) And so here’s the advice based on the numbers game.

Word counting is important… but it’s not the be-all-end-all of what you’re doing. If you only write 450 words a day, as long as they are words that you are happy with… as long as they are words that progress the story, even if only a little, then be content. Think that 450 words is better than no words. Because that’s not only accurate, it’s true.

If you don’t make your target… don’t beat yourself up about it. Ladies and germs, this is definitely a DO WHAT I SAY, NOT WHAT I DO situation. Savvy?

Be realistic… about your targets. If you work full time and do your writing in that sneaky little space between getting home and before the family gets in (like I do), don’t go ‘I can achieve 5,000 words in that time and if I don’t, I’ll NEVER DO IT etc., etc., etc.’ Work out what’s reasonable and realistic for you. If you aren’t on a formal deadline, great – but it’s well worth the practise. I get away with getting a lot of words into  a short space because I can touch-type. Very fast. In fact, whenever I’m typing, it sounds like herds of wildebeest. And these guys are not sweeping majestically across the plains; no. These fellas are stampeding. An aside: learn to touch-type if you can’t already. One of the best skills I ever learned – even more so now that I am writing!

OK, that’s enough of that. There will be more advice (bad, good or whatever) at some point. When I remember to blog, mostly.

In the meantime, I was invited to write a guest blog for Civilian Reader, which you can see here.

And stealing the idea shamelessly from the illustrious Jim Swallow, here’s a sort of ‘Coming Soon’… there’s some other things too, but because I’m still new at this, I never know what I can and can’t talk about!

Zomgoose. I have signing events.

September 25th – Games Day UK, Birmingham NEC, signing pre-release copies of The Gildar Rift
November 12th – Signing copies of The Gildar Rift at Games Workshop, Durham
November 19th –
Signing copies of The Gildar Rift at Warhammer World, Nottingham
May 2012 – Release of The Architect of Fate, including my novella-length story ‘Accursed Eternity‘.
July 2012 – Release of Valkia the Bloody

And as a final inclusion… just look at this beeeeeeeeyooooootiful Space Marine.

Look at it.

A Son of Sanguinius just standing there. AND HE'S STILL COOL WHILST HE'S DOING IT.

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5 thoughts on “Two Down, Three To Go… (Or: The Importance of Numbers)

  1. helbling says:

    Pst – your cartoon linking seems to have failed!

  2. How odd. It works fine here…

  3. Good advice and I like your ‘Coming Soon’ bit. I may have to ‘borrow’ that for myself. 😉

  4. Greg Smith says:

    Love it, and so true as well – I am a LOOOOONG way behind where you are (just tentatively starting my first couple of very low key projects) but I know exactly what you mean about the time and being fairly flexible with yourself in terms of word counts so as to avoid insanity.

    Also – SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! Can’t wait to see you at GD and get Gildar Rift signed 🙂

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