For a few years now I’ve written the daily word count for my creative writing in the planner where I record thoughts, ideas, and schedule reminders. By creative writing I refer to novels, novellas, novelettes, short stories, essays, and afterwords to my short story collections. I do not include articles and blog posts I write as work-for-hire solely to make money to pay bills. If I did, that would add 200,000 to 300,000 more words to the yearly count. In the statistics I am sharing with you now, though, I am speaking only of the writing that comes from my heart and will and calling and career as an artist.
I work every day, seven days a week. I usually start around seven o’clock in the morning, taking breaks to see my son off to school, exercise, take a daily walk, and go shopping. Around one I cook lunch, eat while watching something on Netflix such as an old Star Trek episode, and clean up. After a short nap and some relaxing reading time, I resume work around five and continue until about eight, when I stop to prepare and eat dinner with my son. By nine I’m back at work, and I usually finish around eleven.
In the morning and afternoon I do the hack work that helps pay the bills, and from nine to eleven I do the work I love: my fiction and creative non-fiction. I set myself a quota of a minimum of 500 words a day, and I generally hit or exceed the quota five days out of seven. Often on Sundays I allow myself the wonderful luxury of working on my creative writing first thing in the morning before I do anything else. I have set up a Patreon page to try to generate more steady income so that I can switch over to doing my creative work first thing every day. I haven’t reached that goal yet, but I’m hopeful. If my creative writing completely supported me, I’d probably also up my daily word count to at least 1,000 words. I find that committing myself to a regular word count keeps me working and helps me avoid writer’s block. Jack London famously said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” This sentiment may be crudely expressed, but it’s true.
This is the first year I have thought to compile my statistics into monthly and average yearly totals, and I was quite pleased with the results. It’s amazing what a person can accomplish by persevering and meeting goals day after day, month after month. So here they are: my monthly totals of creative word counts for 2018.
January: 16,176 words. (A great way to start the new year!)
February: 14,567 words.
March: 13,093 words. (During this month I took three days off, from the 29th to the 31st, to attend the Norwescon science fiction convention.)
April: 8,127 words. (The word count is lower because I spent time proofreading my latest novel and preparing my latest short story collection for publication.)
May: 13,064 words.
June: 13,280 words. (During this month I received the first draft of a contract from someone who wants to option film rights to one of my short stories, so I took some time off to study contract law basics, meet with some entertainment lawyers, and write up notes about suggested contract changes.)
July: 11,286 words. (There’s a big gap of several days with no creative words written in the middle of this month. Maybe I just had a tough time coming up with a new idea after finishing the previous story. That happens sometimes.)
August: 10,873 words. (I took some time off here studying the basics of the Patreon website and setting up my new Patreon account.)
September: 6,433 words. (This is the month when I devoted a lot of time to doing a final proofreading of my new novel. It took over a week. Details forthcoming.)
October: 11,539 words. (There’s a week-long gap in this month too. I think it’s just the effort of coming up with a new idea.)
November: 9,998 words. (Gaps of several days in this month too. Regrouping thoughts.)
December: 13,467 words.
To sum up, my total creative word count for the year is 141,903 words, which breaks down to an average of 11,825 words per month.
During 2018, I published a book-length short story collection, Invasive Procedures: Stories. It’s my twenty-second book. Most of the stories were also published individually in digital editions. My short story “Dark Mirrors” appeared in the embossed hardcover collection Alien Invasion: Short Stories sandwiched in between selections by Voltaire and H.G. Wells. A mainstream literary story of mine appeared in the anthology Aftermath: Explorations of Loss and Grief, and a life-after-death story called “Sharon” was selected for the anthology Fantasy for the Throne. I also have four more stories sold to magazine and anthologies but not yet published.
All in all, 2018 was a very productive year. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!