How I Won NaNoWriMo, and How I’m Winning My Writing Year

I did it! I won NaNoWriMo again! And this was probably the easiest year for me because I love my current Work in Progress so much! I’m very happy that I managed to push through NaNo this year, especially given that I’m in the middle of a major house renovation (Hello New Office! —More on that later).

First I want to talk a bit about how I managed to win NaNo when I’m so busy, when I have an incredibly busy day job, a busy personal life, and a major renovation going on right now.

I did it by making time. Every night I did some writing. If I didn’t make the full 1676 words per day one day, I tried to make sure I could catch up the next. I booked time for myself on the weekends to get extra words done, I made it to my weekly writing productivity meet-ups, and we had one Saturday marathon where I wrote a whopping 11,000 words to pass the 50,000 word mark. (I may have bought myself a box of chocolates to cheer myself on… They may also now be all gone…). You can see my daily wordcount summarized below, along with my wordcount since July 1, 2019, when I decided I would write 500 words a day for an entire year!

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So, I won NaNo, and I did it by making time, but also by focusing on my task. When I sat down to write, I wrote. I didn’t daydream or browse the internet or get lost in research like I often do, I just got to it because I knew that my time was limited. This is why I love NaNo, because it gives me a deadline, and deadlines can be the best motivation of all.

Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? What gave you motivation to work?

JEH

2019 Blogging Plans: What’s Upcoming on This Site

I think it was sometime before Christmas that I mentioned I was going to spend a little bit of time thinking about what I want to share in 2019. I love blogging, I love this blog, but I don’t love how little time I have for it. Between blogging and writing books or stories, I’m always going to choose the later, so this year I’m going to cut back a bit more but at the same time try to be more regular with my posts.

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In 2019, I’m going to do a series, one post a month, about How to Be a Writer with a Day Job. Last year, I was lucky enough to be a full-time writer for four months, thanks to a grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board, but this year I need to keep my cash flow high, so it’s full time at the day job for me. Each month, I’ll do one feature post that focuses on one aspect of being a writer while also working a day job, full-time or part-time, that may or may not have anything to do with writing. The first one will be in two weeks.

Other than these feature posts, 2019 will focus on the same kind of things I’ve been doing for a while know, updates on what I’ve been reading and writing, writing prompts for the inspiring writer in you, and any other special posts I just happen to love and find the time to do.

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Another thing I’ve just recently implemented this year is a 600 words per day writing goal, which for me is pretty easy to maintain. This means that by the end of the year I will have written over 200,000 words, or two full novels plus some side projects at a minimum. I’m excited about this. This is much less than my goal a couple years ago of writing 1,000 words per day, or 365,000 words in a year (closer to 4 novels), but one thing I realized when completing that 1,000 words per day goal was that it left me little time to fit in rewriting. And this year I have a lot of rewriting scheduled, to the point where I hope to release 4 full-length novels (more on these in another post).

Yesterday, I had a mini-celebration because the night before I finished a draft on a project I’d been stalling on for some time (The Chain). This is the last book in the Artifacts of Avalum series, and that may be why I slowed down. Also, I was distracted by another shiny project. So far, the year is off to a good start, and I hope to keep this trend going in 2019.

All the best to you this year!

JEH

Life as a Full-Time Writer: The End of an Era

Well, I’m sad to say that my days of sitting in my basement all alone and writing stories has come to an end. Or am I? I had a wonderful four months working from home on a collection of literary short stories, thanks to the wonderful Saskatchewan Arts Board, who awarded me a grant. If it wasn’t for people who support the arts, I never would have  got this time, which means I never would have developed fantastic new stories to share with you and the world.

But good times can’t last forever. At least not until I get enough sales to replace my annual salary (which is a pretty good size). And part of me missed my day job. I missed having coworkers to visit with, I missed my afternoon walks around the pond and through the garden, somedays I even missed the cafeteria.

But, I’m pretty sure I will miss the writing life more. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and by that, I mean I’ve always wanted to spend eight hours a day coming up with characters and stories and events, and thinking about ‘what ifs’ ‘and thens’ and ‘maybe’. I’ve never dreamed that writing would be less work than this, and after my four months off, I know it’s not. In fact, it’s often more than eight hours a day because once I could immerse myself in writing full-time, the thinking rarely stopped. My mind was free to roam, and I didn’t have to force it to concentrate on contracts and applications and coworking. It was wonderful.

It seems (from all the internet articles about it), that being able to afford being a full-time writer is a more and more difficult thing. Whether it’s due to the abundance of free articles and stories on the web, changing media (to television, to film, to Twitter), I can’t say. And maybe it has always been difficult to make a living from art. Maybe it’s always been that a couple of people are lucky and the rest of us are relatively unknown. All I do know is that I have my plan to write, whether it’s on the weekend or late in the evening, I will always be writing, because I love it. Not because I hope to become rich and famous, but because I love to think, I love to think about our world and what powers humans, and I love to think about possible other worlds, other realities, and other possibilities. A writer is just what I am.

Now that I’ve finished up a couple major projects, I’m moving on to the next step in the process, which is shopping those projects around and trying to find them a home. Meanwhile, it is also Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’ve also returned back to writing genre fiction, which is a nice break from the literary, though-provoking work I was doing (Not that my genre fiction isn’t somewhat though provoking—at least, I hope it is). To that end, stay  in touch for updates regarding upcoming presentations and publications, or because otherwise I’ll miss you.

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Cheers to work well done!

Thanks for reading!
JEH

January Round-up: Reading, Writing, and Beyond

The first month of 2018 has been a bit up and down for me. I got five books marked off my Goodreads goal (albeit, one was read mostly in 2017). I’m a good 60% through another couple books which I hope to finish the weekend, including A Torch Against The Night, which I’m loving.

This month has been rather cold. There was one warm week, which I enjoyed immensely, but currently we’re back into the deep freeze-most definitely not my favorite part of the year and already I can’t wait for spring. I did take a quick vacation get-away at the end of the month, and spent a day at the enormous World Water Park pretending that I was in Mexico. Ah, if only I had actually been in Mexico just like last year. Well, there is always next year.

January was a terrible month for writing (I blame this on the cold, since all I want to do is sleep and read). I plan on picking that up next month, and finally get somewhere with The Circlet and The Chain (Artifacts of Avalum Books 2 and 3). Tomorrow, I’m going to post my planned February reading list, and I’ll have a few more quick reviews in the coming weeks too. What have you been reading lately?

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JEH

A Writer’s Plans for 2018

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a great New Year, and maybe found a bit of time for reading, much like I did. I’m glad that 2018 is here. The end of 2017 found me distracted and blue, and I’m ready for a new start. After a busy 2017 releasing Under Jupiter and The Torc, and drafting The Circlet, it is time for a new plan for 2018.

In 2018, I do plan to finish the Artifacts of Avalum Series, with Books 2 and 3 releasing in Sprint and Winter (most likely). But mostly my writing life will be shifting focus because I got a writing grant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This grant will allow me to take four months off from my day job to focus entirely on writing. For the grant, which I’ve received from the Saskatchewan Arts’ Board (thank you Arts’ Board!), I will be working on a very specific project, namely some literary short stories. This is very different writing that what I normally post about here, but I love it just as much. (If you want a sample of this work, you can find a free story here, at Broken Pencil Magazine, but again, it is very different than the genre fiction I write).

I’m very excited to have dedicated time that is all mine to explore some themes I’ve been pondering for a few years. I start my ‘writing job’ March 1st, and I plan on spending the first couple months of 2018 planning how I will structure my days. I imagine they will involve lots of tea, coffee, and pretty notebooks (and a lot of hard work).

In reading, I set my Goodreads goal yesterday for 53 books in 2018. This is less than the 62 I read in 2017, and for that there are two reasons: 1. I hope to be spending a lot of time writing and rewriting, and 2. I hope to read some longer books. I’ve found over the past year that when I have a goal for reading a lot of books, I tend to choose quicker reads. This means that a lot of books I’ve purchased in the past have been sitting on my shelves for years. (CONFESSION: last year I had 67 books I hadn’t read yet on my upstairs shelves, I now have over 100!!!!). It is definitely time to do some catching up, so I WILL NOT be purchasing new books (probably… well…. maybe… okay, maybe I should be reasonable and say I will not purchase more than 5 new books this year – I hope instead to do some book trading at my local used book store).

So, with piles and piles of books waiting to be read, and a day job to get back to (for the moment), I will once again say Happy New Year, and all the best in 2018. Do you have any big plans you would like to share?

JEH

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #28

Well, it’s been a long time since I updated. Probably the longest gap yet. I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about this, yet telling myself that it’s alright because it’s summer and that means I’m on summer vacation, right?

Wrong.

A goal is a goal and I’ve been slacking. A lot….

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As you can see from the chart, writing has been sporadic at best. This weekend I’m blaming it on spending most of my time building a patio. But that’s done now, and I have four weeks left to make up 60,000 words. The good news is that I already signed up for the 3-Day Novel Writing contest, which means I will likely write at least 20,000 words at the end of the month, during those last four days I gave myself. I’m also going on real vacation – the kind one gets at a day job – this Thursday. First stop is a writing conference, which will hopefully get my mojo going and most of those words written.

Meanwhile, I’ve also spent a bit of time taking pretty pictures of my books. What do you think?

Here’s to a very busy month. I hope your own goals are going well.

JEH

 

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #27

One of the most difficult things I find about writing 1,000 words a day is time management. Unless you prioritize, it is so easy for the entire day to slip away. It is also very easy to fall asleep and forget that you didn’t write anything at all when you’ve spent your day on the computer, as my day job requires me to do. So, in other words, I had a rather horrible week. Here’s a peak at my chart:

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I had one great day, Wednesday, when I met up with some other writers in a cafe and got almost 4K done. This was going to be the start of a big push. I was going to write 4K a day and catch up on my word count by the end of June. But then I promptly went on a camping trip and that was the end of that goal. Today, I’ve managed to write 1,100 words. If I make this blog nice and short, i might have enough time to make that a nifty 2K. That would be nice, it would at least put a dent in my 26K deficit.

I got the email about preregistration for the 3-Day novel writing contest. I think it might just be about time to sign up. What do you think?

JEH