Daily Update, or Creating While Working a Day Job

2014-03-24

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

I’m inspired to start writing this series of posts by a few different things:

  1. I gave a talk to the South Beach Writer’s group out in Tokeland, WA about getting my words written while working a full-time day job.
  2. Michael Nobbs, artist and founder of SustainablyCreative.com, author of Drawing Your Life, who talks about doing one thing each day.
  3. Dean Wesley Smith, who is doing a tremendous series of Writing in Public, showing what he does each day as a full-time working writer.
  4. I signed up to run a Spartan Race in August, part of my health plan.

What Do I Have to Add?

Writers, artists of all sorts, face significant challenges. I don’t care if you’re making a comfortable living creating your art or not, that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll face challenges. Maybe, your energy is limited. I discovered Michael Nobbs’ work as I struggled with persistent fatigue issues. It can be health, it can be financial struggles, family issues, self-doubts, day job stress, or any of a thousand other things. Everyone faces challenges, or they don’t face it and suffer the consequences.

I’ve always worked jobs and I’ve always written. I’ve been married most of those years, having gotten married within four years of my first job. I’ve worked multiple part-time jobs while attending college full-time, to working full-time while pursuing my masters degree, and having a family.

In recent years I realized I needed to take my writing and art more seriously. I needed to study, to practice, and to get my work out. It has made a difference. I’ve sold stories, launched a publishing business at Glittering Throng Press, and focused on drawing and painting as well as my writing.

I have a loving and supportive family, which definitely helps. I work full-time, with a fantastic job with my local library system. And I’m running, doing burpees, carrying logs, swinging across monkey bars, and having fun getting in shape. Sometimes I play video games, watch movies, and — of course — read as much as I can.

So that is where I’m coming from.

Tracking

For me tracking is key. If I don’t have reasonable expectations, and track how I’m doing meeting those expectations, then I’m drifting. Whatever I do must be enough, because I’m not expecting anything more from myself.

I’m not suggesting that anyone set unreasonable expectations, and it’ll be different for each person.

For me, it’s simple math. We can look at it from two sides. I want to write 500,000 words of new fiction this year. What do I have to do to reach that goal?

Write 1,370 words per day.

Okay. How long does that take? I figure 250 words == 15 minutes of writing time. Sometimes I write faster, sometimes slower, but that’s a good number. Since 1,370 is a sort of odd number, and I want to shoot a little higher, I’ll set my daily target a bit higher.

Daily target is 1,500 words per day.

Or 1.5 hours of writing time. Usually less, but that’s a good figure to use.

Using the Streak

I set my target for a daily word count goal. I won’t always meet it, and sometimes I’ll write more. For me, writing every day is important. Writer Jeff Ambrose posted about this recently.

I remembered all those Monday mornings I sat down to write again and feeling very much out of the story. Who were these people again? What were they doing? What did it matter? Why did I even care? It would take most of Monday and part of Tuesday for me to get that momentum going again — and then the weekend would come, and I’d lose it all.

I agree completely. Keeping the momentum in the story is important. Even if I can only get fifteen minutes with my current project — and some days that happens — at least I aim for that much and get a minimum of 250 words. For me it’s not a matter of weekends vs. weekdays, I don’t care what day of the week it is. It’s far more important what’s happening that day than what day of the week it is.

Keeping the streak going — that carries weight. I have a widget on the sidebar that displays my current writing streak. And each day, I’ll post my progress at the top of these posts.

This Series

My hope is that this series is helpful for other writers and artists that face similar challenges. I plan to post these in the evening, a sort of look back at the day and a look ahead to tomorrow. I’ll talk about writing, art, getting fit, and doing it all around a day job. I believe that actively pursuing a healthy, and creative life will have a lot of benefits — including to your day job! Leaving the day job is a goal for many writers and artists, but not for everyone. The rewards of your day job can go far beyond the paycheck.

So What Did I Do Today?

I had trouble sleeping last night, so I was up early and played a little Diablo III, then went back to bed. Once I was up, I took some time tweaking my word count plugin before starting this series, wrote 900+ words on this post, sketched the picture up top, and worked on my current novel Past Dark, the fourth Moreau Society novel. I spent time with my family outside working on our backyard, taking my son to riding lessons, and we rewatched Hellboy II which was a lot of fun. Note, the word counts reported only include new fiction. No blog posts, emails or anything else considered. I also read Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon (all of it), and spent some time reading A Forest of Stars by Kevin J. Anderson.

As far as fitness goes, in addition to working in the yard and chopping wood, I did 10 burpees today.

Tomorrow it’s back to work at the day job, so I’ll get an early start on the day. I’m close to finishing my novel, but I’ll be working on that and my next short story relaunch. I also need to find some time to do my taxes this week.

Thanks for reading.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Collected Stories of 2009

Collected Stories of 2009My first short story annual collection is available now.

It was 2009. That was the year everything changed for me. Major life changes, career changes, and seismic shifts in the publishing landscape. This was the year when I “got serious” about my writing – not that I hadn’t been studying and learning for many years before, but this was the turning point.

This collection pulls together the stories published or written in 2009, including:

“The Copyleft Heart” feeling the effects of copyright on love…

“Commuter” capturing a cyclist’s fear…

“So Little Time” exploring loved realized too late…

“Space Monkeys” connecting a father and son…

“Dreamstone” bringing nightmares to life…

“The Good Samaritan” giving an urban legend new turn…

“Eetees” crashing aliens into a small town…

“This Book is Haunted” touching on the enduring love of stories…

“Witness to Dust” exploring new shape-shifters…

“Quantum Uncertainty” uncovering the consequences of new technology…

Ten stories, and a sample from Dark Matters, the first book in my Moreau Society series, for your enjoyment.

 

Caressing Charon in Fiction River: Moonscapes

I’m thrilled to have a new story, “Caressing Charon” out in Fiction River: Moonscapes.

Fiction River Moonscapes

We all look up at the moon and wonder. And maybe dream. For centuries, the moon filled our imaginations. Eleven professional writers took those dreams and set original stories on moons scattered all over the galaxy. Yet, as the dreams of centuries, every story holds a human touch. From a mythical man fulfilling a childhood wish to a fantastic addition to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s bestselling Retrieval Artist series, this volume of Fiction River allows you to travel to eleven different moons without leaving the comfort of home. 

Fiction River is an original fiction anthology series. Modeled on successful anthology series of the past, from Orbit to Universe to Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, the goal of Fiction River is to provide a forum for “original ground-breaking fiction of all genres.” 

Find it at these retailers, available in paperback and e-book editions:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

Waking Dead Things

Waking Dead Things

 

The first novel in the Dead Things series, Waking Dead Things, is now available. Previously published as written by “Tennessee Hicks”, I’m excited to get this new edition out, leading up to the release of the next two books in the weeks ahead.

Ravyn Washington.

Ordinary high school teen worried about getting her driver’s license, dates and passing classes. Oh, and dead things.

Sometimes dead things wake up. It happened to her Nana, branded witch and necromancer by the Inquisition. Now Inquisitor Lockwood shows up in town, checking if Ravyn inherited the curse.

And dead things wake up. If Lockwood finds out, Ravyn could burn.

New story relaunch: Quantum Uncertainty

Quantum UncertaintyNew story relaunch today, Quantum Uncertainty, now available from Glittering Throng Press.

Private Detective Barry Holliday, Doc to his friends, likes industrial cases for the pay check, but otherwise could leave it. The job from Q-Prime looks ordinary. Track down the hacker responsible for stealing private corporate data, retrieve the information and turn the hacker over to the cops.

Even the easiest jobs have a way of leading to unexpected places. 

 

New story relaunch: Witness to Dust

Witness to DustAnother story relaunched today, Witness to Dust, previously published as written by “Tennessee Hicks”, now available at Glittering Throng Press.

The Dust came and Death followed. An alien pandemic unleashed on the world, transforming people into Dusters.

They called themselves Witnesses. Witness to what?

Delancie Haines didn’t know. She read the news, saw the reports about the new minority, hated and feared by everyone. Stories of loved ones transformed, turning on their own families.

She didn’t understand. Not until Death chased her down the trail.

 

New story relaunch: This Book is Haunted

This Book is HauntedAnother story live today, This Book is Haunted, previously published as written by “R.M. Haag”, now available at Glittering Throng Press.

Librarian Scott Taylor enjoys the quiet at the end of the day. Picking up the books, straightening up, spending a few minutes to get the library ready for the next day.

Books have a way of capturing memories and feelings. And tonight Scott discovers that a connection to a book lasts.

 

Dead Things coming

The Dead Things series is coming! Work continues on the release of the new editions of Waking Dead Things and Dreaming Dead Things, along with the brand new novel Killing Dead Things — all coming out in the first quarter of 2014. The first two books in the series were originally published under my “Tennessee Hicks” pen name, and will now be coming out under my name.