I mentioned before how I had to buy the 90 day planning calendar even though I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. A similar thing happened in 2020 when I was at work and there was a 2021 planner from Boy’s Town sitting out on the counter. Things put on the counter were up for grabs, usually because one of us had received something, didn’t want it, and set it out in case someone else did.
Every time I walked by this Boy’s Town planner, it called to me. I had zero idea what I’d do with it. Besides, it was one more thing to get in my way. And, I have a general dislike for calendars that don’t hang on my wall. I’ve never been much of a day planner kind of person.
So why did I need this dang planner?
Finally, I picked it up. Since then, it has become one of my greatest tools. So much so that I had to go find another one for this year.
That’s my set. What do I like about these so much? They are paper-sized when closed, glossy, and have a nice feel to them. They are staple bound so they are very thin. And they have big boxes for the days as well as blank boxes for extra space. If you find a planner like this, the printer generally fills every inch of unused space with something and there’s no white space other than the days.
So in here, I record how many fiction words I get done in a week as well as the total word count. On my Excel spreadsheets, I have a way to keep track, but at the end of the week, one of the worksheets gets cleared of data in the chart and the other spreadsheet just shows me total words. Yes, I could figure out how many fiction to non-fiction words I write in a week because I also keep a percentage (trying to keep it along the 80/20 rule), but the planner makes it more visual for me. I have to touch this planner ever week to write down the words before I erase the chart, so it’s always near me. I also keep track of if I hit my Extreme goal or not, which my other spreadsheets only care if I hit my set word targets. Finally, I keep track of when I finish as short story here too. Again, it was a visual thing, though because of the shift in my life last year, it didn’t work as well as planned. I have better hope for it this year.
Here’s the pages from September:
Anyway, here’s how 2021 rounded out for me:
For 2021, I had set a word goal of 210,000. I finished out the year with 433,822 words.
I wanted to write 36 short stories and I actually got 17 written.
I had multiple projects which needed my attention in various areas and I am down to only 4 of these projects right now. They will be the ones I tackle right after I finish the trilogy I’m working on.
My Extreme word goal was 9,500 words per week. I reached that 21 times.
My weekly word goals, I have reached for 76 weeks, which includes this week because I’ve already hit it. I have a daily minimum goal for words too because I know that sometimes life happens so somedays might have to be less while other days catch the weekly goal up. That minimum goal has been set at 215 words per day. Days, for example when I got my COVID shots, I was glad that I had a minimum that wasn’t just 1/7th of my weekly goal. I wouldn’t have reached it if it had been. That’s why I call this a “Life Happens” minimum. I do also have a small bank of words where I’ve subtracted them from one day to put in this bank. I usually try to keep this bank around 50 words and they are just for the days that might fall a word or two short because there’s nothing worse than breaking a streak because of 1 or 2 measly little words. When I got my first COVID immunization, I had to use 45 words from this bank. So, in truth, no I didn’t actually achieve my minimum word counts, but because I had this set up ahead of time I was still able to keep my streak rather than losing it. Sometimes the little bank of words feels like cheating, but I can live with that, especially knowing how I felt after that immunization. I’m glad I didn’t push. Anyway, I have written that daily minimum (as I said, with one day of using most of the words in my small bank fund) for 372 days as of yesterday. I have upped this goal to 350 words per day for 2022 since I’ve been blogging daily.
I published 4 novels last year (though one is currently running through Vella as a test, so I’m not certain that really counts) and 1 Loki novella. I put out 4 short stories, and 1 Fenrir story went out to my Patreon supporters at the upper tiers. That’s about 325,000 words of fiction out last year. Plus, I have several short stories finished and I’m just trying to come up with a plan on what to do with them, not to mention the 3 unpublished novels (2 of those being from the trilogy series).
Sundays were my most productive days and Wednesdays were the least productive by a difference of over 40,000 words total. Imagine what I could get done if I could engage my brain creatively on Wednesdays, even just a little bit more.
My best day for writing was 5,658 words on that day. My best week was 16,406. My best month (which was December) was 55,968. I was cooking along well in December too and probably would’ve hit 60,000+ words if we hadn’t adopted Temmy. Oh well, she’s adorable and she’s going to be such a good cat. I’ll have to give an update in a couple of days.
Painting I had a goal of getting over 2,000 linear inches painted. I only got 634 linear inches completed. That is still higher than the previous two years (2020- 409 and 2019 – 545), so considering I’ve had so much angst over it, I will take it as a win. I almost wish I could track painting like my stories, but it’s hard to say, “Well, I painted 2 linear inches today but I didn’t finish the piece.” I can only count artwork when it’s done. Since I sometimes retouch it if I find something or think of something I want to do, does that mean it really wasn’t done to begin with? When is it truly done? Yeah, I almost wish I had a better way of measuring my painting progress, but I know from experience that just because you can put your butt in the chair it doesn’t mean you’re being productive. I do have a modifying calculation in my spreadsheet, but I won’t bore you with the details on that. It doesn’t mess with the number completed.
As always, I enjoy this reflection back on my numbers because it’s so easy to forget the larger picture when you’re down in the trenches working away at this. To step back and see how it all fell together is fun and I hope encouraging to others. Remember that doing just a little each day can take you great distances. That’s one of the reasons I have that little goal of 215 (now 350) words per day (and there were some days other than my COVID immunization days) where I was busy with other things like shows and travel that I was so tired or unable to get much done. Even at 215 words per day, that’s 78,475 words per year. That’s one novel and some short stories. Slow but steady does lead to accomplishment.
Until tomorrow, keep adventuring!