Oh, the numbers

My “fun with markers” evening I had planned last night didn’t work out so well. It took too long to get the markers started, one of them didn’t want to work at all, and one began bleeding. I only got 4 markers going, so you can see that I didn’t have a high success rate here.

It was fun while it lasted though. I did get some coloring done and a little bit of experimenting with them. Let’s just say they are no Copic markers, not that I was expecting them to be. Anyway, I decided to go write instead.

I worked on my new story even though I should have been working on Fenrir. I have to go back and look at an earlier chapter of Fenrir to find an answer before I go on. Since my writing computer doesn’t have Internet, I couldn’t do that last night and I was too lazy to go look it up at the moment, so new story it was.

Unfortunately, I noticed that I had left the word count on at some point. Or maybe it was a good thing.

I realized that I really get excited seeing the word count increase. First it’s 1,163, then it’s 1,734, and finally 2,057. Those leaps inspire me much more that 3 pages, 5 pages, and 6 pages. It confirmed that I really need to stop doing the page counts and go back to the daily word counts. I just have to decide what to do about words I cut and leave behind. And maybe my answer is that I just don’t worry about it. Yes, it’s nice to want to keep track of only published words (which I do by having the word counts of each book listed on my spreadsheet), but it does kind of put pressure on each word written to be publishable. That’s not realistic. It’s also not good for the creative voice and gives power to the critical voice. After all, every bit of writing is practice. It’s always a way to improve the craft. If I believe that, then I must see that sacrificed words are still practice and let them be counted for what they are.

Knowing there will be (and allowing for) a certain number of words to be practice words and keeping track of published words, then I can come up with a percentage of words cut. A goal could be to drop this percentage each year. Although one would never actually want to hit a perfect zero because every word is not golden. I would image that an acceptable percentage would be between 5-8%. That means for every 250,000 words, 12,500-20,000 words would be thrown out.

I do seem to like this idea a lot. It feels much better to me. There’d be some overlap over years that I’d have to figure out. For example, I could spend November and December writing a book, but publish it in January, meaning the words would be counted in year 1, but published in year 2. That distorts the percentage. So would writing the book in December year 1 and January year 2 with publication coming later in year 2. I probably need to sit down with pen and paper and figure out how to wrangle this. I do feel it’s workable though. It also separates the practice from the final product of a book, and that always helps the creative voice be more of itself.

Yes, I do think I need to find a way to level the playing field between years. And maybe it is as simple as the percentage of a book completed in year 1 compared to year 2. It means that it might be months (or even years on some projects) before I have totals. Hmmm. Yes, I must go play with this and figure out how to calculate it. I think it’s the direction I need to be going in.