Adding Up Words

So, as you guys know I’ve been doing some detective work to figure out why and wherefore this year was as sucky as it was so we can avoid it next year.

We’ll forego the “have to fix cars” at the worst possible moment, and the HVAC follies.  Those didn’t help, but neither are they something I can control unless I get mechanical and HVAC training.  (Hey, look, at the rate things are going there will be a market for people who can keep cars going on improvised parts.  I’d just rather write stories.)

Instead, I’m looking at what I do and my process.  To be perfectly blunt, 13 was a disaster in terms of fiction words written and of being able to start a project and finish in time.  This is a problem, because I want to continue working.  (As I said, I’d rather write stories.)

The problem is this – and it makes me laugh that I dare write about other people’s lives, considering – that I have no clue what the texture of my own life is or how it came about.

What I mean is I start doing things, and other things accrete, and then a year later I look back and go “uh, I haven’t broken out the pastels in a year, but I’ve been doing sewing and egg carving?”  This is the hobby side, natch (and the reason pastels got put away was open eczema wounds on my hands) but the writing side can get as puzzling.

Here is the evidence, and if I were from the outside, I’d be puzzled: in 2013 I finished a book and did about seven short stories.  BUT somehow I managed to always feel overworked and suffer the symptoms of exhaustion, like during the year I wrote six books and homeschooled Marshall and took Greek and Latin courses.  In fact, it was exactly like that.  I was okay a week, then got sick again, rinse, lather, repeat.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I thought to add up all the words.  Forget the other stuff I’m doing that’s not writing: learning to do covers, editing, interior work, etc.  Just the words, ma’am.  Nothing but the words.

I calculated what I’m on the hook for every week, just in blog posts, my work at PJM, etc…

And I came up with a minimum of 10k words a day.  That’s 70k a week, which adds up to something like a pulp novel.

Suddenly my eyes were opened.  The problem is that I do another 10k a day on fiction (and I do that much because I’m afraid of falling further behind) and next thing you know, I’m doing five or six 20k words days and I collapse.  Which, let me tell you, is perfectly normal.  When I did the novel in three days, I couldn’t even think afterwards.

Worse – after about a year of this, the fatigue became cumulative.  I never quite recover, and each time I feel LESS creative.

So, is this the announcement I’m closing the blog?

No.  The blog …  I am one of those people who needs a social life, even if online.  Yes, I have a social life here too – sometimes I think the occasional drinks night with Mr. and Mrs. Vodkapundit (yes, I am totally name dropping.  Deal) saved my life this year – but I like this community and I’m not killing it, nor shuttering it.

I have been part of communities that became too much of a strain for the bloggers, and I still mourn them and I’m not doing that.

However, I’d like to cut my non fic writing, here and PJM to about 10 to 15k a week.  For PJM that’s easy.  They want short blogs, with links, and quotes.  I can totally do that.  Other than my weakly patter for the Friday book plug and my blogs on publishing, and those can be kept manageable.  So, that I can do.

And here – there’s gonna be some changes around these parts.  Not as terrifying as you think.  I’ll be doing the style blog post you guys are used to 3 times a week or so.  For the rest, I’ll have a rotating guest blogger once a week, and I think I’ll do an aggregaty thing on the weekends.  (You know strange follies from the world of politics or art or something, with linking pithy commentary.)  I’ll also take occasional blog posts, if it’s something that interests me and you guys send me.  If you take in account that one of my blog days is a free chapter, (though that will probably move to Saturdays, frankly, leaving the aggregaty thing on Sundays) that should cut things down to “manageable.”

So I can keep this blog and make a living.  What do you guys think?

However – and before you guys get disgusted, I still have to catch up.  So, for the next two weeks, I’ll be running A LOT of guest posts.  I’ll still do my normal ones, but not every day.  This is by the way of letting me get back into writing and turn in novels before Christmas and also hopefully get my subscribers their freebies.

I will pick interesting guest posts, I promise, and if any of you want to send me stuff, you know my email.

I don’t want you to look at those two weeks and think I’ve abandoned the blog.  I haven’t.  Again, every other post will still be mine.  I just need to concentrate on writing for now, so be patient with me.

And now, I’ll go do fiction words.  If you guys have suggestions on formats for the blog, where I can cut down on how many words I’m producing, that’s fine.

I just had no clue I was writing that much till I counted.  I think THAT more than anything else is at the root of the illnesses this year.  And that can’t go on.

BUT the blog is important to me and I want to keep it going.

155 thoughts on “Adding Up Words

  1. Your health and “Paying Words” should be first. We’ll survive fewer of your blog posts. [Smile]

  2. Re run some of your old blogs.

    Cross Post between MGC and here for the Wednesday posts.

    Set us a challenge: How would you fix [problem of the week] and let us brainstorm.

    1. How about re-posting the original Human Wave posts, with updates and “meditations” by some of the Usual Suspects on what HW can be? That’s a week there pretty easily.

        1. I’ll see what I can do. Look for something on Thursday. (I’m on two days total rest for my dominant typing hand/arm).

          1. You have a dominate typing hand? I ask because I seem to use both sides of the keyboard fairly evenly, I think. (never actually studied it, could see how many of each letter I use in a typical paragraph, then calculate how many keystrokes per hand I guess).

            1. *SPLOOSH as a bucket of cold water is dumped over the transom of the Hun Club’s smoking lounge and liars’ lair* I type left-handed. Long story. And I have an inflamed radial nerve (or inflammation around the nerve). Sheesh. Y’all have spent way too long cooped up indoors hiding from the cold.

              1. Left-Handers. They just aren’t Right. [Very Big Evil Grin While Flying Away Very Fast]

                Seriously, hope your hand gets better. [Smile]

                  1. Well, my Dad was left-handed and he’d responded to my comment by saying “Left-handers were the only people in their Right Mind”. [Grin]

    2. I really like this idea. I was late to the party. Give me the best of the old stuff that I missed! One day of “Oh, great. What did I do with that post?” and you’ve got weeks or months of blogs done.

      1. I vote for re-runs as well. Also, the Human Wave, maybe on a regular schedule. I think that a repost would work if part of it was asking for updates on your reader’s progress since the last one… or something.

        1. I also vote for reposts. You’ve got a large backlist of blog posts to which you own all the rights – and it doesn’t have to follow the “no good after one week since publishing” model any more than your books do. Put it to work for you!

      2. Better yet, have folks send in suggestions of the ones they want reposted/minimally updated/whatever.

        Or maybe it’d be better to just post them. Minus formatting, so it’s the bare links.

    3. Pam
      Do you seriously want this group to brainstorm fixing problems? We might even come up with some sensible ideas. I think that would be a fun thing.

  3. Sounds wise to me. When you started throwing around 10k words a day I was thinking, “Crap?!? I’ve got further to go than I thought.” o.O

    1. Brian don’t worry about it. Looking back over the past year and a half or so, since coming here and getting motivated to try writing something, I’ve averaged about 100 words a day of fiction. And a third of that was the outline and character backstories (I have to have that to keep track) for the book I’m working on.

    2. I wrote 5k words yesterday and that was damned near a record for me. If you’re doing 10k day in and day out, no wonder you’re so close to falling face-down!

  4. Several of us have been quietly suggesting for some time now that you make an attempt to prioritize your life. Sounds like you’ve finally gotten a handle on it.
    Maximize your payback. That doesn’t always mean cash, but can and must mean getting what you need. Time with Dan and the boys for example doesn’t make you a nickel, but feeds your soul. Or so I suspect.
    So marginalize the trivial bits and focus on what’s important to you. If that means fewer blog posts, then so be it.

    1. Hah!!! Easy for you to say! You don’t have to start meaningless quibbly fights in blog comments to bestir some energy.

          1. Could someone please explain why the first thing to pop into my head at reading your comment was “The Charge of the Light Brigade”?

              1. I’ve been tottering between the light wok being done here by a CFL — a very twisty bulb indeed … and referring to that Sixties psychedelic favorite, the ultraviolet or African-American Light.

  5. RL’s gotta take precedence, one supposes. Besides, you’ve got a lot of smart brains commenting around here that I, for one, would love to hear more from. Rope ’em!

  6. Edit–or get someone to edit–the blog posts and sell ’em as a book? Several books, actually. I’d buy a copy of the political book for my Uncle-who-makes-Rush-look-leftist.

    1. You might want to search up Bill Whittle’s old essays then. His formatting was atrocious (them being blog entries) but… man, can that man write or what? And he’s not ‘right wing’, or so it seems to me – it’s simply… as things are. He shows the best of America, I think.

      His book, Silent America, is available on Amazon…

      1. I have these saved somewhere. Found those essays while going to law school at what was apparently one of the top three liberal law schools in the country (how do you do research on that?), and between them and the talk radio I had access to (Hewitt, Prager), they got me through with my values and viewpoints intact.

        Blogging while I was at law school made them sharper. >:-)

  7. As they say in the streets of… well, just about everywhere “Handle your business.” We’ll survive Sarah. I promise. Spend some time with the kids and the hubby, write stuff you get paid for (although I certainly hope your non-fic at PJM is something you get paid for) and DO YOU. We’ll be alright.

    And, if I may make a suggestion (and if you don’t like it, I’ll btake it back) maybe you should make one day a week on your blog a “promotion day.” Let us post our stuff to promote it. Think about it. If someone here has a book/short/novella, etc. that they’re promoting have them send in a snippet/chapter. Then you write “This is the first chapter from Soandso’s new novel Awesomeness Du Jour available at . There. That’s today’s blog written. It took you eight seconds and then you’re done. And the more the rest of us make, the more we can spend on your books, so you still get SOMETHING out of it, at least indirectly

    1. This was supposed to say: “This is the first chapter from Soandso’s new novel Awesomeness Du Jour available at INSERT LINK HERE.”


      For the record, you should make them give you a link so that you don’t have to look it up yourself as well.

      1. The idea is that the author would have to do the work themselves. You would just have to post it since it’s your blog and you have the password. Ideally, your work would consist of a cut and paste.

      2. I’ll do it, though I might need a spare key to the engine room. I promise not to let Rex in there! 🙂 I’ll shoot you an email to coordinate things later this evening, after I’ve killed and gutted this #&^% turkey.

  8. Absolutely hits the nail on the head. No-one has an inexhaustible supply of energy and creativity, not even you. Recognising that, and that you have to set realistic limits to maintain your reserves is the first step. The second and often more difficult step is to stick to the limits you set and say no when you are asked or tempted to start exceeding those limits. You can get away with doing that in exceptional circumstances, but you have to guard against getting sucked back in on a regular basis – especially when it is something you feel strongly about.

  9. So long as the blog stays active enough that people keep coming back every day, so that when your next title comes out they’ll see the announcement and go buy it, I think you’re fine.

    You owe us nothing. We’re grateful for what you choose to give us anyway. (And anyone who isn’t…well, can just go piss off.)

    Lots of people can do entertaining blogs. Only one person in the entire universe can write Sarah Hoyt novels. The Law of Comparative Advantage tells you what to do, with those two axioms. 🙂

  10. Wow, those are some seriously high numbers. So you’re planning to drop down 55,000-60,000 words per week, which is roughly a 40% decrease . . . and that’ll hopefully get you to a more _sustainable_ pace of 80,000-85,000 wpw? I find even that number amazing. I’ll miss your daily posts, but I’ll be here faithfully for your on-blog days, and I’ll probably read at least the first paragraph of your guests’ postings to see if they grab my attention. 🙂

  11. I know the feeling. I had to do some prioritizing myself. I swear, my blog has grown cobwebs! All thanks to the novel I’ve been working on.

    Though I certainly enjoy reading your work here and on Mad Genius Club, real writers get paid. If that’s what you need to do, more power to you.

    1. “real writers get paid”

      Precisely. Paying work first, and work for relaxation, such as warmups and other things that lead to actual writing for pay.

      Put yourself first (yes, even over the kiddies and the kitties): if you don’t, you just sabotage your ability to do the things only you can do.

      If you ever need, for entertainment of yourself, to write a lot more blog posts, you can do that, but to feel an OBLIGATION is silly – and makes us readers feel vaguely uncomfortable. My blogging is to get something out of ME – if somebody reads it, fine, but that’s not my aim. I get to be opinionated and/or wrong – and I only have myself to answer to.

      Don’t know what I’ll do if I ever get to your level, but we’ll worry about that bridgehead later.

      I think getting sick is your body’s way of totalling up that stress sheet – and telling you you’re going to get sick if you don’t dial it down.

      If you have topics you want posts about, you could throw out an idea list – and let someone else do the leg work.

  12. As a thought, I’d like to see a weekly contest with a twist. You cajole blogposts out of Huns. Post them on say Monday…Without a byline other than this is the mystery blogger of the week. The rest of us get til Friday to figure out who it is by questions on the post. you would need a cutout handle ip address for the weeks victe…blogger.
    What say ye huns? Yea or Nay?

    1. Bonus, it’s a memory puzzle– see who she ordered to write a post on stuff!

      (With the twist that someone could always take someone else’s order and write it up.)

  13. I’m glad Stephanie introduced me to your works. The blog is informative and very entertaining, but your priorities should be your health (both physicak and mental), your family, your paying work, then the fun blog. I’ll remain faithful as you rebalance.

    1. I think that doing this would be great interaction training for people who might have to spy in the real world. Get detected in a game and all you get is banned. Do that in the real world and you get dead.

    2. More likely the “monitoring” was a bit more “watching the text” stuff, if only because it’s rather hard to be everywhere at once.

      MMOs are giant chat platforms that are incredibly hard to monitor; buy an account or five, and you’re untraceable.

      Yes, this means that annoying Barrens Chat troll might have actually been someone using a code. I’m not sure if it’s horrifying, or better that what they seemed to be.

  14. Y’know, even the Lord rested after six days of world creating. Just sayin’.

    Think of it as giving the OCD Huns a little time off. Put up some Hoyt Classic reruns, add in some guest bloggers, try some different kinds of posts (a la the classic Random Thoughts type of column), turn your coat around and troll yourself with a Harass Hoyt guest post trumpeting the virtues of government control (okay, that might blow some mental fuses) and just plain take one day a week off from feeding the voracious beast that is we.

  15. Shorter posts. The Huns tend to make their own content anyway.

    You do tend to put multiple topics in each blog post anyway, break them up.

      1. “I am sorry I have had to write you such a long letter, but I did not have time to write you a short one”– Blaise Pascal

        1. It’s actually true. My posts for PJM, particularly the ones dealing with the publishing business (because it’s complex) take forever and get cut into 1/4 the size.

          1. Understood. Relatedly, I believe it was Churchill who said (approximately) “give me an hour to speak and I’ll need only an hour to prepare; but give me but 5 minutes to speak and I’ll need two days to prepare.”

  16. I had wondered how you were able to write all these multi-page essays and still operate as a writer .. every single word, even the ones that go into corporate-speak techno-gibberish e-mails, is a debit from my word-bank.. eventually, it’s overdrawn and *does* charge interest against future replentishments.
    If I may suggest, it may work better to commit to two long essays a week, and if you do a third, bonus! May reduce the guilt factor.
    Powerline has their “week in pictures” (example: which, with a little filler or some amusing “Child # 2 thought this was funny” would be a short (word-wise) but fun one…

    Long way around to say I’m glad you’ll keep this place going, but more happy that you’re you’re going to put your efforts into profit-generating activities.


  17. Since I am new here, the re-runs won’t be reruns to me. Truthfully I have been following as much of what you have written as I can, and I don’t know how you’ve done it. But now I understand the cost on you. So please slow down a bit and arrange some guest posts. This blog has become very important to me so I am glad you are going to keep it open.

  18. And here – there’s gonna be some changes around these parts. Not as terrifying as you think. I’ll be doing the style blog post you guys are used to 3 times a week or so. For the rest, I’ll have a rotating guest blogger once a week, and I think I’ll do an aggregaty thing on the weekends. (You know strange follies from the world of politics or art or something, with linking pithy commentary.)

    Like the Chaos Manor “cleaning up the tabs” thing, or Jonah Goldberg’s quirky links at the end of the G-Files.

  19. Well, I’m sure I’ll find something around that will irritate me enough to kick out a few thousand words about it at least once a fortnight. In the meantime, I should really fire up the old blog and get back into practice.

    1. You really cranked on NaNo! I’ve been meaning to say thanks for being a NaNo buddy. It helps with motivation.

          1. I restarted mine twice, couldn’t find the right character voice, switched viewpoints twice from third limited omniscient to first person (first had the right voice, but…) then back to third limited omniscient, got 25,000 words in, realized I was bored and wrote a line in the manuscript that says “Everything you’ve written up to this point is boring crap! Skip ahead to the cool stuff!”

            After that it was Mortal Kombat meets Harry Potter and I was fine.

            1. I was about 25,000 words in before I figured out what was going to happen. Then, I figured it out all over again around 35,000 or 40,000. I think I did a lot of beginnings before something “took.” Just like I swear every year, next year I’m going to have an outline. Hah.

  20. Like Chuck-K, I’m new to this blog but, enjoying the learning. The old stuff would be new to me and probably just as helpful as new. Plus, I’ve seen some of the ‘teasers’ used to help everyone on blogs. If a writer provides a sample and a link, I think you get part of the fee. That only helps make the blog self supporting among the ‘Hun.’ Most importantly, take time for family, we only go through once, hold on to the good things.

  21. Those numbers are just crazy amazing, Sarah, and go far to explaining your health issues. You’ve nailed it, looks like. I will keep reading, even if it isn’t you posting every day. I’ve enjoyed your guest posters quite a bit, too. Take care of yourself first.

  22. “… 13 was a disaster in terms of fiction words written…”

    I’ll be blunt and say that you spend too much time with this blog. I know that you like it for numerous reasons. But, you write the longest daily blog posts of any of the two dozen sites I visit. You participate in the comments section far more than any other site I’ve read. Perhaps you could cut your blog time in half to have more time for fiction writing.

    An extra chunk of (perhaps unwanted) advice: stop giving away novels. My guess is that at least 80% of your free novel readers would pay for a copy. It’s tough to make it outside the mainstream publishing world, so you should collect all the money you can.

    1. Er… I have had Witchfinder proofread and will be taking it down in two weeks, and then it will go up for sale — clean and proofread. It’s not so much “free novels” as free unproofed first draft. The FIRST taste is free 😉

  23. I’d say. “I feel your pain,” but I have far more than enough of my own. I can do a couple of times a month, I’m never short of opinions. Email me at g-r-a-f-x-m-a-n-u-s at Yahoo dot com (remove the dashes), and let me know what you need. I’m too stupid to charge money, as I keep giving away my opinions anyway.

      1. I don’t know about others, but I think I’ve amply demonstrated that this heah wallaby is indigestible. Nor ought there be any question of good taste.

      1. I haven’t eaten one yet. I was just preparing … you know, in case I’m trapped atop an Andean mountain after a plane crash.

  24. I’m impressed that the Vodkapundit knows you. His standing goes up a notch.
    I’ll buy Witchfinder when it’s for sale. I hate serials. Reading the Amber novels when Galaxy serialized them drove me nuts.
    I love this blog but health and career come first.

    1. Uh… with much difficulty. The novel Plain Jane, the story of Jane Seymour, was planned and researched, but I was balking at writing it. (Part of it is that it was work for hire, under a house name.) So I just isolated myself, then WROTE.
      At the end of three days I was what is technically known as dead. This was ten? just about years ago, and I looked in the mirror and looked eighty. Also, my fingers hurt. My husband took me away for a weekend, most of which I spent sleeping or taking bubble baths. Watching TV was too much effort. Reading was beyond me.
      BUT the book got done, and delivered.

        1. well…. At the time I THINK they paid me 12k, but since then I’ve made almost as much from royalties. (Even at the reduced work for hire royalties.) So, I’m not complaining.

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