86,760 Words in 2018

At the start of 2018 I had a goal to write 140 words a day. Done consistently for 365 days would have resulted in 51,100 words written for the year. In 2018 I wrote 86,760 words.

I first came up with the idea of writing 140 words a day back in 2017 after attempting to write a novel in one month the previous year. I’ve always been extremely anxious about writing fiction, whether screenplays or prose, and I thought getting into the habit of writing each day would help me get over that anxiety. Even though I don’t have any detailed statistics I know that I didn’t succeed in my goal of writing 140 words a day in 2017.

I used to be quite diligent about coming up with a list of goals at the start of each year as something I could measure myself against when the year ended. I’ve got detailed lists spanning 2012–2015 (I didn’t do write up any goals for 2016 and 2017 because I felt the process was counter-productive).

At the end of 2017 I was talking with an old friend from film school about his list of 2018 New Year’s resolutions (“drink less, write more, volunteer”). While the simplicity of his mantra-like list appealed to me, the list of goals I wrote up for myself for 2018 were a bit more specific.

One of the items on my list was, you guessed it, write 140 words a day, probably inspired by my friend’s “write more” haiku. In order to measure myself I created a spreadsheet that I could use to track my daily word count (because an unexamined life isn’t worth living).

Initially the spreadsheet was just a place to enter the number of words I wrote that day as well as categorizing subject by color. Later on I added some monthly statistics at the top that allowed me to see at a glance how many words I had written each month, the number of word remaining to be written that month, and total words written so far.

This design worked but towards the end of the year I wanted to create some charts from my single years worth of data and I found that the design I came up with at the beginning of the year didn’t lend itself to chart creation.

So I created a new worksheet that I could use for both entering daily word counts and reporting on progress. Across the top are the categories, still color coded, and below them are the monthly totals of words (individual day’s statistics are in the hidden rows underneath each month’s totals). Categorization is done by entering the number of words in the correct column. For graphic flair I also added a spark chart to the right of each month to give a quick idea of monthly frequency at a glance.

With this arrangement it was easier to create several different types of charts to give me a bird’s eye view of my progress throughout the year.

Some things are immediately apparent. I met or exceeded my writing goal for seven out of twelve months in 2018 and even for the months when I didn’t make my goal for that month, I still wrote something.

Almost 70% of my writing was in two categories—Journal and Storytron. I pleased that I got into the habit of writing in my journal every month. My Storytron writing was greatest in the months leading up to the announcement of my StoryCalc project in January, my overview of Storytronics in May, the open sourcing of Storytron in July, and the Storytron winter update in December.

Legably writing was confined to the beginning and end of the year. From January to May it was probably related to our aborted June release. From September to December it was getting user stories and documentation ready for future development.

In the months where there was a word deficit I can remember these events that probably diluted my focus.

  • On June 1st, just as we were about to go live with version 1.0 of Legably, Payoneer, our escrow payment provider, decided to leave that business abruptly. During the rest of that month and July we were focused on removing the Payoneer integration code, replacing it with Stripe Connect (we went live with version 1.0 on August 8th).
  • From June 4th to July 9th I was traveling between Rhode Island and Kansas City, Missouri for an Appirio strategy project (Appirio was my 925 job).
  • On July 9th I was let go from Appirio and I spent the rest of July and August looking for a new job, which I found at the end of August.
  • Don’t have any insight into the April and October deficit causes.

For 2019 I still have the goal of writing 140 words a day on my list. I’ve kept the four 2018 categories—Journal, Storytron, Legably, Other—but have added a fifth one, One Act Play, for a one act play that I’m going to write. Wish me luck.

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