HOW MANY WORDS?

Remember at the beginning of the year I made a post about my bujo? And in that post, I included a picture of my writing track for 2019? You can read it here, but I’ll also tell you — my goal for this year was to write 150k words. I kind of surpassed it a liiiitle bit.

Twenty nineteen has been a year of writing for me. Although I never tracked it before, I’m certain this is the year I wrote the most. Between the short stories, Flash Fridays, rewrites of Once, winning NaNoWriMo, and a few other pieces that will never see the light of day, I reached the whooping number of 220k words. I don’t even know how, but, yeah, I did it.

The original goal (150k) was not arbitrary, though. At the end of last year, my friend and editor introduced me to Get Your Words Out — a community of writers that come together to, well, get their words out. It’s a year-long commitment to (mostly) yourself. They have several different pledges — that’s what they call the goals — that you can choose from and then work consistently throughout the year to achieve. To be honest, for me, it was not the number of words that really counted, but all the days and nights I spent actually writing. This year, thanks to this challenge, I’ve learned that the more that I write, the more I want to write. Hopefully, it’s a lesson that sticks. And while I’m at it, my pledge for next year is 250k words. Wish me luck!

To celebrate the end of the GYWO year, one of the participants posted a questionnaire for everyone to look back at their works. There are a lot of questions, and some of them are pretty good! So, I thought I’d turn it into a blog post because 1) I’m lazy and 2) I can tell you about a few things about my process.

Let’s go!

  • Favorite work:
    I have to say that, right now, it’s Once in a Lifetime. Which is a good sign, right? If I didn’t love it, I’d be in trouble.
  • Work you’re most proud of:
    The Lucky Strike short story I wrote back in March. It was the longest I spent to write a short, and I think it’s the one most out of my comfort zone.
  • Your most under-appreciated work:
    The Lucky Strike short story, honestly, go read it!
  • Your most over-appreciated work:
    Erm… I’m gonna say Welcome to New York just because when I sent it to my friends to read, before publishing, I thought no one would like it, but they loved it. I’m pretty sure it’s still their favorite.
  • Favorite title:
    Back in the day, I used to write a fanfic that was called Dreaming Out Loud. I always loved that title and I think it perfectly encapsulates the idea of fanfiction.
  • Where do your titles come from and what type of title do you use most often?
    Songs! Since all of my stories are born from songs, I usually steal song titles for them. Except for the short stories. Those titles come from the story itself, which makes it extra hard to decide on (see A Christmas Cookie Miracle above).
  • What kind of working titles do you use? Or do you always come up with the definitive title as soon as you start writing?
    I’m not really good at coming up with definitive titles. My next book changed titles three times already. Both WtNY and Once changed so much throughout the process of writing that I almost thought of different titles for them. I mean, the song that originated Once is not even relevant anymore!
    As I said in the previous answer, I use songs for project titles and a bit of a summary for random scenes. For example, ‘Becky having impure thoughts‘ is an actual title of a scene in Once.
  • Weirdest thing you had to research for a writing project:
    It depends on what you consider weird. For WtNY, I had to research how much a waitress makes in NY, how much it costs to rent an apartment in Washington Heights, how long it takes for a baby to walk. For Once, I had to research how many people work on a tour, what interior of a tour bus looks like, how to file for a restraining order in the UK. All pretty weird.
  • Project you had the most fun researching:
    WtNY for sure! I spent hours on Google Earth wandering the streets of New York in search of the perfect settings.
  • Project that was the most difficult to research:
    Once. There are so many things in this book I had no idea how to write about. And a lot of the things I researched for the first draft got cut in the second, and I had to research different ones. Writing is researching!
  • Project that was the most difficult to write:
    Again, Once. There are a lot of sensitive subjects that the book deals with. I’m quite scared, to be honest (laughs nervously).
  • Project that’s been a work-in-progress for ages, that you just can’t seem to finish:
    I don’t have a project that I go back to and work on from time to time. I do, however, have a whole file of unfinished stories. The oldest one dates back to 2007!
  • Work you want to write one day, but haven’t yet started:
    So many! I have a long-term plan for my ‘writing career’. It includes a whole lot more than romance…
  • Work you thought you would never write, but finally did:
    Erm… erotica? Another lesson I learned this year: writing sex apparently helps to get you out of a writer’s block. Who would have thought, huh? I certainly wouldn’t. And before you ask, no, you will not be reading any of that anywhere.
  • Genre you write most often:
    Up until now, romance.
  • Genre you thought you would never write, but finally did:
    Sci-fi? Speculative fiction? I think I have short stories to fit both of those.
  • Genre you want to write some day, but haven’t yet done so (and why not):
    I really want to write a fantasy trilogy about mermaids. I haven’t done it yet because 1) I hate series and 2) I don’t know what I want it to be about. But it will come, wait and see.
  • Genre you’d like to write more of:
    All of them! They’re all in my plans (except for horror, I don’t think I’ll ever try that one).
  • Genre you think you’ll probably never write:
    Horror. Nope. Big nope. Life is pretty scary as it is.
  • Longest amount of time passed between starting a project and finally finishing it:
    Considering the first project I ever finished was WtNY, four years.
  • Favorite character:
    I can’t choose one, they’re my little babies! However, I’m willing to bet Pete will be an instant favorite.
  • Character who is the most difficult to write:
    Becky is pretty difficult, in every sense of the word. But also Harry! God, he was difficult! It took me the longest time to find out what his secret was because he wouldn’t talk to me at all.
    Yes, I talk to my characters, that’s absolutely normal, just a day in the life of a writer.
  • Character who simply writes themselves:
    In a way, they all write themselves. They never follow outlines, they rarely care about the story you want to tell or how you want to tell it. They’re all independent, strong (fictional) people.
  • What’s more difficult, plot or characters?
    I think both have their challenges. Characters because it always takes a while for me to get to know them, learn their motives, their personality traits. And then plot because it’s always dependent on characters — and they will do whatever they want to do.
  • (If you outline) biggest difference between the outline you prepared in advance and the finished work:
    I don’t usually outline because of the reasons stated in the previous two answers. But one of the major differences between outline and finished work was in WtNY — in the outline, Harry was the musical type and Alana was the brooding secretive one.
  • Perfect word, and the context you used it in:
    I don’t have one. I always feel like I could say what I want to say in a better way if I used a different word. Didn’t I tell you I spent a whole year editing WtNY after I published it?
  • Favorite opening line:
    “I was born on the day the moon fell apart.”
    It’s from the first short story I posted on the blog! It’s one of the shortest ones, but I have plans to editing and expanding it a little bit. We’ll see.
  • Favorite ending line:
    “That’s not how I want her to love me and, although I can’t control what other people feel, I’m not sure I want any of her love if it’s going to be a sigh.”
    From the second chapter of Once — Pete’s POV.
  • Setting you managed to write about without ever having visited:
    All of them? At this point, I’ve written about New York, Tulsa, London, Oxford, Alnwick, Glasgow, and a few more without ever setting foot in any of these places. I mean, to say I didn’t, I visited London once, but none of the places I’ve been to made it to any of the stories. It’s called imagination (and research) for a reason!
  • Favorite POV to write: (1st, 2nd, 3rd, multiple different 3rd, alternating 1st, etc.)
    I don’t know. I wrote WtNY in alternating 3rd, and now I’ve written Once in 1st. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. I can’t decide.
  • POV you would never consider writing:
    Definitely 2nd! Life is pretty hard as it is.
  • Do you mostly write for challenges/contests/fic exchanges/publishers’ calls for submissions, etc. or do you mostly write in your own time?
    God — and you, reader — know I write on my own time. I wish I had the discipline to write on a deadline. Maybe one day.
  • (If you write stories with relationships) Mostly first time or established relationship? Or something else?
    Both, I think? In WtNY, all the relationships felt a bit new. As they met and got to know each other, both Alana and Harry also had to mend past relationships, so they all felt like beginnings. In Once, Pete and Becky have been friends for their whole lives, so an established relationship. Now, if we’re talking romance, we’ll get a bit of both — there are new relationships blossoming and there are old relationships waning. A little something for everyone!
  • Oneshots/standalone stories or series?
    Standalone! Standalone all the way! Standalone forever! Except for, maybe, that one series about mermaids I want to write. But other than that, standalone!
  • Is there a type of story you read but would never write? Or maybe one that you’ve written, but rarely read?
    Funnily enough, I don’t like reading romance. I wrote a whole post about why I think romance sucks — and maybe why I started writing romance. I have so many problems with this genre, it’s pretty rare that I find a romance novel that I truly like. They exist, though! I’ve found a few. And I humbly hope I’m writing those exceptions.

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