New Year, New Writing

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I got off to such a good start last year. I was writing every day, not the 1000 words I was aiming for but still pretty close. I hit the 249th day of a writing streak. I was even posting monthly updates here. And then I stopped. I didn’t hit a wall exactly, but I needed to ease off, get some distance and refill my creative well. I wrote just over 1000 words from September to December and that was it. My total word count for the year was 198,945 which is so frustratingly close to a nice round 200,000 that I wish I’d paid more attention and thrown together a few words over the Christmas break. That was the original plan. I’ve had three weeks off from my day job and I was going to use that time to ramp up my writing again. Instead I played Alan Wake Remastered and watched a lot of TV and movies. Which was exactly what I needed. I guess there were probably times during the break where I considered giving up writing, but I’ve tried that before and it doesn’t stick. I always end up coming up with an irresistible idea that … Read More

NaNoWriMoLax 2021

Philip HarrisNaNoWriMo, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has rolled around again. If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month and thousands of people around the world take part in the challenge. I almost attempted it this year. I have my (probable) next book outlined and ready to go but my schedule is jam packed and I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing. Adding the pressure of NaNoWriMo would have been bad for my mental health. But lots of people are attempting NaNoWriMo. If you’re one of these people then you’ve hit the halfway mark. Maybe you’re excited because your novel is hurtling along and you’re on track to finish your first draft by the end of the month (that’s a lot of your/you’re). Alternatively, you’re not. Maybe every day is a struggle and the pile of words remaining looks like an insurmountable hill to climb. If that’s you, it’s okay to abandon NaNoWriMo. You’re not a lesser writer because you haven’t managed to crank out a completely arbitrary 1,667 words a day during a pandemic. Take a break, refill your creative well then jump back onto the writing horse when … Read More

August (and July) Writing Update

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I definitely didn’t miss my July writing update, oh no. Definitely not. Look over there – a new David Duchovny album. Okay, you got me. I forgot to update at the end of July. And July was a pretty good month, writing wise. I hit 19,808 words and continued my writing streak. Most of that time was spent revising my new novella. August got off to a good start. I finished the novella and found a name – The Angular Bones Beneath. I also wrote a new short story set in my Serial Killer Z world – Monstro. If you’ve read the fourth book in that series, Shadows, you may remember a couple of characters called Otto and Monstro. This new story reveals how they met and will be appearing in an upcoming anthology. And then I plunged into a writing slump. I did manage to continue my writing streak and hit 11,914 words for the month but two-thirds of that time was just me poking listlessly at the outlines for my next two books. It was progress and I feel like the stories are getting better and better – the loose ends are less loose and the plot holes … Read More

200 Days of Writing

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I have a probably unhealthy obsession with tracking my writing habits. I’ve got 12 years of data about how much I write and for the last eight years or so I’ve been pretty aggressive about writing every day and tracking how many words I write including whether that’s new words, revising, or rewriting. I’ve also done a few writing streaks. My longest was over 5 years but I was starting to get burned out so ended up taking a bit of a break after that. I started a new streak at the end of last year, though, and on Wednesday I hit day 200. Word count for those 200 days was a very respectable 184,840 words. A fair chunk of that was revision but I did wrap up the first book in my new series and a prequel novella. Timing for those books is still up in the air but at least one should be out later this year. Writing streaks aren’t a good fit for everyone but they’ve certainly helped me keep up momentum. I’ve done streaks for exercise as well but not as aggressively. Run streaks are gaining popularity but there’s a physical cost to running every day … Read More

June Writing Update

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Oooh ooh, we’re halfway there! Oooh oooh <cough> <cough> Ahem. Okay, that’s enough of that. We’re halfway through 2021 and it’s hot. Not as hot as a couple of days ago when Vancouver reached 40C (about a billion F) but still pretty toasty. I’ve never been so grateful for the air conditioning in my apartment as I was this week. It’s been heartbreaking to read about the loss of life and I’ve been getting worried emails from family in the UK where Canada’s lethal heatwave has been making the headlines. I wish I could believe it’s a once in a lifetime event but I can’t. That air-conditioning has meant that I’ve been able to keep on writing and with it being too hot to run, I’ve largely been inside, poking away at the my latest manuscripts. June’s total wordcount was 25,107. That’s slightly up on May’s total but still short of the 30,000 I was aiming for. I also got my second Covid shot and the associated side-effects, though, so I’m taking it as a win. That brings my total for the year to 166,100. It’s a respectable number and I’m well on the way to making this my most … Read More

The Wasteland You Call a Mind

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As I write this, I have just finished the first draft of my next book. This one has been a bit of a struggle. I started it on the 2nd of February 2019 and apart from a break between April and October of that year have been working on some form of this story pretty much since then. It’s been rewritten multiple times and this version is actually a combination of the original early drafts and a prequel novella. All that work has netted a first draft that’s 134,043 words. That’s a good 30-40% longer than even the longest Serial Killer Z book. All those words mean I’ve got a lot more revising, editing, and proofreading to go before it’s ready to see the light of day but I’m happy with where it is at the moment. It’s a good story with an interesting setting and a main character that I have a lot of fun writing. I’m planning this to be a series. Each book will be a complete story (no cliffhangers) but there are ongoing plots and the relationships between the characters will evolve. There’s plenty of meat in the world I’m creating and although I’m not quite … Read More

Sunday Snippet – 20th June 2021

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A quick unedited (and context free) snippet from the currently untitled first book in my new series. Memories surged around Tessa. Heart-wrenching loss entwined with stomach-churning fear. Night terrors wrapped around movie-style theatrics. Faces peered at her from the bleakest recesses of her mind. She cried out for Eli, desperate for his strength of will or just to hear his voice. The demonic presence in the room grew stronger. She felt the nightmares crowding in around her. Despair clambered through her mind. It was a cancerous thing, black and bitter but it brought with it the promise of relief. She’d already lost, all she needed to do was accept it and it would be over. No more fighting. No more pain. Just the merciful release of oblivion. The blackness filled Tessa’s mind. She clung to every memory of Eli she could find. His smile. His dumb jokes. His pitiful attempts at juggling three multi-colored balls she’d bought for him from a street vendor.The despair corrupted them all. His smile became a disdainful grimace. His dumb jokes turned spiteful. The juggling turned to an angry outburst, the balls now mugs hurled across the living room to smash against the wall. None … Read More

May Writing Update

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It feels weird writing May when we’re in June but this is an update on what’s happened in the past so guess it’s right. Yeah, it’s right. Total new words for May was 24,499. Apart from being annoyingly close to a nice round number, it’s my lowest month of the year. I had some really low days in there thanks to the rest of the world getting in the way but I’m trying not to beat myself up too much. There’s still time to catch up on my 1,000 words a day average and even if I don’t I’m on track for my most productive year anyway. As for the important bit, the book, I’m so close to the end I can taste it. The finale is pretty much done, I just need to wind down the book and everything up. A lot of the final chapters were written a while ago and don’t need much work so although there’s maybe 15,000 words left in the book, most of them are done. One bright spot in an otherwise very mixed month was that I kicked off the cover design process for this book. I’m using the same designer that I … Read More

April Writing Update

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Another month, another writing update. I’m still focused on the first book in my new series. I crossed the 100,000 word mark for both the book and my word count for 2021 which is a nice psychological milestone. There’s still a decent chunk of writing to do and I spent several days wrestling with some tricky plot problems. Most of them are sorted but I found another one a few minutes ago. Which is why I’m writing this update not working on the book. But that’s a problem tomorrow’s insomnia to solve. Total word count for the month was 27,890 which is another month averaging less than my target of 1,000 words a day. I’m still on track to have my most productive year but I really would like to hit that completely arbitrary 1,000 words a day goal. With the current book drawing to a close, I’m starting to think about what to tackle next. Most likely choice is a prequel short story for that series that I have outlined. I’ll be publishing as a precursor to the new series but if you’d like to get it free everyone on my newsletter will be getting a copy. Sign up … Read More

Sunday Snippet – 4th April 2021

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A quick unedited (and context free) snippet from the currently untitled first book in my new series. Tessa sat in an absurdly comfortable armchair. The hard edge of her phone dug into her ribs but she didn’t dare shift position in case she drew attention to its existence. The mayor didn’t seem to know she’d been recording them and so far he hadn’t called the cops. Tessa didn’t want either of those things to change. The mayor and Jody were on the couch opposite Tessa. Lambert still looked comfortable and relaxed, leaning confidently back against the plush cushions. Jody was less at ease. She sat straight-backed with her knees pressed together and her hands clasped in her lap. Her eyes pinned Tessa to the armchair. Darien was leaning nonchalantly against the wall off to Tessa’s right. The noir outfit was gone, replaced by a sharp black suit, black shirt and even blacker tie. They gave her a pained look. Tessa couldn’t sense anything from either the mayor or Jody. It didn’t guarantee they weren’t involved with the demonrealms but it was seeming less and less likely. “First, I must apologize,” Lambert said. “For my overenthusiastic behavior outside.” Tessa could sense … Read More