Progress Report: One Million Words, week 4

This week’s total is 3,246 words. This is marginally short of last week, but that’s mainly because today’s total was about half the average for the week as I finished my story. Yay! My streak is now 22.

My total words written is 11,185/1,000,000. This puts me over the first percent of the challenge, at 1.12%. That’s also the final wordcount of the first draft of “Mountain Story”.

Day-by-day summary

Monday: 538

Tuesday: 706

Wednesday: 351

Thursday: 413

Friday: 529

Saturday: 455

Sunday: 254


This week’s daily average is 464. Taking an average of the first six days, it’d be 499; today’s wordcount really brings the average down a lot. I’ve also hit a daily best on Tuesday, with 706 words – the first time I’ve topped 700 words so far in the challenge.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday were work days, and those were my best and second-worst days of the week, so it’s not work that’s the problem.

On Wednesday I also attempted to write earlier in the day. I went to my favourite cafe, but I didn’t make much progress; perhaps I shouldn’t have sat where a guy I’ve spoken to there before could show me his beautiful photos of the South African coast or tell me interesting things about the remote Scottish island of St Kilda. Maybe next time I’ll find a more secluded spot, or go at a quieter time of day. Having said that, the trip did result in a few notes and some points to research in particular regarding St Kilda.

It felt like I wrote a lot on Friday and Saturday. I was getting close to the end and it felt like I was really going well, in the flow of things; I suppose I was able to tell the story fairly succinctly, though, as those days were not extraordinary in wordcount.

On a couple of days this week I wrote until I couldn’t stay awake any more. Admittedly I’m writing in the evening, usually starting after 9 or even after 10 (when I normally go to bed around 10:30pm, as my morning alarm is for 6:45), so I’m often fairly tired when I start. But I think part of it is also that I was getting really excited to write and wanted to keep going, because the story was fun and I wanted to work out where it was going next. On one day – maybe Thursday – I actually did fall asleep with the pen in my hand, just for a moment. I’ve done that with books in my hand before (in fact I’ve done it with books a few times in the last month) but not with a pen. Well, not while writing fiction anyway; I’ve nodded off in lectures once or twice.

Speaking of reading books, I’ve been doing that some more too. Since I finished reading The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence, I’ve read The Bloodline Feud and The Traders’ War, both by Charles Stross (and would have read the third in the series if not for my lack of funds and need to eat), and I’ve been tearing through The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian in the last week. Mostly reading in bed as the last thing before going to sleep each night, but also sometimes during the day.

I don’t know whether my renewed eagerness to read (which has just not been there a lot of the time in the last few years) is linked to my renewed writing, or whether it’s simply because these are really good books. It is certainly the case that, having finished one, I was very quick to start the next. I think it might be possible that, having finished the books I could not read the next in the series to, I jumped to something else to attempt to fill the void where the sequel couldn’t.

The Story

The Mountain Story is done and it clocks in at 11,185 words in total. Rather more than I anticipated, but I am sure that total will go down a fair bit in editing. I think it would be about right at between 7,000 and 8,000 words, so that will be my aim when I come to edit it. For now the story is going away for a week or two, and then I’ll type it up and edit at the same time.

In general, I think I’m happy with the story. The climax might need a bit more oomph, and there are some waffling bits which will need to be cut, but I felt I was able to convey some personality, get across cultural indicators, and tell the story reasonably well overall. Once it’s been cleaned up a bit I think I could be genuinely pleased with it.

Now that I’ve finished the story, it’s time to move onto something else from tomorrow. I’ve collected a few prompts in a notebook, as well as some notes on things to research. I will definitely need to spend some time thinking things through tomorrow before I start writing the stuff that counts towards my total, or I’ll run out of time, so I’d better set a few hours aside in the morning.

Take away points

  1. If I write in my favourite cafe, I need to go upstairs, because downstairs is busy with activity and there’s always someone to talk to.
  2. Getting close to the end definitely made me more excited to write.
  3. There may be a link between increased writing and increased reading. Since both are going well right now I like it.

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