We made it! Technically a week late, but we decided we deserved some time off for our elope-moon. It’s also Richard’s birthday, and all he wanted was to be finished with this. It was a long, tough road. Both of us can handle fifty thousand in a month or more when that’s our main focus, but maintaining close to that pace month after month with life (and a divorce, and moving, and getting married, and trying to have sex 555 times…) getting in the way is hard. But we did it! Here’s what each of us learned, thought of things, etc.
Richard: I’m going to be honest, by the end, I really hated it. Starting around September or October, it got really frustrating that any writing I did had to be designed to just churn out as many words as possible. It’s one thing to write rambly stream of consciousness bullshit for one month for Nano. It’s another to do it for most of my writing for a year, especially when I had to balance it with putting out ten thousand or so a month of “good” words for my MFA program. There was no time to really sit down and plan out stories, or focus on doing revision for any quality. I have so many awful, half finished, stories with me randomly complaining about not wanting to write the scene I’m on taking up words in the middle of them. Maybe I’ll go back and clean up some of them this year. Or maybe I’ll never look at anything I wrote this year again, because I’m scared of how terrible it is. Might be better just to start fresh.
Still, I’m proud that we made it. A lot of writing challenges just aren’t that hard once you’d done a few of them. Write a novella in a weekend? Okay, that’s just super Nano for two or three days. Write X stories across Y themes? Sure, I can come up with five hundred or a thousand words of bullshit about almost anything. This is one of the few that actually required us to put out the effort and consistently try (almost) day after day, week after week, and month after month.
And, just like Nano, consistency was the biggest factor in our eventual (slightly late) success. To each write our halfish of the one million, we needed to crank out just under fourteen hundred a night. Jayden and I can do that in a half hour, easy. But finding the time and energy to do that every night was the hard part. We came and went in waves. We’d have a strong month, then a week month, then an average one. Our worst was September, when we apparently managed a combined total of just over one thousand. For the whole month. At least that’s what the spreadsheet says. I know that there were times where I “banked” words and would count a whole piece at once when it was done. This is a terrible idea, by the way. Keeping track of words is a pain in the ass. Making sure you don’t lose (or double count) any. Update your word count every night, folks.
Overall, I’m glad we did this, excited to never do it again, and I want to thank Jayden. Not only did she write more than me, but there’s no way I could’ve contributed even half of what I did without her support.
Jayden: I ended up writing a lot of my words right into Scrivener. I kept going in the same document, making new files and folders. Don’t do that. It’s going to be a fucking mess trying to figure out what’s where. I know there’s at least two novels in there. Somewhere. 20 short stories. A bunch of blog post drafts. I see one unfinished novel… It’s just a disaster. But as Richard said, counting words was hard. It was easier using Scrivener’s Targets tool to keep track, that’s for sure.
I generally write a lot of smut, and I can do that without doing a lot of outlining or planning. I am a perfect candidate for writing a million words in a year (or half a million in this case) because what I write just doesn’t take a lot of brain power. I did worry that by the end of the year, a lot of my scenes were too similar though. But, that’s something I can focus on going forward.
I think it was definitely a worthwhile challenge to undertake, and that we both did a great job of holding each other up even when we didn’t want to, especially at the end. As Richard said, the last few months were draining. I am looking forward to being able to do other things without feeling guilty. I have so many projects to undertake!
When I pitched the idea to Richard back in December of 2020, I had no idea what 2021 would hold, but I am so glad that we did it together. I am so grateful for Richard’s support in all ways, but especially in support of my writing.
Here are our final stats:
So what’s next for us? After spending the year drafting endless pages of semi-readable slush, we’re both going to focus on publishing more stuff for people to actually read. For Jayden, that’ll be getting some more books up on Smashwords, Amazon, etc.
Richard has a couple dozen blog posts on his secret blog that no one can actually read, so those will have to go somewhere. He’s going to spend the spring revising a draft for a serial story, and then post it a few chapters a week in the summer.
As far as the blog, our goal is to hit three or four updates a week, probably Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Besides TMI Tuesday, we want to try to do some more fiction again. We’ve also been deepening our dynamic some lately (Jayden will probably get collared before the “public” wedding) so expect some updates on that.