Last year, I asked my muse what she wanted for Christmas. This is what she told me:

Dc01 Christmas Muse

Muses can be rude sometimes, but they do know how to spur their writers into action.

One of the nice things about writing quotas, and the record keeping that goes with them, is that they can help you track your long-term progress. Right now, my average weekly word count is almost double what it was in years past.

Average Weekly Word Counts

2013: 9,293 words per week
2014: 9,003 words per week
2015: 9,416 words per week
2016: 15,837 words per week

So at least in terms of raw productivity, I’m a better writer today than I was a year ago. And there are other, less easily quantifiable ways I believe my writing has improved.

I think I do a better job integrating science into my science fiction. I feel like I’m better with dialogue and characterization. I think I’m better at picking and choosing meaningful details in my descriptions, or at least I’m better at leaving unimportant details out.

I’ve also finally gotten over my addiction to so-called writing rules—which should really be called writing suggestions or, at best, writing guidelines. The only rule I still believe in is do whatever you have to do to get the story right.

I’m not sure if I can call myself a “good” writer yet. I still have a lot to learn about the writing process and a whole lot more to learn about the business side of writing. But with 2016 coming to an end, I think this is a good time to take stock of how far I’ve come in the past year.

So what sort of progress did you make in 2016? And if your answer is “none” or “not enough,” what do you think you’ll do differently in 2017?

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Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement. Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

25 responses »

  1. Wow, I’m in awe of your weekly word count- I’d be beyond happy w/just your 2014 productivity level. I’m luck to get that in two months! =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      Thanks. There was a time when I could barely get a few hundred words done in a week, but each year I try to push my writing quota a little bit higher. For a long time, I thought I’d maxed out at 9000ish, and I’m not quite sure what changed in 2016.


  2. I second being in awe of your productivity.

    My progress in 2016 amounted to reading lots of books on writing, and tinkering with my fictional universe.

    2017 probably needs to be the year where I just write something flawed and learn from it. We’ll see if that’s what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jemi Fraser says:

    Those are awesome word count numbers! I’m impressed.
    I’m learning – and have been learning for years now. I think I’m getting closer to being pub ready … at least I hope so! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. chemistken says:

    Took me a while to get over those writing rules too. Now I spend my days trying to forget them (sort of). The only real writing rule is to do what it takes to keep the reader entertained.

    BTW, I hope your muse checks to see if you have any guns close by before she gives you any more “encouragement.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      I think I know the image you’re referring to. It always makes me smile. If that’s what it takes to get the story done, then so be it. I’m hoping, though, that my muse and I don’t come to that point.


  5. Juneta says:

    Great word counts! Congrats. Love the muse cartoon
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Erika Beebe says:

    I hope you are able to meet each goal you’ve set. As far as reflecting what I have done in he past year, I put lots of effort into plot development and studying the art of scene craft and how to keep the momentum and action rolling.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 15,837 words per week, is very, very good. I hope I can achieve that word count! I also think your muse is quite good, wish my muse motivated me like that 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      Over the years, I’ve gradually raised my word count quota, just a little bit at a time. I’ve found that if I keep pushing myself to write a little bit more than I’m comfortable with, I keep improving in other areas, and it becomes easier for my muse to inspire me. I don’t know if that’s a strategy that will work for everyone; I only know it’s worked reasonably well for me.


  8. pjlazos says:

    Great cartoon! I, too, integrate science into my writing and feel it’s super important to get it right and since I’m not a scientist I’m always asking people at work a million questions. It’s fun and I learn a lot.😘

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I set huge, lofty goals for myself this year that included rewriting five books and sending them out on submission. In truth, I’m two books short with that one, but I did get two new publishing contracts this year–so I’m cutting myself some slack.

    Love the cartoon and the writing progress stats! You’ve accomplished a ton this year. All the best in 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Steve Morris says:

    Very impressive word counts. Plus all that blogging and cartooning too! I hope this is not a silly question, but are any of your books available on Amazon?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Scott Levine says:

    Wow. Congratulations! That’s an incredible amount of writing. Here’s to you. I hope you’re able to keep moving things along so well next year. It’s been a better writing year for me, too, and I’m hoping to keep moving myself along a little more, add in some new projects, change things up a bit in my current work for next year. I love seeing the stuff you post here. Posts like these inspire me a bit to keep moving, so thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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