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My 2013 hits and misses

512px-Emoticon_Face_Smiley_GE512px-Emoticon_Face_Frown_GEI’m not big on waiting until January to make resolutions. If there’s something I want to start—or stop—I don’t see a need to wait. But I do like using the new year as a time to reflect on my accomplishments and missteps so I can set better goals and determine what I need to work on going forward.

What I noticed this year is that my productivity plummets during the summer, especially in terms of writing. You can see in the charts below that my word counts and writing hours dropped significantly in the middle of the year.

Some of this is due to conferences and personal travel, some due to my kids being home and visitors (good distractions), and some probably due to me getting out of my good habits (bad distractions). I did start to pick up my good habits again in the fall, but I need to be better about this in 2014.

I wrote more words and worked more hours in 2013, and it paid off with a fully edited, ready-to-go manuscript, and half of the second book in the series. My increased hours also reflect that I’m doing more online courses, in-person workshops, and individual training.

2013 Stats

I wrote 164,592 total words, including blog posts (new to this year's stats). 131,486 of those were fiction words, almost 20K more than 2012. Travel, visitors, conferences, and online courses really messed with my summer writing habits.


I worked 930 hours, not including reading craft blogs, small snippets of research reading, volunteer hours for my writing chapters, or travel time (I did include blogging and author-related social media for 2013). That works out to about 18 hours/week.




– Taught two Scrivener online courses (actually four).
– (Partial hit) I was definitely better about putting off email and social networking until after writing on many days, but still totally failed on others. Need to keep working on it.
– I did better this year confining my work to weekdays between 7am-6pm. I wasn’t 100% successful, but I’d say I managed it about 90% of the time. Weekends are hardest.
– Blogged weekly. Thanks for reading! 🙂
– Completed revisions on BLIND FURY with a professional editor, which means I have the first book in my series ready to go.
– Published PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS FOR WRITERS, which wasn’t on my original goal list, but is a definite “hit” for me. 🙂


– I did not get 60-90 minutes of writing or editing in every weekday, nor did I always hit 1000 words during writing sessions. But I’m not too disappointed. You can see from my chart that I still wrote a lot of words this year.
– I didn't complete two new manuscripts, but I figured out my real goal (self-published series in 2014), which caused me to stop a book halfway through. As a result, I only wrote half of the second book in the series, and half of another that might be part of another series someday, and spent a lot of time revising book one.

Goals for 2014

– Self-publish a three-book series and novella. (I talked about why here.)
– Teach two Scrivener full-length online courses.
– Create and deliver at least one short, specialty Scrivener course.

Seriously, I think that may be enough to keep me busy night and day. 😉 Throw in my travel for fun, conferences and workshops, and the fact that we’re due for a move this summer, and I think that’s plenty.

How’d you do in 2013? What’s on your list for this year?

Image credits: By Granny Enchanted (Own work) (CC0), via Wikimedia Commons

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    • Reply

      Hey, Ellen! For the last few years I was using a printed calendar to jot everything down and then entering it into a spreadsheet later, but this time I’m trying to go straight to the spreadsheet. We’ll see. I love technology, but sometimes it’s not convenient. I need an app that will track both hours and word count. I found one that would probably fit the bill, but it sometimes stops counting time when I got into Scrivener full screen mode, which is where I spend a lot of my time!

      Anyway, I used Numbers for the data mainly because it doesn’t bog down my computer like Excel does. For heavy duty stuff I go to Excel, but for simple math and charts, Numbers is fine.

  1. Reply

    You really had a busy year, and I’d say you had many more “hits” than “misses.” I like that idea for a Scrivener Specialty course as one of your goals for this year. When it’s time, I’ll be there to take part! 🙂

    • Reply

      Thanks, Mark! And, of course, I was thinking of you when I wrote that. But you’re not the only one to ask, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth my time. 🙂 Have a great year!

  2. Reply

    I’m so impressed that you keep track of all that! Congratulations on all your hits, and your misses, because you learn from those, too!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Kathy! I’m kind of a dork like that. 😉 You’re right, the misses are just as important.

      I had a personal hit last year that I know you’ll appreciate: I earned my 1st level Sifu (black sash) in Kung Fu! After coming so close in TKD, it was a great feeling to finally get there this time. 🙂 Happy new year!

  3. Reply

    Wow – I’m very impressed by your record keeping! I tend to just jot down the total word count of a manuscript in a writing diary at the end of each week and also make a note of general progress because otherwise I look back and think to myself, what did I really achieve in the last month? I also have children so productivity drops off in the school holidays, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing – it helps to provide variety and structure to the year if you can plan work around the school terms. As soon as they go back to school productivity shoots up, but by the holidays I’m looking forward to a break 🙂

    • Reply

      Thanks, Margarita! I used to do the same, but then I’m kind of into trends and patterns and analysis… I agree that productivity drop-off isn’t always a bad thing. I did quit my full-time job for a reason. What I hate is when I don’t spend the time I have wisely. Have a great year!

  4. Rod Burns


    Nice work, Gwen! Any chance you could post a pic of your spreadsheet layout? I’m trying to get something set up to track my writing goals and I just am not sure how to lay it out, or what all I even want in it.

    Also, if I took the Scrivener course last September, is this upcoming one pretty much the same? Or is there an “advanced” course? Thanks!

    • Reply
      • Rod Burns


        Thanks for the link, I think you showed us this during the class if I recall. It looks familiar anyway 🙂 I signed up for your newsletter last summer, but didn’t get a notification of this class. I saw it on Twitter though, so as long as you keep tweeting about classes I should see any upcoming ones. Thanks!

        • Reply

          Rod: That’s strange that you didn’t get my newsletter. Maybe it went to your spam folder. Or maybe your email is wrong in my database. Anyway, I’ll keep tweeting it too. 😉

  5. Clive Harffy


    Hi Gwen, I’m not about to be as organised as you are! But I am seriously impressed! You’ve helped me to get writing and keep writing and I really appreciate that. Scrivener becomes less mysterious every day, as you suggested it would. Thanks.

    • Reply

      I don’t blame you, Cliff! 😉 I’m so glad to hear that I’ve helped you in some way. Thanks for letting me know because it makes my day. Good luck with your writing and learning!

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