Embracing your Writing Chains

by Doc Coleman on April 17, 2013 · 4 comments

in Writing

Things have been slowly returning to normal, or at least what passes for it around here. My wife has done much better with her recovery, and that has given me time to get back into my writing.  So, at the end of March, I returned to the Magic Spreadsheet and began a new writing chain. This has led to some interesting developments.

My previous writing chain on the Magic Spreadsheet started at the beginning of February and lasted about two weeks. In the process, it produced over 15,000 words of writing. That writing chain wrapped up when I finished the first draft of my short story for the Way of the Gun anthology. At that time, I shifted my gears from writing and focused on editing and publishing for a while in order to get my short story Welcome to Paradox ready to publish. By the time Paradox published, my wife went into surgery for her knee replacement, and I was understandably distracted from writing for a while.

As things got more stable at home, and my wife began doing more for herself, I began to get the urge, the itch, to write again. This led to me starting a new writing chain on March 30th. But what was I writing now? To be honest, a little bit of everything. Some of the writing has been blog posts such as this one, including a couple of editorials that I’m not quite ready to release to the world yet. Keeping the Balticon 46 Wrap-up on track has also helped, as I’ve had to write the introductions and the show notes for those podcast episodes. Show notes for episodes from the Wayback Machine have also helped, but not always as much as you’d think.

But the need to get SOMETHING written every day has actually managed to help me get ahead on several of these projects. As I write this, I’m at least two weeks ahead with The Wayback Machine, and I’ve got everything except the last episode of the Balticon 46 Wrap-up done. There is even the possibility that I may actually catch up with posts to my Master Feed and be able to retire The Wayback Machine, of course, that will take some time to do. Frankly, I’d much rather be writing new stories.

Of course, new stories are still in the offing. But first, I’ve got to finish some of the stories I’ve already started. Some of my daily words in my writing chain were the product of revising the Perils of Prague. Generating word count while editing is much tougher, because most often you’re not just adding new words, you’re deleting extra words, or changing one word for another, neither of which promotes a hefty word count. So, while these editing days are very tough, and may only rack up minimum word counts, they result in several thousands words being added to the second draft of the novel. That is a very big thing. Once I get the second draft complete, I need to solicit some Beta Readers and get Perils in front of their eyes.

I also need to get back to The Bright Lands and finish off the first draft of that story. I haven’t been able to take as much time as I wanted to re-plot Bright Lands, although I do have some ideas of where I want the rest of that book to go. I’d like to do more plotting, but it is beginning to look like I may need to take up writing Bright Lands again before I’m done re-plotting. The re-plotting will come in handy when I get to the second draft, as I know I’ll have to make a number of changes to the beginning of the story.

And then there are more stories in the wings. Perils has a sequel set in India, and another in southeast Asia. Then there is the short story “A Walk in the Park”, which I am tempted to use as the beginning to a new adventure in Australia. Then after that there is a Crackle and Bang adventure on the west coast of America. I also have some ideas for another European adventure, and what steampunk series would be complete without at least one trip to Africa?

Have I mentioned that The Bright Lands is the beginning of a trilogy? So, yes, two more books there, too.

And then there is the Meta powers/Sci-Fi story I’ve got planned for NaNoWriMo this year.

So, yeah. Lots of stuff to write. As much as that is, I feel like I may still plow through it very quickly by keeping my writing chain going.


P.S. Did I mention that my short story “Welcome to Paradox” is now available as an e-book? For just 99 cents, you can pick up a copy for your Kindle, Nook, iBooks compatible device, or head to Smashwords and pick up a version that is readable in some form or other on whatever electronic device you have.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) April 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

I haven’t used this Magicsheet, but started my own at home to track my progress as well.

I’ve been working on my last project adding and deleting words. It’s hard to get a large number count, but so worth the work. 🙂 I’ve got to add a bunch of scenes and a whole new leg to it, then try working on the draft and finessing the words to get to a zero draft I can send to a few friends to find the holes I missed.

But, right now I’m working on Camp NaNoWriMo (talked into at last minute) and a new novellette story idea. I’m currently 15,500+ into the idea…and even though I know what is to happen, I seem to have lost all idea of how many words this will end up being. I can’t judge it right with this one. lol. But I know much will be completely redone, like the beginning – I’ve decided to redo it and it’ll be less words in new form.

Sounds like you are doing wonderfully and glad to hear wife is doing well too!

And I’m curious to hear what you have in store for your Meta powers/Sci Fi story. That could be very interesting. 🙂

Have a great week!


2 Doc Coleman April 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm

While tracking progress is nice, the one thing that the Magic Spreadsheet does is reward consistency in writing. Yes, the reward is just points, but the perceived negative impact of breaking a writing chain is usually enough for someone to keep with their writing project if humanly possible. Yes, it would be cool to be able to cash in your points for valuable prizes, but it really isn’t necessary. After a while, the challenge is to see how long you can keep a chain going. And then there is the bonus of getting your writing done.

How to measure the progress of revisions is a frequent topic on the discussion boards for the Magic Spreadsheet. No one seems to have a really compelling answer to that question. Although one person did suggest counting the number of words revised and diving that by 10 as a way of converting revision into word count. I’m a little tempted to try that method.

Of course, some people don’t count revisions, they just write another project while revising. I’ve been trying to revise every other day, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Sounds like you’re doing pretty well on Camp NaNo. Is that still a 50k target for the story? I still haven’t written enough to make a reasonable estimate on how many words a story should be when it is done. I pretty much just get started and write until I’m done. When I try to write to a target number, I have a bad tendency to go over, and then have a hard time cutting.

I wouldn’t say I’m doing wonderfully, but things do seem to be going a bit better. Just want to make sure it keeps improving.

Now, the Meta powers/Sci-Fi story is an interesting setting. It’s a deep space exploration mission with a crew from Earth’s three major superpowers: A nation of Meta-supremists, a nation of human purists, and a nation that believes that metas have a responsibility to use their abilities to benefit humanity. The mission is to find new worlds so that each nation can have their own planet. If they fail, or take too long, the world goes back to war again, and odds are everyone loses. Racial tensions, battle scars, psychological dysfunction, and then they run into something that is killing off crew members.

Still working out the details.

Talk to you later!



3 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) April 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

It’s nice to get rewards. Even if points. I don’t always get to write every day, but I’m thrilled with every other day working on the projects.

Hmm, that is an interesting idea on revision count. You do read through more words and concentrate on those words, even if they aren’t changed or rearranged. That is an idea with thinking that way. I’m curious to see how that works for you, if you feel you are getting the words added/deleted or cheated on words.

I have a hard time with limited time (and new to really focusing on projects) to doing a new project and revise as the same time. I keep running out of time. lol. But, I must say I’m loving every minute of it. 🙂

I’m happy with Camp Nano. It can be 50k, but they’ve modified it so you can make the count what you want to accomplish in the month. I planned 10k…I’m currently at over 22k. lol. I got stuck in this story and had to keep going. I’m almost done with it, it’s only a novella length story. It was nice going at a slower pace. I found if I wrote every other night, I got more meaningful words as I could think about what I wrote on the off nights, adjust and add to them to connect better, and move on with more clarity. Each story comes in its own process and different each time, but this one is pleasing me with it’s process.

I’ve even had a few scenes going at once as I think of something the character needs to know and how she will learn and consequences. Then the transition to get there seemed to come easier to me.

As for setting a count…yes, I’m not good at sticking to it. I always go over too, almost like I’m afraid of being to far under.

Aah, I think you are doing great. It’s good to be back into writing and working forward again. Here’s to each day getting better and better for you. 🙂

Now, I’m curious about the Meta powers/Sci Fi story. lol. You have a way of creating interesting concepts that catch my eye. Best of luck working out the details. Hope you get to work on it for Nano. 🙂


4 Doc Coleman April 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I seem to be really good at creating interesting settings. It seems that whenever someone asks me what my stories are about, I spend most of the time telling them about the setting in which the action happens, all so that when I finally talk about the characters it makes sense. And then it makes it difficult to show the setting when you’re dealing with a world that is foreign to your readers, but well known to your characters. It can be a challenge at times.

I’ve been working at the writing chain primarily to get better at squeezing in writing time. By building the habit of writing every day, it should become easier to shift into writer mode, either for an essay, fiction, or blogging. It does seem to have helped, and it gets the words stacking up.

Glad you found your own way to get NaNo working, even if you’re not doing the full novel length. In some ways, it sounds like your approach is to write one day, and edit the next. I understand that some people have to do something to get the editor portion of their brain to pipe down for a while so they can write. Sounds like you’ve found a working compromise.



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