Here’s a post I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while and … basically, not. Luckily, the start of a new year is always a good time to take stock of how you’ve spent the last 12 months, so here’s a look back at how my writing efforts went in 2015.

This is really a chance to see what a difference the ‘morning shift’ has made for me. Back in August 2014, after years of torturing myself trying to get writing done in the evenings, I made the decision to start getting up early and doing my writing first thing. This has all sorts of benefits, from peace and quiet (everyone else is still asleep), to being able to come to my writing with a fresh mind, unfuzzed by a whole day of being awake and having to do adulting.

To give you a sense of how relatively unproductive the evening model was, between 2009 and 2013 I managed to publish a grand total of 9 stories. That’s barely two short stories a year. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but I was pretty sure I could do better – and I definitely knew I wanted to do better.

The Morning Shift hasn’t always been an unqualified success. There have been many days where the need for more sleep won out over the desire to write. There have been some mornings where the writing simply didn’t happen, or other things got in the way. However, in just the first four months of the morning shift (the 2014 months), here’s what I managed:

  • Completed one story
  • Worked on three other stories
  • Spent a total of about six weeks working on a novella (which I’d started a few years earlier)

Not bad. As you can imagine I was keen to see what a whole year of the morning shift could produce. So, here’s what I managed in 2015:

  • finally completed and published the novella
  • completed five short stories (all of which were submitted to various markets – no sales yet)
  • worked another four short stories
  • perhaps most significantly, I wrote a first draft of half a novel (something I don’t think I would have even attempted had I still been writing in the evenings)

If you want some basic stats then see the bottom of this post. The point of all this is not so you can join me in a celebratory pat on the back, but rather to offer some confidence that even getting into a relatively undisciplined writing routine can produce some startling results.

Over the last year, I’ve found myself not just writing in the mornings either. I’ve used lunchbreaks now and again to pick up where I left off that morning, or to get a second or third draft going. I’ve even been using the (late) evenings to get on with final proofing and editing, which is a far better use of that downtime and way less stressful than staring down the barrel of a blank page.

In short, I’ve started to become one of those people who manages to write most days, even if it’s just grabbing the odd twenty minutes here and there to get a bit more done.

The numbers

These numbers come from a tracking spreadsheet I update on (almost) any day I get some writing done. I distinguish between when I’m writing (first draft) and when I’m editing (all other drafts). The numbers are a little unreliable mainly because I started recording blog posts earlier in the year, then decided not to. Also, I don’t bother counting any evening editing sessions since that’s usually just me reading through and making line corrections—I mentioned this because I know there were a number of days that I didn’t record any writing, but did some evening editing.

  • Days writing: 118
  • Days editing: 103
  • Days that I failed to do either: 144
  • Words written: 85,548
  • Words edited: 130,865
  • Average words written: 725 (based on days writing, not the whole year)
  • Average words edited: 1,270 (as per above)
  • Best writing month: September (17,367 words)
  • Best editing month: April (32,733 words)