• Yuwanda Black
  • Self-Publisher's Writing Tournament (Days 4, 5 & 6 Progress): Write. Get Published. Start Making...
Self-Publisher's Writing Tournament (Days 4, 5 & 6 Progress): Write. Get Published. Start Making Money.
Written by
Yuwanda Black
October 2016
Written by
Yuwanda Black
October 2016

I structured things a little differently in this update. In previous ones, I added a summary of "Observations" at the end of each day.

In this update, I give specific feedback to certain participants. I share it in a "Feedback given to this participant" section for that particular person so you can easily see/digest the information dispensed.

Overall, we're doing well as a group. No one has dropped out and most of us are writing most days, which is the whole goal of this indie writer's tournament -- to make writing a habit.


I finished writing my book yesterday (yoohoo!); the latest installment of the contemporary, interracial romance series, "A Taste of Tara."

I'm editing/proofing today, and hope to get it uploaded by tomorrow at the latest. I'd planned for around 25,000 words, but it turned out to be a bit over 32,000.

If I hadn't decided to hold this tournament, I wouldn't have finished this book this quickly. When the tourney started, I'd already written a few thousand words. So I finished it literally within about 10 days.

My goal is to finish two books by the end of this journey (Oct 31), so I'm under the gun to get another book done next week -- at least 25,000 words. Wish me luck!

FYI, following is the roundup email I sent to the group this past Thursday. I hope you find some writing nuggets that help you.


DAY 4 (MONDAY, 10/17)

Participant #1 (Yuwanda). Daily Goal: 3750 words.

I wrote 4248 words.

Participant #2. Daily Goal: 500 words.

Day 6 word count: 580!

Participant #3. Daily Goal: 1600 words.

I added 1762 today. I decided to break my characters up and it was easier to write about the angst and emotions of that than love. Imagine that! They'll get back together, but it was kind of fun to point out how the man was an idiot with the way he handled something. 

My feedback to this participant:

That's how to make a story move; to show the mistakes they're making along the way (and why is it that it's usually the man! LOL!). Keep up the great work.

Participant #4. Daily Goal: 1500 words.

No report.

Participant #5. Daily Goal: 3,000 words.

She simply emailed a number: 1,522 words.

Participant #6. Daily Goal: 3500 words.


Thank you so much for your words of enthusiasm and encouragement. I needed to hear them and I appreciate you reaching out to uplift us all with this tournament. I just realized that I haven't checked in with you In the past 48 hours - yikes! It's been super busy with family obligations like my mom's 80th birthday, but I still managed to get 313 words written over those two days. Again, not a lot in terms of quantity as those were written mostly in the car driving to and from events.

So here's the thing I just realized as I attempt the daily push to change my habits and my mindset regarding my writing: after mentally putting aside all those 'excuses' of not enough time, family obligations, too tired, etc. -- all of which are not true -- I saw that I am scared of what writing might confirm in my life: that I shouldn't be a writer. That I really do suck as I writer, that I will never make a living at it, and that the one label that I have identified with since I was eight years old is a skewed falsehood of myself that I have held onto for the past 40 years.

This realization is really scary. Now that I know it, what to do about it?

As I sat watching my mom during her celebration, I wondered what I would be thinking about at that age. And then the thought occurred to me that there's no guarantee I will have an 80th birthday. But even more compelling than that realization was the sadness in knowing that for the years I have seen a birthday, I had let fear 'keep me safe' from attempting something that I love but might completely fail at.

At that point I told myself WTF? So what if I fail? Maybe it will lead to me to something else I never even realized I liked. Or maybe I won't fail at all and I can fully actualize my dream of making a great living with my words. Either way, I would have tried. If I don't make a serious go at this writing and I do happen to make it to my 80th birthday, I know what I will be thinking as I blow out the candles on my cake: what was I so scared of?

Thanks again

My feedback to this participant:

Everything you said is EXACTLY why I do what I do. My goal is to inspire others to live their dreams.

I learned this lesson early, as both of my parents died so young. If you’ve been a long-time subscriber, you’ve probably read where I’ve disclosed a time or two that my mom died from breast cancer at 45 (REMINDER: get the boobies squished this month ladies and gents. And yes, men die from breast cancer too).

My dad died at 47.

I was 23 and 24 respectively when I lost my parents; they died almost a year to the day within each other. So I learned very early how preciously short life is. It’s why I don’t let anything stop me. I pursue my dreams with a passion.

Has that led to mistakes? Plenty. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade one of my mistakes for anything. You learn and you keep going. And the one really big lesson I learned by losing both of my parents so early is not to give a flying fig about what other people think about my life decisions.

At the end of the day, you’re the one who pays your bills. You’re the one who has to live with the consequences (the good and the bad). It’s why I post a “Self-Confidence Quote of the Day" to my Twitter account. It’s something so many freelancers (and really, most people) lack. And this is what gives you the courage to pursue your dreams. You must, must, must believe in yourself – even when no one else does or everyone else tells you not to do “x” because of so and so.

If it makes sense to you, and it’s your heart’s desire and you’re willing to live with the consequences, I say go for it. Life is too short to wonder, “what if.”

Ok, I’m off my soapbox.

Keep up the writing, and remember, 100 words a day is better than 0 words a day. :)

Participant #7. Daily Goal: 1,000 words.

Well the good news is I did write today!

A notch down from good is that I wrote 859 words. 141 words short of 1000 word goal

2 notches down from good is the not so good - The writing I did today was on a completely different writing project. I initially started with the ebook and was completely stuck. I had nothing. The vague outline I started out with lacked depth and now I'm stuck. At least I think that's why I'm stuck :-O!

3 notches down from good, white flag of surrender waving, final words for tonight: but I did write

My feedback to this participant:

You should write comedy -- that was hilarious!

RE <> And that's the overall goal, so good for you! Keep plugging away. You'll get there.

Participant #8. Daily Goal: 3000 words initially; changed that to 1500 after the first day

No report in.

Participant #9. Daily Goal: 2200 words.

Day 4 Result: 2,239 Words

Total Words: 9,878 Words, 1,078 Words ahead of schedule

Thanks for the great feedback today! The words flowed this morning but I'm going through some of that "first real book" stuff. "Panic" is too strong a word, but I started to doubt my outline which led to much bigger doubts when I realized my story won't fill as many pages as I estimated. I had to remind myself that the story will take as many pages as it needs to be told, and then I'm done! After a good break, a workout, and a sensible dinner, I polished off my daily words with a much more positive attitude. Here's to tomorrow!

My feedback to this participant:

Don't worry about page count, especially as this is your first book. Just write until the story is finished.

Then, when you go back to the editing phase, you'll find spots where you can fill in more detail, fleshing out this point, or that one, or adding an anecdote there. Worrying about word count while writing is like "mental editing". As I told another writer who was trying to actually edit while writing, doing this slows you down; it interrupts the creative process and is just an all-around bad idea in my opinion.

So again, just write until the story is finished. Then, go back. Keep up the great work.

DAY 5 (TUESDAY, 10/18)

Participant #1 (Yuwanda). Daily Goal: 3750 words.

I wrote 1,246 words today (2,504 words short of my daily goal).

I published a new post to InkwellEditorial.com today, which took up most of my "writing time." I also did some social media marketing, as well as interacting with my web designer about the new site that I hope to unveil by month's end (fingers crossed!).This is what being a hybrid freelance writer is.

I will make up for the missed words tomorrow -- making my goal for Day #6 6,254 words. Hope you had a good writing day.

Participant #2. Daily Goal: 500 words.

Tuesday word count: 0 (I am nomadic and living on the go; some days, you just get swept up in an adventure!)

Participant #3. Daily Goal: 1600 words.

Today I did 1696! No problems :)

Participant #4. Daily Goal: 1500 words.

No report in.

Participant #5. Daily Goal: 3,000 words.

2193 words. Maybe one of the most complex plots I’ve ever developed.

My feedback to this participant:

I've tried sticky plots. I'm not very good at them; I usually find myself so tangled in the writing weeds I can't see my way out. It takes great writing skill. When I'm in NYC again, I hope to take a class to tackle this as I have a crime series in my head I want to write, but it's too complex for me. Good luck with it.

Participant #6. Daily Goal: 3500 words.

HI Yuwanda

Awesome job on your word count! My word count for Day 5: 238.

Participant #7. Daily Goal: 1,000 words.

Word count - 0. 1000 words short of my goal :-(.

Today has been a really full day for me. 2 part-time shifts, grocery shopping and a couple of errands squeezed between. I didn't write on this project at all today. Just finished up writing one of my weekly blog posts and started another because I am developing my consistency with making weekly blog posts.

Thanks for the tip to read the article you shared about getting unstuck. Still haven't had time to read it yet but am planning to definitely do that tomorrow!

Have another double shift tomorrow but don't have grocery shopping and errands so I will be able to get some writing in! At least as of now that is my goal.

Participant #8. Daily Goal: 3000 words initially; Changed to 1500 per day after the first day.

Hi Yuwanda, things have gotten a bit crazy for me with the various things that go into living in Nairobi. Add to that, an avalanche of freelance work, which I don't like, and I have very little time in the day to do anything else.

But, I MUST stay in because I have to get back to writing my own stuff. I published two novellas in 2013 easily, but got derailed, so I have to get back to writing. I can't write today because I'll be hustling to get a client's job completed all day, but I plan to write tomorrow, Wednesday. Have a great day! -- Lois

My feedback to this participant:

Good to have freelance work. You have to prioritize what brings in the dough, no? I get it.

Hope your schedule has gotten easier, and that you find some time to get back to your own projects, which is where building long-term, autopilot income streams is, in my opinion. Fingers crossed!

Participant #9. Daily Goal: 2200 words.

Day 5 Result 2,433 Words

Total Words: 12,311 Words, 1,311 words ahead of schedule

I think it's actually quite possible that I'll reach the end of my outline in the next couple of days. There will be more writing to do--the story needs a decent introduction/explanation and I glossed over some things that will need to be expanded, then there are a lot of great discussions I have detailed notes about that I'd like to obscure a little bit and work into the format.

If I had to guess, I'd say the length will be just over half of what I estimated, but it will be well within short ebook recommendations I've looked up. A short book full of worthwhile content is totally acceptable to me. I'll keep writing until the writing is done.

DAY 6 (WEDNESDAY, 10/19)

Participant #1 (Yuwanda). Daily Goal: 3750 words.

3314 words so far today; short of the almost 6,300 that I wanted to do to make up for the missed word count yesterday, but I might log back on later this evening and write.

Right now, a little 8-year old I help with schoolwork sometimes here in Jamaica needs me (she has homework), And, I wanna get my run in so I can be front and center for the last presidential debate tonight.

I only have about 3,200 more words to go, so I will finish the writing tomorrow for sure, then edit and proof on Friday, so I'm still on track to make my deadline.

Note: I never did log back on; got hung up watching the presidential debate, and all the commentary after. I’m a political news junkie and devour news during election season.

Participant #2. Daily Goal: 500 words.

Wednesday word count: 509 (back on the horse!)

Participant #3. Daily Goal: 1600 words.

1731 today! Added some intrigue with a second love interest since my character's first love interest is kind of a "secret" affair! Good to have dialogue with more than two people.

My feedback to this participant:

I almost always have ancillary characters in my romance novellas. It does make the story more dimensional ... and as an added bonus, it's great for building up to inter-related series! So keep that in mind as you write.

Almost all of my novellas are series, and some of the biggest sellers have been the "best friend" of main characters in another series. I thought the main characters were more interesting, but the other series featuring the best friend took off and sold like wildfire. An example. My "A Lover for Beth" series. Beth was the best friend of the main character in "Desperate for More."

For some reason, readers loved the "A Lover for Beth" series much more than the characters in "Desperate for More," which I found more interesting. Just goes to show, you just never know what readers are going to take to.

As always, great going. You've hit your word count (and usually exceeded it) every day! You rock girl!

Participant #4. Daily Goal: 1500 words.

No report in.

Participant #5. Daily Goal: 3,000 words.

I’ve lost an entire day to other events. Hopefully today [Thursday, 10/20] will be more productive.

Participant #6. Daily Goal: 3500 words.

No report in.

Participant #7. Daily Goal: 1,000 words.

No report in.

Participant #8. Daily Goal: 3000 words initially; Changed to 1500 per day after the first day

No report in.

Participant #9. Daily Goal: 2200 words.

Today was a non-writing day! I spent a lot of the weekend sorting out notes for this project and haven't taken a real break. I felt that today needed to be the day. I got great work done on my other big project of the moment (educational software for kids) and I'm looking forward to digging in again tomorrow. Based on how refreshed I feel tonight I know it was the right move.

My feedback to this participant:

Sometimes we all need a break. It's as important as writing, so good for you for recognizing that.


The next update will be this coming Monday, the 24th, so continue to send me in your daily progress, ok? And if you get something live, for example, on AMZ or B&N and want me to send it out to the group, let me know. I’ll gladly do that too.

Happy writing! :)

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P.P.S.: Get these 5 romance novellas for only 99 cents! A Lover for Beth; Ruthless Love; Priced Out of LoveReturn to Me; and A Taste of Tara.

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