• Ricky Argenbright

Ricky's Writing Recap 2018

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

A lot can happen in a year… and this is what happened to me.

Ok, what I meant was that this is the progress I’ve made towards my goal of becoming an author. It sounds a lot less scary that way. Could you imagine, if something terrible happened to someone because they were writing? 


Anyway, you’re not here to help me analyze cause and effect. You are here because you’ve stumbled accidentally or intentionally into a collection of all the productive things that I’ve done on my computer last year! Yay! Isn’t that great? I think so.

Now, you may have already noticed that the year starts with the month of April, and you might be thinking, “But Ricky, the beginning of the year is January. Did you do nothing for the first three months?

Yes, I did nothing.

I started officially writing with the intent of making it a career move in April. Since I wasn’t a writer yet, I have nothing to show for any period before that. I can tell you what I did do during that time as far as writing though: It took me since October of 2016 until April 2018 to get the first four chapters done of Luminous 1. There, now you know what happened.

From April until December, I was heavily focused on getting this idea that I’ve had brewing for a few years onto paper. Or screen. You know… same thing but faster and friendlier to mistakes. I spent a lot of time creating the universe and the initial ideas that will be poured into the stories I write for the rest of my life. 

Honest. That happened.

Creating lore and world-building are things that interest me heavily, and are two facets that caused me both to become a writer and to love it. It turns out that my addiction to gaming while growing up was for the same reasons. It’s amazing when we can learn things about ourselves when we spend all day every day with ourselves.

There’s something special about unique characters, worlds, magics, creatures, flora and fauna, etc. that just calls to me. It keeps my brain active and my world turning. There are a lot of stories stored in this mental engine and I hope you will come along with me for the adventure. It will be long-winded. Hopefully that’s exactly what you want. 

Sorry, not sorry.

The way that I chose to list these productive events throughout the year was in bullet form. Every time I did something different that month, I wrote it down. Those bullet points are what I’ve listed here, copy and pasted directly from my schedule! I’ve added some interesting tidbits and explanations underneath each one to give context and explain my reasoning behind why I chose to spend valuable time working on it.

And without further rambling, I give you the details of my working writing life from 2018. Please enjoy!


Picked up a steady writing habit to begin my life as a writer.

So, this is pretty simple. This month is when I decided that I was done working without that work being creative. We’ll see how long it takes to solve that problem…

Officially became a blogger.

Wrote my first blog post on Medium this month. If you haven’t been to my page yet or checked out Tales Around the Mana Pool, I recommend it. I write some fun random fiction pieces there to express some random creativity in between my long form writing projects. I’m always looking for input on what people might think is fun to read as well. Let me know!

Wrote most of the stories that are on my blog from 2018.

What I mean by this, is that for the month of April I was writing a lot of blog posts. Every day, in fact. Since I didn’t have all of the pieces put together for the epic fantasy series I desperately desired to start, I decided to spend the time publicly identifying myself as a writer and building some confidence in saying so. Since I had just started this incredible journey, I also wanted to develop a good habit of writing every day to ensure that it’s possible for me to set aside the time and get something done. 

I’m proud to say that it worked on both accounts! I’ve now got a great habit of being able to pick up my writing with whatever free time I get and dive right into it without a buildup. And the production of words is building my confidence as time goes on.


Drafted the short story, ‘Shielded Deception

I wrote my first story this month! To the day of writing this article, however, I’ve made several promises that you would be able to read it. It still isn’t published anywhere. 

I will say though, that it will happen. I say that often, but I mean it, mean it, mean it. I actually just edited it a few weeks ago and plan on submitting it to a writing contest. When it comes back to me in a saddened state for being rejected, I promise to publish it after that. I’ll also update this post with a link to the story when it’s published.

Began work on ‘The Luminous Archive’, the first creative writing project I ever started, after a long, depressing period (19 months) of no writing whatsoever (due to terrible circumstances that I’m glad are done with).

Without going too much into it because the details are unnecessary, I started writing my dream novel and the first four chapters took me a year and a half to write. My progress makes much better advancement now that the terrible situation is over.

Also a noteworthy detail, is that the original title of this series was ‘The Enlightenment Archive’. It functioned as a placeholder until I could come up with a better name that would represent the series. I think I’m happy now, but while the books remain unpublished you never know what will happen. Calling it The Luminous Archive is officially unofficially probably fine.

Discovered Google Docs and Google Sheets are tools that really work for me.

They do. I still use them. I’ve tried a few other things for the main bulk of my writing, but nothing seems to capture how I want it done with the accessibility of the Google platform.

Not to say that other software isn’t good. It just doesn’t do it for me like these do. I’m sure I’ll run into problems when I have to send it to anyone else.

Update: Problem #1 — Figuring out how to convert a Google Doc to a PDF was a short-lived but frightening nightmare. It’s ok Ricky… it’s over now. Breathe.

Transcribed my paper notes for Luminous into digital.

I was writing notes of my first novel outline on post-it notes at work and finally transferred them into a digital outline. Shame on me, and I deserve a pat on the back. There ya go.

Breached 17,500 words in my first story, officially dubbing it a novella.

The story in question would be Luminous 1. I suppose in all of these bullets I’m completely ignoring the fact that my first actual completed story was the short story Shielded Deception. I won’t tell if you don’t. 

This is more of an achievement than progress I think. The way it’s written originates from my gaming self. I’ve earned something that I can brag about to my friends that I don’t have. I have other bullets in this list like this also, because I’m the achievin’ type.


Spent most of the month on Luminous 1.

Lots of progress on that first draft of the first novel. At this point, my smile still hadn’t left my face for any reason. A car could have plowed through my wall and I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Maybe I would have, but it wouldn’t have stopped my word count, that’s for certain.

Outlining for Luminous continues to be heavy.

I was world-building like a monster in these initial months. The world that my first series is set in and the overarching universe surrounding it is still being crafted even to the day of writing this post. It’s a lot of work, but I do it gladly and I can’t wait for someone else to read it besides me. I can only geek out about it for so long before I start judging myself and begin trying to hide from the weirdo so that he doesn’t get all of his weirdo cooties on me. Weirdo.

Worked with Beverly Holtzem to conjure ideas for children’s books.

This is where that stopped. The first story was called Myla and the Rainy Day Octopus, but I am still working on the outline and Beverly has been quite busy. Because she’s been so busy with other projects, which you should definitely check out on her website, this has been at a solid halt. I don’t know if we plan on picking it back up, or if we will begin working on another project that we are more excited about. More to come on this.

Began work on ‘Tales Around the Mana Pool’, a collection of short stories for young adults.

I loved the idea of this. To explain, which I think I did in a newsletter but I’ll explain again, this is my fictional version of people telling stories around a campfire. The idea resonated with me so much that it became more than just a collection of short stories (that have yet to be produced). My publication on Medium called Tales Around the Mana Pool and the way I interact with fans fictionally is what this has evolved into. It’s a pretty neat concept that I’m proud of. It might need some more fleshing out, but I think it will carry forward well.

One of the stories in this collection is close to being finished. I just need to clarify the magic system and get it incorporated, edit it, and then move on to the next story. There will be ten to twenty in total in the collection. I’ll nail that down harder as it comes closer to publishing time. Whenever that is.

Began work on ‘Nurturing Nature’, a collection of short stories about wildlife and their real life struggles.

The concept for this came about when I was really young. I used to collect build-it-yourself almanacs about wildlife and sea life. Let me tell you… those things fueled my imagination like crazy. Nurturing Nature is my way of writing stories about nature and the oddities of weird animals and their weird habits, written by a weirdo. As of this post, my website isn’t updated with the new title. ‘Nature’s Storybook’ is officially kicked out.

This collection is more complete than Tales Around the Mana Pool. I have three stories out of ten drafted and edited. I usually work on these when I need a day to break away from the novels. I know it’s weird to interrupt a project like that, but I told you this guy was a weirdo. I wasn’t kidding.

Completed the drafts for two of the short stories for Nature, ‘Turtle Beach Troubles’ and ‘Lazy Joey’.

The first two stories for Nature came together rather quickly, but writing short stories is much faster than the long form of an epic fantasy novel. I wouldn’t say they were easier, though. Just faster. 

The stories are being edited slowly and will await the last (seven?) that I have left before publishing. And once all of them are done, we’ll have to wait for the artist to produce the art. 

It’s a children’s book… of course there’s art.

Shielded Deception’ endured its first editing session. It was awakening to be sure.

I’m not sure why I wrote that last part on the bullet. What a weirdo.

Shielded Deception was edited online, but as of this post, I actually printed it out and red-lined a copy as well! It was super fun. I’d have to say that I will not be doing that for my novels though, or novellas, or novelettes, or anything else probably (unless I’m bored). It’s just too slow, and I have to transcribe the edits to the computer anyway. Editing the same thing twice is about as inefficient as you can get. Not my style, bros and sis’s. (Sisses? Sis’?)

Outlining stages of a new epic fantasy novel series.

The Luminous Archive through what I’d have to call a Sanderson-sized 400,000 word monstrosity. The outline was pretty long for a skeleton. Don’t worry though, it only took me three days after work to write it. This has transformed into the first three novels of the series as of this post.

Created the Spectros, a universe where many of my fictional stories will occur.

First time reveal!

The Spectros is what I’ve called the overarching universe that surrounds several of my story series. It seems an odd choice, but just wait and see as my stories unfold. It will come together for you eventually. 

This is when I was forming the first details of it. Grabbing hold of the tethers of an entire fictional universe is an interestingly complicated and satisfying feeling. Be excited. There’s a lot to tell…

Breached 50,000 words in my first story, officially dubbing it a novel.

The Luminous Archive officially has it’s first novel-in-progress at this point. It took two months, but as a brand new writer with a day job and overtime, I think that’s pretty great. I was clocking around 1,000 words a day at that point in time.


Spent most of the month drafting Luminous 1.

Drafting, drafting, drafting. And loving every minute of it.

Outlining for the Luminous series continues.

I generally use skeleton outlines, but it was my first time writing anything… and it was long form… and it’s a large universe… and excuses.

Began work on ‘Myla and the Rainy Day Octopus’, a stand-alone children’s book.

I worked on the outline. The story, as I mentioned earlier, might never see the light of my writing fingers or Beverly’s art fingers. We’ll see.

Began work on an undecided title, another stand-alone children’s book.

Not really. Beverly and I discussed this other project, but we’ve done nothing with it. We’ll see what happens as we get less busy maybe sort of. Hopefully.

Found lost ideas from 2016 that helped build new stories.

This was quite a moment for me. I spent a few random moments throughout this month brainstorming to get some additional story ideas to begin stewing. As I have time to filter stories through my brain is how things come together for me. My mind remembered that I had some good ideas when I was younger and I took some notes. Notes are great, so we don’t have to struggle so hard to remember things.

Heavy outlining for what I dubbed ‘Secret Project’.

This… this project I am very excited about. Just as much so as I am with The Luminous Archive. It’s a secret though. Nice try.

Began the search for illustrators to commission some art.

Still doing this, actually. I have an idea of a couple that I want to use for The Luminous Archive though. There may or may not be some pieces up to soak in before the books are released.

Breached my first 3,000 word writing day.

A milestone! A trophy! An achievement! More gaming references and stats. Stats are important. Ask Google.

Breached 100,000 words in my first novel.

I thought this was pretty significant considering the average novel size is shorter than this. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Achievement unlocked.


Spent most of the month drafting Luminous 1 [About halfway done with the first draft].

The halfway mark. A boon for some, but another achievement for me.

Began work on ‘Tales Around the Mana Pool’.

The first story is still in progress, but it should be done and edited sometime this year. I can’t speak for the other nine to nineteen stories.

Breached my first 4,000 word writing day.

Moving on up, on up. The sky’s the limit… or until I pass out and my face hits the keyboard.

Breached 200,000 words in my first novel.

This was pretty significant. I felt like I was mid-tome at this point. Unbelievably awesome.


Finished Outlining the Secret Project.

Yep. I did. And you know nothing about it except that. 

Organized myself for e-publishing.

This was the first time I spent a good amount of time investing in getting ready for the public. Breaching that 200,000-word mark made some waves.

Breached 500 pages in my first novel.

Don’t laugh. Come on. Achievements are great! Even if the achievement itself is completely pointless. It’s like when you get your first quest in a game and it rewards you with a pair of cloth boots with no stats. Cool, but not really. The quest giver had to have something better in his home other than old shoes.

Breached my first 5,000 word writing day.

Lots of words. Lots of progress. Days like this are few and far between with my busy schedule. And actually, it never happened again. After I quit my day job maybe I can work for more than that. Current record.

Realized that I was creating much too large of a tome.

I made this a bullet point. It was significant.

Brandon Sanderson said that a new author would never be able to sell a book as large as The Stormlight Archive. I’m inclined to believe him.

Split my novel into a duology, and then a trilogy.

Yes, I had to split it twice. What nonsense.

I realized that with the size that I was going for, a trilogy was the only way that it was going to be small enough to consume for the average reader. Even with that, the first book of the three is sitting at 180,000 words as of this post. Yikes.

Spent most of the month drafting Luminous 2.

Really I mean the original Luminous 1 before the split. But it’s ok. No hard feelings Mr. Weirdo. Talking to myself makes me feel better about splitting up my gigantic tome. 


Finished the first draft for Luminous 2.

Two drafts down. Now it’s a thing I’ve done several times. On to the third!

Took a breather from writing due to the passing of my grandmother.

Not a good time for me, or the rest of my family. Wrote very little, and we all spent some much needed time together.


Plot mapped the major arcs for Luminous.

After taking a break from my writing habit for a time, I wanted to come back into The Luminous Archive with some direction for the entire series. I created the major plot arcs that will guide the entire series to its end. 

And it’s EPIC.


Spent part of the month drafting Luminous 3.

Book three is the way to be. Fun fact, 333 is my favorite number. I’m not sure how that’s related, but it’s important.

Took a hiatus for family time.

Almost expected since it’s the month of Christmas, but really it’s not. This year, I will not be taking a hiatus. I’m a writer, and writers write. I really want to get my stories out there, and the only way I’m ever going to make that happen is if I’m writing and I don’t stop.

Well, that’s 2018 in a nutshell! I hope you enjoyed seeing the window into my workflow. Be it inspiring or a downright waste of your time, I’m excited with where I’m at in my writing journey and I’m just as excited to share it all with you. Stories are being formed each and every day as I type with a fire that cannot be snuffed out. The day that I can put a book in your hand, is the day that I will feel that I achieved the greatest.

And the weirdo writer will be pretty happy about it as well.

Starting early next year when I post the Writing Recap for 2019, I'll be including my outlook on things to come and what I predict I'll be working on throughout 2020.

Get excited. We're only at the beginning of this journey, and Mordor is really far away.

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