So what did I accomplish in my writing career in 2015? Well, I believe that dwelling too much on the past can be the first step to stifling the progress of the future – IF one let’s that reflection take priority over looking forward.
I speak from personal experience. In this respect, I have long been my own worst enemy.
However, the past shouldn’t be ignored. There are lessons to be learned and what I learned was I didn’t write enough. Sure I thought about writing. I blogged about needing to write more. I read blogs about writing more. I did scribble here and there. I’d estimate my total production from January to October to be around 5,000 words. I can’t say for sure because I didn’t track those things then. That’s when I learned Lesson #1: Tracking metrics. Keeping track of words per hour, words per day, time spent writing wasn’t something I had never heard of. But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t compelled to give it a serious try until I watched Scott Sigler’s video on setting daily word count goals. I’m not sure why that video finally got me to try it. Maybe it was the way he presented the importance of metrics as they relate to small businesses. Who knows? But I’ve found it to be hugely, hugely helpful.
The “want” to finish stories is nothing without the “urgency” to do so. You have to finish what you write. Enter lesson #2: Deadlines. This was also in the same series of Scott Sigler videos. So you use the metrics you’re tracking to estimate how long to it will take to complete a story, set the deadline accordingly, AND STICK TO IT. My writing production ramped up in October when Timothy C. Ward told me about the Alien Artifacts Anthology was accepting submissions with a deadline of October 31. I liked the theme and wanted to submit. Tim told me about it sometime in September but I didn’t have an idea until probably the second week of October. To make things more difficult, me and my family were going on a trip to Chicago in the second half of the month. But I was determined. I wanted to submit a story to that anthology and there was NO possibility of doing so after the 31st.
It was time for me to shit or get off the pot.
I wasn’t able to bring my laptop, so I went old school writing with pen to paper. I used a composition notebook and wrote on the plane. I wrote during the small amount of time I had to myself in the hotel room. When I got home, I had probably half of that story completed. I typed it into MS Word and finished the rest by writing during my lunch hour and writing a after I got home from my second job at night, staying up until midnight a lot of the time, and got it done and submitted. Hopefully they’ll select my story. I should know by the end of January.
I was motivated by my progress on that story and was eyeballing NaNoWriMo to continue that momentum. If you are a regular follower of this blog or my Twitter feed then you know how that went. I didn’t win, but I was writing. I was driven by the increasing numbers on my spreadsheet and how they were stacking up against the deadline that could not be changed.
As I said about 2015…lesson learned.
So for 2016, here are my writing career goals for things I can control. Goals like selling 1,000 ebooks is NOT something I can control. I CAN commit to publishing ‘X’ number of ebooks. I CAN commit to working to improve my craft to write the best stories you can. These are things that my effort can directly affect and these are the things that I’m targeting factoring in what I know to be my available writing time between my family and two jobs.
Goal #1: Write 1,250 words a day – This is pretty straight forward. Based on my word tracking from October to now, this is about my daily average, But that number was achieved with variable daily numbers of anywhere from 80 to 5,000 words a day. The goal would be to hit this number consistently as a minimum when I’m working on a project.
Goal #2: Develop an outlining system – For NaNoWriMo, I had a very rough outline and it did a lot to keep the words flowing. I think better planning before starting a project can only help.
Goal #3: Self-Publish a story every other month – This is the most ambitious of my goals for the coming year, but the point of goals is to challenge ones self. I managed to publish one short story earlier this month. My hope, here, is for these stories to be at least novella length, but I might be able to get a novel out in this schedule.
Goal #4: Blog posts every other week – This, of course, presumes I’ll have something interesting to say that often 🙂
Goal #5: More Twitter – Same as above 🙂
So that’s it. That’s what writing in 2016 looks like for me, on screen. Thoughts? Suggestions? Warnings?
Till next time…