I’ve realized I haven’t put all of these in one place, even though I’ve worked them out in some detail. Okay, a lot of detail. A lot of thought has gone into these, so it could be a long post. Could be, right.
I put out some basic writing goals in January, noting that it was my intention to not do a lot of drafting until at least the second half of the year, but I’m not sure why I didn’t put a lot of detail into that post. Last year, there were several posts planned. Multiple posts, really, hitting the stretch and super-stretch goals as they became relevant. But last year turned out to be weird in a variety of ways, and I only ever did one of those, merging a bunch of smaller ones together. What I’m planning this time is to lay everything out at once and then do an update at the end of each quarter.
The overall build of things comes out to four levels in three categories.
- Basic Goals
- Stretch Goals
- Super-Stretch Goals
- Secret Goals
- Writing – I’ve previously suggested that most of these are going to be editing-based for the year. Originally the first half of the year, but I’ve got a huge backlog of things that I really need to either polish or trunk.
- Publishing – having dipped a toe into the indie thing last year, the idea was to ramp this up in 2020 and also to expand efforts in the traditional publishing area this, something I’ve neglected in favour of production for the past couple of years.
- Marketing – I’m actually not going to include these here. I may talk about them separately at some point, but these are mostly background things until I hit certain production benchmarks.
On to the goals themselves.
From the Writing Side of things
The Basic Goals:
- Plot Novel: 3. I have a lot of novel-length stories I still want to write. I’d like at least three of these to get to the stage where I could start drafting them if I were ready. The basic plan is for these to be: Strewn Across the Stars (the sequel to something I’m intending to shop to publishers and agents), My Cousin Hans (an historical novel, mostly set in World War II), and Kami Falling (also a sequel)
- Short Stories: 12. Draft an average of one short story per month. Mostly, I want these to fall into the 3-5k word range, but there’s nothing saying these can’t slide into Novelette territory. A Novella might have to get counted differently if one of those happens.
- Flash Stories: 12. Flash definition in my mind is a story told in 1000 words or less, again averaging one of these per month.
- Blog Posts: 100. This brings me to an average of 2 posts per week for the year. Right now, 2020 is running at an average of 2.4 posts per week for me. A lot of that average is attributable to the last two months.
- ST Audio Scripts Editing: 8. Once upon a time, actually more than once, I had dreams of doing a Star Trek fan audio production. Life events have conspired repeatedly to push me away from that, and Paramount isn’t too keen on fan productions these days. The first two 8-episode “seasons” have already undergone conversion into novels, but the third season has eight episodes that are the equivalent of a first draft. These will probably also get turned into stories, but need some work to smooth out first.
- Edit Novel: 2. The original idea here was to take something that’s been finished drafting and get it to final draft status, but I’m actually trying to rotate drafts through several projects, moving from one to another after each draft. I’m not sure how I’ll count this at the end of the year. My instinct is that once something is drafted, it needs four passes to reach “final” product for me (Revision Notes, Fix What’s Broken, Make It Pretty, Read It Aloud), so 8 non-first drafts of whatever kind would meet the numbers here. Still debating if that’s reasonable.
- Edit Stories: 12. Taking some of the stories I have drafted and polishing them to the point where they’re fit for human consumption.
- Edit FanFic Novel: 1. A Matter of Honour, of course. It’s the only one that really fits this category at the moment.
The Stretch Goals
- Plot Novel: 2 more. Which should maybe be 3 since the next thing I want to work out the plotting and outlining for is actually the second Warforge trilogy, but I set the numbers on these long before I started projecting what projects I might like to take on in what order.
- Draft Novel: 1. This is something that will only start once I’ve got all the Basic goals taken care of. I have several things to pick from, but my best bet will probably be something that I’ve already made a small start on, and I’ve got three choices even there.
- Short Stories: 3 more.
- Flash Stories: 3 more.
- Draft Non-Fiction Book: 1. I’ve had in mind something talking about the classic BBC Radio Comedy sketch show, I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again for a couple of year now. I feel like I want to move this a lot closer to the top of the list.
- Blog Posts: 25 more.
- Edit Novel: 1 more. See my note above on the numbers.
- Edit Stories: 3 more.
The Super-Stretch Goals
- Plot Novel: 2 more.
- Draft Novel: 1 more. Should probably also be picked from the short list of things I’ve suspended to get a lot of editing done.
- Short Stories 3 more.
- Flash Stories: 3 more.
- Blog Posts: 25 more, which would bring me to my current goal of 3 per week, a goal I’ve been meeting or exceeding for nearly two months now.
- Edit Novel: 1 more
- Edit Stories: 3 more.
There are a couple of Secret Goals as well, but if I told you what they were, they wouldn’t be secret. I’ll shout loud when they happen, though.
On the Publishing Side
Here’s where things get a little more complicated.
The Basic Goals:
- Agent/Publisher Hunt: 1. I’ve gone back to this as a real goal, and have chosen Ancient Runes (a Science Fiction story, in spite of the title) as the target book, though I have two others I think might fit into this category too, depending on results.
- Story Submissions: 50. I’ve been slack here the last several years, heavily focused on novel-length stuff. But I still love short fiction, and I’m not the only one. Time to step it up.
- Poetry Collection: 1. I’ve been promising myself this one for a couple of years, but at last have it put together. It’s a small collection of many of my favourites of the haiku I’ve written over the last number of years. It’s actually more or less ready, I’m just not happy with the cover image I’ve taken and that needs to be right before I put together the publishing file.
- Indie Novel: 2. The target here was to get the second and third books of my Superhero trilogy up and out. Book Two (Hero’s Life) has already made it into the wild. Book Three (Fallen Heroes) still needs significant editing, but I’m confident it will happen in the fall.
- Indie Collection: 1. In progress. The Undead stories are fully edited, but I want something very specific for cover art here and haven’t figured out how to get it yet.
- Indie Short: 6. This was originally meant to be one every other month for the year. With the spare time I’ve got now, and picking the stories carefully, I’m at 4, about to be 5, and likely 6 by the first week of June. I could go faster here, but I need to work things out correctly. These will be longer stories, from barely Short Story (6 or 7,000 words) through novella (less than 40,000 words, often called a short novel these days). Meaty stuff that, according to my understanding, people love to read but markets have a hard time wanting to buy. How much great longer fiction have we missed out on over the decades before the indie route was viable?
- Fan Fiction Stories release: 4. The number was chosen because there were 4 stories left in my TOS set. I have more planned, but need to catch up first.
- Fan Fiction novel release: 1. Again, A Matter of Honour. Likely fairly late in the year.
- Indie Collection – FanFic: 1. And this is going to collect my TOS shorter stories to date, of which there are seven totally a little over 65,000 words, so a good size for an entry collection. Not saying there won’t be more in the future, because there likely will.
The Stretch Goals
- Story Submissions: 10 more. If it’s going well, my intent is to push the envelope.
- Indie Novel: 1 more. And with the current availability for editing time, this is looking possible.
- Indie Short: 3 more. I set this number in the first week of January, long before I had any idea that the shutdown was coming, so I’m not changing the goals, but I think this one is going to be fairly easy to hit.
The Super-Stretch Goals
- Story Submissions: 15 more. Which would bring the total to 75 for the year.
- Poetry Collection: 1 more. This one of non-haiku work, of which I have quite a bit.
- Indie Novel: 1 more. Can it be done? A fourth novel released by me this year? Only time will tell.
- Indie Short: 3 more, making the total for the year 12. Which is also seeming reasonable.
Again, there are secret goals here, too, but I’ll keep them secret for now. There are also a couple of secret goals that are neither writing nor publishing, but still related. I’m no more than two months from one of those.
A Final Word
Looking back at 1700 words of goals, I wonder if I should have broken things up over multiple posts. I also wonder if I overthink things a bit, but I’m also very much a planner and get a lot of joy from working things out in advance when I can.
And, of course, since I’m not responsible to anyone other than me for these goals at this point, I can make them fairly fluid and modify them as make sense. Or add to them. Or subtract from them.
Stay safe and be well, everyone. I’ve got to get back to editing.by
Working on being concise this year, I’m going to say that most of my writing goals for this year are on the editing and publishing sides of things. While I haven’t worked out the publishing plan exactly, or even very roughly, yet, the editing piece is a big one.
As I’ve suggested in the past, and more than once, I’ve got way too many things in a non-final draft status. I want to move a bunch of those in that direction this year. To that end, I’m taking at least Q1 (and almost certainly Q2) to focus on editing.
Novel-length projects I’d like to get to final draft this year:
- Big Hair Day = set in the 80s, I’m calling it Historical Fiction. I’m kind of doing things in a weird order this time, taking care of most of the dictation cleanup and other tidying during the revision notes pass. Probably not a lot of big changes in the 2nd draft, though there are three short scenes I want to add, and a fourth I’m toying with, to make the overall plot smoother.
- Troll World = a current total length of 320k, the Troll World novels consist of five separate books. Once the editing is complete, and there are a few things I have to add here and there, I expect the length to increase by about 10% overall.
- A Matter of Honour = Star Trek fan fiction featuring a young Lieutenant Chekov. Converted from audio drama and with a few small tweaks due to the medium change, I think the story works pretty well.
- Fallen Heroes = final volume in the Heroes Inc. trilogy, but may not be the final story set in that universe. I have a couple of ideas for things to do with some of the other heroes.
From a drafting perspective, I’m keeping things even simpler: 12 shorts and 12 flash pieces, one of each per month. I will return to novels later in the year, but I’m not ready to commit to which yet. I have 30k into the Universal Destiny sequel, and about a 5k on each of two more novel-length ideas. But there are lots of stories I want to tell, so we’ll see where it goes when I get there.
I’m not going to put numbers on story submission or publisher hunts at this point, but both of those will continue, basically at whatever rate I have time for.
There, much more concise than my goal-setting posts for the last couple of years. Which probably just means I’ll get to expand on them later.
Be well, everyone.by
Sometimes the problem with having goals for something is not so much when you set them too high but when you, accidentally or on purpose, set them too low.
Since I committed myself to writing at the end of last July, I’ve completely blown away my goals almost every month. Even when I essentially took three whole weeks off from writing anything in the middle of fall, I missed the 51.5k October goal by less than 600 words and while I barely wrote for half of November, I still pulled in 26,000 words.
Taking a look at things, I now have 9 full months of data. If I go back month by month, simplifying a bit so I’m just looking at the basic drafting fiction and nonfiction goals, it looks like this:
(There are a couple of cell references here and there that don’t seem quite right, but I haven’t dug into all of them. Totals might be slightly different than previously reported, in either direction.)
Editing, plotting, and such have targets that aren’t word count dependent, though I do track how word counts are affected. In December, I actually dropped the drafting targets a lot to try to focus more on editing, and while I managed the editing focus on days off, I continued to produce a lot on the drafting side anyway. Mostly, I hit the basic targets, and sometimes a lot more, and while some things took longer than I actually wanted to, they didn’t take more than the actual background goals I’ve set on the writing calendar. (For the Undead stories, for example, editing looked like it was spread across large timeframe, but there are 40 of them that I wanted at it for eventual inclusion in a collection I don’t intend to release until late this year.) I’ve done plotting on stuff I can’t write until next year, even assuming I maintain the quite impressive, in my mind, pace I’ve been working at in 2019 so far.
The targets I go after are set daily based on what data I have and what I expect to be working. Days off are modified by anticipated events but tend to focus more on things that have already had their first draft, whether it’s editing, polishing, or prepping for publication. But, five days a week, I am looking for 2000 drafted words each day: 1000 on the primary project which is usually a novel, 500 on the secondary fiction project, which has often been a different novel in recent months but is really supposed to be short fiction most of the time, and 500 words of nonfiction, normally a journal entry or a blog post. 2000 words per day, 10,000 words per week. My two days off each week from the job that pays the bills, I try to spend several hours on creative pursuits each day, but the nature of those, mostly editing, suggests a much, much lower word count.
All that said, at a high level, not distinguishing weekdays from weekends, I’m averaging 2500 words per writing day so far this year, with only one missed writing day since the calendar turned over. That should mean a 30-day month, in theory, averages about 75,000 words considering all sources.
But going back to the dailies, if the average commuting month has 22 days in it, that means I’m only setting my actual goal at 44,000 words on. Meaning, all things being equal, I’m exceeding the overall targets I set by more than 70%.
Transition: I am making things too easy myself.
The question I find myself asking is if it’s more intellectually and emotionally satisfying to totally destroy a goal you know was a cakewalk, or to just make, or even just miss, a goal you know you had to work hard for?
The more I consider it, the more I think the second option is likely to get me to work harder. It’s nice to smash those daily word counts and it’s beautiful to look back in the month and see the overalls being so much higher than my plan, but I think I’m past the point where the goals I’m setting are particularly meaningful. I’m setting those monthly goals, and accumulation of the lease, just for the sake of setting them. From where I’m drafting this post, I can already see, based on current trends, just about exactly where I’m going to hit all the targets remaining for May, and it’s well before the end of the month. Even with a very light counts from the first five days, by the 8th my average was already 2000 WPD.
I think, for June, I’m going to try an experiment. The goals for June are going to push into the upper territory of what I’ve been consistently doing. In fact, I think I’m going to revise the daily goals for May from this point forward (and only forward, because retconning is a horrible practice), and by the time this posts, because things already slotted, those revisions will probably already have been in effect for a few days.
Be well, everyone.
Addendum: the original draft of this post was dictated very early in the morning on May 9th. I did decide to revise these goals fairly heavily right after writing the post. The revised goals, and they’re entirely on the drafting side of things, because it’s very, very hard to predict the word count change in editing session will produce on any given thing, are as follows:
Primary novel project: 25,750 words.
Secondary fiction projects, taken as a whole: 15,750 words
Non-fiction writing of all sorts: 14,050 words.
Total drafting targets for May now set at 55,550 words, up from the original 40,000. Remembering that these kicked in on May 9th and that there was a vacation involved the beginning of the month, this is still a 39% increase. It goes there by taking my daily goals to the basic average for what I’ve been doing on commuting days (1250 primary fiction, 750 secondary fiction, 650 non-fiction) and adding some small goals for non commuting days.
I will possibly make further adjustments for June. We’ll see where things wind up and if this will push me a little bit harder.
Be well, everyone.by
So we’re four months and a bit into 2019. I thought it might be worth touching base on this year’s goals. The writing year is going quite well for me, and I’m hoping for that to continue. Working for that to continue. It occurs to me I should maybe be looking at these goals quarterly to see how I’m doing. As if I don’t have an excel file tracking progress on all of my goals for the year, even the ones I haven’t made public. Still, a quarterly review might be good and help keep me on track.
But this time out:
- Plotting of the four novels. Unified Destiny plotting completed. Scorpion’s Prize and an as yet untitled book partially taking place on Curaçao in progress.
- First draft of three novels. Um, I’ve kicked this one already. First draft of the last Troll World book, Welkiri Corps, Big Hair Day, and A Matter of Honour, all completed in 2019. Three of them started this year. The last is a Star Trek fanfic story converted from audio drama scripts which is actually harder work than a regular first draft. Marked complete.
- Three novels to final draft. Only one so far: Hero’s Life. I’m working on the Troll World books as a group, so we’ll see how that turns out.
- 12 Short Stories. So far, only two complete, but one was an almost 9000-word novelette. A 3000-word short just finished yesterday.
- Editing on all of the Undead stories. Done. In fairness, about a quarter of them were at 3rd draft on January 1st. Marked complete.
- ST:FU to Final Draft. Complete. Just moved from one draft to the next and it worked out well. Marked complete.
- Finish the Haiku book. Still waiting for the lilacs to bloom to get the image I want.
- Book-length non-fiction project. I’m listening to the ISIRTA episodes at my leisure, but haven’t really started the detailed level of note-taking this is going to need.
- 100 Blog Posts. 51 so far. Half done at less than half the year complete, but it’s still a little lighter than I’d like, overall.
- 50 Journal entries. 71 so far. Honestly, I didn’t expect to journal this much. The Stretch Goal (which I’ll talk about in another post) here was 60. The Super Stretch is 75. Thinking that’s going to work out okay. Marked complete.
Which says to me I can mark 4 of the 10 goals complete. Not bad for four months into the year. But remember that I set them based on minimum bench marks, bench marks I’ve been thrashing pretty handily so far. Whether life continues to cooperate is part of the equation.
Pushing ahead into the next phase of a writing career is the publishing side of things. Six primary goals set here.
- Shop 2 novels to agents and small presses. I haven’t done an awful lot of this yet.
- Independently publish 3 novels. One done, one ready.
- Indie route on a collection. Graceland is slotted to drop at the end of the month.
- Four shorter pieces to be indie published. “Thorvald’s Wyrd” and Turn the World Around have been released. “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus” is ready to go. “Mummy Powder” slotted for June. Three more planned for the year at this point, but I don’t promise that won’t change.
- 100 short story submissions to magazines, websites, and anthologies. So, with about a third of the year gone, I should be around 33, right? The actual count is 7 so far. Need some improvement here.
- All 7 of my Star Trek shorts will appear on Wattpad and maybe wind up being downloadable PDF files as well. Definitely PDFs involved. Three released so far with the rest slotted one per month beginning in July.
So none of these met, but five of them in very good shape. A little more work needed here, but I’m almost caught up several fronts. Looking to make some additional inroads on the submissions and agent/small press front over the next little while.
Be well, everyone.by
I’ve spent the last five months getting my writing back on track, ramping up the editing of drafted material, and prepping for some indie, and hopefully professional, publishing in 2019.
Rather than talk about specific projects, even if I’ve got them in mind, I’m going to keep the goals listing very general. I do have a habit of reforecasting and modifying my plans on a regular basis, so I’m going to establish benchmarks here instead of specifics.
I’m building my writing
- Plotting of the four novels I hope to write in 2020.
- First draft of three novels.
- Three novels to final draft.
- 12 Short Stories, which will likely mostly fall into the 3-7k range. Yes, scaling back to one completed story per month. There are reasons, which will be revealed in the fullness of time.
- Editing on all of the Undead stories. I’m starting the year with about a quarter of them at a finished third draft.
- ST:FU Final Draft. This may be harder than it sounds. The first draft was just a conversion from an audio drama script. The second will likely involve some heavy expansion.
- Finish the Haiku book. I just need the lilacs to bloom to get the image I want.
- Book-length non-fiction project. Hint: ISIRTA.
- 100 Blog Posts. 2 per week, which I managed in 2018, from the first of August onward.
- 50 Journal entries. 1 per week. There was a time when I kept a daily journal with entries 100-200 words long. I somehow doubt I’ll ever get back to that level.
Making the writing piece of things only requires an average word count of 1100 per day. Counting all of my writing days in 2018, I averaged just a touch over 2000. That said, I’ve built a lot more editing into the plan than previously. Aside from all of the books I want to write, I have six novels somewhere past first draft complete but not having made it to or through final draft yet and at least 50 short stories that fall into the same category. Those numbers are only going to grow if I don’t start catching up.
But 1100 words per day on average means that if all of my drafting is via dictation during commutes (which I hope it won’t be), I need to manage 1750 words per commuting day in 2019. As in every commuting day. I average about 40 words per minute composing and dictating while I drive. Not exactly fast, but that does add up to 2400 words per hour, which is roughly my daily total commute. 1750 seems achievable.
To preface these goals, I’ll note that I have seven novels and one collection sitting, waiting. Final draft complete, but I haven’t taken that next step. This year, I’m going to take a whole bunch of next steps.
- I’m going to shop 2 of those 7, at minimum, looking for either an agent or a small press for each.
- I’m going to independently publish 3 of the other 5.
- I’m also going the indie route on that collection.
- And on four shorter pieces, though nothing smaller than a long novelette.
- 100 short story submissions to magazines, websites, and anthologies.
- All 7 of my Star Trek shorts will appear on Wattpad and maybe wind up being downloadable PDF files as well.
If it seems like a lot, it probably is, and there are certainly no guarantees. But I’m a firm believer in dreaming big. All of the writing goals are more than achievable if I stay more or less on the track I’ve been building for the last half year. The publishing ones are a new piece of the puzzle, except for short story submissions, so they don’t have any data to back them up, but we’ll see how things work out.
There are also a handful of secret goals and stretch goals which I have detailed, but will probably only get shared on a one-by-one basis as conditions are met.
Be well, everyone.by
by Let’s try this again. Keeping in mind the overall goals I posted yesterday and the amount of time I still don’t have until we actually get the building open and running and settle down into normal business, these are probably not terribly realistic. But we’ll see how it goes.
What I think might be reasonable if I had a regular work week this week:
- 2,500 words of new fiction. This will focus on the remaining Undead stories, though I may squeeze a few words into Shrine.
- 2 chapters of final draft pass on Universal Destiny. This will get me to the end of Ch 3 and is about 7,000 words of polishing, so it’s not as small a goal as you might think. My final drafts usually go faster because it’s really just a read aloud to make sure everything is good, but I feel like I want to be more careful with this. There are some alien and near-alien viewpoints that I need to be very careful with, but they’re scattered, so I’ll hopefully pick up ground here.
- 4 chapters of revision notes for Draugr Rising. This will take me to the end of Chapter 20 (there are 29).
- Rough draft of what I want for an episode of ISIRTA*.
- Second watch and note taking for the original BSG pilot**.
- Short Story Submissions: 1.
- Stretch Goal 1: dust off the rough plot for Fallen Heroes and add a chapter or two.
- Stretch Goal 2: get back to my Star Trek fan fic. Most of the shorts are still only at first draft completion.
Tune in next week for another update, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. Really. I’m going to draft it right after I post this, just with a bunch of Xs where numbers would go. Think positive, right?
Be well, everyone.
* ISIRTA = I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again
** BSG = Battlestar Galacticaby
by In some respects, my writing took a huge nose dive this in 2015. While I completely destroyed my non-fiction writing goals, I didn’t do an awful lot of fiction at all.
But 2015 is over now, and 2016 is a new year. Well, every day can be the first one of a new year, but I spent the last few weeks of 2015 planning and plotting, and I’m hitting the ground running, or at least staggering forward.
There are daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and annual goals for 2016 in the creative field, but I’m going to stick with the broad strokes for this post and, once again, try to get back to the monthly writing reports to keep myself honest and maybe motivated.
Project 1: The Undead
This is a big project that I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done on it so far, there just hasn’t been much this year. I have 23 stories left to cover the creatures I want to cover at the level I want to cover, at least the basic idea for each of them, at a broad range of lengths from flash to novelette.
Project 2: Other Short Fiction
Whatever number it takes to get me to 50 pieces of short fiction drafted this year. Right now that stands at 27.
Project 3: First Draft Epic Fantasy Novel
I’ve gone back to something I’ve wanted to write for a couple of years as the story that’s speaking to me loudest right now, torn apart the original idea, and I’ve started rough-working and re-plotting.
Project 4: Universal Destiny
To be edited and polished to Beta Reader stage, then get some Beta Readers to have a look at it. I’ve started on a few revision notes already.
Project 5: Haiku
I used to love writing poetry, but in recent years I’ve treated it as something to do when I don’t feel like writing fiction. That changes in 2016. Actually, it already has. I’m trying to write poetry for poetry’s sake. The primary poetry goal (and I’ve got several) is to write 500 haiku this year. Sounds like a lot, but it’s only three every two days.
Project 6: Short Fiction Submissions
100 of them for the year. This is a target I’ve missed twice before, but it’s only 8.5 submissions per month, so what’s my problem here?
Project 7: Previously Completed Novels/Collections
Ancient Runes, Graceland, Heroes Inc, Skip to My Luu all to get final reads and tweaks this year, and then I need to figure out what to do with each of them.
Okay, that looks like a lot when it’s all written out, but remember it’s for an entire year. Of course, I have a couple of other creative goals for this year, too, but those will come about in their own time as other things allow, although I will schedule specific time for them.
But this is the year I remember I’m a writer.
Be well, everyone.by