Setting Goals for 2016

Accord of Honor
Every December for a few years now I’ve done a post looking back at last year’s goals, and how well I did in achieving them. Then I set out a new set of goals for the coming year.

Over the years I’ve done this, those goals have changed some. They’ve been shaped by my experiences, and by the things I’ve done. Sometimes I’ve succeeded. Sometimes I’ve failed. Sometimes I’ve “failed to success”, which means I set goals which were high enough that I could not quite make them but still feel good about the overall progress.

When I set my goals for 2015, I was planning to write a TON of serial stories all year long. The problem is, the serials never really took off well. In fact, readers seemed to like the combined versions (where I took four or five episodes and combined them to make a novel) far more than the individual episodes. And then Amazon changed the way Kindle Unlimited worked to make shorter episodes much more difficult to manage. Partway through the year, I could see the writing on the wall. My readers preferred long stories. Novels. It was up to me to tell stories that people want to read.

So the 2015 goals were to see a 20% increase in productivity from the year before. I’d written 150,000 words and published 10 titles in 2014, so I wanted to hit 180,000 words and 12 titles in 2015.

This is where that whole “failed to success” thing comes in. 😉

Because I was mostly writing longer works, I didn’t get 12 titles published. I only got 9. I also set a goal to write at least 500 words every day, and I only managed that for about 2/3 of the days in the year.

But I did manage to write 300,000 original words. I completely blew my word count goal out of the water. And I have three completed novels in various stages of editing and publishing, all coming out in early 2016.

It was a great learning experience. The words are what really matters. By trying to set a number of titles as a goal, I was limiting myself to a specific sort of fiction: short serials. The market changed, and my understanding of what readers wanted improved, and I changed my focus to match. If I’d stuck with that goal of twelve titles I wouldn’t have been able to adapt my plan as I needed to.

Publishing today is a fast paced business. Adaptability is key. So this year, only one goal:

Write.

Write lots. I have stories I am burning to tell. I’ve learned so much this year, and can’t wait to apply it to everything I will be writing in the year ahead.

Write 600,000 words. That’s the new goal for 2016.

Hey, I might fall short. Who knows? Maybe I will “fail to success” again, and “only” get 500,000… But I’ll be pretty happy with trying my best to get all 600,000 out.

It’s going to be another awesome year. See you out there!

Writing Life: Priorities

bigstock-Alarm-clock-standing-on-stack--52359475I saw an interesting article today, and it inspired a few thoughts of my own.

Kris Rusch wrote a blog article in her Business Musings series. She put those essays out weekly, each a commentary of some sort about the business of writing. This one was called “Whining”. It’s totally worth reading, but here’s the TL;DR version:

Writers often complain that they have “no time to write” in today’s world. They blame the lack of time on having to do promotion, social media, blog tours, work on getting covers, and myriad other things. Kris outlines some really basic math showing that even in the “old days”, writers who wanted to write could find time to write amidst even the most intensive of promotion schedules – book tours, conventions, and the like. Dedicated writers would find a couple of hours of “extra time”, even in the most heated of promotion activities.

And then at the very end of her essay, she hits what I really think is the heart of the issue: she suggests spending that “extra time” on social media and other promotion stuff, and put the primary focus where it belongs – on writing new words. She recommends writers carefully control how much time they spend on promotion exercises, and put the writing first.

Which brings me to my title: priorities. (more…)

Achievement Unlocked! Best Writing Year Ever

writinginpublicFor me, 2014 was a banner writing year. I managed about 150,000 words over the course of the year. Most of that was in my King of the Dead serial – which has been releasing steadily over the last couple of months. Episodes 5-7 are ready to go, and Episode 8 is almost there too, so plenty more coming for that story. I also wrote a new novella set in the Blackwell Magic universe (with a new character) that still has to be released later this year, and some short stories. I was pretty pleased with the work, overall. It was my best writing year ever, in terms of word count. And about 80,000 words of that was in the last two months – 50k for NaNoWriMo in November, and another 30k in December.

This year, I set about some new goals, to improve my consistency and push for more productivity. I have more stories than I can write spilling out of my imagination, and I need to set aside the time to put them down in writing. So my goal? To write at least 500 words *minimum* every single day. That would be 180k or so for the year, which would make 2015 my best year ever.

I’ve managed to make the 500 a day minimum every day this year, which is awesome. But the even better news is that I’ve managed to exceed that goal more often than not. So at the end of the day yesterday (a work day, so only managed 900 words), my count for the year was 150,025 words. (more…)

One Month, Over 75k Words

writinginpublicJanuary was a good month.

I set the goal at the beginning of the year to produce 500 words of fiction – minimum – every day this year. The idea is to not miss even a single day. I can go over, but not under. At the end of the year, I’d have a minimum of 182,000 new words, which would be more than I’ve ever produced in a year before. It seemed like a solid central goal (I named some other goals, too, but this was the core one), because my main obstacle to success has always been consistency. I’d skip a few days, then a few more, then suddenly two months would go by without accomplishing anything toward my writing career.

So how’s that working for me?

I managed a complete success in January. I never missed even a single day. A few days I did just the goal – there were six days with 500-600 words, and about the same number where I did 601-750. But I never missed. And I think the focus on writing every day was HUGE for me.

January was my most productive writing month. Ever. I finished 75,250 new words.

Other stuff I did: (more…)

King of the Dead: Episode 1 is here!

kingofthedeadDrum-roll. Fanfare. And can I get an “about time”? :)

It’s been a long time coming. I want to do this project justice, so the work has taken a while to get right. The first season will be six episodes, each a short novella. When the whole season is done, it’ll be compiled into a full length (and quite long!) novel.

I’m excited about this book. It’s a serious step up for my writing, and it’s a fun, interesting new idea. I’m looking forward to playing around with King Arthur and his zombie foes for at least another two seasons.

Here’s the “back cover copy”:

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Happy New Years! Looking back – and ahead!

kingofthedeadWow, just like that, another year has gone by. Tonight 2014 rolls away, and 2015 comes in shiny and new. I’m REALLY looking forward to this year, on all sorts of levels. Personally, my life finally feels in order and working well. Professionally, I have set some awesome goals for myself.

It’s gonna be a great year! I’ve got tons of stories ready to go, and a bunch more that are burning to be written.

Today though, I want to look at how I did meeting last year’s goals, and then look at setting some fresh targets for 2015.

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Writing in Public, Too: Catching up (12/13)

writinginpublicManaged to fall a bit behind, so consider this a “catch up” post. I’ll try to stay more on top of the blog moving forward.

When you saw me last, it was hanging with the kids on Monday. As I write this, it’s Saturday! So what has happened since?

Tuesday was a stressful day, with a major meeting in the afternoon. I didn’t get a lot of work done. Managed a thousand words in the evening. Wednesday was better, with 3k words completed. Felt very accomplished and back on track. I also did some editing work on the King of the Dead serial.

Thursday was the long 16 hour work day, which was ALL that I did that day. Friday, I got in 1000 words before heading out to work. And I’ve managed 1000 words today, as well – heading off to work soon, but I’ll update if I sneak in any more words later.

Sorry I fell a few days behind there. Sometimes, it’s a challenge to sit down and get the blog updated. I’ll try to make sure that I keep it going, though!

 

Fiction words today: 1000    Fiction words this month: 10,000
Blog words today: 185     Blog words this month: 3091

Writing in Public, Too: Workspaces (12/8)

writinginpublicToday was “day with kids” day. We went out to the Lego Discovery Center and spent the morning there. We built race cars and ran them down the track – I made one with a cool angular body. If you’ve ever used Legos, you probably know that angles aren’t the easiest thing in the world to make! I set it up with a pair of wheels close together in the front, and two wide set single wheels in the back. Something like a cross between a drag racer and a big wheels tricycle.

 

Meanwhile, D (child #2) was making…DRAGONS! (more…)

Writing in Public, Too: Outlining (12/7)

writinginpublicGot back into the swing of things today. I realized why I was having some issues – this is a complex, multi-episode story which will span several “seasons”. I’m seeing at LEAST 20 episodes to this. Likely a lot more, before I finish the story (not terrible, when you recall that the episodes are about 15k words – so about 6 episodes to a normal novel length, which means at least three seasons.).

Since I spent much of today working on outlining, I thought I’d talk about that a bit today.

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Writing in Public, Too: Month 2, Day 6

writinginpublicWhoops. Fell behind on the blog, so I need to do two days of catch-up posts here. No writing done today. Mostly shopping. Was a Christmas shopping and window shopping day. Also bought helicopters.

Little, fit in the palm of your hand remote control quadcopters. Which were then flown around the apartment. Much crashing and laughter ensued.

Back to writing tomorrow.

Fiction words today: 0     Fiction words this month: 2000
Blog words today: 75     Blog words this month: 1611