I had set myself some ambitious writing goals at the outset of the year, and now that half the year has passed, I can say that I have done a pretty terrible job at meeting those goals. Fortunately, there is a second half year in which I can play “catch-up”. Here is a summary of the first half of 2010:
- I wrote a total of 38,300 words of fiction
- I completed 3 stories (1 story was a complete enough rewrite of another story as to make it “new”).
- I spent 53 hours at the keyboard
- I wrote on 34 distinct days (out of roughly 180) which is pretty abysmal. It turns out to be roughly 2 days out of every 10.
- On the days that I did write, I spent about 90 minutes at the keyboard, on average, writing just about 1,100 words.
- My best writing “streak” was February 20-24, during which time I wrote a total of 8,500 words.
- I made 14 story submissions (I was aiming for more like 50)
- I received 12 rejections, 3 of which had helpful editorial comments.
- I have 2 submissions still “outstanding” as the first half of the year comes to a close.
So, what need to change for the second half of 2010 for me to stay close to the goals that I set for myself? Several things:
- I need to write more. I set out to write 20 stories and I have written 3 so far. The only way to even come close to 20 is to spend more time writing. I plan on doing this beginning tomorrow, going back to my habit of getting up earlier and writing in the mornings. I was doing 2 hours before, but I plan on starting with 1 hour and seeing how it goes. On a good day, I can write as much as 1,400 words in an hour, but I seem to average about 1,000. That’s 7,000 words/week or over 180,000 words in the remainder of 2010, if I can stick with the schedule.
- I need to write shorter stories. My stories are typically in the 7,500-10,000 word range. There is nothing wrong with this, except that longer stories mean fewer stories and fewer stories mean fewer opportunities for submitting. Also, many markets prefer stories that are under 5,000 words. I am working on a story now that I am purposely aiming to keep under 5,000 words. I hope to have this one finished before Readercon. After this one, I have at least 2 or 3 stories planned which I intend to keep under the 5,000 word-mark. In theory, this means I can produce the first draft of a story per week. I’m going to see how this pans out in July and then reevaluate.
- I need to have a backup project to keep me writing everyday. My focus is on the stories. But sometimes, you find that you are just not in the mood to work on what is in front of you. I tend to skip writing on these days. Instead, I am going to try switching to a backup project. This is a novel-length work that I was planning to save for NaNoWriMo this year, but that I am pulling out now as something to work on on those days that I don’t feel up to facing the short-fiction.
- Keep the submissions going. I will be making my first submissions to both Lightspeed Magazine and Redstone Science Fiction in the second half of 2010, as well as the staple of professional magazines that I have been submitting to all along.
Readercon is next week and events like that usually inspire me to push ahead with my writing. I’m looking forward to that push, but I am not waiting until the con to get started. I get started tomorrow morning with a goal of completing the first draft of this new story (my 4th for the year) by the end of the weekend.
I’m still aiming for the 5 sales this year, but at this point would be happy with just 1 more pro sale in order to become a full active (as opposed to associate) member of SFWA.