One finish line in sight, another beckons

My writing goal for the year is 300,000 words. Accounting for other activities (mostly the time commitment of tutoring), that seemed like a reasonable goal. Right now I’ve completed just over 290,000. Whoops. It looks like I’m about hit my year end goal around the last day in July. Now I need some new goals, or milestones.

Part of the idea of the goal came from Jeff Ambrose. Jeff redraws his approach as he goes too – pretty inspiring.

Here’s how this year’s writing comes out so far:

Two novels written. One (The Tunnel) edited and published as a POD book, and as an ebook, and the other (working title Steel Wagon), currently being proofed. That one’s a literary novel, so I’m sending to a New Zealand agent to see what kind of response it gets. If it doesn’t filter through that system, I’ll similarly self-publish it as a POD and ebook.

Sixteen stories written. These range in length from flash (two) to novellas (two), with most sitting between 6000 and 12,000 words. Five of these have been published, along with another three stories from last year. Four of the stories have been published by magazines/ezines (MicroHorror, Flashes in the Dark and The Colored Lens), the rest have been self-published through Smashwords, mostly under pen names. I’ve also re-published numerous short stories through Smashwords, but as reprints they don’t count towards first publication goals (I’m aiming for publishing 300,000 words as well, in addition to any reprints – sitting at 120,000 so far). I have one story in updating (ie, it’s been edited and proofed and just needs those corrections made), one in proofing, and one in progress. I am still proofing the second novel, but have the first 5000 words about ready to go to an agent.

New goal: 300,000 words by the end of July. Steel Wagon 5000 word sample and synopsis with an agent by August 11th. New literary story completed by 15th August (specifically for the Sunday Star contest). And set a new word-count target for the rest of the year.

I already know that I’ll be writing the second book in The Hidden Dome trilogy (working title – The Deluge) later this year (probably after tutoring finishes in late November), so that’s 60,000 words, more or less. But what to do for August through November?

Well, there is tutoring, so that cuts into time a little. During the last main block my daily writing, usually over 1000 words, slipped down like an eel in a pipe. 132 words on my lowest day. Still, four months is around 120 days, so perhaps 100,000 words is realistic. Combined with the novel, that will put me over 450,000 words for the year. Sounds about right.

On writing less than 1000 words a day.

For the last five and a bit months (that is, since January 1st) I’ve written at least 1000 words a day. Some days have been just over that target – 1015, 1085 – other days have been up in the multiple thousands (two days of 5500 words). I’ve written two novels, two novellas and numerous short stories. (The total word count is 244,000). It’s been a revelation to me to be able to work so intensely and so focused for this period.

And now it will hit it’s first speed bump. My target for the year is 300,000 words and it seems that now I’ll likely reach and exceed that. Why just 300,000? Well, I still earn a living at a full-time job. And I moonlight too, tutoring in a creative writing course. Fitting the writing in around the course was always part of the plan, though the structure of the course altered since I first set the 300K goal. Today is the first major deadline and I’m about to plunge into three weeks of concentrated effort in giving feedback to dozens of students.

Writing my own stuff will take a sideline. Today will be my first day this year of writing under 1000 words. I feel like I’m a little in mourning.

Still, I have two stories open at the moment, and I know where they’re both going. I’m itching to get to them, so that’s going to help me feel intentional with my marking. And I learn so much from the marking process too that it’s all only going to be good for my writing.

On hitting the mark

May turned into my slowest month for the year – just creeping over the 40,000 word mark. A pretty busy time with tutoring kind of kept the lid on a little – in a good way: it’s useful to other things to focus on. I’ve sent off three contest entries, and some new magazine submissions, as well as resubmitting some stories that had been rejected elsewhere. My novella “The Wreck of the Emerald Sky” comes out in June in The Colored Lens, so that’s good news. June is going to be a much slower month, though, as tutoring really ramps up. I’m hoping to hit 15,000 words, which, while many fewer than any other month this year, will take me neatly to a quarter million words. I’ll post soon about some lessons I think I’m learning here as I aim for 300,000 words for the year (yes, I’m ahead of target – that’s one of the lessons).

Writing fast


So it’s the end of March and I’m looking at where I am with my writing. My goal is to write 300,000 words during the course of the year. Publishable words, that is. Certainly the goal is changing as I go, and feedback on the rejections, the hold-requests and acceptances is helping with my focus (I did add into the goal that I also want to publish 300,000 words during the year – not counting reprints).

One thing I hadn’t figured on, however, was a big change in the structure of tutoring: much more online, more hours and more deadlines spread through the year. I had been looking at having big blocks of time between the portfolios to really focus on writing, and those blocks have turned out to be very small. This spread has, at the moment, meant that I’m writing alongside the tutoring and so, somehow, still maintaining my minimum of 1000 words a day (I do have a day job as well as the part-time tutoring in case you think I’m just goofing off).

I have written a complete novel, seven stories of various lengths (from 665 words up to 13,000) and I’m currently half-way through the next novel. The first novel has been (self) published, as have four of the stories (two under pen names) – one of those on MicroHorror, rather than self-published (that’s the 665 word flash fiction piece). The other stories are on submission with publishers, or still being tinkered with (I might be writing pulp, but I’m going to fine-tune the literary story for the national competition).

So, a quarter of the way through the year and I’m just a little ahead of a quarter of my publishing target (80,000 words published) and more than halfway towards my total goal: more than 150,000 words written so far. I’m surprised, stunned and stoked that it’s going this well this early. I don’t know if I’ll manage another 150,000 in the next quarter (tutoring does hot-up a little), but the momentum is there. And I still have more ideas than I have time to write.

Tutoring begins, writing slows


Well, I knew this day would come and I’ve planned for it, I just hadn’t been sure that I’d be quite as far ahead of my writing goals, nor that I would be able to time the beginning of tutoring to fit with exactly what I’m writing. (I tutor in, you guessed it, creative writing).

I’m deep into the next novel (well, 18,000 words), but took a break a couple of weeks ago to write some short/long stories. I should finish the third of those today or tomorrow, then I’ll go back to the novel. That novel will be in three parts, with a long passage of time between each (the first part set in 1996, the second – which I’m about to start – in 2002, and the third will be current), so a break at the end of the first part feels healthy: the characters will have developed and that break should give me a slightly different perspective.

For the next four or five weeks I won’t be able to keep up my 1000+ words a day as I’ve been doing all year (actually much more on average, my lowest daily count was 1010 words, highest over 5500 – the total is just on 130,000 for the 75 days of 2012). It’s going to be hard to slow down, I think, but will likely help with the novel – it might be a little more considered and evenly paced. 500 a day would be nice, but it might be more like 250. Still, that’s about a page. I definitely want to hit 150,000 words by the middle of the year, and do think that with the breaks in tutoring it will be quite possible. It would be good, I think, to get this novel finished by then, and be thinking about the next one.Oh, plus a couple of stories in there too.

On the reading side, I’ve just finished Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s City of Ruins – a sci fi adventure following on from Diving into the Wreck (and numerous stories). It was a fun romp. It seemed to start a little slow, but picked up quickly and became utterly compelling. I’m looking forward to the next one in the series – (Boneyards) – which is actually already out.

Now I’m finally picking up John Irving’s Until I Find You, which somehow I missed reading when it came out. I loved Last Night in Twisted River which I did read when that came out over a year ago – actually one of my favourites of his. I expect I’ll enjoy this one. I know I’ll be reading it slow (see notes on being busy above), but actually, that’s just fine.

Marking poetry nears the end

Another week of marking left, then on to the fiction part of the course. Poetry is always a challenge for me, yet with so many good poems coming my way, it’s been a pleasure. I’m into the final third of the portfolios now, so will still have a busy week ahead.

Meanwhile, I did post a new quick Haiku of my own – Catch the act – at the Undead Poets Society.