Most of you who read this site know I set out annual writing goals at the beginning of the year (you can find my 2013 writing goals here). These goals help me track my writing progress during the year and help me accomplish what I want. Goals are important to me; they give me something to work towards, and lessen the likelihood that I’ll lazy or complacent.
Setting goals is only the first step, however. Periodically revisiting those goals to assess progress is also important. By checking my progress, I know where I’m doing well and where I need to work harder. I usually assess my progress every quarter, but I didn’t have time to do a first quarter assessment this year—simply too much going with my move and work. So here’s my first assessment for 2013.
- Write and/or edit at least 700 words per day. Unlike in previous years, I’ve had a tough time hitting my daily writing target consistently this year. I’m not really sure why—some days things are just flowing and on other’s they aren’t. I usually track this target in one-month blocks, and before this year I don’t think I’ve ever came up short in any month, but in 2013, I have (I came up short in March). All together, however, I’m on target. Through June 30th, I have written or edited 130,271 words, which works out to about 720 words/day. Not bad, but I know I can do better.
- Finish at least twelve short stories. I consider a story “finished” if I write, edit and submit it for publication. Anything less is unfinished. Although I wrote a lot of solid drafts last year, I failed to meet this target, so I’ve been focusing more attention on getting stories wrapped up and submitted in 2013. Through June 30th, I’ve finished six stories, which is right on pace to meet my annual target. Several of those finished stories were holdovers from last year that I didn’t complete, so that feels good. A few were also entirely new ones written since the beginning of the year. While I’m currently on target with this goal, I suspect I’m going to fall off pace in the back half of 2013 due to my need to turn some attention to other goals, specifically goals 4 and 6.
- Make at least 60 story submissions or five sales. As of June 30th, I’ve made 22 short story submissions, which is well below where I should be (30 submissions) if I’m going to make my annual target of 60 submissions. On the positive side, however, I’ve sold four stories, including three sales to excellent pro-rate magazines (Lightspeed Magazine, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Daily Science Fiction), and the fourth to a top-tier anthology with a table of contents littered with a who’s who of speculative fiction (yeah!). This is a conditional goal for a reason: if you sell stories, you can’t keep them in circulation, so story sales will usually lead to a lower number of story submissions. That said, I don’t think my sales are the only reason my submissions are down. Recently my stories seem to be spending a looooooong time sitting in slush piles or on editors’ desks. I’m not sure if this means anything because other writers I know have also felt that slush piles have been dragging since the last quarter of 2013 (to see if this true, I plan to look my response times in future post). All things considered, I’m in a good place with this goal, and I think I’ll make my target by year’s end.
- Revise and submit my draft novel. I’ve not made any progress on revising my novel because I’ve been focusing on the goals above. I felt I needed a little push, so I committed to having my writing group Hopefull Monsters critique it in a few months. That will force me to turn my attention to these long overdue revisions starting this month.
- Develop a series for self-publication. I have the outline for the first story (a mid-length novella, I think), and I need to sit down and write it. I’ve been focusing on other goals, however, so I haven’t gotten far with this one (although it would meet my finished story goal). It would be great to pound this out before September, so when readers wander over to my site after reading some of my forthcoming stories they’ll find something new and shiny for sale, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I have too much to write and to much learn about producing a self-published volume before September to make that realistic.
- Complete NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in November). NaNoWriMo isn’t until November, so I’ve made no progress on this goal, but I didn’t expect to, either. It’s also a little too early to start planning what I’ll write, but currently I’m leaning toward writing several short stories instead of a novel (this will help me meet some of my other goals!). I currently have three novels in draft form, so I certainly don’t need to write a fourth at this time. I’ll see how I feel as November nears.
Overall I feel I’m in a good position with regard to my writing goals, but the next quarter will be critical. If I can keep my finish-a-story-a-month pace and make significant progress on my novel edits, I’ll be happy with my progress heading into the fourth quarter stretch.