I’m a goal-oriented person and every year I set writing goals for myself. Goals are important for me because they give targets to strive toward, and allow me to see progress. Without tangible goals, it’s easy to lose site of the progress I’m making. I think this is especially pronounced in the writing business, where success (i.e., sales) are often few and far between. By setting realistic goals and tracking them through the year, I can appreciate my progress and growth as a writer.
Over the past five weeks, I’ve been busy working on the first draft of my novella, so I haven’t had the chance to reflect back on my 2013 writing goals. I’m in the final stretch of the novella—I put down another thousand words today, bringing the total to 35,000 words—and I thought I would take a break and look back. So here’s how I did on my six writing goals for 2013:
- Write and/or edit at least 700 words per day. I managed to hit this mark, although a lot of my words came through “editing credits” on my novel. Overall, I wrote or edited 290,344 words (~795 words/day), which is down from 2012, and I wrote on 321 of 365 days (88%).
- Finish at least twelve short stories. I was particularly disappointed with my performance on this goal. I completed only six new short stories this year, and I still left about a half-dozen more on the table. Completing stories is the key to success, and I need to focus on this in 2014.
- Make at least 60 story submissions or five sales. I made 62 story submissions this year, but more importantly I made eight sales, including three sales to pro-rate magazines (“The Negotiation” to Daily Science Fiction, “The Schrödinger War” to Lightspeed Magazine, and “Portraits from the Shadow” to InterGalactic Medicine Show). It seemed like this year a lot of my submissions were spending a long time in the slush. This reduced the number of times I could submit a rejected work. While I would have liked to have made more submissions, I am very happy with my accomplishments on this important goal.
- Revise and submit my draft novel. I made some progress on my edits, but I didn’t complete them and I didn’t get the novel submitted anywhere. It turned out to be a larger task than I anticipated, but I think I worked through some of the challenges and will be able to continue to make good progress. I will carry this goal over to 2014 and I think it will get it done.
- Develop a series for self-publication. I intended this to be the novella I’m working on. Obviously I did not complete this goal, but I am nearly finished with the first draft of what I hope will be the beginning of a novella series. I think I’m on firm ground to finish this soon, and I will carry over this goal to 2014.
- Complete NaNoWriMo. In November, I wrote over 50,000 words in a new novel set in the same world as my story “Dreams in Dust,” and I finished it in December. While this wasn’t what I planned to do during NaNoWriMo, I was happy with the result.
Overall, I’m somewhat disappointed with my production in 2013, especially with the lack of finished stories, but there were a few things about which I was happy. Getting eight sales, including three pro-rate sales to Lightspeed Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and InterGalactic Medicine Show (and two of these made Tangent‘s recommended list!), was particularly gratifying. I also started my novel edits, finished the draft of a second novel and started a series of novellas intended for self-publication. I still need to get better at finishing—much better at finishing, actually—and will make this a focus (again) in the new year.