A Look Ahead

So I’ve been thinking about the new year to come.  Can’t imagine why, right?  🙂  In doing so, I went back and read Dean‘s posts from way back in 2008 about setting goals for the new year.  In reading this post in particular, I realized how and where I went wrong with my goals this year.

This year, I set specific goals.  Sort of.  But I did not set myself up for success in the way I set them.  This year, I set out quarterly goals.  And then, of course, after the second quarter, I totally failed to asses them.  That’s a different matter owing partly to being busy doing things like moving and having children, but also owing to (here’s the brutal truth) embarrassment at not doing as well as I wanted to.

Dean’s post smacked me about the face, and for that matter the head and shoulders.  Because…duh!…he talks about setting realistic goals and then breaking them down into small pieces that you can easily make.  And by achieving those small sub-goals you suddenly find yourself achieving the big one, too.

Shocker.

I knew that already.

I just failed to apply that simple principle to myself.  So for 2013, I’m changing that.

I sat down the other day and thought about what I want to accomplish next year.  My first year of writing, 2011, I cranked out just south of 230,000 words.  I don’t have the final tally for this year, but it will be south of 200,000.  I really hate to have come in so low, but there it is.  I have 4.5 years until I can retire from the Navy, and I have NO intention of working for anyone else ever again.  Now, I could go and start some other business.  And who knows, I just may.  I have a few ideas.  But I also think it would be quite fun to just do this writing gig.  So that means I need to crank out a lot of stories – get a lot of practice – between now and June 2017.  They say there’s a million words of crap to go through before you really start to get good.  At the end of this year I’ll be somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 words done.  That leaves 700,000-ish before I hit that mark, and finally stop sucking.  Or something.

So what does that mean for next year?

Well, how about 300,000 words.  That’s a nice round number.  And if I can do that consistently I’ll hit the million word mark in a bit less than 2.5 years.  Leaving two whole years of awesomeness before I retire to really get things rolling well.  Or something like that.  So 300,000 words it is.  🙂

Now, how to break that down.  I could just do like I did this year and say that’s about 25,000 words a month.  But that’s not granular enough.  A weekly goal is better.  So 300,000 words divided by 52 weeks is a bit under 6,000 words per week.  But geez that makes for no margin of error, no possibility of just taking some time off.  That’s simply a plan that’s ripe for failure.

So here’s the deal.  In 2013, I’m setting a goal of 7,500 words per week for 40 weeks, or 300,000 words on the year.  I’ve already developed a spreadsheet to track my progress on a weekly and annual basis, and I’m super-psyched to git ‘r done.

The beauty of that is I’ve built into the plan 12 weeks – 3 whole months, or an entire quarter of the year – with no writing whatsoever.  Now, that’s not going to happen.  But there will be many weeks where I don’t meet 7,500 words.  Or maybe not so many.  Really, that comes down to just over 3.5 days a week if I can crank out 2,000 words in a day.  And I totally can: at my normal writing speed, that’s about an hour and a half of actually cranking out words.  NOT hard to do in a given day, if I make it a priority.  So, tracking the goal on a weekly basis, I may just blow the entire thing out of the water.  If I do 7,500 words a week for 45 weeks, the total will be 337,500.  50 weeks, 375,000.  That would be pretty nice.  🙂

So that’s the main goal.

Of course, sheer word count alone is not necessarily going to cut the mustard.  So I’ve got a few more specific things I’d like to accomplish.

  1. First, I want to crank out 2 more Glimmer Vale books.  I’ve got the immediate sequel planned – it’ll be a murder mystery.  The next one I’ve no idea.  But I want them to be similar to Glimmer Vale: short fun reads of around 50,000 words.
  2. Next, I want to finally write the sequel to Masters of the Sun.  It’ll probably be around 80,000 words.
  3. And of course I need to finish up The Pericles Conspiracy, if I don’t get it one by the end of the year.  There’s another 40,000-ish words to go, so I probably won’t.  So it’ll carry over into next year.  But not much of next year.  It’s well past time to have this one done with.
  4. Next, Writers of the Future – an entry each quarter.  I’ve no idea exactly how many words those stories will be.  But that’s ok.
  5. And finally, other short stories.  And a lot of them.  But the longer works will have the priority, by and large.

There you have it.  I think this is a good plan for the year.  A reasonable goal set in a small enough timeline as to make it easy – relatively easy – to accomplish.  As I said before, I’m psyched to git ‘r done.  Should be fun.

Any thoughts from the internet peanut gallery?  I’d love to hear them.

Cheers.