goals / writing

Writing Wednesday: 2018 Goals Recap and 2019 Resolutions

Happy New Year!

This is my first blog posting of 2019, so I’ll do my weekly goals recap, then follow that with the 2018 Annual Goals (and Excuses) Report, and then my goals for the new year (sorry if this makes today’s post a long, dry read, but it’s important to check where I was, where I am, and where I’m going to make sure I’m on the right path – and it might be helpful to those of you who might be floundering around rudderless.)

Last week’s goals: 3 blog posts done as usual. Stories cycled to market in a timely manner. I resumed making adequate comments on others’ blogs.

I finished prepping “Cats Out of the Bag” (Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire #6) for its January 4th release, and have managed to have it set for four days of preorders (see links below.)

I wrote 3167 words of fiction last week; it was nice to make my 3,000-word quota in the final week of 2018. This was all on Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire #7 (which at over 17,000 words still eludes a title.)

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Any of you who’ve been reading me for a while know I put a lot of stock in PUBLIC posting of goals and objectives, and regular PUBLIC reporting of progress. It’s easy to flounder around if you don’t have actual, measurable objectives – saying “I will write” is all well and good, but how do you know if you wrote ENOUGH to matter. And it’s far too easy (even for people who are hard on themselves) to make excuses to yourself for why you’re not making those goals (thus most New Year’s Resolutions wind up as rapid fails.) PUBLIC posting puts you under the eye of others, and even if you don’t know (or even see) the people (hmmm – if you do something embarrassing in the woods, and there’s no one to see it, is it still embarrassing? It is for me…), the notion of the PUBLIC FAILURE and HUMILIATION can be a great motivator to strive for more than excuses. At least it is for me.

2018 was a disappointing year for me when it comes to achieving what I set out to do. Here’s what I had hoped for along with what happened):

1) Write 3,000 words of fiction each week

As usual, I reached this on some weeks, but far too few of them, and finished the year with an average of 1,907, which made 2018 my third best year (my best was 1,982 words in 2017.) To be honest, I use this goal to push myself on a weekly basis, but I’ll be shocked if I ever manage it for a full year (at least not until I retire from my Day Job.) As always, making this one work relies on keeping to a schedule of WRITING EVERY DAY.

2) Ten new stories written and out the door by end of year

This wound up at only three. Herc Tom #6 & #7 are so long, I could credit them as three stories apiece (2 novelettes or a novelette and a novella depending on whose scale you are using), but that is still only eight of my ten planned short stories. The main factors in this was my not understanding how time-and mind-consuming Swordsmaster would be (my first novel, so I had nothing to compare it to), and the difficulties I ran into pulling out of NOVEL mindset and into SHORT-FICTION. I need to get better at that, but I also need to set my goals more realistically based on what I learned this year.

3) 7-day turn-around (or ASAP) on getting rejections back into rotation

I succeeded at this one – the ASAP accounts for problems finding appropriate markets that a story hasn’t visited yet and finding enough open reading windows at these publishers. The main point of this was to not leave stories in my “sock drawer” when they could be making the rounds.

4) Indie publish SOMETHING every 5 weeks (keep to exact schedule), with a 3-week preorder and promotion campaign for any eBook priced over 99-cents

I made the schedule okay (although it was a strain sometimes), but I rarely had a collection (that’s what usually qualifies as “over 99-cents”) – need to plan better to achieve this.

5) Blog each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

No explanation needed here – I stuck to the schedule.

6) Be more active online aside from my own postings (comment on 3 blogs per week)

There were some weeks I succeeded – maybe 40%? – but this one was mostly a fail – I have a hard time justifying JUST SAYING ANYTHING to qualify as a comment – and to be honest, it takes away time from my actual writing (I see too many writers fall into having a great online presence, but always being behind on producing fiction – spending time in social media can be very distracting. Still, I must become better at this.

7) Complete rewrite/revision of Swordsmaster up to 90,000 words

The result on this one was FAIR – I only made it to 84,394 words in this round, but that was an increase of 19,000 words, and this being my first novel, I still don’t have a crystal ball that tells me how long the novel is going to be. I succeeded in filling plot gaps and missing scenes, so that the STORY is all there, but I still need more detail (I write sparsely – my SHORT-FICTION mindset at play.)

8) Create Swordsmaster cover

No – other than thinking about concepts, I haven’t even started a cover. Of course, I thought I might FINISH the novel last year (silly, silly, silly fool), so a cover would’ve been useful if I had. Still, if I’m going to try to make a publishing schedule on Swordsmaster, I should have a cover in the works so it doesn’t hold things up. And since I already KNOW the story, There’s no reason I can’t create the cover now, even if it takes me ANOTHER THREE YEARS to finish Swordsmaster.

9) Finish Swordsmaster

Hah! I’m an infant novelist – what do I know?

10) Read 8 speculative fiction novels

Thanks to AUDIBLE, this has become easy. Most of this was achieved with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (FINISH THIS SERIES, GEORGE, OR LET SOMEONE ELSE), and then Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series (Robert died before this was completed, but HE made provision for someone else to complete it – thank you, Mr. Jordan!)

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A quick word about milestones. Milestones aren’t goals – they’re things that you HOPE will happen, but that you only have indirect ability to affect (for example, even if you could write the perfect story, you can’t make a publisher buy it, so SELL A STORY is a milestone (still worthy of celebration), but not a goal.

Here are the milestones I’ve had since I started writing:

Completed Milestones:

1) First official payment for my writing

Accomplished in 2013 after 1-1/2 years of indie publishing (back when there were minimum royalty limits for payments.

2) $25.00 in royalties

This was an arbitrary number, also accomplished in 2013

There were other milestones I could have chosen – first story completed, first novelette, first novella, first eBook sale – but you can’t spend all your time celebrating – you have to get some work done, too.

Milestones Still in the Wings:

1) Sell a story to a traditional publisher

Like I said – a milestone, not a goal. I had five or so near misses on a sale this year.

2) $150 total payments for my writing

The point of this is to acknowledge when I finally make enough in royalties to equal the sale of one average short story at professional rates (which were 5-cents/word when I started.) This would also help justify the time I spend self-publishing. I am 88% there.

3) An individual story earns 5-cents/word through indie channels

That would mean that the story would have made as much as though I sold it to a traditional publisher. “Quiet!” is closest to this so far, but its only 12% of the way there.

4) Finish a novel

I’m just adding this one this year – honestly, I thought so little of this as an accomplishment that I didn’t bother adding it to the list because I thought I could get’er done in a year. It’s been three years since I started the adventure of writing Swordsmaster, so I THINK I know better, now.

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So, with the backdrop of what I learned (especially last year), what will my writing goals be for 2019? Here’s what I’m planning, and why:

1) Write 3,000 words of fiction each week

This is a reachable target that I haven’t made consistently, but it keeps me pushing to produce.

2) Five new stories written and out the door by end of year

With the commitment to finish Swordsmaster, and the backdrop of how that worked in 2018, five new stories seems reasonable.

3) 7-day turn-around (or ASAP) on getting rejections back into rotation

Just keep them out there trying to sell. I may need to expand my list of markets to be more effective.

4) Indie publish SOMETHING every 8 weeks (keep to exact schedule), with a 3-week preorder and promotion campaign for any eBook priced over 99-cents

Since I am running out of unpublished short stories, and will producing very few this year, I’m decreasing the number of ePubs.

5) Blog each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

A good schedule to maintain.

6) Be more active online aside from my own postings (comment on 3 blogs per week)

I’ll at least keep this on the list until it becomes a habit – I must become at least part of the new internet social media order.

7) Finish Swordsmaster

And finish includes Indie-Publish

8) Create Swordsmaster cover

Must do if I’m going to achieve #7, but should do, regardless. Maybe I’ll draw it…

9) Read 8 speculative fiction novels

This is simple enough, and The Wheel of Time series (6 books to go) helps me keep the tone I want when I’m working on Swordsmaster. I should probably branch out into other styles, though – the point is to be aware of what’s out there in speculative fiction.

 

So – what about the rest of you? Have you posted your 2019 goals? (Let me know in the comments below.) You’ll be glad (aside from the possible humiliation) that you did. Just saying…

<<<>>>

CatsOutOfTheBag2Cover.jpgComing up for ePublication – the next Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire story, “Cats Out of the Bag”:

Champion of the Empire Herc Tom longs for more interesting times. His wish is fulfilled with the return of the Lost Baastards, a couple of prison breaks, the kidnapping of a Prince, the reappearance of an assassin, an alien invasion, and fifteen different kinds of treachery. Maybe life wasn’t all that boring after all.

“Cats Out of the Bag” is a speculative fiction novelette, and is the sixth of the “Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire” stories, following “Purr Mission”, “Nipped in the Butt”, “Cat and Mouse”, “Baastards’ Revenge”, and “Imperial Purrogative.”

“Cat’s Out of the Bag” releases on Friday, January 4th, but it’s available now as a preorder for a reduced promotional price at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/915326

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MB56SKR

<<<>>>

Collection10 CoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing – including his most recent release – a collection called Goddesses, Sleep with the Snowmen, and Other Fantasies – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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