Writing Goals for 2017

This year’s goals are going to be more in the . . . very rough guidelines category. I feel like I pull a little further back on these goal posts each year, knowing when I set myself lofty tasks things like life, children, work and random, unpredictable things seem to find a way of happening. But I still find them both helpful and necessary.

When I’m having to juggle work and personal life with my writing and I stare down the long tunnel of a new year it’s . . . daunting. I could just assume throughout the year I’ll get lots of writing done, but I’m also a very structured person. I enjoy having things planned out and organized. It’s one reason I love using Scrivener for all my writing as it allows you to be excessive in your organization. So these goals help give some structure for the coming year and when I’m saturated with working on a project, and I’m not sure what to move to next, I have these handy goals to help guide me.

  1. Ostium: This is the podcast project that became the main writing work for me in 2016. Episode 5 will be released February 26th, and I’ve got one other episode to mix together. Other than some light work leading up to the release of an episode this frees up my writing time. So my plan for Ostium is unless the Patreon page starts kicking and hitting the monetary goal, I don’t plan to start writing Season 2 until late summer with plans to start running the episodes in January 2018.
  2. Olague: My plan is to have my novel be my main project for the year and since I have Ostium more under control this year (unless it starts making big bucks), this should be feasible. Let’s just say I hope to get a vague chunk of this novel done this year and leave it at that.
  3. Story Submission: Continue submitting stories, like usual.
  4. Short Story: I have a number of short stories I’d like to get written, but for this year I’d be happy to get at least one of them done.
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Review of 2016 Writing Goals

Meant to have this posted earlier, but life keeps getting in the way, as done sickness which I am just now recovering from. Anyway, let’s see how we did with those writing goals for 2016. Red text below goal indicates how I did.

Olague: My novel Olague is going to be my main writing focus for the year. I’d like to throw out something like “get half the book written” or even a third, but I know this is neither likely nor feasible with my current work and life schedule (of course, if the above thing happens that was hinted at that will change things a little). So I’m just going to say: get more writing done with Olague. Even if it’s just another chapter, at least something; though I hope it’ll be a lot more than one additional chapter.

So Olague did not become the main focus of the year, a little thing called Ostium did (see below). I did however get three hefty chapters done. And with the main work on Ostium looking to be completed in the next week or two, I am planning to return to this novel full force at that point.

Stories: I’ve got two short story ideas kicking around in the noggin that I jotted down a few notes for in case they disappear entirely from my head. I’d like to get those two stories written in some form this year.

The stories didn’t get written because of that little thing called Ostium again (see below), however I did get some ideas for new stories and fortunately jotted down what notes I had.

Submit Stories: Continue submitting stories for publication each month, including editing and getting the long story that was written in 2015 submitted to at least one publication by the end of the year.

I did do this and the high point of the year was I got an “Honorable Mention” for Writers of the Future, meaning I need to get back to submitting that story this year along with it’s “almost publication” tag.

Ostium: This is my podcast series I’m working on with a friend. The first episode script is written and ready and now it’s just a case of getting it recorded. For 2016, I’d like to get the first episode recorded and ready, and the scripts for the second and third episodes written.

So this project this year took off big time and ended up being the focus for the year. I ended up writing ten episodes and a bunch of mini episodes amounting to around 50,000 words, so that’s where all my work and energy went. We got a good chunk of the episodes recorded in the fall and winter and the last few in January. The first episode was released January and you can find out all about it on the Ostium website.

BONUS: So here’s a bonus goal, should I need something extra to work on. My novel White Horse is completed in first draft and has been waiting for some editing for a few years now, but I’ve never quite found the time to get around to it. I think the reason for this is because I felt it wasn’t quite right as the novel that it is. It’s taken me a while to figure out what this means and I think I finally have. I originally started the book as a novella, but then it grew into a novel. Now thinking on it for the last few years, while it was fun and interesting writing the whole book, I believe it still wants to be a novella, and needs to get edited down to that. So that can be the extra credit project for the year.

Hahah. Nope. Who knows when this will ever happen. But I always have it as a backup should I need something to work on.

Writing Goals for 2016

This year I’m expecting something to happen which will lessen my job work and give me more free time to do things like write. The problem is while I’m pretty sure this thing is going to happen in 2016, I have no idea when. So for now – and I know I say this every year I set my writing goals – I’m going to keep it short and sweet for goals with hopes of completing them all.

  1. Olague: My novel Olague is going to be my main writing focus for the year. I’d like to throw out something like “get half the book written” or even a third, but I know this is neither likely nor feasible with my current work and life schedule (of course, if the above thing happens that was hinted at that will change things a little). So I’m just going to say: get more writing done with Olague. Even if it’s just another chapter, at least something; though I hope it’ll be a lot more than one additional chapter.
  2. Stories: I’ve got two short story ideas kicking around in the noggin that I jotted down a few notes for in case they disappear entirely from my head. I’d like to get those two stories written in some form this year.
  3. Submit Stories: Continue submitting stories for publication each month, including editing and getting the long story that was written in 2015 submitted to at least one publication by the end of the year.
  4. Ostium: This is my podcast series I’m working on with a friend. The first episode script is written and ready and now it’s just a case of getting it recorded. For 2016, I’d like to get the first episode recorded and ready, and the scripts for the second and third episodes written.
  5. BONUS: So here’s a bonus goal, should I need something extra to work on. My novel White Horse is completed in first draft and has been waiting for some editing for a few years now, but I’ve never quite found the time to get around to it. I think the reason for this is because I felt it wasn’t quite right as the novel that it is. It’s taken me a while to figure out what this means and I think I finally have. I originally started the book as a novella, but then it grew into a novel. Now thinking on it for the last few years, while it was fun and interesting writing the whole book, I believe it still wants to be a novella, and needs to get edited down to that. So that can be the extra credit project for the year.

Review of 2015 Writing Goals

So let’s take a look at how well I held to my writing goals for 2015, which can often be interesting since work and babies and life often tends to get in the way. I’ve copied my listed goals that I posted February 5, 2015. And my 2016 review commentary is below each section in red.

Olague: Complete some beginning writing with my novel Olague. I’m still working on research, plotting and characterization, but my goal is to have some piece of writing to start off the novel completed by the end of the year, whether it’s the start of the first chapter, or the prologue, or something to kick off the novel. Ideally, I’d love to work on Olague for Nanowrimo, but with how busy my life is these days with a taxing job and a toddler, that isn’t very likely. But I hope to have most of the planning side of the novel done and some writing begun by the time the year is out, and then to get stuck into some heavy writing come 2016.

So Nanowrimo for Olague didn’t happen, unsurprisingly. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get another opportunity to do Nanowrimo again, at least in the near future with things like the aforementioned work, life and children. As much as I love writing, I won’t sacrifice time with my son for it. We’ll just have to deal.

Getting back to the writing goal. I did get all my research and outlining done and in the fall I got started with some writing. And then the Christmas season hit and my work days all of a sudden became 10-12 hours long and exhausting. However, I did get 4442 words of the manuscript written and completed the prologue and started chapter one, which I hope to be getting back to real soon, maybe even next week! So . . .

GOAL ACHIEVED!

Ostium: I’ve had this podcast series project that I’ve been kicking around for the last six months. The first draft of the first episode is written and needs to get finished up and polished and then I’d love to get the first episode recorded and released by the end of the year.

This didn’t really happen. I did get a number of rewrites done on the first episode and get it to my satisfied finished edit, as well as outlining the rest of the series to some degree. Now it’s a case of getting the person to do the recording and start working on the finer details once it’s recorded. I’d like to have the first episode recorded and ready by summer or early fall, but because I’m depending on another person, it definitely makes things a little trickier. But I’m really happy with the shape the project took and where it’s headed. So . . .

GOAL SEMI-ACHIEVED.

Write Stories: My goal for the year is to get two short stories written. I got one started late last year that I want to get completed and maybe edited and start submitting by the end of the year. And then I’ve got another story idea I’ve been wanting to get down for the last couple of years and I feel 2015 is the year I’m actually going to write the sucker. Here’s hoping.

2015 was the not the year that I wrote that sucker in question down. But the other one I started grew and grew and grew and surpassed the 10,000 word mark, so technically it’s like three short stories in one. I was really happy with how the lengthy story turned out and this spring I plan to start editing and doing further drafts with plans to start submitting it in the fall. So . . .

GOAL SEMI-ACHIEVED.

Submit Stories: Continue submitting stories all around and lets see if we can get another one published somewhere.

This I did continuously throughout the year. Sadly, no takers. And it’s been really disappointing to see the lack of response at least with a plain rejection so I know I can submit the story elsewhere. I’ve had to wait three months and decide that’s a rejection and move on from there. This is definitely true for submitting mainstream fiction. But I’m sure it’s just the way things are now in the publishing world.

GOAL ACHIEVED!

Bookbanter: It’s time the Bookbanter page had a bit of a face-lift and a new look. I’ve had the same theme on there since I started the WordPress page, so it’s time for a new look and to present access to my writing first and foremost, and then my reviews and interviewing, and make it all around more user friendly.

I did do this earlier on in the year, with a new masthead logo which I’m proud of, and happy with the whole look of the site, so yay!

GOAL ACHIEVED!

Facebook: It’s time for a schism of sorts. I need to separate all the writing stuff from my actual personal Facebook page. So at some point I’ll be creating a professional page on Facebook for all my writing and Bookbanter stuff and then just have my personal Facebook account for, you know, personal stuff, like pics and videos of my kid; the usual.

In short: nope. I changed my mind halfway through the year about this, so . . .

Et. Al.: Anything else I get done in relation to my writing is all pure bonus baby!

I was happy with coming up with more story ideas and really waking up the creative juices with the walking part of my work (I’m a mail carrier) and how once I let my mind run free, it came up with a lot of cool stuff. 

Writing on the Job

My daily work and life schedule is both a heavy and hectic one that leaves me little time in the day for writing. I start work at 7:30, and get home anywhere between 4:30 and 6:30. Once I’m home I’m spending every free moment with my son, feeding him dinner and getting dinner for myself too. Then he gets put down between 7:30 and 8. Come 10:30, I need to start getting things ready for next day with work, prepping my lunch and stuff.

So that leaves me a two and a half hour window to watch TV, catch up on email, prep Bookbanter posts, and get any writing done. Therefore, I have a very loose schedule that I’ve adapted throughout this year to make it easier and easier on myself because otherwise I just don’t get any writing done. But it’s not easy.

Thankfully, lately I’ve been able to do some “writing” while doing my job of delivering people’s mail. There’s two ways a mail carrier delivers mail: by vehicle (known as the LLV) or by foot. When driving, there’s too much I need to be focused on to think about writing at all, but when walking house to house delivering mail, especially on routes I know well, it’s become pretty automatic and routine for me. And lately I’ve discovered I can do some writing in my head while walking and delivering mail.

Now by writing I basically mean doing all the parts of writing other than actually writing with the pen or typing on the computer, laptop or tablet. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been able to plot scenes, develop storylines, subplots and ideas, create complex characters and just think about pieces I want to be working on and where I want it to go. It’s been a wonderfully freeing and yet distracting experience, as it can get a little repetitive delivering mail house to house by foot, and being able to get lost in my imagination at the same time is a lot of fun.

What I have found though is that I need to make sure once I’m done with work and home for the day is I need to take the time to write up all the thoughts, ideas and notes that I’ve generated that day otherwise it’ll just disappear into the ether. But it’s nice to know I’ve found another outlet for getting some writing done, albeit mentally, with my heavy schedule.

There’s Nothing Short About This Short Story

Sometimes when you’re writing stories can get away from you; other times you just follow along and let it take you wherever it’s going . . . aaaaaaand sometimes its both.  About six weeks ago I started a story I’ve had fluttering around in my head for a while. I’d tried to write the short story last year, but wasn’t happy with where it was starting off. It just wasn’t coming out right, so I scrapped it and waited to see if the story would come to me again in some other form I’d be happier with. And it did.

I made time when I could to write what I could of the story and it kept telling its tale as stories do. I wasn’t sure where it would go at first and then it got its shape and I had a vague idea where it was headed and was able to pick this hazy thing in the not too far distance that was the ending. I figured it would end up being about 5000 words, a decent, pretty standard length for a short story.

And then the thing started happening that writers will tell you about that you can’t really teach or even explain when writing. The characters not only start to feel real, they start to act like real people and do things, make decisions, carry out actions you had no clear idea they were able or going to do. In your mind you had a vague concept of where a certain conversation might be headed, and then one of the characters says something totally surprising that actually shocks you as the writer, because you had not clue not only that they wouldn’t say it, but that they couldn’t say it. You didn’t think it was in them, but once it’s out there on the page you realize it’s totally part of their character and it’s just made your story a whole lot better. The same can happen in any sort of action scene where you have the vague idea of the moves and steps the scene will take and then something totally strange happens that just surprises you, so you follow it along and are shocked by it as you realize why it happened and how your story just got a lot better and became more realistic.

So there I was working on the story in the time I could make available, and it was doing its surprising twists and turns making it cooler and more interesting by the page, and I just watched it tear on past that 5K mark and keep on going without slowing. I figured, well maybe it’ll end up being kind of a longish story, plus I could always edit it down a bit if need be, no problems there. And then it going on and on and on, passing 8K and carrying merrily on it’s way to 10,000 words.

Now, there are two ways you can write a story. You can force it, making it go where you want it to, jamming out the dialog you want your characters to use, and carve out the exact ending you want and demand. But you’ll end up with something that will feel artificial, stunted and a complete lie to you the writer. Or you can have a nebulous idea of what you want to write and then let the words and characters do what they want to do and be happy to tag along for the ride and see where it takes you. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out, sometimes it becomes something truly unique and amazing that you never could’ve “forced” into being.

So there the story was zooming pass 10K and I could still see the hazy ending it was aiming towards and we were finally starting to circulate it and then one night I was able to get it all out and put the last sentence on the story ending it at 12,780 words.

Yeah, a little lengthy for a “short” story. I expect when I come back to edit it I’ll be able to get it down under 12K and the good news is TOR.com accepts fiction up to that length.

So you never really know where a story is going to take you and the important thing is not to hold back and try to control your imagination, but just let it take you to new and exciting places.

Writing Goals for 2015

So for 2015, here are the projects and goals I’m hoping to get started and/or completed.

  1. Olague: Complete some beginning writing with my novel Olague. I’m still working on research, plotting and characterization, but my goal is to have some piece of writing to start off the novel completed by the end of the year, whether it’s the start of the first chapter, or the prologue, or something to kick off the novel. Ideally, I’d love to work on Olague for Nanowrimo, but with how busy my life is these days with a taxing job and a toddler, that isn’t very likely. But I hope to have most of the planning side of the novel done and some writing begun by the time the year is out, and then to get stuck into some heavy writing come 2016.
  2. Ostium: I’ve had this podcast series project that I’ve been kicking around for the last six months. The first draft of the first episode is written and needs to get finished up and polished and then I’d love to get the first episode recorded and released by the end of the year.
  3. Write Stories: My goal for the year is to get two short stories written. I got one started late last year that I want to get completed and maybe edited and start submitting by the end of the year. And then I’ve got another story idea I’ve been wanting to get down for the last couple of years and I feel 2015 is the year I’m actually going to write the sucker. Here’s hoping.
  4. Submit Stories: Continue submitting stories all around and lets see if we can get another one published somewhere.
  5. Bookbanter: It’s time the Bookbanter page had a bit of a face-lift and a new look. I’ve had the same theme on there since I started the WordPress page, so it’s time for a new look and to present access to my writing first and foremost, and then my reviews and interviewing, and make it all around more user friendly.
  6. Facebook: It’s time for a schism of sorts. I need to separate all the writing stuff from my actual personal Facebook page. So at some point I’ll be creating a professional page on Facebook for all my writing and Bookbanter stuff and then just have my personal Facebook account for, you know, personal stuff, like pics and videos of my kid; the usual.
  7. Et. Al.: Anything else I get done in relation to my writing is all pure bonus baby!