Writing goals for 2017 (revised)

OK, so I caved. I couldn’t resist making actual wordcount-related writing goals. I mean, yeah, I still think my initial goals are good. It’s just that they’re not so… trackable. I don’t like to mix time goals and wordcount goals in the same spreadsheet, and having two spreadsheets doesn’t work. However, I will try to stick to my initial rule about writing days, to try to get into some sort of habit, and the basic idea is pretty much the same.

The new goals are divided by content. Since my blogging motivation is unstable at best, I decided to include blogging as an actual writing goal. My blog posts seem to average around 500 words, and I figure once a week is a minimum for each of my three blogs plus one extra post per week. Then I have my novel projects, and my short stories, which are basically stories written for the web, or just for fun.

  • Blogging: At least 2000 words (4×500) per week
  • Novel writing/editing: At least 6500 words per week (if I stick to my four writing days per week this will be 1625 words per day, i.e. less than NaNoWriMo).
  • Short stories and snippets: At least 1500 words per week.
  • Total writing, everything put together: 10 000 words per week.

This means:

  • Total writing on each writing day (Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday): 2000 words (1625+375) of fiction.
  • If blogging is included in the above, total wordcount goal for each writing day is 2500 words.
  • Any extra words or writing time is a bonus, not a must.
  • The NaNoWriMo goal is not included.
  • So during the rest of 2017, including this week (47 weeks in total), I’ll have the following figures:
    • 94,000 words’ worth of blog post (roughly 63 new blog posts per blog per week, if counting 500 words per post)
    • 70,500 words’ worth of short stories and snippets (though the figures also include editing, so perhaps half that in reality)
    • 305,500 words’ worth of novels, again including editing/new drafts, excluding NaNoWriMo
    • 355,500 words’ worth of novels including NaNoWriMo

I’m excited to see how well (or badly) this will work, particularly since I haven’t set aside time for worldbuilding and planning. I’m two days into week one, but yesterday wasn’t a writing day. I still wrote 400 words, and cleaned up at home. Did the dishes and everything! I almost feel like an adult.

I also received an orchid yesterday. If anyone wonders, I don’t have green fingers. I’m very curious how long it will last – but I did take very good care of the little note that states how to care for it. I might actually have to start letting some sunlight in instead of having the curtains drawn every hour of the day though…

Anyway. I am now done editing the first chapter of Rogue Sorcery, and things are going well. Slowly, but well. 3349 words in two days, after months of nothing at all. Here’s to keeping up the momentum!

Long-term goals

Warning: Long, rambly post ahead…

Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about the future. In a few months I’ll be quitting my current job, which I like a great deal, and starting a new one, which pays a lot better. In time it means the end of my financial troubles, and I am 100% it was the right decision, but I was surprised at how little enthusiasm I felt. Some of it was pure shock, of course, since the job was not even one I applied for (I asked my former boss for a reference and she gave me a job instead), but nonetheless I found it strange.

 

Having thought a great deal about it, I think it is for the same reason that I decided not to go into the field of linguistics, even if I do have a master’s degree and did apply for a PhD once (though certain things I’ve heard about the work environment at the university wasn’t without importance, to put it that way). It’s not because I don’t like linguistics. It’s not because I don’t like what the new job entails, because I really love some parts of it, and I really like my former/new boss too.

But with regards to my dream, of what I want to be? It feels like a step back. I’ll work longer hours and have a full work week – but of course that’s not even close to true. For the past year I’ve worked two jobs, and after Christmas I’ve worked on translations every spare hour I had, in addition to dancing. Let’s just say there hasn’t been any time for writing, and whenever I had an hour to spare I was too stressed or too tired to get anything useful done. So really, considering I can finally settle in just one job and still pay all my bills, and won’t have to work in the evenings – it’s a huge step forward.

Still, it made me think about what I really want. With my writing, linguistics, painting and those things. Do I want to keep it as just a hobby, something in which I dabble every now and then? I guess it’s obvious that since I’m actually asking the question, the answer is no.

My dream wasn’t just writing books. My dream has always been to be able to have my interests as a job. Writing and illustrating my own books, if not full time then at least almost full time. Make a name for myself. Painting pictures from my books that people actually will buy. I also dream about having a video blog about language (mostly), and (this is very, very, very much at the “what if” stage) perhaps even go to linguistics conferences as myself/my own company/whatever you call it, instead of representing a university, and do the research I want to do, not what attracts the money. I even have the name.

I am 32 years old now. If there was ever a time to start making dreams into reality, it is now. And I’ve realised that I cannot treat my dreams as just dreams, or as if I need to wait for luck to come my way before going after them. I need to start acting and start making them a reality. Really, other people can make far wilder dreams come true, why should I (or you) be different? I’ve also realised that I cannot treat writing and painting and conlanging as if they exist only in their little bubble. I won’t be able to write if I’m worried sick about having enough money to put food on my table, or if I work myself into the ground to get that money. So I have made a list of things I need to do in order to make the dream a reality. Not necessarily right now, but sometime in the future; the end goals of my smaller, more specific goals. (As you probably can tell, I like goals)

  1. Become financially independent. I saw this mentioned on a “how to save money” blog I came across a few days ago, and the idea really clicked. I am horrible at saving, but the idea of saving enough money so that I won’t actually have to work… that’s tempting. And hard work. But it would allow me to not work full work weeks, and thus have more time to write. Step one is to repay all my debt. I’m not counting my student loan here, because it’s so big, but all the rest. Step two would be to save enough money to have a buffer, so that I won’t have to take on more debt if there’s any unexpected expenses, as well as for dance expenses. Step three would be to save enough money for a full year off work. That’s more than a few years into the future, and it will be hard, but there you have it. Of course the real step one is to become more frugal even if I’ll have more income.
  2. Finish the damn book. No explanation needed, I guess.
  3. Look into other, little ways of gaining extra money for writing that still allows me to write my own stories. One example is Patreon, although you need at least some fans already to make it work, or short e-books or something like that.
  4. Do point 3, only for painting. This also involves becoming good enough at painting to be able to create something people would want to pay money for. My current benchmark is getting a picture accepted to Epilogue.net, but hopefully I’ll become good enough to raise that bar.
  5. Look into the video blog thing. A friend of mine really liked the idea, but I have to figure out how to make it work. I always envisioned it as a two-people blog, however, so I need to find someone to help me out. Hmm…
  6. Improve the website and the galleries and, well, all that. Start using Twitter more. Use my art instagram account more. Blog more. Comment more on the stuff of others. Get more active on deviantART and other art sites, as well as on Wattpad and other writing sites. You know, that magical web presence thing that everyone talks about.
  7. Never forget why I am working towards those particular dreams.

So there you have it. It might seem overly ambitious, but how would you ever fulfill a dream if you didn’t work towards it? I don’t believe in that kind of luck (though I hope…). And the fact remains that a writing career isn’t very lucrative unless you’re really good. Besides, a career won’t do you any good anyway if you don’t have the skills to back it up, unless you are a couple of really well known authors whose names I won’t mention.

Well, this became too long as usual, so I’ll stop. Tomorrow I have most of the evening free, so I’m planning to re-write an old story of mine. I rather liked it, but it didn’t work then, and I wrote a new ending on the bus today. I’ll upload it to Wattpad as soon as I finish it!

The magnificent list of 2016 goals!

As promised, here is my list of 2016 goals. But I also remembered that I forgot to mention whether or not I reached my writing goals (or writing wishes, as I called them) for 2015. I forgot everything about them, actually, as soon as everyday life began again…

  1. Do something writing-related at least three days a week. I forgot to keep track, and I don’t think I managed it in the first half of the year, but since the summer I think I did it more often than that.
  2. Win NaNoWriMo. Which I did, with a new personal best and three stories.
  3. Win and overachieve at least one Camp NaNoWriMo. Yeah… no. I don’t think I even tried.
  4. Write at least one second draft for a story, preferrably Rogue Sorcery or the Madness. I actually did this for Rogue Sorcery! Granted it’s more like a second first draft, but still.
  5. Finish Ancient Elvish. No, I didn’t do this, but it was a conscious choice since I did a LOT of worldbuilding instead.
  6. Update blog at least once per week. I didn’t do this, but I came close in periods.

Now for this year’s goals!

Not all of these are purely blog- or writing-related, but as they are related to my creative pursuits, I’ll include them all. Most of them, if not all, should be very measurable, and while some of them are optimistic, I look forward to going through them again next year.

  1. Write 2000 words per week. Perhaps this is ambitious, but I also think that it is necessary. Not only will I have to write considerably more than this if I want to be a published author, but also I have several first and second drafts I really need to work on. Besides, it’s less than an hour’s worth of work at my writing speed.
  2. Read Cicilie‘s manuscript. I cannot remember the deadline we set, but this is in the “very soon” and “absolutely non-negotiable” category.
  3. Update the blog once per week, in addition to the Saturday Snippets. Yep, new year, new attempt. Time will tell if it goes better this year.
  4. Work on painting and/or drawing at least once per week. Because I am done with using all my (admittedly rather scarce) painting time getting back whatever skills I lost during the last break. During 2005 and 2006 my painting skills improved by leaps and bounds, but the last five years they’ve felt stagnant. I’ve thought a lot about it for the past week, and have come to the conclusion that, while I have prioritised writing in the past few years, painting is a just as important part of me, and thus this year will be an experiment in doing both.
  5. Comment on at least two other writing blogs per week. Because a writer should not exist in a bubble.
  6. Comment on at least five pictures on deviantART and/or Epilogue per week. See the previous point – you don’t get feedback if you don’t give it, and I think it’s important to be aware of it. I’ve missed my little corner of the deviantART community, whatever else you may say about that website (for good or bad). There’s a lot of good stuff there if you know where to look.
  7. Get a picture accepted onto Epilogue in 2016. This was my number one painting goal for many years, and I think it’s time to dust it off and start working on it again. You see, Epilogue has quality requirements which I haven’t been able to meet, at least not when I so rarely paint backgrounds.
  8. Post at least one new picture at deviantART per month. If I manage point 4, this will follow quite naturally as there’s no point in not posting what I’ve painted, but again, useful to have a definitive goal.
  9. Figure out what to do with my photography website. Keep the gallery? Keep the blog? Scrap it all and move my photos here? It’s time to figure it out and stick to that decision.

So! Quite optimistic goals this year, but after this autumn I feel like I can accomplish anything, and I really don’t want to waste another year when I know what I really want. In other words, this is the year to pursue my dreams and to do my very best at making them come true.

Writing wishes

I often have resolutions around New Year, as I’ve mentioned on my other blogs, and I especially have them for my writing. Every year, without fail, I only complete a single goal: To win NaNoWriMo. Nothing else.

Only succeeding in NaNoWriMo would be fine if I was only writing for fun and did not want to become a published author. But I do, and if so, you need to be able to sit yourself in the chair and write, November or not November. In this case, having a set amount of words to write per day is both recommended and wise, I’ve heard.

But then life happens. My work occasionally entails very stressful periods and very, very long days, lots of people and lots of things that need to be done at once. Not usually, but sometimes. That’s nothing rare, plenty of other people have jobs like that, but it is an impediment to writing every day. I have tried my best, and it’s a fool-proof way of burning out. Most likely it was why NaNoWriMo was so hard this year.

Life is not just work either. There’s Irish dancing as well, twice a week plus extra classes/competitions now and then, plus other exercise. That takes time, and it’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice. I have friends there, and it’s what keeps my sane and healthy. Quite literally, in fact. Healthy food, exercise, and moderate stress levels keep my illness at bay and my mind fit. Plus, of course, socializing with friends, my writing group, tidying my apartment (it’s not the end of the world to have a messy apartment, and I am often a messy person, but a neat apartment keeps my stress levels down), maintaining four blogs and my numerous other hobbies, plus relaxing and sleeping.

Many people are able to juggle a hectic lifestyle and writing. But many people are not, and when you have been burnt out and/or depressed before, it’s not something you want to ever experience again. Even if you keep doing the same mistakes as before. For me personally, having a rigid schedule (though I love planning) makes me stressed (not the usual “oh, I have so much to do” feeling, but the dull, heavy, all-consuming exhaustion in every cell of your body combined with a mind that’s gone haywire), and then I can forget about writing. I’ve learnt that picking your battles is a good thing, and that putting yourself in situations over and over that you know you react badly to, is a bad thing. See, I can learn sometimes.

This year, instead of resolutions, I am making wishes for the writing year. Wishes are vague and not very committing, but as it turns out, goals and resolutions aren’t necessarily any better. From what I’ve learnt during my period of using HabitRPG for the other parts of my life, starting with small goals so that you can build a habit out of them first AND get the sense of mastery before progressing to the harder stuff is the way to go.

Wish #1: Do something writing-related at least three days a week. Three days a week I have no other commitment (at least nothing pre-planned) and there’s very little that can get in the way. If it does, I can choose to write on other weekdays. “Writing-related” includes writing, editing, worldbuilding, planning, plotting, conlanging and even drawing something related to one or more of my stories.

Wish #2: Win NaNoWriMo. I would love to overachieve, but I am not going to plan on it.

Wish #3: Win and overachieve at least one Camp NaNoWriMo. Preferrably the April one, as I actually have time then. And preferrably I would like to write more than 200k.

Wish #4: Write at least one second draft for any story (but preferrably Rogue Sorcery or The Madness)

Wish #5: Finish Ancient Elvish

Wish #6: Update this blog at least once per week (on average), that is at least 52 times per year.

Do you have any resolutions?

 

The “I have gone completely mad” NaNoWriMo goal entry

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. Contrary to previous years I lacked any enthusiasm whatsoever – it’s been a stressful year, and while I was going to participate, there would be no overachieving this year, as everything seems to happen in November. I had no idea what to write, I didn’t have any motivation… So yeah. Strictly 50k for me.

Famous last words.

The following happened: A friend of mine, who are in my writing group and also ML for Norway, poked all of us on Facebook and told us that the forums now had been wiped and were new and shiny, so go and post things. So I did, and after hanging around in the regional forum for a while I started browsing the others and discovered something.

A Beyond 50k forum. A whole forum, for people like me, where people write lots of words more than the NaNoWriMo goal, or write 50k in less time. Can it be more awesome? Yes, it can, because it’s populated by really, really awesome and inspiring people. Too inspiring, in fact. The enthusiasm was infectuous, and, well, I didn’t resist. After the first day there was no doubt in my mind that I would overachieve this year as well, except if my health (mainly stress-related, so it should be controllable) decided not to cooperate.

I have ended up with the following goals:

Total word count: 100k. After looking at my schedule and my WPH it should be possible with 150k, but let’s at least TRY to be realistic here. Probably won’t be able to stop myself from trying, though. My minimum goal is 75k, my aim is 100k and if things go really well… 150k.
50k weekend (yes, 50k during three days): The second weekend – the first weekend of my week-long holiday, in fact.
25k Saturday (during the 50k weekend)
Beating my daily goal of 13k
– Finishing my novel (btw, I had a fantastic title for it, why did it disappear from my head?? Oooh wait. It was on my NaNo profile.)

Because I’m going to finish my novel during NaNo, and also because I’m so enthusiastic about this story that I cannot wait, I’m going to plan my novel in advance. Normally I love to pants (and if I have words and time to spare I will start on a non-planned story as well), but I think planning in advance will make November less stressful. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but I’ve had stress-related problems for most of this year, so I don’t want to take more chances than necessary since I don’t know how my health will be in November.

I’m also taking other steps to minimise stress – I’ll do as much as I can at work during October, so that I’m ahead during November and thus less tired when I get home. I’ll also make sure that my apartment and clothes are clean, and that my freezer is stocked with meals I only need to re-heat (surprisingly easy for a one-person household, since there’s almost always at least a serving left that I can throw into the freezer whenever I make a proper meal). And, if I get too stressed during October, I’m going to through some of the steps out of the window so that I’m not exhausted before November even begins. Somehow I never felt more ready for NaNo than I am this year – I’m even thinking of venturing into the chat, which is NOT something I do often.

What are your goals for this NaNoWriMo?