I think I’ve finally found the magic to writing. Organization! That’s right. I seem to work so much better when I have a schedule – a list – a tangible target.
A few months back, I created the Shit List. I was online, looking for a daily to-do list that I could print out and keep in plain sight of my desk. I found a few that “sort of” fit the bill, but none were perfect. So, I decided to create my own. I found some humor in the fact that I call it my Shit List, so in turn, I added that to my personalized daily task list.
After several weeks of using it at work, I became much more productive. So much in fact, that I started using it at home, on my writing cave. I now use this sheet for each of my writing projects. Instead of filling in the date, I simply enter the story title, and utilize it to keep my story on track. I might modify it at some point, to be more “writing” specific, but for now – it works!Read More
Today makes a week into the new year. Normally, I would have posted some sort of “goal” oriented post on the 1st of the year, but I decided to wait a week to think about what I really wanted. But, before I roll onto my goals for 2014 and beyond, I want to do a quick recap of my 2013 goals and accomplishments.
In January, I joined an online writers group with aspirations of actually writing my first book. It took most of the year, but in September, I finally succeeded. It really didn’t take 9 months to write the book. It just looks like that. I didn’t set my goal of publishing until July, but once I had my ‘aha’ moment, I could not stop.
So back to January – I did make a conscious effort to write more in 2013, and I began to write in my journal towards the end of the month. I started off with a few days a week, and built up to 5 days a week, taking the weekends off. Then, in March, I started writing daily. I wrote every day into November. I had a total of 202 days of writing daily. I really didn’t have a total written word goal for 2013, but as of December 31st, I ended up with around 180,000 words written. No, not all published, but written words just the same. You see, it was a dedication I decided to make, and I stuck with it pretty well this time. I have made these silly writing goals many times over the years, and 2013 seemed to have been the year to follow through.
Now, onto 2014 and beyond! My one year goal is to write 4 books. I want to finish up with Linear Shift, and write 3 more (at minimum) before the years end. Also, I have a goal of writing every single day in 2014, but I will give myself a pass one day of each month. Even if I only write a sentence saying that I do not feel like writing today, at least I gave it the attention to write those words down. I am sticking with the mental habit of thinking about writing just as much as the actual writing. My daily word count goal is 825. I first thought of going with the 1,000 words a day club, but I reviewed my first week of the new year, as well as scrutinized my writing habits from last year, and decided 1,000 words a day, every day seemed like putting too much pressure on me. I averaged 647 words per day last year spanning 272 total writing days. I am averaging just over 800 words a day through the first week this year, and I don’t feel pressure at all to hit that goal. Honestly, I hope to blow it away, but if not, I will be ecstatic with 300,000 words written in 2014.
Ok, that was my one year goal. In January of 2015, I hope to be writing about how I achieved that goal, hoping to increase it next year. Now, my five year goal is a little more difficult to nail down. Sure, I could say I want to be a national best selling author within five years and truly mean it. Well I do! But, I think that is more dream than anything else. I true goal needs to be achievable by me without any outside assistance. Meaning, I do not need thousands of fans to go out and buy my book to make the goal a reality. No, I think my goal needs to be based off my own physical ability. I want to write 30 books in the next 5 years. Not an easy task, I assure you. I think that ‘if’ I can build enough momentum in sales (I know, depending on the fan aspect just a little bit) I can leave my day job behind, and write full time. Naturally, if that were too happen, the sooner the better to achieve writing 30 books in 5 years. That is an average of 6 books a year. Heck, my 2014 goal is 4 books, and I secretly hope to squeak out 5, but I am not going to say anything about that, not just yet…
So, there you have it. I have set my one and five year goal… in writing at least. I have other goals, not related to writing that I am not going to share here. I have the written down somewhere, and need to re-evaluate them at some point this month.Read More
What a year, 2013 has been to me and my family. To start off, I registered for a few online writing classes that were a Christmas gift. I had contemplated taking some classes many times, but I have always put off doing so for one reason or another. The results of those classes remain a mixed bag, as the site I went with was more of a user driven experience, and really didn’t “teach” you anything. I can pick up a book and read it just as easily, and save the $99/year. On the flip side to that, actually taking those classes gave me motivation to write more. I haven’t calculated my total word count for the year yet, but I am pretty sure it is quadruple what is was the year before. My goal next year is to double or triple what I will end up with this year.
In March, I read an article on Hugh Howey. That single event changed me in more ways than I can count. After many many years of playing with the notion or writing, I never felt more in control of my desires than I did after reading that article and meeting Hugh. He is such a motivator when it comes to self publishing, and a strong advocate to get off your can and write. I’ve heard the saying many times: You cannot win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. I think Hugh has a similar message. You cannot publish a novel unless you write it. Not his words, but that is the gist of what my take-away from him is.
March, April and May just kind of sputtered along. I wrote just about every day through that span, but not really accomplishing much. I was not writing story, but simply journaling. I had a plan though, and I think it worked. I told myself that I needed to get into the habit of writing every day, whether I felt like it or not. I started that mantra in the middle of April, and held strong until mid September. I didn’t miss a day through that span. Once September come, I was knee deep in my editing that I took a break from the daily writing exercise, and I am OK with it. I plan on starting up on January 1st, and seeing how far I can make it by writing every single day next year.
When June rolled along, we all were off for an Alaskan Cruise. Even though we were on a boat for nearly 2 weeks, my daily writing continued. Having the total relaxation of being on vacation worked well with the words coming out of my mind. That was the last 2 weeks of June, and I could feel something inside me was changing. I just had no idea what it was just yet. Taking a long trip like that certainly has a way of making one think about their own life, and how they live it. Until then, we all live day to day, not really planning that far in advance. Taking the time to evaluate things in our lives is something that is needed frequently.
July 4th has mos often been spent at a friends house, and 2013 was no different. He lives up against the foothills just south of us, and it is always a good time shooting off Potato Guns and eating BBQ. The weekend after the BBQ, my mind was still set in self reflection. I had came to the understanding of what Hugh was saying on his blog and in any of the multiple interviews he’s given. I heard the words back in March, but it wasn’t until July did I understand them. I had been writing daily for months by then, but they were just words on a page that meant nothing. On July 6th, I set the goal to publish my first book by my birthday in September. Hell, it was July 6th, and my birthday was on September 21st – 77 days away. I had a number of story ideas that were half started, and it wouldn’t take much to get any one of them up to speed in that time frame. All I knew was I finally set a goal, and I somehow knew I would stick to it. I felt a change inside me that is difficult to describe. But, I knew it was there.
August passed by with me writing daily, but more on story than in my journal. Sure, I still wrote there, but I was working towards my goal. Some troubling news was coming up though, as my mother was in and out of the hospital a lot. My mother was a strong woman, and I knew it had to be something serious for her to be in the hospital. I remained hopeful that she would get better and live would move along. I wish I had that time back. I would have handled things so differently.
Most of September carried along much like August did. Writing daily, and working towards my goal. My mother spent more days in the hospital than she did out. She had a highly specialized surgery to repair an Aorta that was about to rupture, and then spend a few weeks in a rehab hospital. We only visited her once in the rehab place, as she was feeling much better and recovery was on the right path. She was released from the rehab place around the 18th, the same day I published my first book. But after being home for just a day, she was taken back to the hospital because of some complications. She died that night, on September 19th. She was 66 years young. When we first went to visit her in the hospital, the first thing she asked me was about my book. She was very excited for me to have such a dream. I only wish I would have started earlier, so that she could have lived to see me actually published. The timing was not quite right. I have no regrets though. I made my goal, and I stuck with it and published by my birthday. I only wished I spent more time with her before her passing.Along the same timeline in September, I submitted my first short story for publication in an anthology, and it was accepted.
After the hellish September ended up being, I vowed to take a break from Linear Shift, and work on something else for a while. But, sales for Part 1 were pretty good, and I was motivated to move right into Part 2. I started working on an outline and started actual writing on October 6th. I had not been writing daily for several weeks now, and I sort of lost that rhythm I had built up earlier in the year. September was a very stressful month, and something had to give. Regardless, I pushed as hard as I could, and finished writing Part 2 my November 6th. Exactly 30 days after starting.
Throughout November, I did a number of rewrites and also took a trip to NYC, which I had never been. LOVE the city. Want to go back. I also submitted two more short stories for a new anthology, and they were both accepted. I received final edits back from Amy on November 30th for Linear Shift, Part 2.
December was spent picking up all of her edits and rewriting a few chapters. I pushed through, as my goal was initially December 6th, which continued to get pushed back. I ended up publishing on December 24th, just a few days ago!
To recap the events of 2013, I wrote a bunch. I published 2 books, and 3 short stories. My mother died, and my life changed. I suppose you could have skipped all that wordy crap above and read the last paragraph. Throughout the year, I have made a number of new friends in the writing world. Michael Bunker, Jason Gurley, Patrice Fitzgerald, and Will Swardstrom to name a few.Read More
On Saturday, me and the family took in a show. It was Gravity, and we saw it in Imax. It was pretty darn good. Ok, ok. It was great! The cinematography was phenomenal. The acting, I thought, was pretty believable. It was an ‘edge of your seat’ movie, and I am certainly happy that we paid the extra to see in 3D. Totally worth it.
On that note, when did movies get so damn expensive? For my family of 3 to go to the show, including snacks and drink, was nearly $80 bucks. Seriously? Yes, I know it was Imax, and we certainly could have forgone the snack part, but still… That was an expensive matinee show. And until this trip, we have been reluctant to buy the Stubs card from AMC. We bought it before the show, and after $100 bucks spent, we get $10 bucks back. We are nearly there, just after 1 show. The more expensive movies get, the more that card actually makes sense.
On Saturday night, we celebrated an informal Novel Kickoff Party. We actually had it scheduled for a week earlier, to coincide with my FREE sale on Amazon, but seeing as my mother passed the week before, there was a serious scheduling conflict for that Saturday.
Anyway, we went to a exorbitantly overpriced Italian restaurant and had a great time. I say overpriced in jest, as there were 6 of us, and we had enough food for 12. At least… We had left over last night, and will have left over again tonight.
Sunday was spent refining my outline a bit for Part 2 of Linear Shift, and then attempt some actual writing on the manuscript. Good news is that I actually got the first scene laid down! It’s still in rough draft form, and I need to go through it again later, but the first scene of 17 planned is out! It’s not really the first scene of the book, but the third over all. I just started there, because the first 2 scenes need some research and planning before I can take a shot at them. I plan on writing a scene every day to day and a half. I’ve got my developmental editor lined up and ready to follow behind me, scene by scene, to make sure they sound coherent. Then, after all the parts are complete, we’ll spend a week polishing things up before sending it off to the final editor. I still think November 15th is a good target for release!
Today is the last day of the month. It’s been a crazy month, to say the least. Here’s a quick recap:
First, I celebrated the anniversary of my birth. Until them scientist can change how aging works, I gained a year in the age category. I have now been on this earth for 43 years. I can remember when I was young, around 11 or 12, that I so wanted to be my parents age. They would have made them 34 or 35 then. What the hell was I thinking? As soon as I hit 27 or 28, I feel each year of my life flies by so much faster. I can recall my 42nd birthday as if it were yesterday. There has to be some way to slow this shit down!
Second thing that happened this month was getting my first book published. Sure, it was a self-published adventure, but it was still a hell of a lot of work. Much more intensive than I would have ever imagined. I set the goal to be published by my 43rd birthday on July 3rd of this year. As the days and weeks ticked by, I really did not think I would make it. Add to that my moms illness, and I thought it was completely out of reach. It does amaze me how the human condition can accept and adapt to events that present themselves in life. Getting published at nearly the same time that my mother died is one event that will forever be on my mind.
The third thing was obviously my mothers death. The illness actually started many weeks ago, but her being a stubborn woman exasperated the condition. If she would have gotten the help needed 4 to 6 weeks earlier, she may still be with us today. Even after her death, she is teaching me things. The lesson I am learning now is that life is indeed too short. Okay, I already knew that, and I have tried to live for today for quite some time. She did teach me that doctors are not bad. They are needed to get along when you get sick. I am going to schedule a doctor visit in the next few weeks just to make sure everything is good with me. Seeing my mother pass away at 66 is not a pleasant experience. I do not want to have my loved ones go through that too soon. I want to die old and grey. Not so early like my mother. Passing at 66 is way too early.
Finally, my writing. I have wrote a ton this month. The most I have ever written in 30 days in a long time. I think it was November of 2011 that I last write a ton. Actually, Linear Shift, Part 1 was the story I wrote back then. I severely cut it and edited it to get it ready for publication. That first draft back then was almost completely useless. It was almost completely rewritten over the last 2 months. My stats for the month of September are as follows. Total words written: 24,193. Total days written: 30. Most written words in a day: 1,906. Least words written: 100. Average words per day for the month: 806. Also, I have not missed a single day of writing since April 12. And at that, I only missed that day because a big work deadline kept me away from my writing. Beyond that missed day, I hadn’t missed a day of writing going back to March 26th.
As for Linear Shift, I uploaded it on September 18th on the Kindle site, and on the 20th for the print book site. Through this writing at 8:00 a.m. on the 30th, I have sold 20 ebooks, and 3 print books. I just wrapped up a FREE sale on Amazon, and had given away 435 ebooks over 3 days. I SO wanted to reach a 1,000 giveaways, but I honestly did not plan far enough ahead to promote the giveaway. Next time will be better. I just know it! Now, to the reach of the book: US – 617 books. UK – 25 books. Germany – 12 books. Canada – 3 books. Brazil – 1 book. Of those stats, Germany surprises me the most. I also though the UK would have had more.
Now that the monthly recap is over, I am going to look forward to October. I plan on having the first draft of Linear Shift, Part 2 complete by the end of the month, with publishing commencing on the 15th of November. Here’s to living the dream!
Also, don’t forget to sign up for my print book giveaways! First one is easy – Join my email list on the upper right corner of the page. I’ll be randomly selecting 5 subscribers to each receive a signed copy of my book. Second, submit to my raffle, where 5 additional copies will go outRead More
I have to say, K-Mart one-up’d everyone on that ad. Too funny. I’m not sure how likely I will be to go shop there, even after the ad, but it certainly is garnering a lot of internet chatter. Good for them.
Now, I’m off to ship my pants!