Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Challenge Mixed Bag

Didn’t Hit It, but Still All Right…

My challenge starting in 2022 was to write a short story per day. 365 days.

I knew clear back in November when I finished the 70 Books in my 70th Year and started thinking about this challenge again that I would have trouble with it. And not for most writer’s reasons. I knew I would have trouble keeping track and doing something with all the stories. I thought I had that solved.


I wrote 31 stories in January and a story every day in February and a story per day for the first half of March… Going fine, having no issues other than Kris wanted me to send a bunch of them out to magazines.  I have about 25 of the new ones in Smith’s Monthly so far, and I ended up in the first half just under 80 stories. Impossible to keep track of and that problem of just losing track and having so many it seemed stupid to keep writing just stopped me from writing more. Managed three or four stories per month in May and June.

And I tried a bunch of stuff. Nothing clicked.

So in the first six months of this year, I wrote two short novels and about 80 short stories.

So here we are on July 1st, with six months left in the year. RESET TIME!!

I have deadlines for four more short stories this week, then going to switch over and write novels and more short stories.

Goal now is to write ten novels in the last six months of the year. Ideally twelve, but going for ten. I got a number of novel starts in the short story part, again as expected. And Cold Poker Gang has really been eating at me to do a few more novels. Actually started a short story tonight that will be the opening for the new Cold Poker Gang novel.

So the goal by January 1st is 12 novels and 100 short stories in 2022. That would be an okay year. Not what I set out to do, but still pretty good. With all the other stuff I write, still over Pulp Speed of consumable words by a ways.

I also hope to do a few more collections, which will bring my published major books in 2022 to about 7 novels, 12 Smith Monthly Issues, 6 Issues of Pulphouse, five major collections with Kris, and three or four collections, maybe. Plus about 60 of the short stories will be published stand-alone. Somewhere around 35 major books published and 60 or so stand-alone short stories. An okay year.

Fail to success.

And yes, if I can figure out what exactly went wrong this year, I will fire again in 2023 on the short story per day. I think this start was a good practice start. And will be even better if I get the 10 novels done by January 1st.

And yes, I will continue to put Smith’s Monthly issues on Patreon, sometimes solo short stories, and all the novels I write.

So a very interesting start to a very tough and fun challenge. Onward now with an adjustment to the challenge.



  • JR Holmes

    Thanks for this specific post. While your successes are always inspiring, it is in failures (where even their limited success is impressive) that you help all of us who follow your posts recognize and respond to our own ongoing challengers as writers.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, JR. Glad me talking about them helps some.

      At Indian Wells Golf Club in 1973, I watched Arnold Palmer play in the Bob Hope Desert Classic. On one hole he pushed a drive so far right, I thought it was going to break a window on nearby homes. Ball bounced off a palm tree and ended up just in bounds in some heavy rough. He hacked the next shot out way left and into a crowd. His third shot on the par four he actually hit so poorly, it rolled, the ball bouncing down the fairway and up onto the front edge of the green. He sunk the putt and walked off the hole with a par four.

      Best lesson I ever learned about golf and about writing and production. Fail to success. The guy he was playing with hit a perfect drive, a great shot about ten feet from the cup, and missed the putt and walked off with a par four as well.

  • Philip

    Stating the obvious, but most of us new writers would kill to be at 80 stories and a couple novels by New Year’s Eve let alone Independence Day! Awesome work, as usual. Inspiring.

    One thing I’m struggling with, and I can’t seem to diagnose, is hitting certain lengths. I write into the dark (thanks to you), but my stories get away from me. For example, I’d love to write 40-50k western novels, but often I’ll start one of these novels and all of a sudden, a few days later, I find I’ve finished a 15k word novella. Story is fine, fun, and works, but I’m disappointed I didn’t wind up with a novel. Have no clue what my problem is with length.

    • dwsmith

      Takes time and you have to study and read a bunch of the novels at that length, with a focus on how the writer did it. Sort of paying attention to that one thing.

      Also, if you want something to be longer, there is an old saying that really helps. Things get worse. Just when it looks like things are wrapping up for your character, bring the metaphorical 3 men with machine guns through the door. No idea why, where they came from, or how to stop them. That makes stories a lot longer. (grin)

      • Linda Niehoff

        I’m having the opposite problem. I’m still going with a story a week, but I find myself going long more often than not. This isn’t totally bad – I’d like to write both long and short. But for now I want to stick with short stories, and sometimes I want to practice a certain word length (especially under 5k). Any thoughts? (And yeah, I do read quite a few short stories.) Any old sayings for going shorter?? 😉

        • dwsmith

          Opposite, actually, Linda. ONLY ONE THING. Put that over your writing computer. A short story is only one thing for a character. When you start layering in more than one thing, or make it tough on a character to solve, stories go longer.

          Short stories are only one event in a character’s life. That always helps keep things shorter, usually with great depth, down in the 3,000 word length. One thing, just one thing.

  • Mike Southern

    Just a thought… maybe you should take Kris’s advice and send a bunch of them to magazines. If you do that, you’re doing something with them, right? Maybe that will be enough to help you get past that “what do I do with all these?” problem.

    LIke I said, just a thought.

  • Wenda Morrone

    Thank you for this, Dean. Resetting goals–as opposed to saying, See, I knew you could never do this–is a powerful lesson. I have to think about it.