Challenge,  On Writing

My 2022 Challenge

Finally… Took a While…

Going to take a little time to go through the process of how I came to do this challenge and what I considered. So you all can set your challenges and goals for the coming year as well. Remember, I have been at this for a very long time and I wanted to do something with writing I had never done before, to really be challenged.

Things I Considered (that you also might want to think about).

— What kind of time do I have to write? That is with all the other stuff I am doing that is important to me, such as exercise, doing workshops, and trying to help a little with WMG Publishing. (I am the CFO after all.) I actually calculated how many hours I had. Averaged between 4 and 5 per day while still sleeping a full eight hours and exercising.

— What would I do with all the stuff I did write? How much of it can I publish? How much needs to go through WMG and so on. This was the hardest question of all because I am incapable of writing for future years. I just won’t do it. It would not motivate me enough to keep going on anything.

— Did I feel up for pushing on the writing this coming year? This was partially an attitude question, partially was I ready to really get back to writing after four years of moving? Also this was an age question. Lots of factors with this one. Dealing with motivation things in this one a lot.

— What would keep me going? Exactly what the sentence means. What kind of challenge would I keep at and what kind of challenge would I just say, “Done it before, why bother?” This had a lot of moving parts with this one as well. And it was dealing with this one that Kris and I came up with the idea of doing Motivational Mondays. Got a hunch some of those I will be doing for myself. (grin)

One Year Is a Very Long Time

Especially when you are pushing. That is why most New Year’s Resolutions last until February. So I needed a challenge that I could remember, that I would keep pushing on in August or May and that it would be worth keeping going. This one took a lot of checking in with myself over the last month since I finished the 70@70 challenge.

I Wanted This Focused On Writing

So I did a summary sheet of my writing challenges and accomplishments over the years. (Actually wrote these down so they would be there to build from. I am not motivated to do the same challenge again.)

— Best Novel Year… 15 novels in one year (New York under deadlines).

— Second Best 12 novels in a year (Also New York deadlines back in the 1990s)

— Best Indie Novels in a year… 10 shorter novels

— Best Word Count in a Year of consumable words… 1.6 million in indie. (Best in New York days… 1.4 million.)

— Wrote 32 short stories in 31 days and blogged about it… All published in Stories from July. (That is maybe one of the best books I have ever done for learning writing. I serialized it in six issues in Smith’s Monthly as well.) I tend to average around 50 short stories per year, often written in sprints of 20 or so.

— Wrote four full-length short stories in one day (11,000 words total) and on numbers of days I have written three. More days than I can count I have written two short stories.

— One year about five years ago I wrote five novels in five weeks. I remembered I had a blast, don’t remember why I stopped. Also I have done a bunch of timed novel challenges I turned into How to… books.


For years now, I have wanted to write a short story per day for an entire year and always quit before February because I could never figure out what I was going to do with all the stories. That one thought ALWAYS stopped me. Always.

Second thing that got me in that challenge was that I would always in the early days of the story a day challenge write a story or two that would be a great start for a novel, and didn’t want to wait to write the novel while I did a ton of short stories I didn’t know what to do with. (Smith’s Monthly publishes five stories a month. I still have over 50 stories in a stack waiting to be in Smith’s Monthly.)

Third thing that always stopped me was how to keep track of all that. (I think I got that fixed this time.)


When I was calculating how much time I actually had on average over a week per day to write, I counted as work all my normal WMG stuff and writing my blog and answering emails and responses. And exercise. None of that was counted in my writing time.

I can find 5 hours on average a day to write and still get everything else done. Some days a little less, some days even more.

I tend to write a short story (from 2500 words to 6,000 words) in 2 to 4 hours. Average 3 hours for around 4,000 words.

So on average, after writing for 3 hours a day, I have 2 hours of decent time left. I have been known to write another short story in that period of time.

I tend to write a 40,000 word novel in 30 hours from firing up to giving to Kris to read. Sometimes a little more, some a little less. But that tends to be my average if focused for that length of novel, which is what I am doing these days.


If I wrote for 3 hours a day, I would have 14 hours a week of writing time left, or 56 hours a month left. In normal months. 

So I asked myself (and talked a lot with Kris) if I could do 168 short stories in a year? (That would be a new record for me. Story every other day ON AVERAGE.)

And 12 novels in a year (new record for indie for me)?

The answer was that I could do that. And I would have something to do with everything I wrote. The novels would go to Smith’s Monthly and to my Patreon folks (resetting later this month).  And the stories every month would go into a series of books with blogs titled Short Stories From January (Feb, March, and so on.) I would do all the covers for each story and put some blogs I wrote about the writing process in the books as well. 12 volumes spanning the entire year with at least 14 stories per book plus blogs and covers of each story.

So that set the floor of the challenge.

For me, I always need a floor, something that I will be amazingly happy with accomplishing. 168 short stories and 12 novels finished in 2022 I would be stunningly happy with.


So I checked with WMG Publishing who would do the monthly collection of stories. Would it make any real difference with them if there was 15 stories in the book or 30? No real difference on their side. More proofing, more layout, but not something that would choke their schedule in any way. So suddenly I was back at writing a short story per day for the entire year because I had something to do with all of them.

And still do 12 novels. That way if I wrote a short story that I wanted to turn into a novel, I could do so at once.

Remember, if I fall behind on short fiction, I can write two or three stories a day to catch up. I am sure that will happen.

And the math works… January… 31 stories, 1 novel. That is 93 hours plus 30 hours of writing. So 123 hours of writing. I have from four to five hours a day of writing time. So say 4.5 hours x 31 days = 139.5 hours. So I have extra time. Now that surprised me.

So after a week of thinking about it and talking with Kris and looking for any problem I missed, I have decided on my personal challenge for 2022 that I will detail out regular on this blog.


One short story a day and one novel a month. (365 short stories and 12 novels).

Fall-Back Base Challenge… 168 short stories and 12 novels (Fail to success.)


If I hit this year of writing, my consumable word count will look like this…

365 short stories at 4,000 each = 1,460,000

12 novels at 40,000 = 480,000

365 blogs at 800 words = 292,000

Introductions for books = 50,000

TOTAL… 2,282,000 words.

(That is Pulp Speed 8 and would be a new record of words in a year for me.)

I will end up with 12 Smith’s Monthly Issues and 12 Short Stories From… volumes.

And a challenge I can just carry on into 2023.

I am officially excited and have work to do to get ready. Organization and some practice stories for fun, to double check my timing.


  • Mihnea+Manduteanu

    I’ve been waiting for a long time for this. Wow, goosebumps. I checked my own time and availability and such and I want to take on (at least) your fallback challenge. the fall-back one because I do my own publishing,covers, everything so I might not be able to make the full 365. But one short story every other day and one novel a month, I want to do that. I am excited to do that.
    Wow that would give me a lot of magic bakery items a year from now. Wow.
    So I guess for the rest of 2021 I should prepare…excell sheets, cover templates and such.
    Very exciting challenge, Dean. Good luck!!

    • dwsmith

      I will be doing a cover for every story myself. Allyson at WMG will do the covers for the 12 novels, but I will do all 365 covers for the short stories and all 12 covers for Smith’s Monthly. I find doing the covers great fun to be honest and will be showing them on my blog at times in large groups.

  • Victoria+Goddard

    Wow, Dean, that IS an amazing challenge! Thank you for explaining your reasoning process so clearly.

    I found the Great Novel Challenge (which I did July 2020-June 2021) a real challenge and extremely helpful for clearing out critical voice and making me a more confident writer. This fall I wrote *and published* a novel in 2 months (plus a week), which I would not have even imagined doing the year previous.

    Next year I’m going to aim at Pulp Speed One. I’ve been thinking about the production side of things and am working to arrange a few things in my life better, and also am aware that I tend to write longer projects so even at 80,000 words a month I’m not going to have a novel finished each month, and shorter pieces can go out in between.

    I am so inspired by your attitude. Writing *is* fun and more so the more I clear out the critical voice.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, critical voice is non-existent for me. I just do the very best I can every time and release and move on. Watch for my blog tonight on this topic.

  • Philip Michael Smith

    This is an absolutely absurd challenge, which will make it great to follow. Do you think with all those short stories you may wind up creating new series characters?

  • Peggy

    Dean wrote: …I would always in the early days of the story a day challenge write a story or two that would be a great start for a novel, and didn’t want to wait to write the novel while I did a ton of short stories….

    That’s what stops me from doing the Bradbury Challenge. I’m tinkering with attempting it as my challenge for 2022, and I know I’ll have to deal with my tendency to go big as part of it. That’s the really daunting part, for me at least.

    Ah, well, even if I fail the challenge, I will at least have learned something more about how I write, and I’ll have *some* finished shorts and maybe a finished novel or three, to boot.


  • Leah

    Wow Dean. That’s insane, but in a good way. Blaze maintains Pulp 3, and has for a couple of years. I know the work ethic that takes. I’m really excited for you, and happy to see where this takes you! Am also happy to see that you’re going to revamp the Patreon. Best of luck!

  • Mike Southern

    Wow. Just wow. I have trouble even thinking in those numbers at this point in my writing career.

    But it sounds like fun!

  • Linda Niehoff

    Well this is just inspiring. I read Stories from July this summer and loved it. Can’t wait to read even more. This is gonna be fun to watch!

  • Eduard Meinema

    Wow, impressive; especially the dazzling number of words! Ha, ha, suddenly the “Great Novel Chellenge”, which I’m finishing shortly, doesn’t sound that “great” anymore!
    Frankly I thought you would come up with something like Stephen King once did, a dollar for a chapter a week or so. Maybe, if you’ll put the shorts on Patreon “for free”, you’ll be able to increase the number of patons that way too.
    Anyway, like you always say: keep having fun!

    • dwsmith

      I have considered something like that, just saving the raw file from each short story (before copyediting) in a pdf and putting each one up for a level of Patreon support. It would be interesting because I could toss that up almost daily. Or in groups of three or four. Thinking about it.

  • Kate+Pavelle

    Wow, Dean! A quarter of that would count as a very good year for most writers I know. I’m totally inspired! One thing that’s a big learning moment in the record of your planning, as you lay it out here, is planning what to do with all those stories.
    And hearing other writers plan cover templates and spreadsheets ahead of the time. You’d think that’s natural to people, but not to me. I think that “into the dark” concept applies to writing quite well. To publishing, not so much.

    I’m happy with my 0.5+ Pulp Speed plus Publish Everything challenge. Maybe too happy, because increasing my daily word count from 2K to 3K wouldn’t be really that big a deal, not with two days a week off. And if I sink my teeth into longer works OR see if I can consolidate my short stuff into already existing worlds, that would streamline the publishing aspect.

    (Or I could wait until I am older. It seems to be working for you – the older you get, the faster you are. You did mention an age component, so that must be it.)