Writing This Safely From Home….
…On New Year’s Eve, after midnight.
2020 has left the building. 2021 shows ugliness to start and promise over time.
So thought I would talk about the writing challenge I am going to set for myself and some thoughts on how you could ramp up a writing challenge in the New Year.
Here is how I would suggest you come at doing a writing challenge in 2021.
- Decide where you want to be at the end of 2021 with your writing. Some people use word count, I use project or story counts, but I do track words just for fun as well. On good years for decades I did between 1.2 and 1.4 million consumable words.
- Look at what it would take to get you to the desired year-end result you pick for yourself. Does it seem doable to reach?
- Set a weekly, daily, monthly goal above what you need to do and think you can do. Make it a challenge. Push yourself. Failing to your goal is just fine. But if you only push yourself to the desired year-end result level and then fail, you will also miss that result. So set your short-term goals high.
- Set up a streak to hit your challenge. Daily streak or weekly streak. Just has to have a short time limit.
- Realize that starting a streak is the hardest. First five are really hard, next five are difficult, but by the end of 20 times hitting the streak you will have set habits and patterns and the streak will have enough power that you do not want to break it. (Writers who managed the 52 stories in 52 weeks challenge discovered this.)
- Believe in yourself. If critical voice is telling you it can’t be done, challenge that, figure out how it could be done, and then set the challenge and then the goals.
- Then every day remind yourself where you want to be at the end of the year. Focus on the desired result, then on the daily or weekly challenge goals, not the problems each day tosses at you.
- Have fun. If a writing challenge is not fun, there is no point at all in doing it.
So What Do I Have Planned?
For years I have wanted to try a writing challenge, a really ambitious challenge, even for me. I have finally, after almost three years here in Vegas, got my writing and sleeping and working routine back under control. In reality, it ended up not much different than the routine I had on the coast for twenty years. Go figure.
And I am ramping back up Smith’s Monthly, with the first new issue (#45) out this month (January). So all good there. And I have a lot of short stories unpublished and about six novels that need to go into the magazine, so I have a head start if I want to use it. (I need a novel, part of a novel or a nonfiction book for a serial, and four or five short stories per month. I do not repeat anything from any previous issue.)
So all that said, another piece of information. I have done five different months over the years where I did a short story a day for the month. Four succeeded, one in November three years back only got twenty stories. The last one I did was April in the year Kris and I moved down here. I decided to do a story a day while moving. Started down here, was two weeks on the coast, then back down here. I got behind (no surprise) and got to four days left with only twenty stories done.
And I still hit the challenge.
That’s right, on one day, sitting at the dining room table here with an iPad (no office set up yet), I wrote four short stories, none of them under 3,000 words, in one day. Another day I did three. Another day I did two. And one day I did one and hit the 30 stories in the 30 days of April.
I have proven to myself that I can catch up on short stories if I drop behind. That was huge.
So my challenge for 2021 is to write a story per day for the year, plus write a novel per month, plus publish over 70 major books.
No chance in hell I will not miss on some days. 365 stories is a lot of stories, far more than most writers can manage in their entire lifetimes. But if I miss, I will set time aside to catch up.
I will also do a novel per month, more than likely a thousand to two thousand words a day, just sort of plinking along at it.
I have been working toward this now for a month or more. Even got some help with spread sheets to track everything.
And thanks, Kris for talking to me about this so many times. And Allyson and the gang up north at WMG really encouraging me to give this a shot.
I want to really, really focus these first few weeks and set up a streak. That will be critical to making something this long and this consistent.
A streak also helps me get the writing into what is called “Ground Effect.” Basically, once I get lift-off with the writing, it will be a ton easier to stay in the air with a certain amount of writing every day than have to start and stop, pounding into the runway. To get ground effect in writing, I need a streak that has power. I know I can do 32 stories in 31 days because I did that in July one year. (You can buy the book with all the stories and all blogs about writing each story called “Stories from July.”)
If I can hit 31 days in January, with 31 stories done, that streak will have a ton of power to keep me going forward.
So now to get started. (I hate starting.)
And since I do this blog so late at night, I will always be lagging one day behind. January 1st story will have a note about it in the blog you will read on the 2nd. I will try to make a note of the story title and number each day. And at times I will blog about the writing if something different happens. Or more than likely if there is a struggle. (grin)
This will be fun. A struggle at first, but fun as it gets into the air. I hope that 2021 will be a powerful writing year for you as well and hope the suggestions above help you some.
Stay tuned and stay safe.