Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Nine Years

Talking About the Power of a Streak…

Nine years ago today, 3,285 days ago, I started a blogging streak. The idea was to blog about something, anything every day. (I had been doing a few blogs before that on the Star Trek boards and so on.)

No excuses. Traveling, sick, computer failures, other more important things to do. None of that mattered. Blog had to be done.

And for some reason that got into my DNA and now every night Kris even asks me if I got a blog done.

As with all streaks, I had other motives at the start and never, in a billion years, did I think it would last this long. In fact, in hind-sight, I didn’t want it to last this long. Just no reason for it to do so.

But it did.

My initial motive was to talk about the months of run-up and first issues of Smith’s Monthly. That idea of a one-person monthly magazine was such a stupid idea, it was fun to talk about as I not only designed it, but then started publishing issues. Remember, nine years ago we were barely into the indie world and the myths of traditional publishing were even stronger than they are now.

And no writer in history had ever completely filled a monthly magazine with their own writing for more than two issues. Writers had done short novels every month for magazines for a year or two or in Lester Dent’s case, and Gibson’s case, most of a decade. But there were always other writers in with those novels.

So if I figured that if I got to three issues, it would be a first, and if I got to 20 issues, that might be worth noting. (Just published Issue #51… No one really cares, but I am still having fun.)

Also the blog was a focus to get me back writing and over the nine years I have written and finished and started even more books on writing than I care to count, using these blogs each as a chapter in the book.

For example, while traveling to play poker here in Vegas with some friends, I wrote a novel in five days while sitting in a hotel room and spending time in poker tournaments and with my friends.  Cool all by itself, but I also wrote a writing book called HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL IN FIVE DAYS WHILE TRAVELING at the same time. So I wrote one novel and one nonfiction book in five days while traveling.

This blog made that possible.

After the workshops got started, I started using this blog as a way to get information about the workshops to writers as well.

Over the entire time the blogs averaged just at 700 words per day. Some a bunch longer, some shorter. Some blogs had value, some were me just keeping the streak alive.

Here is one of maybe the dumbest statistics I have every thought of.


If over that same time I had written 700 words of fiction for 3,285 days, I would have 2,299,500 words.  That is about 58 novels at my 40,000 word novel length.

Actually, you divide it by 9 years and you get about 255,000 words a year.

WAIT!!!!  Even with some horrid writing years with all the moves, I wrote more fiction than that every year.  A lot more than that. A ton more than that, actually.

I count about 250,000 words of blog every year as consumable words I write. I don’t count emails, workshop responses, or blog responses as consumable words.

If you remember the Pulp Speed blogs, writing at Pulp One is about 1 million consumable words per year.

Even on bad years, I have never dropped under Pulp One. Usually I float around 1,500,000 consumable words a year. So the blogs added to my yearly word count each year, but not by overwhelming amounts.


The key is you have to make them matter to you.

For example, I would be traveling, pull into a hotel very late and very exhausted, get out my little iPad and do a blog before falling asleep. I was in the hospital and Kris brought me my iPad to do a blog and keep the streak alive.

I even borrowed a computer or two along the way to do a quick blog for the streak.

Can’t begin to tell you how many nights I used my phone’s hot spot.

Over the years I have used streaks to write a story a day for 31 days. I have used a streak to write five novels in five weeks.

And I have watched a lot of writers over the last two years set up a short story a week streak for the challenge and hit it, then at the end of the year wonder what to do with so many short stories.

For 44 issues I put out a monthly magazine every month with 70,000 or so of my words in it. Then the streak broke because Kris got sick and we had to move, but then in January of this year I restarted the streak and now 7 issues later I have put out a 70,000 word magazine of my own fiction every month once again. And that streak has power, not only to me, but all the wonderful people at WMG Publishing who help with it.

So for nine straight years I have put up a blog here without missing a day. Thanks, Kris for all the reminders, a number of which made me crawl out of bed and go do a blog.

Streaks have power. This one is going at 3,285 days straight.

Eventually, as with all streaks, this one will break as well. But for tonight a blog is here.

And I hope I start toward the 10th year tomorrow. With streaks, the attitude is always… “We shall see.”




  • Filip Wiltgren

    Congrats, Dean! Impressive as always.

    But how do you make a streak matter? I’ve tried, and it starts of well, but after a few weeks the streak just feels like bookkeeping to me…

    • dwsmith

      You don’t do a streak for the normal, easy days. You do it for the hard I-WOULD-NEVER-DO-THIS if not for the streak days. So when it feels like bookkeeping, you are on cruise control and things are going great. Just keep up the bookkeeping because in writing and publishing, trust me, nothing is ever smooth for very long. Nature of the beast.

  • Harvey+Stanbrough

    Congrats, Dean. And I would add that over those years you’ve taught a lot of writers invaluable lessons about writing just from the blog posts alone, never mind the in-person and online workshops and lectures. Great job. Without your blog, I literally wouldn’t be where I am today as a fiction writer or as a blogger, come to think of it.

    • dwsmith

      Average another 1,500 to 2,000 a day, depending on blogs and how many people are signed up in workshops and what business thing is happening and I am still writing with the folks who signed up with me as a mentor two or three years ago. And other stuff. It can go to a lot in one day, then down to under a thousand on other days. So average 2,000 a day non-consumable words. So another 700,000 words a year. It is an odd year I don’t write in one form or another over 2 million words. But I only count the words that everyone can see like short stories, novels, blog posts.

      Consumable vs non-consumable. I can’t remember who gave me that distinction years back, but I have stuck with it ever since.

  • Britt+Malka

    Congratulations on your 9-year streak.

    Even your short blog posts where you just check in are enjoyable to read. This one was great and with a valuable tip: use streaks to get things done.

    You’re an inspiration, Dean.

    On another note, I share the link to the pulphouse fiction kickstarter everywhere I can. Do you think there’s a chance you hit the $25K mark? I’m really in love with the two popups for the $20K and $25K stretchgoals.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Britt. Really appreciate it. And yes, even though we are stuck right now, I think there is a chance we will hit those stretch goals. 20 for sure, the 25 might be a stretch. (grin)

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, and it would not have made it without your help. I can’t begin to say how much I appreciate that.

  • Annie Reed

    Congratulations, Dean!!! Your blogs mean a lot to a lot more people than you’ll ever know. Yes, even the ones that are placeholders, because they still show the motivational power of a streak.

  • Karen

    Congratulations! This continues to be a fantastic streak that’s both fun and informative. Thanks. Here’s to many more!


  • Laura A Ware

    Congrats, Dean! That’s an amazing streak.

    I’m working on two streaks right now – writing every day and a short story a week. The streak has gotten me to the keyboard on days like yesterday, when we got home from traveling and I was so tired I could barely read.

    As you said, they have power. Looking forward to see how long yours runs.

  • Mark Kuhn

    Congratulations, Dean! You keep posting and I’ll keep reading. Thanks for everything you do to help us writers. Thanks to you I will have a five story collection up very soon.

  • Desikan

    Congratulations Dean,

    Your blog is part of my daily routine now. You are an inspiration for new writers.