Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Second Part of My New Challenge…

I Should Have Set This Up From January 1st…

I started off the year with the challenge to write a short story per day for the entire year. I did fine for three months until the very issue I had been worried about before I started finally caught up with me.

I wrote some stories through the summer, but back at my normal pace of about 50 new short stories per year.

I was going to do 100 stories in the last 100 days, but the day before I was to start that, Kris and I were talking and I said, “I can’t figure out why my critical voice is beating up on me so much on this challenge. I never have this issue.”

She asked me what kept coming up and I said, “I would rather be writing a bunch of novels instead right now.”

“So,” she said, “it’s not your critical voice that is trying to stop you, it is your creative voice wanting to do something else.”

Well, damn…

So I decided to do a bunch of novels instead and all fight against the challenge has stopped and I’m excited to get going. Hate it when Kris is right. (grin)

So new challenge, starting October 1st, is two novels a month for the last three months of the year. I really wished I would have started off with three months of short stories, three months of novels, three months of short stories, three months of novels. But was not that smart last December to figure that out. Sigh… Maybe in 2023.

My novels are around 50,000 words, so that is 100,000 words a month. Divided by 30 days is about 3,300 words a day. (A bunch of my short stories per day were longer than that.)

3,300 words a day is about three hours for me. Some days that will be tough, other days I will be able to write for six or more hours. So it all should work out.

So two challenges for October/November/December… Put together 18 collections based on the topics of the collection classes and write six novels. None of this will be published this year, but I will keep you up on the covers right here and how the challenges are going. And when it will all be published.

Also going to do three issues of Smith’s Monthly, one issue of Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, put together Writers of the Future volume #39, build and run two more Kickstarter campaigns, do all the workshops and special workshops, and run about eleven 5K charity runs. Oh, yeah, and do a blog every day.

Going to be a fun fall.



  • Harvey Stanbrouigh

    “So [my] new challenge, starting October 1st, is two novels a month for the last three months of the year.” Warped minds think alike.

    After writing 13 novels in the first 7 months of 2021, I stopped smoking cigars on August 6. Screwed up my neural networks. Didn’t write a word of fiction until August 2022.

    Yesterday, I wrote this, which will go into my Journal (blog) today:

    “My goal was for this story to finish on or before September 30. So I kind of made today my deadline. But it’s a false deadline, really. I mean, there are no consequences if I miss it, and no bonus if I make it. My publisher doesn’t run a very tight ship when it comes to publication schedules. (grin)

    “Maybe I’ll plan to write five more novels by 31 December. So that’s five more novels in 92 days (beginning October 1), so a new novel every 18.4 days. Still tight, but considerably looser than 6 novels in the rest of the year, or a new novel every 15 days.”

    And then you came along with this. I love it.


  • T Thorn Coyle

    It’s funny, Dean, I was actually wondering why you weren’t writing novels instead of doubling down on the short stories. But I figured that was just because *I* prefer writing novels and didn’t understand this particular daily story challenge.

    At any rate, glad you figured it out! And that Kris is so smart!

    Had one of my most productive summers yet, but am I’m re-setting after some travel in September. I like the idea of a quarterly reassessment.

  • T Thorn Coyle

    Also: something about this post pinged at my brain, so I went and looked up your original challenge post, from Dec 12, 2021.

    It’s right there. Your subconscious knew all the way back in 2021 that were going to want to write some novels: “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)?”

    That’s telling for me. It makes me want to pay better attention to what my subconscious wants to set up vs what my planner brain thinks I should want.

    I did that in the last year or so, when thinking about what series I wanted to work on. “I’ve got these great short story characters that would make great novel characters.” But I just couldn’t get started. Turns out, I didn’t want to write those novels at all, and ended up writing a different genre instead, for two new series. Those short story characters just want more short stories.

    So thanks for the reminder to pay attention to creative voice in both writing challenges and business decisions.

  • allynh

    Every time you write short stories you always have a few that are clearly the start of a novel. Then you skip writing the novel and keep writing short stories.

    – How many novel starts can you skip before your creative mind starts acting up.

    Write short until you hit a novel, write the novel without hesitating, then keep writing short. After all, it only takes a week to write the novel.

    Stop second guessing your creative mind.

    • Grace Wen

      “How many novel starts can you skip before your creative mind starts acting up?”

      That was my observation too during the challenge!

      Dean, when you said you’d written some novel starts and set them aside to keep up the short story streak, my brain went “Noooooo!!” because to me it felt like taking a kid’s toy away. But then I’m a one-project-at-a-time kind of person. My creative brain can’t stand unfinished work. I can’t even deal with starting something new untl the previous story is published (which helps me get through Heinlein’s Rules #2, #3, #4. Rule #1 is my bugaboo).

      Good luck on the revamped challenge. I think your creative voice will be much more cooperative now that it doesn’t have to wait around for the novels.

  • A Johnson

    Good luck with the challenge! Plus I can thank Kris for confirming what I’ve learned: when your creative voice wants to do something else, listening to it will save you a lot of frustration.

    It was a difficult year , but whenever I have trouble writing, I sually go back and edit older stuff. With the way things are going right now, I’m hoping to write a novella a month for the rest of the year.

  • Linda Maye Adams

    I just finished my space opera novella on September 30. I decided to try a mini-challenge of getting one novella done a month until December. I think this time it might be a target I can actually accomplish.

    But it did send me into an initial panic. When I did the Great Challenge and wrote 52 short stories, I didn’t have any plan for them at all. I didn’t even think of it. As a result, some of the stories sat. Now they’re either indie published or in submission.

    I knew I would indie publish the novellas. But copy editing has to be budgeted (and it’s competing with two conferences!). So I worked out a schedule for the three books, with the option of changing if my budget permits.

    • dwsmith

      Budget? You realize with a little creative work, you can get your novella copyedited for a copy of the book. Put a note up at your local library saying you are a published writer and would love to have a reader read your brand new book for typos in exchange for their name in the acknowledgements and a free paper copy. Not much to budget there.

    • dwsmith

      Or read it out loud to yourself and you’ll find 95% of the typos doing that as well. Takes a little time, but no out-of-pocket cost.

      • Nathan Haines

        A slight alternative to this is to loosely follow along while your computer’s text-to-speech engine reads it back to you. There is nothing more brutal than having a computer (which doesn’t actually understand what it’s reading) telling you back what you actually wrote on the page!

        Another alternative is to print out or use an e-ink ebook reader. The idea is that having it in a different format than what you wrote it in is just enough to stop your brain from immediately fixing any mistakes because it knows what you meant.

        Me, I just have two friends who enjoy being first readers. They tell me if they liked it or not, and mark up any typos, but don’t bother trying to “improve” anything. (I had to train my best friend out of that, but once he understood any feedback wasn’t being ignored, it just went to making future stories better, he accepted that.) Bonus, one’s a writer and I get to read his stories first, too!

      • Kate Pavelle

        I have the computer read it to me on one machine while I fix the text in the same file on the other machine. It saves my voice and I can focus on the eye-ear mismatches, and on fixing it.

    • Brad D. Sibbersen

      I published my third book for $0.00 (on a combination lark/dare – it was also written in 20 hours) and years and dozens of titles later in it remains one of my top sellers. Formatted it myself. Ran editing software and read it out loud. (Still missed one or two typos, but no one cared and the world did not end.) Took a photograph with my phone and used that for the cover (didn’t know about cheap/free stock photot sites at the time). Uplouded to Amazon. The only associated costs were the Red Bulls I drank to stay up all night and get it done!