Challenge,  On Writing

Three Weeks Until The First of the Year

I’m Excited to Be Started…

Now that I finally decided on the challenge, I’m really excited to be going, and more than likely will write some practice stories over the next weeks just to get back into the feeling. And I still got some bookkeeping to get into place, something easy every day to keep track of things.

And next Monday the Motivational Mondays start. Two extra Mondays in December for the first quarter of the year and the videos will be motivational about setting goals and challenges and such. And the positives in them. I am going to use these Motivational Mondays to help myself a lot along the way. Right now I am motivated, as we all are at this time of year. Those Mondays are going to help in February and March a ton. (grin)


When you read my challenge for 2022, (yesterday’s blog) remember your reaction and it will be a good marker as to how many myths and critical voice you are still dealing with.

For example, if you thought that my writing that fast (my normal speed, actually) would make my stories less important and less quality, you still have remnants of the write fast equals write poorly myth.

For example, if you thought at once that you could never do that even if you had the time every day, you have critical voice popping in to stop you.

If your reaction was “Only Dean can do something like that.” Then you have critical voice issues.

I am doing nothing special, folks. I grant you that my fight will be with energy, with other things in my life like exercise, and health and so on. I will need to stay focused, and driven which I can do. It won’t be critical voice that will stop me. Just making the writing a priority other than sitting and watching television on some days. Things like that. Focus and awareness of where I am at each day.

Everyone who is reading this could do this if you cleared out critical voice and old myths of writing and had enough open time in your life. Most do not have enough open time. But I am doing nothing that anyone could do. Why this seems extreme is because of critical voice and myths.

Just do the math… 31 short stories at 3 hours each is 91 hours. A 40,000 word novel in about 30 hours. So in a month I will be writing for 121 hours on average, some a little more, some a little less.

About four hours a day, seven days a week. If I wanted to take the weekends off, I would have to write about 5.5 hours a day. Most people work 8 hour days. So why does me writing and making stuff up for about 4 hours a day seem extreme to you? Myths and critical voice is why. So use my challenge to check in with yourself and maybe find a problem area to work on clearing out.


In 2022 we have decided to repeat the original 6 collection classes from this last year. They are nine weeks long and you end up with a PUBLISHED five story collection at the end if you write the stories and do the other assignments. The classes repeat every four months, so each one will be offered three times in 2022.

And you can buy a bundle that has all of the original six in them.

The original six are:

— Portals Collection Class

— Heroes and Heroines Collection Class

— Private Eye Collection Class

— Relationship Collection Class

— Fantasy Collection Class

— Holiday Collection Class

And starting in January we are adding six new collection classes.

— Pets Collection Class (Starts January)

— Spies Collection Class (Starts March

— Space Opera Collection Class (Starts May)

— Thieves Collection Class (Starts July)

— Dynasties Collection Class (Starts September)

— Time Travel Collection Class (Starts November)

These will all be available to sign up for on Teachable in a few days. More information then. And yes you can get all six of the 2022 collections classes in one bundle for a discount. Again, that will be in a few days. They are not available yet.



  • Joe Cleary

    Like you said, Dean, we are all motivated this time of year. Still, your 2022 goals are amazing just from the perspective of time management.

    Between counting my words for 2021 for the Novels workshop and you posting your challenge, I’m incredibly excited to finish ’21 with a bang and roll into ’22 full speed ahead.

    I’ve spent most of this year clearing out my critical voice. My reaction to your challenge announcement was actually, “Man, I wish I had the time to do that, too!”

    But as you mentioned, I have more time than I think I do.

    I’ve cut way back on TV time already, and most of my old hobbies, a.k.a. distractions from writing, are a thing of the past. Still, learning to push through that critical resistance and actually utilize the time I have for writing is a skill-in-progress, so to speak.

    Thanks for the motivation and for keeping me honest with myself. The time is there. Just have to use it.

    • dwsmith

      Joe, yup, the critical voice is the battle for most everyone. It can find ways to stop you that often take weeks just to see.

      I have learned that if I am learning and constantly aware of learning about writing and publishing and other aspects around this crazy business, the more excited I am to get to more writing, and thus it becomes a positive feedback loop. Just started to notice that this last year or so.

  • Xander Koolen

    Hi Dean. As always, your chalenges are a great inspiration. Especially when you detail out the math behind them and they sudenly become tangible, eating the elephant one bite at a time and all that.

    This past year my chalenge was to write something every day. It had to be useful words, of course. No “bla, bla, bla” just to be able to tick off the day. This chalenge has given me over 100k publishable words, which was my soft target for the year. According to the calendar I tracked everyting on, in winter and autumn I have very high word counts (for me) while spring and summer are much lower. But, importantly, I made the chalenge. I wrote something every day for the past year and many days the only reason I actually wrote something was that I did not want to leave an empty spot on the calendar and break the streak. Just goes to show the power of streaks and tracking them, I guess.

    For next year I am planning to up the chalenge with a daily minimum word count. I hope this will push me through those low production days in the summer, because the truth is; it is easier to write a lot of words when the previous days were also high production days. The ground effect you mention in your blogs is very real for me.

    I want to add a second part to the chalenge as well. I am currently sitting on 3 finished manuscripts (a novel and 2 short stories) with which I have done nothing. So for next year I want to do a publishing chalenge as well. I’m thinking along the lines of “publish something every month.” I will count short stories but to prevent myself from “only” writing 12 short stories I want to add a minimum for novels as well (I’m thinking of 2 or 3 since I have the one manuscript lying around which I will hopefully publish in January).

    Anyway, thanks for all you do and especially for busting the myths that have kept me from writing anything for many years.

  • Vincent Zandri

    Too true Dean. I too am looking forward to the new year and planning it out. All those backlogged books are going to get published while I write new ones, one per month plus stories, etc…When my writing colleagues ask me how I manage to put out so much work, I tell them it’s easy.
    When I tell them I do it part time, in between freelance writing, exercising two hours per day, taking a nap, blogging, marketing, going for walks, skiing, traveling,fishing, meeting friends out for a cold beer, they look at me like I’m not human and even a threat to the entire legacy publishing establishment.

    But then I say, “Look, what if Fox hired you as a scriptwriter. They would expect you to be in your chair 8 hours a day putting out material. They would be paying you for pulp speed writing and you’d better give it to them or some snot nosed kid fresh out of college will gladly take your place for a cut rate.”

    Suddenly a bright lightbulb turns on above their heads. It all makes sense to them suddenly becuase when it comes to relating to fiction writing as something that’s entertaining and fun to THE WRITER, they just can’t grasp it. But when you put it in terms of A JOB, oh well, then it makes a ton of sense.

    • dwsmith

      Exactly, Vincent. Also, when there is a boss and deadlines, you never think “I need to let my creative voice rest.” (grin) But I never call my writing a job because then I would avoid it. Most of the battle with us indie writers is discipline and so I consider my writing an adventure and fun and thus I get to it easier and more often than I ever would a job at this age. But I agree with you, the same person who can work for ten hours a day, six days a week at a job is shocked that someone can write more than an hour a day. Writing does that to people.

      In fact, the best evidence of what writing does to people’s brains is ask them if they would approach a complete stranger and give the stranger all their money as it comes in with all the records on the same money. And never bother to even investigate the stranger. Any sane human would laugh and ask why would they do that??? Yet put a finished novel in that same person’s hands and they are fighting to give a stranger all their money as long as the stranger has a business card that says “agent.” Writing and publishing makes people go crazy.

  • James+Palmer

    It’s a great goal, Dean, and very doable if you have the time, which I don’t at the moment. We all have to adapt to our unique situations and do what we can in the time that we do have. I look forward to watching you totally nail this challenge.

  • JM6

    I’m deep in the myths and I know it. That said, I know you don’t really talk about your reading because you do a lot of it all the time, but how many hours of reading (or other creative input) do you do each day?

  • Sam+Linton

    You’ve taught me so mucn in your classes about ignoring the critical voice and trusting the math. The math doesn’t lie and you just laid it out. I’m excited to see your challenge take off.

  • emmiD

    Ouch! Your point about the myths and critical voice stopping us hit me square between the eyes. I think I’m cross-eyed now.

    I’ve been thinking about your challenge since you mentioned it and slowly convincing myself that I can do more than I think. I do sometimes have a lot of interferences, but a focus on writing would prevent hours from being frittered away.

    Instead of backing away, I’m going to commit. (Shivers. Yikes!)

    I have a round dozen projects on my list for 2022. Accomplishing them would be publishing at least once a month. 1 audiobook. 9 novellas. 2 nonfiction. So that’s my challenge.

    Publish once a month. I can do this.