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My simple writing plan for 2018

Took a little longer to put these together than I had hoped, but here we are finally.

It’s a simple plan. Of course, simple doesn’t doesn’t mean easy.

My 2018 writing goals:

1. Write fast, publish slow (or at least, slower)

Goal: Write 250,000 publishable words

In 2017, I published new fiction every month. A lot of that was short fiction, but I did also manage two new novels. Although I learned plenty from that experience, this year I’m moving away from the monthly publication schedule to put the focus back on writing. Specifically, writing novels. Monthly production goals are useful, but I found myself up against a deadline too many times, often moving away from a potentially more impactful project because it was too far from complete to finish in time for the cadence I had committed to.

So this year, my goal is to write a quarter million publishable words. No specific publishing goals—yet. I’ll definitely be publishing new books this year—several, I hope—but I’m not going to put arbitrary deadlines on them right now. Success this year is whether or not I have written. The books will be published when they’re ready. That’s it.

A quarter million words may seem like a lot to bite off, but you don’t run a marathon all at once. You do it one step at a time. So let’s break it down.

  1. 250,000 words is roughly four novels of ~60k words each.
  2. That’s about a novel every three months.
  3. On average it takes me an hour to write 600 words (which is slow by pro writer standards).
  4. At 600 words an hour, it will take me about 417 hours to reach my goal.
  5. Divide 417 hours by 50 weeks (with 2 leftover for vacation), and I need to spend just over 8.3 hours a week writing.

That doesn’t seem like so much, does it? I’ve spent that much time watching Netflix in a single weekend.

I’ll be throwing in some extra padding since I usually manage to spend closer to 10-15 hours a week writing fiction. As long as I’m actually writing, and not doing other busy work, this will be no problem.

More on focus in the third goal. For now, it’s good enough to know the goal is highly achievable.

To keep myself accountable, I’ll be tracking my wordcount goal on my website this year. Check out the sidebar to the right, where you should see two progress bars—one for total words, and another for Translocator 3, my current work-in-progress.

2. Start an SFF book club

Goal: Connect with my readers

This is something that’s been stewing in the back of my brain for a while. I finally decided to go for it.

I’ve been trying to find a way to combine my passion for reading into something that gives you, dear reader, more of what you want. Putting together yearly writing goals is super helpful to me, the writer, but I recognize that most of you probably don’t care (except maybe to find out when my next book will be done!)

However, if my instinct is correct, you DO still want to know about other good books to read. And since every reader reads more than one book, this benefits everyone. I myself read about 40-50 books a year. I know other readers who read twice as much.

For years, I’ve read widely across traditional and indie science fiction and fantasy, exploring new worlds, finding new authors, and digging up the classics that stood the test of time. For the most part, this has been a private passion. But  why not turn this time I’m spending into something useful for everyone? I’m already doing the reading. I’m also already networking and finding new authors every day.

Creating an SFF book club will let me provide ongoing value at ZERO cost to my readers, and help some of my fellow authors in return.

The best part? I get to read even more awesome books! It works on so many levels.

So I’ll be curating and delivering weekly reading recommendations through my newsletter, doing more fun book giveaways, and building a community with thought-provoking discussions.

Join my newsletter to be a part of the SFF book club! A Facebook group for the discussion aspect will be announced via email soon.

3. Focus better

Goal: Get more important work done

This last one is a personal mindset goal.

There’s always a lot I want to get done. The main problem I have is staying focused when distractions present themselves, as they inevitably do. The phone rings, Facebook pings, new emergencies are always around the corner…

To reach the goals I’ve laid out above, I can’t afford to waste time. I need to cut distractions. A weekly book club requires planning and focus. 250,000 words a year, while not setting any world records, still takes the 417 hours it will take.

“Focus better” is also a reminder to focus on the work, and not allow myself to be swayed from my purpose by busy work, the opinions of others, or (perhaps most of all) my own negative opinions of myself.

Finally, this is a reminder to focus on health and mindfulness as a foundation for the work. Cliché or not, I’ve come to realize that if you don’t have your health you’ve got nothing. This means eat well, drink in moderation, spend time with family, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.

•••

The basics matter. I’m going back to basics this year. I’ll be focusing on writing 250,000 good words, and I’ll be focusing on connecting with my readers.

Here’s to another full year.