I set what I thought were very reasonable goals last year. Release Discoveries and finish In Plain Sight. Write 2 short stories, fifty blog posts and enter 3 contests. I also set word count goals for both fiction (100,000) and blogging (57,000). I was aiming for a grand total of just over 400,000 words this year, but I didn’t accomplish that. More about that total below.
Reality wasn’t very pretty.
I ended up with nineteen blog posts this year, which is less than half of my goal. My blogging word count was about a third of what it should’ve been.
I did a little bit better in the fiction category. Sort-of.
Discoveries is complete and ready to release. It was actually ready to release in November, but I had it in my mind that I was going to finish In Plain Sight soon enough that I could rapid-release them, one after the other in about 30 to 45 days. But in the process of writing In Plain Sight, I discovered that one of the story arcs was better suited to its own novella. I pulled about 20,000 words out of the story and had to reconsider how I structured things.
That means that my fiction word count ended up not reaching my goal of 100,000 words. But I came in at about 85,000 which is pretty good for me.
That realization about the In Plain Sight story arc also means that I’m going to have another complete story in the Sad Girl universe. I can’t tell you too much about it now, because it involves a character who first appears in Discoveries. If I had to commit to any kind of a release schedule, I’d say that Discoveries will be out in early spring, with In Plain Sight following in mid-to-late summer. The novella, as yet untitled, should follow in the fall, and will probably be a digital-only release.
I mentioned another realization in this blog post about post-apocalyptic fiction. That led me to start playing with the idea of my own post-apocalyptic story, and I’m about 12,000 words and six chapters into that. I think I’m going to release that as a serial here on the website. Tentative plans are that I will release a new chapter every two weeks or so.
My word count goals for 2019 are to double both my blog and fiction output. I like round numbers, so I’m aiming for 175,000 words in fiction and 50,000 in the blog.
I also want to get to a couple of conferences this year. My priority is to attend the Writers Police Academy, run by Lee Lofland and now back in North Carolina. I also want to do a local citizens police academy. Tulsa Police are doing one that starts in January, but it’s on Tuesday nights and those are pretty busy for me these days. Both of those will go a long way toward helping me get the realism right for Red Dirt Justice. It’s been too long since I was a cop, and that was in Ohio, not Oklahoma.
Running The Numbers
Ever since I started tracking my writing numbers, going on four years ago now, I’ve included nonfiction, email, fiction, and social media. When I set my word count goals and compared my end-of-year numbers to my goals, I included all of those categories. But if I’m setting out to write novels, or just fiction in general, that’s really the only number that matters.
Dean Wesley Smith has talked several times about writing at pulp speed. I had seized on that a couple of years ago, remarking that my overall writing production in 2015 was about 1/10th impulse speed on Dean’s scale. My word count in 2015 for blogging and fiction worked out to about 67,000 words.
So from here on out, as I focus on upping my writing production — my real writing production — I’m just going to count the words that go into my blog and fiction category. I’m still going to track how much I post on social media, but I’m not counting that towards my pulp speed indicator. If anything, I should subtract a percentage of my social media word count from my “professional” word count, because very little of my social media posting counts towards professional work. Sure, I make some posts on my Facebook author page and I comment on some professional blogs occasionally. But I bet that’s at best about 2% of the 220,000+ words I wrote on social media this year.
I really need to work on that.
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