The Journal, Monday, 4/17

Hey Folks,

All right. Fourteen days left in the month, inclusive. If I’m gonna meet my monthly goal of writing at least one novel per month and my annual goal of writing at least 15 on the year, I have to get hot. (grin)

By the way, that “get hot” thing isn’t pressure. For me, it’s a realizaton and good news.

And writing a short story or two along the way wouldn’t kill me either. (Donors, they’re coming.) Man, I just wanna play.

* * *

I’ve been screwing around each morning for awhile now, just kind of hanging around the house, not going to “work” in the Hovel until daylight (around 6:30).

I kind’a have to do that because I let the other babies out at 5. Afterward, they want to go outside, and I don’t allow them out while it’s still dark without me being at my outside desk near the house.

This morning I thought about heading out early. But instead, I think I’ll try writing fiction on my business computer. Then when I’m ready to go to the Hovel (after sunrise) I’ll put what I’ve done on a flash drive and carry it out there.

Probaby I’ll start that tomorrow morning. As I write this, I’ve already been up for three hours and the sky is growing light.

Either way, I’m hoping this will be a great day of writing.

At this point I don’t even really care what I write. I only care THAT I write. Being away from it for even a few days is driving me nuts. And yeah, that’s a pretty short drive for me.

Topic: A Bit More on Goals, and Elephants

On Dean’s post from yesterday (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-fifteen-halfway-through-the-challenge/), another commenter (Mike Lawrence) asked DWS whether he was writing his current short stories “in public.” In other words, is there someplace he can go to view them now.

He isn’t. He’s writing them to compile a “month of April” story collection as well as to fill the pages of Smith’s Monthly, his magazine.

I responded to the comment as well with a lesson I learned back when I was writing a short story every week. My streak reached 70 weeks before I broke it, pretty much intentionally.

With the advantage of hindsight, though, I’ve come to understand that I broke my own streak (again, intentionally) because of pressure I put on myself.

Because I was posting those stories “live” in the same week I wrote them, eventually the pressure of having to post one every week ate my goal and the streak.

In other words, posting a new story every week became more important to me than just writing the story in the first place.

So it wasn’t fun anymore. The pressure of “having” to post a story each week sucked all the fun out of writing them. And that is what killed the streak.

As I wrote in my comment

I tried later to “restart” another one-a-week story [streak], but it never got off the ground because I couldn’t shake the elephant out of my head. I was writing [the stories] one at a time, but I could never shake the sense that I had to do that for at least 71 weeks to surpass what I’d already done.

So again, no fun. All pressure. And what I hoped would be a new streak never got off the ground.

So consider this topic a cautionary tip.

The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. If you look up and realize you’re trying to eat the whole elephant, eating it suddenly becomes an impossibiliity.

Setting an overall (large) goal that you can attain if you reach is a great practice.

But it’s important that you break that overall goal into smaller goals that are still attainable within tighter timelines.

Meeting those smaller goals creates the streak (an accomplishment), which in turn feeds your self-esteem and the larger, overall goal.

But don’t pressure yourself with something silly like I did.

Or look at it like this:

Letting someone into your story (short or long) will often kill the story.

For that reason, I never let anyone into my work before it’s finished.

But by posting a story a week “live,” I was allowing those who subscribed to my Free Story of the Week into my streak without realizing it. And so it died.

As I also mentioned in my comment on DWS’ site, I probably will attempt to write one short story per day for a month some time.

But when I do, I’ll publish them individually and in collections (six 5-story, three 10-story, and one 30- or 31-story). I probably will “leak” some of them to my donors, but I definitely won’t write them “in public.”

I won’t risk it.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2 again, but I sacked out a little early last night. It’s all good.

I read newsletters, wrote the stuff above and in “Of Interest,” and played on FB to start the day.

Well, a little under 3000 words on the day, but it was still a great day. I finished a short story and wrote some extremely terse scenes. Total score!

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Story Sixteen and Still Going” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-sixteen-and-still-going/.

If you’re interested in the Strengths Workshops, they’re all up and he’s offering a special deal: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/strengths-workshops-available/.

If you enjoy great Cajun humor, check out https://www.facebook.com/LelandAndBo/videos/239439739744449/.

Fiction Words: 2977
Nonfiction Words: 890 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3867

Writing of “Beats All” (short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… 2977 words. Total words to date…… 4720 (done)

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 17290
Total fiction words for the year………… 225846
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 66240

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 292086

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 510 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Wednesday, 1/25

Hey Folks,

Wow. New day, new story, new attitude. Frankly, I hope it will be another novel.

After-hours yesterday I created a new cover for The Claim. That’s it on the left if I remember to put it in here. (grin)

I’m falling behind, drastically, on my free story of the week. And I don’t really care. Which leads me to today’s topic.

Topic: Goals and Reality

First, for those who haven’t “heard” me say this before, Dreams and Goals are different critters.

A Dream is something you’d like to attain or achieve, but you have no direct control over it.

A Goal is something you yearn to attain or achieve and you DO have control over it.

Have all the dreams you want. They’re wonderful.

But if you ever want to get there, you have to set goals and work toward them.

The first rule in setting goals, at least in my world, is to keep them realistic.

At the outset, that means

1. making sure your goal something you actually yearn to achieve and

2. making sure your goal something that is within your power to achieve (i.e., not a dream).

So short stories. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy writing short stories when a good short story idea occurs to me. Maybe a better way to say that is when a story idea occurs to me and it wraps in a short story.

When that happens, I don’t begrudge it. I just submit it or publish it. When I publish it, I also collect it with five or ten others, publish the collection and move on.

But the truth is, of late, I just haven’t been all that interested in writing short stories. I enjoy reading them and I love it when a story is well-turned.

But actively seeking to write them? Nah, not so much anymore.

Plus I’m bone weary of trying to keep up with the numbers. Did I write one this week? Oops.

And I’m tired of consistently, repeatedly failing to reach that goal — and flat not caring when I miss.

Folks, if it doesn’t bother you when you fail to achieve a goal, that goal isn’t working for you. Chunk it.

So I’ve abandoned my “one new short story per week” goal.

Naturally, without more stories coming in every week, soon my Free Story of the Week on the website will be discontinued. I’ve replaced it with menu item called A Free Short Story, and when I write one, I’ll publish it to the blog as well as to the general public.

Now, as an aside, I DO strongly believe in Bradbury’s advice to new writers to write at least one short story per week as a way to learn and hone the craft.

I once wrote at least one short story per week for 72 straight weeks without a miss. That’s a long time. I learned a ton about the craft, and I got more practice in that 72 weeks than many writers do in a lifetime. And incidentally, I don’t know of a longer streak anywhere. Even DWS was impressed.

So for me, my goal to write one new short story per week is kind of a “been there done that” sort of thing.

Shifting Gears

When I completed The Claim yesterday, I realized I’d broken through a barrier that I didn’t even know I’d erected. It was my 21st novel. The first one over 20. Somehow that seemed like a big deal to me.

Why was breaking beyond 20 a big deal? Shrug. I don’t know. But there it was.

And for me that explained why I was mired in a patch of the doldrums after I published number 20. I thought maybe I was through.

Of course, I wasn’t. I was just shifting gears. But for a terrifying moment, my left foot was caught between the clutch and the brake pedal.

But eventually I completed the gear change. I got my head out of my — no, wait. I freed my foot from the brake pedal. That’s better. And it’s full speed ahead to the only goals that really matter to me now:

to hit 4,000 words of publishable new fiction on writing days,

to write at least one complete novel per month this calendar year,

to publish at least 15 new novels during this calendar year, and

to publish at least 1,000,000 words of new fiction this calendar year.

Onward.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out just a little before 4. Catching up on my sleep, I think. Per usual, I did little of interest before around 8 a.m. Then I moved to the Hovel and wrote everything above.

8:50, time for a break. During which I will also ship The Claim off to my first reader and cast about for a new story idea.

9 a.m., started the diswasher and went back to the Hovel to add the “Of Interest” stuff below.

Apparently I wasn’t quite finished with Kirski’s world yet. I remembered I had set aside a segment that I thought would make a good, if bone-chilling, short story. So I worked on that for awhile. No new words that I’m counting.

No rush, so I’ll do a cover for it another time. But for now the short story — “The Source” — is completed and formatted. And it’s 10:20.

Updating themes and plugins on sites a little, and time for another break at 10:30. That break turned into a shower, lunch and getting dressed.

11:40, back to the Hovel. I had the stupid mobile hotspot on and played online awhile. More time in the chair not writing.

At 12:20, a line occurred to me: “Stenson filtered up from a sound sleep.” I know he’s in a jungle, and I know he doesn’t know how he got there. Oh, and I think it’s SF. That’s it. Off and running.

12:40, I’ve put 730 words on the page. Came here to make this note and the one above it. Not a bad pace, writing into the dark. Until I come up with something better, the working title will be Stenson. 12:44 back to the story.

1:20, with 1480 new words on a new novel, I’m off for a brief break. Even after a break of only about 27 hours since I finished the last one, it feels SO good to be immersed in writing a novel again. (grin) I can easily understand why DWS said sometimes he wrote something and forgot to submit it for publication.

2 p.m., back to the novel.

Not a particularly auspicious beginning. The novel is running well, but I started late and ran out of time. So a little short of my word count goal today. Then again, not bad for only about three hours of actual writing.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See the comments on Become a Better Storyteller at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/become-a-better-storyteller-write-faster/.

Then check out What Is Possible? (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/what-is-possible/)

Fiction Words: 3566
Nonfiction Words: 1140 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4706

Writing of Stenson (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 3566 words. Total words to date…… 3566

Total fiction words for the month……… 72874
Total fiction words for the year………… 72874
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16180
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 16180

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 89054

The Journal, Saturday, 1/21

Hey Folks,

Back to writing this morning. Even though I still don’t know how the novel will end, I’m looking forward to finishing so I can start the next one.

Rainy and drizzly overnight and this morning, with a little sleet tossed in for good measure, so I’ll be in the Hovel soon probably. For now I’m outside. Probably I’ll hang around the house until everyone’s awake.

Topic: Challenges

One reason I’m looking forward to this novel being finished is so I can set a new challenge for myself. That (burning) desire is based in part on Dean’s “A Question…” and the comments that followed it (see “Of Interest” below).

But I also have to be cautious.

Before I can start and take on a new “deadline challenge” I’ll need to increase the number of hours I spend in the chair actually writing each day.

So effective today, I’ve increased my daily word count goal to 4,000 words per day.

I’ve also rededicated myself to taking a break every hour, even if it’s only to stand up and walk around for a few minutes. The sole purpose of that is to give me the opportunity to expand the number of hours in the chair.

The word count isn’t really much of an increase, but I’m taking baby steps. Probably I’ll increase it again soon, by which I mean within the month. And the increased word-count goal is more to reset my brain (attitude) than anything else. It’s a way to change my focus (my discipline) so that I’m spending more of the time I’m in the chair actually writing more fiction.

Of Interest

Over at Dean’s place, please be sure to read comments on A Question… (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-question/#comments). Wow. Extremely good stuff there.

The latest Author Earnings Report is out, and it’s a doozy: http://authorearnings.com/report/dbw2017/

After that, strictly for fun, check out A Writer in the Air (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-writer-in-the-air/). He includes a link to the short version of the ride. You can see the full video (action starts at about 8 minutes) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxDZjg_Igoc&feature=em-subs_digest-vrecs.

Flash Fiction Contest: http://www.pikespeakpenwomen.com/2017-flash-fiction-contest.html

Today, and Writing

Again, I rolled out at a little after 3. Messed around for awhile with email and reading, then wrote most of the stuff above.

Outside by 4 until the sky started spitting at me. The little girl joined me for a few minutes, but water falling out of the sky is not her favorite thing.

Fixed a mess of pancakes around 6, ate a few myself and left the rest for a ready-made breakfast for the woman and the kid I occasionally see around the house here (grin). Then I got dressed and headed out.

In the Hovel by 7:10, wrote more of this Journal entry, and to the novel around 7:30. The end is nigh. Here we go.

Started writing at 7:30 and looked up a little after 8:40. Oops. Time for a break. Up to the house for a little while.

Well, that turned into a whole thing (grin). 9:30, back to the Hovel and the novel.

10:40, time for a break. Not a particularly productive hour as I had to “figure out” some necessary things (who, among 12 characters, are in one place or another at certain times so it doesn’t contradict itself).

11:30, back to the novel. Not quite 12:30, time for another break. This is very strange. Even with the less-than-productive session, I’m hitting just below 1000 words per hour. Nice to know the average stands up. Back in a bit.

1 p.m., back to the novel. Almost 2, so another brief break. This time I’m almost having to force myself.

2:15, back to the novel.

3:10, wrapping it up for the day. The novel will definitely be finished tomorrow. Probably another three or four thousand words. Only the climax and the denoument.

So not quite five hours in the chair, a little over 4200 words of fiction plus this journal, a few emails and yes, a little spider solitaire. (grin) And a few good, productive breaks.

See you tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 4251
Nonfiction Words: 650 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4901

Writing of The Claim (novel)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342
Day 9…… 4982 words. Total words to date…… 33324
Day 10… 3618 words. Total words to date…… 36942
Day 11… 3133 words. Total words to date…… 40075
Day 12… 2964 words. Total words to date…… 43039
Day 13… 3410 words. Total words to date…… 46449
Day 14… 3285 words. Total words to date…… 49734
Day 15… 3460 words. Total words to date…… 53194
Day 16… 4251 words. Total words to date…… 57445

Total fiction words for the month……… 59073
Total fiction words for the year………… 59073
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13640
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 13640

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 72713

The Journal, Tuesday, 9/8: Challenges

Rolled out a little before 2 this morning. I think I’m almost caught up on my rest. Still, not much in the mood to write, although I’d better GET in the mood as the clock is ticking for the next short story. (grin)

Again I didn’t do much this morning but catch up on more of my preferred reading. Later I also opened all the pics (over 400) from the Gila trip. I separated out the ones my partner wanted to see and put them in a special folder to share. (As soon as they’re synced in my Dropbox, Dan, I’ll send you a link.)

Went for a walk, though it was more to take more pics than anything else. Still, turned over just less than four miles. Also managed to take 168 pics. All that in about 2 hours.

Did a little more yard work after I got back from the walk.

Topic of the Post: Challenges

I was reading Dean’s blog post a little while ago. He set a mega-challenge for himself. To meet the challenge, he has to write three novels in September, two in October, three in November and two in December. That’s ten novels in four months. He’s thinking around 40,000 to 60,000 words each.

He’s getting a slow start on the first month. He needed to write a novel every 10 days during September, and today, on the 8th, he’s written only about 15,000 words. But he isn’t worried.

For one thing, writing “only” two novels during October and December gives him a little catch-up room if he needs it. For another — and this is the biggie — if he “fails” in his challenge and writes “only” 7 novels or 8 or 9 instead of the 10 novels he plans to write, won’t that just be terrible? (grin)

The real value in a challenge is teaching the writer that Failing To Success is a good thing.

I said something similar a few posts back. Even if I stopped writing right now and didn’t write anymore fiction for the rest of the year, I would still end the year with over 466,000 words of publishable fiction. And all but 11,410 words of that is actual PUBLISHED fiction. This year.

So even if I just stopped right now, I would have “failed” to success.

But that wouldn’t be any fun, now would it? (grin)

A New Challenge

Back in July, Dean set himself another challenge. He challenged himself to write 31 short stories in 31 days. He then published them individually as short stories, but he also will publish them in a collection titled The Stories of July (or something like that).

Now seven days of September are already history, but I really need to jumpstart my writing. I need to get my writing blood pumping again. So I’m setting a new goal, publicly. As Andy Griffith would say, “Right chere, right now.” (grin)

Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. Not really that big a deal. It just means that I’ll have to write two stories on seven of the remaining twenty-three days. (grin)

Now, just so everything’s above board, to satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, not flash fiction (6 to 99 words) or short-shorts (100 to 2,000 words). So they all have to run over 2,000 words. I don’t dictate to my characters how long stories have to be, so I might write some of those shorter ones too, but if I do they don’t count toward the challenge.

Stay tuned. This should be a blast.

Today’s Writing

Okay, first a note about the Wes Crowley saga. I’ve set the most recent novel aside for the time being. From what I can tell, it doesn’t feel like being written right now, so that’s that. I still feel as if there are at least two more novels in the story, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

I think this is the right thing to do. Book 9 was rough from the beginning, and it isn’t supposed to be like that. On that one thus far, I wrote only 11410 words in 8 days. That’s an average (aritmetic mean) of only 1426 words per day. On a novel full of characters that I love. That isn’t me.

So it’s off to the races on the challenge. I hope maybe some of you will join me.

Well, a slow start on the “race.” (grin) Only 721 words on a brand new story. Absolutely no worries. I expect to finish this one in an hour or two in the morning, then write a second one. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even knock out a third one tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 0721

Writing of “Untitled about Mavis Harshbarger” (short story)

Day 1…… 0721 words. Total words to date….. 0721 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Total challenge stories for the month……… 0 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month……… 0721
Total fiction words for the month………… 2311 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year………… 467352