Setting Goals — 2016 Is Almost Here

Hey Folks,

If you’re a human being with dreams and aspirations, this is a great time to be thinking about what you want to attain or achieve in 2016.

If you’re a writer, that means thinking about goals.

At the minimum I recommend setting a daily writing goal, one that automatically resets at the beginning of each time period. If your goal is to write 1000 words per day and you meet or exceed it, great. At the beginning of the next day, it resets to zero and your goal is to write 1000 words. See how many days in a row you can meet or exceed your goal.

One caution here— Set realistic goals. By “realistic” I mean goals that you know you can reach, but that make you stretch a bit. If you find yourself meeting your goal continually, you might want to raise it a bit. If your set your goal too high so that you very seldom reach it, and if that starts to become disheartening for you, lower it a bit.

I also recommend setting a mid-term goal. What do you plan to accomplish before January 1, 2017? It’s only a year away. And what about long-term goals? What do you plan to have accomplished by January 1, 2021? January 1, 2026? Those are only five and ten years away.

A Quick Discussion of Goals vs. Dreams

Beware of confusing these two.

A goal is something that is within your control, at least for the most part.

For example, writing a certain number of publishable words of fiction per day is within your control unless some sort of emergency derails you one day. And if it does, that’s all right because the goal resets the next day.

Writing a certain amount every week also is within your control, again, more or less. You could write a short story every week and see how long you can keep that streak alive. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. (grin)

A dream, on the other hand, is in no way, shape or form within your control.

A dream might be to hit the bestseller lists with your first novel, or to make a million dollars on your first novel. That’s a wonderful dream, and I hope you achieve it, but if you do it won’t be because you decided it would happen. Too many factors are not within your control.

So by all means, dream and enjoy it.

But in the meantime, set realistic goals. Setting goals is your best shot at realizing dreams.

My Goals

Before I do this, one disclaimer — Your goals don’t have to mimic mine. We lead different lives and have different priorities, and that’s fine. If you surpass me by a bunch, I’ll applaud and cheer you on. If you attain your goal of writing only one hour per day, four short stories and one novel per year, I’ll applaud and cheer you on.

If you are a writer, what matters is that you write.

My goals are based on writing approximately 1000 publishable words of fiction per hour. That’s only 17 words per minute. Leaves a lot of time for staring off into space.

So here are my personal writing goals. I know I can achieve them because I’ve achieve them before. But they’re big enough to make me stretch. If you’d like yo watch my progress (or hold my feet to the fire), Sign Up for my Daily Journal.

Daily:

  • 3,200 new publishable words of fiction per day, plus whatever nonfiction (blog posts, articles) I write.
  • write at least 500 words of publishable words of fiction every day (Going for a streak here. Even if I miss my daily goal, the 500 words will keep the streak alive.)

Weekly:

  • At least one new short story every week. (This was recommended by Bradbury, and it’s a great deal of fun. My previous attempt resulted in a streak that lasted over 70 weeks and about 75 short stories.)
  • 22400 new publishable words of fiction per week (the daily goal x 7).

Monthly:

  • One new novel per month (in addition to the short stories and necessary nonfiction).

Annual:

  • Write at least 12 novels during the year. I would like some of these to be in series.
  • Write at least 52 short stories during the year. I hope, this year, to write at least one story in every major genre except mystery. Mystery just ain’t my bag.
  • Write at least one million publishable words of fiction. If I meet my daily goal for at least 313 days I will exceed this goal by 1600 words.

Side Goals:

  • Create an ebook cover for each of the publications above, plus for the five- and ten-story collections I compile from the short stories (so covers for 12 novels, 52 short stories, and 15 collections—79 covers).
  • Format and publish all works as ebooks
  • Layout and publish all major works (novels, collections) as print booksAlso I will have compiled those short stories into 5 ten-story collections and maybe 10 five-story collections. (Giving readers an option.)

I haven’t set my mid-term or long-term goals yet.

Fiction Lengths

For the sake of full disclosure, and because it seems appropriate to this post, here are my personal definitions of the various lengths of literary genres. This is a brave new world in which we no longer have to worry about hitting a certain page count (a certain folio) for traditional publishing’s price points:

6 to 99 words — Flash Fiction
100 to 2,000 — Short Short Story
2,000 to 6,999 — Short Story
7,000 to 9,999 — Long Short Story (or Novelette)
10,000 to 29,999 — Novella
30,000 to 39,999 — Short Novel
40,000 to 69,999 — Novel
70,000 — Long Novel

Okay, looks like that’s it for this time. See you on January 1 with a new post of interest to professional writers and aspirants.

‘Til then, happy writing!

Harvey

Remember, to sign up for my mad diary of a professional writer’s journey and learn by osmosis what to do and what not to do, click The Daily Journal.

To receive a free short story every week in your email, click Story of the Week.

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out or just click paypal.me/harveystanbrough. If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.

The Journal, Saturday, 12/12

Hi Folks,

This was mostly a non-writing day. I wasn’t really planning it to be a day off, but that’s how it turned out. So about 2:30 p.m., I called it.

Suffice it to say I really need to start getting two to three hours of writing done while the world is quiet in the early morning hours. Then no matter what happens the rest of the day, at least I got something done.

The Day

Woke up around 1 to rain pounding on the roof. Dozed off and on until I finally crawled out a little before 3.

The rain had stopped so I let the little girl out to play. Got my coffee, checked email, kicked around on Facebook. All of that was about a half-hour. In all that time I never checked the weather site.

Then I heard something that sounded like a train. I thought it was raining again, hard, but it didn’t sound quite like that. Worried about the baby, so I got my ball cap and sandals and flashlight and went out looking. HUGE wind and sleet/snow. Found her, got her in, then started to publish the story I wrote yesterday.

Well, I read over it first since I was dead tired when I wrote it. It wasn’t bad, but I added almost 500 words and adjusted the character’s voice to one of my favorite “attitude” accents. So I updated it below. I had hoped to write a lot more today. Uhhh, no. But that’s all right. Writing is a game of averages.

Also updated a page on the publisher site with buy links and did some other little stuff there. Then I came here.

With the little girl in and wanting out, I type a little (nonfiction stuff, website stuff), and a cat passes between me and the keyboard. I type a little more, and a cat passes between me and the keyboard. It’s a cycle, like the tides. (grin)

So that was the first couple hours.

Makilak 180Okay, I created a promo document and a cover for the new story. I like the cover, so I’m putting it over there on the left again. Got the thing published to my current three distributors.

Then I sent an email to Smashwords asking them to please update the Channel Manager on their site so it has a bulk option. I have over 180 titles on their site. Every time they add a new market that I’m already selling to through a different distributor, I have to go line by line through four pages of entries, stop at each title, scroll to the side, then click a radio button that says Opt Out. (The other distributors all have options to opt in or out in bulk.) So we’ll see how that goes.

Got the story and cover published also to the Short Story page on my website and pre-posted as the free short story of the week for February 22. 🙂 For the short story page, that makes 119 short stories. Who knew 119 would not be a prime number? But it’s 17 rows of 7 pics. Go figure.

I ate a quick breakfast at my desk around 6:30, then started skimming pictures. A few days ago I was tasked with going through some of my landscape photos to select several to have printed and send to the kids for Christmas gifts.

My photos are not organized. Which is like saying at 2 p.m. on any August day in Yuma it will be a little warm. In my Photos folder I have 140 subfolders, each with anywhere from 100 to 800 or more pics inside.

I started picking pics at 7 a.m. and by 7:30 I had a few picked out, with a few more to find. Then the best-laid plans of a man (me) were overruled by the best laid plans of a mouse (I call him Jonas). I hadda go capture Jonas, transport him outside and drop him over the fence. Amazing how agile those little things are.

I wound up moving a dining room table, a treadmill, an antique wash stand, a gun case we inherited from Indiana, and various and sundry other smaller items. All this time I was packin’ heat in the form of a 3w x5l x3d thin-cardboard box, a stiff front cover from an old small Marine Corps logbook (to cover the box once the mouse was trapped inside) and a small but bright flashlight (to find the mouse by the glare of his beady little eyes). All of that in two hands. Oh, it was a great deal of fun.

So the Jonas Games started right at 7:30 and ended right at 8:30 with me depositing him over the back fence. He scurried off with never so much as a by your leave or adios or anything else.

Then I went back to selecting photos. It was a pretty quick and much less selective process from there on out. But it still took until 9 a.m. to be done with it.

That was over five hours ago. Ugh. I don’t hover well, folks. I hover sort’a like a rock. Let me explain.

Please understand, I realize I’m probably wrong from the outset on this— I’m a guy, after all— but I tend to make up my mind about what I’m going to do, and then I get up and do it. Or I make up my mind that I’m NOT going to do something, and then I move on. It’s a simple, easy, stress-free, hover-free way to live.

I’m not good with hovering. I am not the guy who would ever put together a committee to study the feasibility of meeting to determine whether we should meet to consider locking the doors and turning out the lights when the meeting is over. No sir. I’m more the kind of guy that people like me would hire to stroll past that meeting room and toss in a live beehive just to add a little color to those poor souls’ drab existence. Or a CS (teargas) grenade. Whatever.

To slap you with a cliché, life’s too short to spend it hovering. Do or don’t do. And for goodness’ sake, if you ever DO want to hover, go hover someplace where there’s a pool table and some friends with beer money and call me. Well, I guess that wouldn’t really be hovering, would it? That’s a decision. And a pretty good one.

Okay, so for the last five hours I’ve been caught up in a vacuum. So I’ve been doing things that require concentration but not unbroken suspension of the beta state of consciousness. So no fiction writing.

I worked on the slides for the neat little slide show on the home page of the publisher site. I created each slide myself a couple weeks ago. I re-created five of them today, saved them, resized them, uploaded them, deleted the old ones they were replacing, then put them in place in the slider. Then I experimented with various transition effects and settled on a boring but effective fade thing.

Finally I put a “quick, let’s just get to it already” menu at the top of that home page as well. I don’t like having to go on a quest to find my way off a splash page, so I figure nobody else does either. So now, in addtion to the four photos and three other “picture” links on the home page, there’s also a quick menu at the top.

Okay, interspersed with all the stuff I documented above, I kept coming back here in 10- and 15-minute spurts to add to this post.

Around 12:45 I had a quick bite of lunch. As happens on days that I actually get some writing done, at 1 p.m. I thought about putting my fingers on the keyboard and writing whatever comes. But some days fingers just naturally want to curl into the fetal position. Or maybe that’s the jugular-clutching position. So no fiction writing today, other than the little bit you see below.

Today’s Writing

Added not quite 500 words to the story I mostly wrote yesterday, then did all the stuff you see above, then came here to add this at about 3. I’m gonna post this, then go sit on the couch and sulk while I watch what’s left of the Army-Navy game.

Okay, so at least I got the 483 words, albeit almost inadvertently. Still, better than rolling a zero.

Fiction Words: 483
Nonfiction Words: 1386

Writing of “Makilak Crismazizzle” (short story)

Day 1…… 2913 words. Total words to date…… 2913 words
Day 2…… 0483 words. Total words to date…… 3396 words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 29994
Total fiction words for the year………… 633985

Total nonfiction words for the month… 9191
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 51293 (since September 1)

The Journal, Tuesday, 8/25

The Day
Thanks to storms disrupting the clock at the head of my bed, I rolled out at 1:30 this morning, but thinking it was 2:45. So much for battery backups in the clock. (I never use an alarm, but have the clock there so I can see what time it is when I get up.)

Despite the alleged battery backup, when it turns off, the clock reverts to midnight and starts keeping time from there. So the best it can do is tell you how long it’s been working since the last time the power went off.

Wow. Remember back when stuff actually worked as advertised?

Anyway, it’s all good. I have an appointment with the eye doc this morning at 9:20 in Safford, so leaving here about 7:30 to head that way. My eyes will be dilated and all that, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to write again today. So it’s good that I’m up a little early.

I’ve had my coffee, checked email and all that, so now I’m gonna make a run at the novel.

Read back over some of what I’d already written and allowed myself to touch it here and there (in creative mind) and ended a session with a grand total of 943 words. Woohoo. Still, at least the novel’s moving forward. Well, inching forward.

I was distracted by a notification regarding an update on one of the websites I manage. That got me started in update mode and I spent the next two hours making sure all the updates were done. Sigh.

Then one more major disruption cropped up, so I’m setting the novel aside at least until after my appointment. I have to get ready to leave soon, so I’m gonna skip down and write the Topic of the Night now.
Then we’ll see what happens with writing when I get back and my pupils get back to their normal size.

UPDATE: Okay, all is well with the eyes for the next year when they’ll talk with me about Cadillacs or something like that. I’m scheduled for a hearing test too. Anyway, back in Dear Old Saint David and my pupils are still HUGE. Okay, plus I’m basically just feeling lazy.

So I’m gonna call today a day. Hey, life happens. So no more writing for today other than the little I got done and reported earlier. Got a couple great ideas for stories while I was up there this morning though. So all in all, a great day.

Topic of the Night: Setting Realistic Writing Goals
It’s important to set goals with your writing. I mean, if you’re serious, if you really want to write, nothing else will help quite as much getting you there as setting good, realistic goals.

And by realistic, I mean something you know you can achieve.

Most people who set goals in other activities will tell you that a good goal should make you reach. That isn’t necessarily true in setting writing goals.

So what are the hallmarks of a good writing goal?

  • It should be reasonable.
  • It should automatically reset each day (or each week or each month).

What do I mean by reasonable? If you write 1,000 publishable words of fiction per hour and are able to write two hours per day but only five days per week, a reasonable daily goal would be 2,000 words per day. A reasonable weekly goal should be 10,000 words per week. If you want to fudge a bit, make it 1,500 words per day and 7,500 words per week. (That extra half hour per day makes a huge difference, doesn’t it?)

Why should a good writing goal automatically reset at a specific time?

Because “reset” means “goes back to zero.” Neither abundance nor lack is carried forward.

If your goal is to write 2,000 words per day and you write 2,438 words today, that’s wonderful. But beginning tomorrow morning, you still have to write 2,000 words. (grin)

If your goal is to write 2,000 words per day and you write only 18 words today, that’s okay because beginning tomorrow morning you still have to write 2,000 words.

But since writing 2,000 words per day is well within your capability, isn’t the goal too easy?

No. Because life happens. People happen. Distractions happen.

There will be days when you won’t be able to write for two hours.

There will be days when, even though you have the time set aside, you’ll find that your subconscious is on hiatus. On those days, nothing will come.

And there will be days when you are beset by fear and allow your conscious mind to stop you from writing. Because again, if you don’t finish, you can’t submit or publish your work and risk rejection.

Or your fear will cause you to rewrite “just this once.” Because rewriting is better than actually finishing and risking rejection.

What’s best of all about good, realistic writing goals is that they’re personal to you. Trust me, nobody else cares, except maybe a few people who support you and want to see you succeed.

If you achieve or exceed your goal, Nothing Happens except that your work is that much further along.

But if you fail to achieve your goal, guess what? Nothing Happens then either and the goal resets the next morning or the next week.

But of course, you won’t bother setting goals if you don’t intend to achieve them.

And there’s one other tool that’s a great motivator for meeting goals: The Streak.

And that will be the topic of the night for tomorrow.

I’m going to post this now. Then when I get home from my appointment, if I’m able to write anymore, etc. I’ll modify it before it actually posts through MailChimp.

So if you’re reading it on my site before 5 p.m., you might want to check back in a while.

Today’s Writing
Just a little. Less than I wanted, but more than I had when I started the day. That’s why the daily goal resets. (grin)
Fiction Words: X943

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 20501
Total fiction words for the year……………… 462901

The Journal, Wednesday, 8/5

The Day

Back on schedule, rolled out about 2:45. Actually, staying on schedule wasn’t difficult. Although every other state in the vicinity (north/south) was intelligent enough to stay on Central Time, Indiana’s legislature voted several years ago to put most of the state on Eastern Time (Doh!).

But it worked out well for me personally. I went to bed around 10 p.m. local time (7 my time) and got up around 5 or 6 a.m. local time (2 or 3 my time), so no real adjustment. (grin)

High hopes yesterday to get back to writing today, and I will, but as I write this it’s mid morning. Before sunup I spent time with my beautiful little daughter and did some waking up things, then updated several websites, cleaned up my inbox, etc. I also began doing some research that I might need for a novel someday.

With first light, I opened the back of my pickup and camper shell and began unloading the stuff we brought back from Indiana. Seems to me it’s roughly twice what we hauled up there to our boys, but that might just be me and my grouch levels after the eleven day trip. Probably that’s it.

So unloading finished, put most of it away (at least temporarily) I did some more research on the same topic. A little while later I noticed the yard needed to be mowed. Like many in Arizona, I do not have a “lawn,” but I do have an extensive yard. Out came the mower, overfilled it with gasoline per usual, started it and away I went. Now that’s finished.

It’s always struck me as ironic that I’m living in southeast Arizona, loving the “wild” look of it, and mowing the yard. If the place was mine, I’d do the whole thing over in rock. Large rock. Massive rock. One big huge massive gargantuan rock with a house on top. That’s what I’d do.

Okay, gonna chill a bit, then get a shower, then see what comes and hope it’s the story. Back in a bit.

Well after the shower, remembered I had to replenish groceries here in the house, so went shopping, then back here for lunch. Still exhausted from the trip. I might end up taking a nap today. If I do it’ll be the first since about first grade. (grin)

No nap, but I decided this has to be another non-writing day. Just too tired. Cleaning up from the trip, plus the trip itself took a toll. Onward to tomorrow.

Topic of the Night: Life Happens, or Letting Life Happen

There’s nothing we can do about it anyway, and sometimes life just happens and we have to let it.

That’s the case with me for the last eleven days and now today. I could have written while I was gone. I could have just carved out some time and written. The people I was around (most of them) would have understood and a few would even have envied me. They probably wouldn’t even have interrupted me with noise or otherwise.

But I didn’t write. I didn’t even try to carve out the time because I didn’t want to run the risk of being interrupted. When I’m writing, I want to write. I don’t want the TV to come on. I don’t want someone in the next room to laugh at something cute or stupid someone else did or said. I don’t want the house to be on fire and someone to come rushing into the room to order me out, as if the burning house is more important than the fact that I’m right in the middle of a scene.

When I’m writing, I want to write. If I don’t feel I can guarantee that, then I’d rather just not write until it’s time.

I think that’s what I did again today, albeit subconsciously. As much as I wanted to write, my subconscious knew better. It shut down. And just before it shut down, it sent me a series of commands on all frequencies:

Rest up from the trip. Unload the truck. Do that research you need to do. Check the oil. Clean off the weird red mark some moron in Hatch scrawled on your passenger window. Do some more research. Mow the yard. No, the whole yard. Put away the stuff from the truck. Stare at your story if you want, but I’m tellin’ you, you ain’t writin’ today.

Okay, go write the daily journal if it’ll make you feel better.

And here I am. So still no Day 20 of writing. Tomorrow probably. Tomorrow almost certainly.

See you then.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671
Day 16… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 39787
Day 17… 1678 words. Total words to date…… 41469
Day 18… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 43274
Day 19… 2713 words. Total words to date…… 45987
Day 20… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 0000
Total fiction words for the year……………… 442400

The Journal, Thursday, 7/23

The Day
Rolled out about 3. Checked email and did some website maintenance and updates.

Turned a quick 3 mile walk.

Went out to the shed and loaded a bunch of my youngest son’s stuff into the pickup for the trip north. Really looking forward to the road trip.

Sam Turner from SSA and RWA sent me a very interesting survey comparing readers’ choices in 2015 vs. 2013. There’s a lot of good information there if you want to improve your marketing efforts.

The main page for the survey results is here: http://blog.marieforce.com/the-results-are-in-2015-reader-survey/.

The results in table format are here: https://marieforce.com/images/docs/2015ReaderSurveyChart.pdf.

You’ll see a couple other links on the main page as well.

Great post again over at http://deanwesleysmith.com. This guy’s hitting on all cylinders right now, and I for one am glad to see it. He and I are the same age. What he’s doing with his writing right now is nothing short of incredible. Today he talks about multiple cash flows in this new world of publishing. Well worth a visit.

Once again I didn’t get any writing done. I’m getting things (the truck, my personal belongings, “trip stuff” etc.) ready for the trip so I’m kind of scatter brained right now.

When I think I might sit and write a bit,  I think of some small something I need for the trip. Thing is, I’m one of those who does everything as it occurs to me. If I didn’t, some of it would fall through the cracks.

So I’m living kind of a stuttering, stammering lifestyle right now filled with starts.

Is this an example of my conscious mind stopping me from writing?

Unequivocally, Nope. I love the story and I want to get it finished so I can do the cover and move on to the next one. No stoppages or slowdowns or confusion. I’m just wired about this trip.

As an aside, I keep thinking I should have just stayed here. The initial plan was to send Mom to Indiana to see her boys while I stay here and hold down the fort. But we eventually decided on Plan Two, which was me going as well, but driving instead of flying. I don’t fly, and I won’t until the nation regains its senses and puts personal safety above politically correct speech and searches.

So we’re driving. The only massive downside is that I have to leave my youngest daughter here and I don’t like it. But being here in familiar surroundings will be better for her, so I’m forcing myself to do it. (grin)

Nervous dad and the whole bit. Here’s a little pic of my baby girl, asking me nicely to put down Mr. Camera before she goes all Siamese on my backside. (grin)

DSC00171a

Not really. She’s the sweetest baby kit I’ve ever known. Actually, I woke her up while she was napping in the late afternoon sun. Probably that look on her face is You’re gonna put some stupid caption with this an’ show it to people aren’t you?

And yes, I am. Did.

Okay, since I started this travesty, here’s how she usually looks. (grin)

DSC00010baTopic of the Night: No topic tonight. I’m pooped.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671
Day 16… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 39787
Day 17… 1678 words. Total words to date…… 41469
Day 18… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 43274
Day 19… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 34004
Total fiction words for the year……………… 439687

The Journal, Wednesday, 7/22

The Day
Rolled out about 2:30. No walk again today and maybe no writing. I have to be in Sierra Vista to visit my mechanic at 9 a.m. We’ll see how the day unfolds from there.

I could have written earlier, but I didn’t. Well, I did write, but nothing good. During my waking up time, a comment on Facebook set me off. I spent the next three hours writing some nonfiction spurred by the comment. Ugh.

Sometimes I’m an idiot. What I have to say would have no effect on the comment writer. It would make no difference whatsoever, and it serves only to further frustrate me. So three completely wasted hours there. I can’t believe some of the choices I make sometimes regarding how I spend my time.

And I won’t start writing on Wes now because I don’t want to get deep into a scene and have to interrupt it for my little side trip to SV this morning. It’s looking more and more like I’ll miss my original goal of having this book done and out before July 25. Might have to finish it on the road. But that’s all right. I allowed too many other things to take priority too many times.

Great post over at http://deanwesleysmith.com. He talks about yet another benefit of writing into the dark. Good read.

Sure enough, the gaskets that my truck needed even frustrated the mechanic. He started at about 9 this morning and had to re-do things until around noon when my wife came to pick me up. I’ll go get her at her work at 5, then back to SV (actually Whetstone, just north of Huachuca City) to get the truck.

Valve cover gaskets now look more like O rings than gaskets, for anyone out there who used to replace your own. We used to buy one set of valve cover gaskets and save the box. Then the next set we cut out of the box the first set came in. 🙂 Cereal boxes worked too.

I decided to call this a day off writing. Too much other going on.

Topic of the Night: Setting Priorities
Very briefly, you set your own priorities. You make choices, conscious or otherwise, in practically every moment.

Become aware of those choices. Own them.

If they aren’t what you want, or if the results aren’t what you want, begin changing how you assign priorities.

Basically,

  • you can be a plumber or cop or housewife who Also Writes when other things and people allow you to, or
  • you can BE a writer who also does other life things.

I am a writer who does other things, either when I choose to or when life happens. Today it was mostly life happens and partly kickin’ back. (grin)

What to take from this: It’s all up to you.

Today’s Writing
No writing today. Zero.
Fiction words: XXXX

This really is kind’a strange. I have only 18 writing days on this novel, so not bad, but that’s over 31 calendar days. For me that’s a long time. I don’t think I’ve taken off that many days before while writing a novel. Anyway, this one is closing down on the end so I think the writing will go pretty fast from here on out.

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671
Day 16… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 39787
Day 17… 1678 words. Total words to date…… 41469
Day 18… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 43274
Day 19… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 34004
Total fiction words for the year……………… 439687

The Journal, Thursday, 7/9

The Day

Rolled out at 2:30. Checked email and went looking on CraigsList for a shell for my pickup. I don’t really use it as a truck anymore to haul things that don’t need protection from the weather, so….

Will spend the morning in Tucson for doctor and other things, including picking up that shell.

Another good walk this morning, though only a little over 4 miles. The 7.4 yesterday wore me out. (grin)

Took my camera with a different lens. Got some pretty good pics, but nothing to post today. What does this have to do with writing? I use the camera mostly for book cover pics and secondarily for art pics. Sometimes the pic gives me a story idea.

So I visited Dean’s site again, and again he wrote a great topic. I urge you to check it out. Just because you hit your goal for the day doesn’t mean you have to stop writing. You can move on to the next project or next goal.

Well, as it turns out, reporting the day today will be easy. Thanks to the proficiency of the medical profession, it was pretty much a total loss.

I showed up in Tucson at Pima Heart at 9:30 for a 10:15 appointment. I was to have an echo done on my heart, have my pacemaker checked, and then visit with the doctor to receive the results of the echo.

I was in the back at 10:10. My echo took a little longer than usual but went fairly smoothly, and the pacemaker check went like butter. I was out of those two by 10:30 with assurances that “We’ll call you in a few minutes for the doctor.”

JUST UNDER THREE HOURS later I was called back and put in a room. About ten minutes after that, the doctor came in, told me everything was fine, and dismissed me.

I am not pleased.

From there we went to a late lunch at Jimmy John’s. (A high note.)

And from there we went to buy a used camper shell for my pickup. The price was fantastic, the guy helped me put it on the truck, and finally, finally, I got back here just in time to write this note and watch NYPD Blue.

So no new topic today, and no writing. I’m reposting yesterday’s topic in case anyone missed it.

Tomorrow morning EARLY I go camping. Probably will be gone through Sunday. I won’t post during that time but will catch everyone up on Monday’s post.

So thanks for your patience.

Topic of the Night: A Repeated Few Notes On Goals

1. Just Start — Yes, I understand you have Xxxxx going on tomorrow (or next week or whatever) but no, that is not a legitimate reason to put off setting a goal or starting a challenge. Why? Because there will ALWAYS be one Xxxxx or another starting or stopping or going on. There will always be birthdays and vacations and movies you’ve been waiting forever to see and so on and so on. If you want to start a challenge, just start.

2. Missing Isn’t the End of the World — If you miss your goal, what happens? Nothing. The same thing that happens when you achieve your goal for the day. Nothing. So don’t sweat it. If you vow to write 3,000 words of publisable fiction per day and you write only 1200 one day, nobody’s gonna come beat you up. Your house won’t suddenly be foreclosed. The bank won’t suddenly come get your car. Nothing happens. So challenge yourself already. Set goals.

3. Adjust Your Goals as Necessary — If you challenge yourself (or set a goal) to write 3,000 words per day and you just can’t make it and feel that you need to back that off to 2,500 or 2,000 or whatever, that’s perfectly all right. Again, it’s YOUR goal. It affects nobody but You. If you only write 1000 words per day (that’s about an hour) five days per week that would still be 20,000 words per month. That’s a 60,000 word novel in three months, and that’s taking every weekend off and only working one hour a day.

4. Set Other Goals Too (em) I have to shed some fat. Beginning today, my goal is to walk at least 4 miles per day. Every day. (It’s just walking.) And yes, I’m going to keep a journal to motivate myself. Last year I lost from 205 down to 174 pounds.

Okay, this is a biggie. IF ANYONE OUT THERE would like to post your numbers on a website (similar to the way I do here), let me know and I’ll set you up with an account on another website. Right now several other people have accounts but only a few are using the site. I’d be happy to let you in if you want in. It’s a good way to get support from other professional writers and hold yourself accountable.

The Writing
No writing today but I AM taking my writing ‘puter with me on the camping trip. If I can’t hammer out 3000 words a day while I’m out there then… well, I just don’t know.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 16552
Total fiction words for the year……………… 422235