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Posts tagged ‘Goals’

50K by June 1st

I am now officially debt free. It feels good, but the work isn’t done yet. I still have to tackle some of my other financial goals. Time to rebuild my savings, turn my focus on retirement (it’s never to early to start), and get that down payment for a house. All of these goals are long term, so in the immediate future, I shifting more attention to writing.

I’ve been slow these first few months of the year. I always am, so now is about the time I will shift into a more productive mode. So, I’m setting new goal for the next two months.

I want 50,000 words of my novel done.

I have no idea how much I currently have. It’s half written/half typed. I’m not sure where I left off and the book needs to be organized. It’s screaming for attention and I’m going to give it. So from now to June 1, I am going to try my hardest to get to 50K.

The Power of Intentional Intensity

Here I am at the end of February and I’m almost debt free. Crazy to realize this, but I’m so close, I can almost feel it. A year ago, heck 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. It felt impossible. I remember day dreaming in August and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if by my birthday all my debt was gone?” I was just dreaming then.

Now, I’m awake.

In June 2016, my debt was about $12, 700. Now I’m at $4,900 and it’ll get even lower in a week or so. (Once I get my next paycheck.) For anyone out there who is struggling, just know that it is possible. I didn’t win the lottery, or sell a kidney. I just worked, sold things, and sucked up my pride and moved in with my folks. After a bit of a shock of living together again, things are going well. Still, I’m itching to have my own place again. This time though, I’ll be an owner.

One drawback is my writing time. I just haven’t had a lot of it. My novel sits untouched these past few months. I have neglected it. Morning time to write is no longer available. My mother is an early riser, so by the time I get up, the house is alive with sounds. But like I said in August, if the old routine isn’t working – Change. I may end up carving out a weekend writing schedule and the rest of the week is devoted to publishing business stuff. I’ll try it. My work may take longer to get done, but I’d rather have something written than nothing at all.

I’ve seen how the small steps add up over time. I see it with my writing, getting my education, and paying off my debts. Slow and steady will make a difference. It’s a hard lesson to learn and I have had set backs. From getting furloughed at my job, to getting lots of rejections, sometimes I want what I want when I want it. And the universe usually pats me on the head and then knocks me around. I felt this the hardest last summer when I wanted to buy a house. The universe was not having that. Looks like it was right to stop me. This way is much better.

Went to AWP a few weeks ago. Gosh, it has been so long since I’ve gone to a writing conference. This one was HUGE and I only went for one day. My fellow writers and I sat through panels, walked the book fair and I saw plenty of other folks (even a few famous writers!!!). Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that you are in a community and surround yourself with other like-minded people. I know it gave me a bit of a jolt to see so many of us in one place. The saying is true – Writing is a solitary act. Often we are so wrapped up in our own work, we forget to be part of a community too. Celebrate your fellow writers! Go to their readings. If you have the money, go to the conferences and book fairs. AWP energized me and reminded me that it not just about the work.

It’s about living in the world and creating work from those experiences.

Busy. Not much writing.

I wish I could say I’ve been hard at work writing, but real life sometimes has to take the priority. Moving, day job, and all the other things that get in the way of writing have been coming first. We all know how that goes. Sometimes you just don’t get to everything you want to do.

I have been looking over what I have done this year and I am glad I managed to finish a few short stories, start a few more, and make some progress on my novel. It’s better than nothing. While I won’t get anywhere the 500K word count I hoped for this year, I hope to try again next year. Also, I’m still submitting and keeping track.

This was the first year I made money as a fiction writer. Not much. A few bucks and I’ll take it!

After that achievement, I’m not going back. I’m only submitting to places that pay. No more of this exposure compensation. I understand why some people do it when you don’t have a single credit. But I’ve got a few now and I am ready to be more professional. My work is worth something and I should be compensated for it.

So now I’m only submitting to places that pay (including token payments) and trying to write 500K in one year are my goals (so far) for 2017. Wrapped up in those goals is to finish my novel and other unfinished stories. Not sure about my reading goals yet. But stay tuned.

100K By September 1st!

We’re well into summer and half the year is almost gone. I’ve been so unproductive this year that I’m a bit frustrated with myself. But I keep telling myself that what gets done gets done. I just wish I could get more done.

Don’t we all wish that?

My home search is on hold right now. Here in the DC area, home prices are so competitive that it is really hard to get a place. Plus I still have some debt from JHU. So my plan is to pay off the debt, then look into buying something. In this market, every thousand dollars makes a difference. On one hand I’m sad I won’t be able to own something now.

But I also started thinking about other expenses coming in the near future. The last thing I want is to have a mortgage, school debt, and other stuff like a car, etc. No thank you. I’d rather pay off the school debt, save for the house, and then save for the car. No more debt.

Seven years ago, I was debt free as I paid off the last of my undergrad loan. That was such a freeing moment and I want to have that feeling again. It’s addictive to have no obligation to anyone.

When I was 16, I took the “Strong Interest” test in high school. Number one career recommendation? Author. Annual salary? $16K.

Yep. I knew I was in a low paying career from the beginning.

But when you don’t have debt, a small salary will allow you to be very comfortable. I just slipped up and made some no so great decisions. Still, I got an MA out of it and over all I still think it was a good decision.

So, yes, my financial life takes up all my thoughts. Writing has fallen by the way side. It’s a three day weekend here in the US. I hope to get something done. I am still submitting. A story I submitted a year ago finally came back rejected and a few others are still in the que.

Can’t say I’m not persistent or patient.

I need to attack my writing goals like I attack my debt. So I’m making a goal right now that I will write 100K in the next two months. That is my writing goal. It’s a big one, but hey, aim high right?

I think I can do it.

Goals for 2016

Goal Pic

 

I started and stopped this post a couple of times. I tried to think of something clever and different to challenge myself this year. But the truth is that there is only one simple goal I have for 2016.

Write More.

I had four goals for 2015:
1) Complete 2 pieces a month
2) Write one long piece
3) One Year One Hundred Rejection Challenge
4) Design an E-book (cover and text)

Those first 2 I failed. I didn’t write nearly as much as I wanted too. The first half of the year I was working on my degree. Then I took a break. Then I worked on the longer story. I did complete a few stories, but no where near the 24. And my longer story? Still unfinished. I found myself running out of interest in the plot and not sure what comes next.

I don’t outline my stories, but I’m not a shoot in the dark writer either. I have a vague sense of where the story is going. But with this novella… I just lost the thread. As I’ve said before – It’s been a long time since I wrote a long story (say over 10k). Over ten years…maybe I am out of practice. Not writing, but trusting the process. Trusting myself as a storyteller.

Currently, I have 3 unfinished short stories, 1 unfinished novella, and 1 beginning of what I think is a novel. Lots of stuff started, not much done.

So my BIG goal for 2016 is very simple. Finish everything I start. I hope to have @500k in new words this year. (Yep, that’s right.)

Other goals:
1) Read at least 5 translated books. My reading habits need to expand, so reading outside of the native English speakers is good.
2) Read 50 books this year.
3) Go to 2 conferences this year. Either literary or something else. I want to keep learning.
4) Devote one day a week to the business of publishing.

I know I need to work on balance. I think devoting one day a week to working on my business (and you’d better believe it’s a business) will help keep me writing and submitting. Won’t be perfect. I may need to change and adapt as the months go on, but I adjusting to this new life out of school. Time to try new methods and fine what works best for me.

I’ve read a few blogs in the past few weeks with the same sentiments. It seems like a lot of writers are looking to write more and get back to their craft. I’m with them. I never want to lose sight of my devotion to storytelling. That needs to come first.

Here’s to 2016! And to all my fellow writers – I hope your year finds you working on your best work yet.

Oh, and about 2015 goal #4… Here’s a sneak peek:

Shhh... secret pic here...

Shhh… secret pic here…

But we’ll talk about that later…

End of 2015 – End of One Year One Hundred Rejections Challenge

Final tally for 2015:

Submissions: 5
Acceptances: 1
Rejections: 40

On one hand, I am happy I hit 40 by the end of the year. It’s no where close to l00, but that number is larger than 2014 and lets me know I’m getting my work out there.

On the other hand, technically I failed. Big time.

I can’t help but look back and think, What if I worked harder? Wrote more? How would my numbers look better?

But all these questions will drive me crazy. I’m going to let them go. New year, new start.

When I started this challenge, I only wanted to submit more. I felt I was slacking in this department, endlessly rewriting and not putting myself out there. And it worked, I feel like I really made an effort and will keep making the effort. Now that I’m not in school, I have much more time.

And time management is now an important aspect of my writing career. I have to get better at this. Spending a year focused on submitting took away from my other writing duties. (See my upcoming Goals for 2016 post for more.)

Here are some other takeaways from this challenge:

・    I write weird stuff. I need to get better at finding places that like those stories. I have lists upon lists of journals and magazines, but I need to get better at knowing my markets. This year I found a whole new group that I hadn’t heard about.
・    Aim high. Not going to lie. I like getting paid for my work. Exposure is nice when you are first starting out, but really I aim for the paying markets first. This doesn’t mean that all unpaid markets are bad, but I have seen some places that are straight up scams. No I’m not going to sell all my rights to this story forever and ever for an on-line posting. No I’m not going to pay you (a stupid large amount of money) to read my story. I don’t pay any fees at all, but I don’t have anything against small, struggling places who charge a dollar (or so) reading fee. My issues is with the well funded places that charge a fee and then don’t pay the writer! That’s wrong.
・    Social media can be so helpful! Because of Twitter/Facebook Groups/E-mail lists I know when places are open/taking submissions.
・    When rejections come in, it’s best to mail them right back out… unless you have a place in mind and they don’t open for a couple of days or so.

So, I will continue to submit, but not post the numbers every month (but I will be sure to make a note when I hit 100). I really enjoyed this challenge and urge anyone who is shy about submitting to try it. Once they start to pile up, you start to get more and more efficient. It becomes a process and your stories stop being your “precious babies” and instead are just your stories. Fun, well-written, stories that you want to share. The depersonalization helps get you working. And this important point is the BEST (to me) reason to do this challenge.

GET TO WORK.

Thanks for sticking with me this year. Let’s see what new adventures and challenges I find in 2016.