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Posts tagged ‘Writing Challenge’

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.

Mid-December 2015 Update — The Challenge is Almost Done!

Well, my modem decided that this was the week to act up. After a long conversation with Verizon, I have a new modem and hopefully no more internet problems.

The year is winding down and I think this will be it for rejections. I have a lot of thoughts about this year that I will save for another post closer to the end of the month. But for now I will say that this challenge was one of the best I ever took on. Even though I got no where near 100 rejections, I pushed myself, submitted, and got work done. There were some other goals I had for this year that I also want to talk about, but again, later.

Here are the numbers so far (and these probably won’t change):
Submissions: 5
Acceptances: 1
Rejections: 36

As I move into 2016, I will continue to submit, but I don’t think I will keep recording my rejections. (Although when I hit 100, I will definitely note it.) While it is good to keep track and have work out in the world for publication, my production goals are way down. I need to find balance between submitting and writing. Do I take a month off and work on my longer works and let the stories pile up? Or do I spend more time submitting what I have and take longer to finish my new work? I know there is a happy medium and I have to find it. I’m thinking I just have to devote one day (maybe Sunday) as “business of writing day” and the other 6 days are “writing” days.

Then there are blog posts and keeping up with all the industry news. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I love to retweet interesting essays.

Yes, I that is work.

And yes, I love it.

But still, sometimes I feel like I read more about writing, than actually write. And while I do think it is important to keep up with literary news, I also got to get my word count.

Balance.

That’s going to be a big goal in 2016. When I was at JHU, I was totally concentrated on one thing – finishing the class. Now there is no finish line. There is just the end of the story and on to the next. It’s wonderful and daunting at the same time.

Wonderful because I love stories and can’t wait to see what my brain wants to explore.

Daunting because it is never ending. Just when I think I won’t have another idea, I get three more…

LOL. Writer problems.

I’m on vacation until January 4th (Yay!), so over the next week or so, I’ll be posting my final thoughts on this challenge, my reading list for the year (and reading goals for 2016), goals for 2016, and any other new stuff I think about. Until then…

Happy Holidays!

And if you’re not religious –

Enjoy your time off and Happy Reading & Writing!

Update End of November 2015

November was a big, busy month. I hope everyone had a good holiday (if you’re in the USA, of course). And I hope everyone hit their #NaNoMo goals. I tried one time a few years ago and realized it was just not for me. I like setting my own pace and I mostly write short stories. I do like to cheer people on though. Everyone should at least try creative writing.

Good for the soul, I think.

I can’t believe I’m almost at the end of the year. I don’t think too many rejections are going to come in so these numbers may not change. Still it’s been a good year. Here’s where things stand:

Rejections: 35
Acceptances:1
Submissions: 6

One market will open on Dec. 1, so I will be sending a story there, but other than that, I have no other plans to submit. I’ll keep an eye out for other places, but for now I should focus on other projects like my novella.

I still work a day job and finishing this novella is my number one priority. I really don’t know how close I am to finishing. I took a break a few weeks back and now getting back to it feels like a new book. I’m resisting the urge to go back a rewrite the beginning. I need to finish, then I can change whatever I want.

Also this week there will be series of blog posts from other Dear Robot contributors. Check my Twitter Feed for other stories. I’m going to retweet all I see. The blog posts are designed to tell what inspired the story in the anthology. So check back here on Friday for my behind the scenes story of “#iamhuman”. For anyone who ever wondered where I get my story ideas, this will be a nice peek into my story brain. (This is different from my everyday brain, which tends to be practical and sensible.)

To read the editor’s story please go here. Also there is a Goodreads giveaway until Dec. 10th, so be sure to check out Kelly’s post for info.
See you again on Friday. Happy December and Happy Writing!

 

Mid-November Update 2015

The latest numbers:

Submissions: 7
Acceptances: 1
Rejections: 34

Two more rejections came back, but they were mailed right back out. A couple of stories, I have held off of sending out, because they are off beat. They’re not quite fantasy, but they’re not realistic either. As I stated before, I like to be selective where I send my stuff. Not because I think I’m so grand a writer, but because I want to try and find the best fit for my story. Why should I send a story that is totally wrong to a journal, just because they are open?

That always bothers me when I read editors say that. I think, Why would anyone send their horror story to a romance editor, or vice versa? But apparently, it does happen.

I also realize I like money. If you love the journal and it is on a shoe-string budget (and can’t pay), then you have to decide for yourself whether it is worth it or not. I’ve seen a couple of great places that don’t pay, but have good reputations. Then there are some that are clearly scams and I steer clear of them. All in all, I am more inclined to submit to place that pay something. Even if they only offer ten bucks.

But a lot of factors go into my submission process besides money. Who they have published before, the style of those stories, have I tried before and what kind of response did I get? There was an interesting on-line magazine that was paying (token, not pro-rates), but when I read three of the stories they published, I had to scratch them off my list. I hated every story. Our styles were different and I knew it would be a bad fit.

I’ll probably do a full recap at the end of the year about what I learned during this year long challenge. This year has been so eventful, I need to reflect. Hey that is what this blog is for. Hard to believe, but I graduated only six months ago. Plus, I have to start thinking about new goals for 2016.

Novella is slow going. I’m glad I didn’t do NaNoMo. I would be losing so badly right now. But finishing by Christmas? That is possible. Plenty of time.

Update – End of October 2015

Not much new on the submission front. A couple more rejections came in the last few days, including my first from The New Yorker. Very cool, right? Here is the update:

Submissions: 7
Acceptances: 1
Rejections: 32

I am falling behind on my submissions. I haven’t had a chance to send out the stories that have come back. Need to do that soon. But it looks like I may hit 40 by Dec. 31, so that’s pretty good. I knew I wouldn’t come anywhere close to 100 for the year, but hey, if you’re going to aim – aim high.

One thing that concerns me is that we are moving into the holidays. It’s that time of year when everyone is taking vacation. Things tend to slow down and some publications aren’t open to submissions.

Also, me the writer needs to take a much deserved break too. Always take time to be with your loved ones. You never know how many times you’ll get to be with them.

So now is the time of hibernation for a lot of publications. Ah well, I can be patient and wait for the right place for my stories. I’m not a big fan of sending stories to anyone or anywhere. I am much more precise with my submissions. I don’t want to waste the editors time or my own sending something inappropriate. Why would that work? I don’t think it would and I think it makes you look unprofessional. (Just my opinion, of course.)

Good luck to those that are dong NaNoWrimo this year. I thought about it, but since I am already deep into my novella, I decided not to go for it. I’d rather finish the projects I’m already working on. They should have a month dedicated to that. A month for finishing stories, but I guess you’re supposed to do that every month anyways.

Anyway, happy writing!