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by Louis Shalako
About this time last year I set some rational writing goals, which are different from business or professional goals.
That time has come again.
For 2014 I would like to write three novels in the 60-65,000-word range. If they go a bit longer, that’s not a problem. The first thing on the agenda is another science fiction novel. By May or June I need to start writing another mystery novel, Maintenon Mystery # 4, and that leaves one fluff project. I say that because it doesn’t need to be so deadly serious. I can go on a romp, or if I really did have a serious idea, then I could drop it in a heartbeat and so do the other one. Writing three books a year falls right in line with my long-term plan, which is to be a writer until the day I die.
I also want to make some money at it—real money.
Assuming that I am fortunate enough to live another twenty years, I will have an estimated seventy-two novels to my credit, and if I live another thirty years, maybe more than that. Our productivity tends to drop off at some point when we stop caring, or it no longer matters in the sense that it can no longer significantly affect our own personal outcomes…more on that another time.
In 2013 I wrote Third World, (SF) and Blessed Are the Humble, (mystery) and I’m 32,000 words into Whack ‘em and Stack ‘em, my bizarro thriller-parody. That one demonstrates the value of having some flexibility. I wrote 18,000 words back in the springtime before getting serious about Third World.
I still have six weeks to go and I know I can finish Whack ‘em etc by the end of the year, publish it, all that sort of thing.
What I did in 2013 I can do again. Also in 2013 I wrote a shitload of novellas for my pen-names, to the tune of something like another 100,000 words, plus a few shorts for myself and pen-names. Louis Shalako wrote twenty or thirty short stories this year, maybe more. I lose track at some point, in fact just the other day I found an un-submitted story in a folder. I just forgot it was there.
In 2013 I also blogged pretty regularly for all five pen-names, and I would like to continue that on a regular basis, say to the tune of another 3,000 words a week, maybe a bit more. (This blog post is about six hundred eighty+ words.)
So in 2014 I will write up to 200,000 words in terms of novels, say another hundred thousand in short stories and novellas, and Darwin knows how much in terms of blog posts.
What I do is to write fast, edit slow, and publish with attention to detail. None of these word-count goals take into account professional goals—to say I would like to make it into a professional magazine, or get a traditional contract, these would be related to writing goals but the word count is everything. The more stories I have, the more books I have, the more options I have. The more I write, the more opportunities it brings.
Practice is never a bad thing, ladies and gentlemen. Don't believe me? Ask Tiger Woods. And then go tell it to the Marines.
When I write a short story, I usually submit it to pro markets, semi-pro markets, and so on down the line until I get tired of it and then I can publish it on my blog. I can submit a novel to one of the top publishers in the world and then sit down and begin writing a mystery novel for my own Maintenon series.
If I feel like writing poetry, I would try and do as much poetry as I possibly could until I got sick of it and stopped. Then I would submit poetry until I'm blue in the face, and have stuff to publish on my poetry blog.
The plan is flexible, and complete.
I expect I will learn much by doing this.
When learning becomes play, then it’s really not work after all.
It’s just a whole helluva lot of fun.