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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 25th, 2010

Several friends from my writing group have issued a challenge: Have a manuscript query ready by December 25th, 2010.

I thought about it. I hemmed. I hawed. I argued with myself. And, after my husband gave me some funny looks, I decided I'm not in.


Sorry, Santa, but I won't spend the next 13 months stressing out over a manuscript so I can query.


Because I'm not ready.

Because I watched a good friend go crazy trying to get a manuscript ready because she queried too early. Crazy to the point where she's not writing any more.

Because I know how skilled I am and I don't have the writing chops yet to feel confident in the 2010 deadline (although I may feel differently in a few months).

Because I'm not, right now, passionate about any one story. I love them all, but I'm not sure I can be the advocate those books needs yet.

Because I don't know which story I want to query first.

I tried the deadline thing in 2009. It doesn't work for me. I can write a novel in a month but it takes me 3-6 months to edit and finish a new draft. I'm still slow with editing.

So, instead, I'm setting my own challenge and backdating it to November 1, 2009.

In one year I am going to write 312,000 words.

Crazy? Just possibly.

312,000 is 1000 words a day, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

It's also 3 1/2 novels, which is what I really want.

I want to write. I have so many stories I want to pin down before I lose them. And I'm afraid if I dither over edits I'll lose these characters for good.

So I'm going to write.

Every day. And, maybe, if I start edging up on my goal early, I might increase the end-of-years goal by a bit. I'll count any fiction writing I do: short stories, new novels, drafts, and edits. Everything is fair game.

That means that if I decide in March that I've fallen in love with one of my novels all over again and I want to work on a new draft and query in July, I can. As long as I am writing.

That means that if I decide I hate novels and would rather explore the colorful world of picture books, I can. As long as I am writing.

That means that if I decide I'm going to take a day off, I can. As long as I pay back the missed word count tomorrow. And, should I slack off too much, I will spend next September writing 8k a day. Which sounds truly terrifying. So let's avoid that option.

What are your plans for the coming year?

50181 / 312000 words. 16% done!


  1. You have some amazing goals outlined! I love that you know what direction is best for you, and you embrace the limitations that will cause you to fall out of love with writing.

    Good for you, praying you all the success!

  2. Thanks!

    I'm hoping this works. I have a bad habit of setting crazy goals every year and not hitting them. And then I get cranky. 312k sounds crazy, but I know I can write 1k in 30 minutes. And I can always find 30 minutes a day to write.

    And, if RL life happens like it did this weekend, 2k isn't so hard either. :o)

  3. I think you've made the best decision here!

    I'm not aiming for that date...but I think it could well happen, life depending. For me it's the life curve balls which are unavoidable and which I can't do anything to change that slow down my writing. Grah! Write when I can, and I'll see what happens.

    Here's to reaching your goals!

  4. Those are great goals. And better because you set them knowing that they are goals you not only CAN accomplish, but want to.

    I almost got a little choked up when you mentioned your friend who got so stressed with querying she doesn't write at all anymore. That shouldn't be anyone's goal. I hope she starts writing again soon, if that's the right thing to do.

    I know I get ahead of myself, wanting to query too soon, but my goal is to tread slowly and carefully this time around.

    Good luck and keep writing.

  5. nice goal. Sounds doable.

    Also, I love that you want to enjoy the process of writing without bothering with the edits. I know what it's like to have many characters and stories bouncing around in your head, dying to get out. You could, so easily, lose a story if you don't get it out in time.

    Go you!

  6. *big shiny hugs*, Li. I'm so glad for you that you're learning to chill out a little in the goals department. I started slowly myself down in terms of racing through the publication process two months ago, and ironically, I'm writing more (and more easily) than ever before. So here's hoping this goal will do the same for you :)

    *high five*

  7. A perfectly reasonable goal, but I will hit you with a stick if you start stressing out about it. ;)

    Goals for the year? Basically finish two novels I have started. Revise one (not necessarily the ones being finished). That's it. It's doable and very not-stress-inducing.

    I haven't even made it official, since I'm being very laid back about the whole thing. B-)

  8. I also tend to set crazy goals. Way to go setting goals on your own terms! Mine are still general goals which need working into specifics or they will never happen.