Challenges & Role Models

by | May 24, 2021 | Writing | 0 comments

It is always important to challenge ourselves. And beyond those challenges we choose, there are always some we struggle to overcome. For example, I am constantly fighting what I call “sleep drift.” When left to my own devices, my sleep cycle will settle somewhen in the neighborhood of 4am to noon.

Yes, that’s a good eight hours… but it’s an utter pain when I want to do anything that the first half of the “work day” might come in handy.

Another challenge is that–for years–I hit some kind of glass ceiling on my writing production. I knew where I wanted to be, but it always seemed like there was a disconnect in my head preventing me from it.

Well, during the month of April this year (i.e. April, 2021), I encountered several pieces of information that seemed to settle in and shatter that glass ceiling.

  1. WMG Publishing’s Pop-Up #11: Thinking Big for Fiction Writers. This set me on the path. I don’t know why I had never sat down and thought about my dreams or what I wanted for my life in such a way, but I hadn’t. Incidentally, if you’re a writer who wants to be full-time (i.e. your stories pay for you, all your expenses, and a sizeable part of whatever’s left over), I would argue it’s an investment well-spent.
  2. The article “70 Publishing Challenge” by Dean Wesley Smith. I won’t spoil the article for you, but it settled into my mind alongside the thoughts generated by the Pop-Up lecture and seemed to have a nice, long chat.
  3. Pulp Speed Flashes to the Present” also by Dean Wesley Smith. This is an excellent article about the great Pulp era writers and how quickly they produced quality stories. And for the purposes of this discussion, I define ‘quality stories’ as salable fiction that provided the writer income.
  4. Pulp Speed Writers (Take Two)” again by Dean Wesley Smith. Again, I won’t spoil the article, but it feeds into the philosophy of being a professional writer (pulp or any other type, in my opinion).

Now, you may have noticed a running theme to the links above. They all seem to include a certain someone by the name of Dean Wesley Smith. If you noticed this, you’re not wrong.

Frankly, I’ve adopted him as one of my professional role models.

Going into May, I crunched some numbers (when I probably should’ve been writing, but such is life…I’m a geek, too), and I arrived at a conclusion I very much like.

If I average a minimum of 7,000 words per day from June through the end of December this year–2021–that will be sufficient words to finish all three of my current series (Drakmoor, Cole & Srexx, and Primogenitor), write “Rise of the Huntress” (the second newsletter story for Primogenitor), write two or three newsletter stories for Drakmoor, write a short story for new Science Fiction series I’ve been nibbling around, and still have 48,000 words left over.

Seven thousand (7,000) words per day is less than a thousand (1,000) words per hour if I write eight hours each day.

Back in my IT life, I routinely worked more than eight (8) hours in day. Not in my very final employment, but that’s another story. If I could put eight (8) hours a day into an IT career–which more often than not left me mentally drained by the end of the day–why can’t I put eight (8) hours each day into writing my stories, something I truly enjoy?

That, my readers, is my aim for the remaining months of 2021. Even when I sat down at devised this goal, I wrote off May. The sole point of May was to transition my thinking from plodding along at one (1) or two (2) chapters per day to four (4) or more.

I’ve been tracking things, and as I right this, my average daily word count for May is 3,509.30…which is about half of where I want it to be. But like I said, I’m not counting May toward my year-end goal (I’ve only written 80,714 words so far this month), and I don’t count articles like this or emails or anything that isn’t producing new fiction. Because the point of my goal is a minimum of seven thousand (7,000) words per day of new fiction.

Some of you may have already seen one fruit of this new mindset. I wrote my very first mystery story (that I’m willing to claim in public, anyway) across the weekend of May 8th & 9th. I titled it “Mistaken Identity,” and it introduced Sam Colton. I have 1500-ish words written on the next Sam Colton Mystery, “The Key to Happiness,” and I expect to finish that by the end of June…probably sooner once I finish “Fires” and…ah, yes. Excuse me. “Fires” is my shorthand for “The Fires of Aurelius,” which is shaping up to be the final Cole & Srexx novel (again, the why of that is another story).

Once I clear “Fires” off my writing deck and delve into “The Fall of Skullkeep,” I will start providing daily updates of my progress toward my goal here.

I hope the days treat you and yours well.



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