Category Archives: goals

Planning Ahead: My 2015 Writing Schedule

2015_StuartMilesPutting together a writing schedule is a brand-new thing for me. I had a sort of de facto schedule for the second half of 2014, just because I had several deadlines that forced me to write stories in a specific order. I’m going to try to carry that on into 2015 and see if a schedule will help keep me on track.

Here’s my tentative writing schedule for 2015. Keep in mind this doesn’t include publisher edits, release dates, or event attendance—it’s just getting stories written, beta read, and ready for submission.

January–March: Nobody’s Son (Sons, Book 3)

March–June: Help Wanted (M/F contemporary)

June: Cabin Fever (anthology novella)

July: Snow Come Down (Christmas novella)

August–December: Under the Lights trilogy (NA, M/M, football)

I have firm deadlines for Nobody’s Son and the Cabin Fever novella. Everything else is super flexible at this point, except that I do want to have a novel ready to pitch at RWA next July. Right now, that’s slated to be the M/F title, but that could change. I’ll likely have at least one more short to fit in there too!

All this PLANNING stuff brings up an excellent question. We hear the plotter vs. pantser discussion about the writing process all the time, but what about when it comes to your writing schedule? Do you plan things out, or do you just write whatever comes to you next?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Making a Few Changes

changeI’ve been a bit adrift, writing-wise, in recent months. I finished writing my story for the Butt Ninjas from Hell anthology on time, and I submitted an out-of-print story for re-publication in another anthology. But my WIPs are languishing, with only dribs and drabs being added here and there, and I can’t seem to focus on much of anything.

So, it’s time to make a few changes.

First, I’m dropping word count meters. I deleted the one that used to appear on this site, I’m filing away the spreadsheet I was using to track word counts, and I’m taking those numbers off the top of any story file I update from now on. Word counts aren’t the point. Finishing the story is the point. If that’s the 8,500 words it took to write my ninja story, the 81,000 words in my first novel, or some number higher, lower, or in between, then that’s how long the story will be. I’ve been getting bogged down in watching those numbers and forgetting about what’s really important.

Second, I’m cutting way back on my travel this year. I have two trips planned: Tampa for RainbowCon and Portland for the Dreamspinner author’s workshop in April (one long trip, since they’re back to back), and Chicago for GayRomLit in October. I’ll also be at the usual two local events, Outlantacon and Dragon Con, and there’s another local event I’m considering. Mainly, what this means is no RT and no RWA. The costs are just too high for the return at this point. I need to get more books out before those meetings will be worth the time and money.

Last, I’m going to start setting my own deadlines and rewarding myself when I meet them. When I have external deadlines (all three of my most recently completed stories had publisher-imposed deadlines), I meet them. It might be on the very DAY it’s due, but it gets done. I need to work on developing the discipline to set and meet deadlines of my own. As the first step, I have a self-imposed deadline to finish one of my WIPs by March 31. I don’t care which story; I have three strong contenders, though one is more likely than the others. My reward if I meet the deadline? Well, I might actually get a new story out in time for GRL, for one thing, but the real reward is more direct: a trip. (I have a specific place and date for that, but I’m keeping the details to myself for now.)

Okay. That’s enough navel-gazing for one day. I have things to do, and some of them might even involve writing. Hope you’re all having a good weekend!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Editing Lockdown

I know I’ve been quieter than usual lately. I had two writing goals for January: finishing a set of commissioned short stories, and getting an older story revised and off to beta.

Goal #1 is complete, and goal #2 is nearly there. I put myself on editing lockdown over the weekend (no reading! no writing! just editing!) and ended up slashing and burning huge swaths of the story, from around 64k to 50k. The machete work is done, so now I have to fix a few spots and give it one last good edit before shipping it to beta. With a week left in the month, I should hit the deadline just fine. 🙂

After that? Well, I’m still still deciding. I have several WIPs to choose from:

  • The high school story that started as my 2011 NaNo project
  • The ghost story that was my other possible NaNo project
  • A trilogy based around the owners/employees of a GLBT bookstore
  • A disaster story (earthquakes and volcanoes! Wheee!)

And some others that I’ve got in the pipeline in various stages of completion.

Decisions, decisions…


Without even realizing it at first, I reached one of my writing goals for the year this week. Well, they were more “general guidelines of what I’d like to do,” but one was to publish six stories, of any length. My August novel release will be my fifth, and I’m still hopeful that I’ll have at least one holiday-season story. (If ever finish writing them.)

Then Dreamspinner put out a call to current authors for a special promotional event, and my submission was accepted. It’ll be a freebie, but that’s fine; it’s still going to be published. So that’s six! Go me!

(As an aside, that also gives me at least one publication every other month this year through October. And if one of the Christmas stories is accepted, it’ll be every other month all year. Maybe next year my goal should be to get published in at least one “odd” month.)

Motivation, Please?

I’m having a lot of trouble getting motivated to write these days. I still enjoy it, and I still get a lot done when I start; it’s the getting started part I can’t seem to manage.

I’m still working on two main writing projects, a fanfic bigbang story and an original novel, and I’m slowly revising a former fanfic story into an original. I had an idea this week for a Christmas story, so I’ve scribbled down some notes on that, too. 

I also have several editing/revising projects on my plate, but those aren’t as tough. I have first proofs for the novel, plus an original manuscript and a fanfic chapter to beta. Only the proofs have a strict deadline, but there’s not a lot to be done there. Editing doesn’t require as much effort or creativity as writing, though, at least for me.

On top of all that, I really need to get more organized with my writing files and projects. I have a long list of story folders all piled up together, but without much rhyme or reason. I should have them prioritized based on deadlines or progress or something. In short, I need more direction as much as I do more motivation.

I’ve been brainstorming to try to come up with ideas to get myself across the starting line. I have a “words jar” that I won as part of the Help Write Now auction, and I’m considering filling it up with a pile of “tickets” with various writing, editing, or organizing tasks written on them. Then I can pull one out each day and make myself doing it: write 1,000 words, write for an hour, revise a chapter, make/update a works-in-progress list, work on a character bio, write a synopsis/summary, organize folders and files… you get the idea.

So what do you do to motivate yourself? And how do you keep your projects organized? Any suggestions are welcome at this point! Help meeeeeeeee! 😉

The Multiplicity of WIPs

I am constitutionally incapable of working on one project at a time. My mind is built for multitasking. I get bored if I do any one thing for any length of time—even things I normally enjoy. And when I’m bored, I procrastinate in any of a million and a half different ways.

So, I never just have one work in progress.

Currently, I have one ultra-short story written but not revised, one short story about half finished, one novel in extensive revisions, and two probable novels each a chapter or so in. I’ve worked on all of them actively within the past two weeks.

Now, five WIPs at a time is a bit much even for me. I can’t keep up with that many at once and actually make any progress. I’m probably going to drop the short story for now, since it doesn’t really fit the original idea any more (it was an anthology target), and the ultra-short can sit a while longer, since it’s also for an anthology but the deadline is some time off.

That leaves the three novels. I can’t really choose between the latter two, because ideas and scenes keep popping into my head for both of them. The revision is more restructuring and editing than actual writing, so that gives me two writing projects and one editing project.

That, I think I can handle. I have at least a dozen other ideas noted or stories started, some of which have been sitting for a while now, but they can continue to sit until one of these projects is done. I never turn away inspiration, so if something hits me on one of those, I’ll open it up, but I won’t make an effort toward them.

In short, I need to find a happy medium between bored and scattered. That should probably be my writing goal for 2011: get in the habit of maintaining a WIP list long enough to keep me interested, but short enough to keep me focused.

Hey, it’s something. 🙂

A Writing Journey

Original version written for Erotic Horizons

I’ve always been a writer. I come from a family of writers, and we joke that we have printer’s ink instead of blood in our veins—even though that’s a little out of date these days! I started out my career as a newspaper features writer, and at first, I loved it. I got to interview people, figure out interesting ways to present their stories, cover entertainment events, and even meet celebrities now and then. I didn’t have to deal with the deadline pressure of working on breaking news, and once my editor figured out that I was pretty sharp in that area too, I started getting assigned more editing tasks.

It took me a couple of years to figure out that the job was draining all of my creative energy.

I didn’t think of myself as a fiction writer back then, but I did have ideas floating through my head all the time, both fiction and nonfiction. Problem was, after spending the bulk of my forty-plus-hour work week writing, I had absolutely no desire to write on my own time. And it was gradually eating away at me.

My turning point came when I was shifted into a layout editor position, giving up the bulk of my writing duties at work. That was so much better. I was responsible for designing our page layouts, which gave me some creative outlet, and switching from writing to editing gave me freedom to write on my own time. I’ve stayed in editing since then, with few if any writing responsibilities, and it’s worked very well for me. It’s challenging enough to be interesting, without taking away from my creativity.

Even after the switch to editing, though, it took a few years for my right brain to kick back in fully. That’s when I started writing fanfiction. I know a lot of professional authors are afraid of admitting to any connection to fanfic, but I don’t see it that way. I think writing fanfiction can be an excellent training ground for writing original fiction, for those who are interested in making that transition. I learned how to write better description, how to develop characters, how to “hear” a character’s voice in your head, and how to accept criticism and editing of my work. It’s akin to an apprenticeship, where you gradually learn the different parts of the job until you’re finally cleared and released to go off on your own.

My first novella, Model Student, originated as a fanfiction story. It was quite a divergence from the original material to start with—what’s called “alternate universe,” for those unfamiliar with fanfic terminology—which means it used only parts of the main characters’ backstories. I didn’t have a long way to go to make it a standalone, original story. I’ve gone through the same process with two other fanfic stories, and I have a couple more in mind, but the bulk of my writing these days is original. I still write fanfic, but chances are those stories will stay in the fanfic realm.

From here, my goal is just to continue writing. I don’t plan to make writing a career, since I’ve been that route already. I don’t want that kind of pressure on a regular basis again. In the end, I’m doing this mostly as a hobby. Getting paid for it is just a very nice bonus!

>Setting Goals

>I’m trying a word count goal for my current work in progress. I’m now at 6,100 words (give or take) and am going to shoot for 50,000, the usual NaNo goal. I’m not going to set an end date yet, just the word count goal, but we’ll see how it goes.

Word count widget from Writertopia