2019 and another crazy goal list

Every year I think I can do more than I did the year before. Usually after I have reviewed just how little I have done over the year. There is so much that I would like to do that I forget all the other things that could slow down this process – such as illness, children, the day job, the cat laying across the keyboard…the list is endless.

Nevertheless, I have I developed another ambitious list of what I would like to achieve in 2019. I’ve scribbled over a calendar, added up hours available, determined the number of words and pages I can type or edit inset period of time. To help facilitate this insanity, I have also booked all my covers for next year.

Ok, you are already starting to think that I can’t do this, given my own language use of “crazy” and “insane”, and you haven’t even made it to the goal list yet. Despite the language, I am oddly confident that I can do this.

So, let’s get to my writing goals for 2019:

  • Raven Crown Series Book 3 – Raven’s Edge – Publish in February 
  • Raven Crown Series Box Set – Publish in March
  • New series – The Hidden Princess (working title)– Publish all three books before the end of the year. 
  • The Mark of Oldra sequel (no name yet) – Ready for readers by the end of the year.
  • The Legend of Iski Flare series – complete and publish remainder of series (episodes eight, nine and ten) before the end of the year.
  • Next series (undecided as to which this will be) start drafting at least first book before end of the year.
  • Continue monthly newsletter
  • Blog occasionally (at least once a quarter)

There is a lot there. Some of this is ready to go and some of the new work has more defined deadlines set, but the timelines are tight and I’m not ready to share yet.

I have at least 2 more series ideas that have been rattling around for a while, but I’m not sure which one to start next. I’m hoping to make this decision before I get to the point I want to start writing. 

This is a lot and I’ve got some clear plans for when I’m working on each. Each year I’m more determined to reach my ultimate goal – to write full time. I’m still a long way from that, but the more books I have out in the world, the closer I am to that goal.

Midyear Goal Check 2017

This year is slipping by so fast and I have moments when I think it is all coming together and others when I realise I’m not getting nearly enough done. I did make some serious changes to how I work part way into the year (just after my last review) and they seem to be helping greatly. I have also added a monitor to my laptop which has made a world of difference to my neck and shoulders.

So let’s go back a step and see where I wanted to be by midyear:

  • To grow my list of subscribers/followers
  • Plan out the whole (10 book) Legend of Iski Flare series, publish episode five and have good bones for episode six
  • Refine the whole series story line for the Raven Crown series and have book one with the proof reader
  • Have the start of a plan/outline for a new series and The Mark of Oldra sequel
  • And finally, for The Flow of Ink a monthly newsletter and semi regular blog posts.

 

Clearly the last one isn’t going so well. I did step away from the blog to spend more time on my fiction but I had thought I would get at least one post a month done. I am getting out monthly newsletters to my subscribers and occasionally an extra email a month with new release or giveaway information.

My subscriber list is growing, in fact I have already reached the goal I set for the year and I’m thrilled that so many readers are interested in my stories and writing process. But I am spending more time working on advertising and mail outs and giveaways. All of these are important but I need to set some clear guidelines for myself as to when I can and can’t work on the business side of writing.

I have shifted my sleeping pattern to get up earlier everyday to write (and that is everyday – weekends included). I have a good two hour block and when used appropriately it has been fantastic. I just need to stop checking sales figures, setting up mail outs and the like during that time. It can be difficult working full time to make the time. The aim for the next half of the year to ensure I quarantine my writing time and determine the best time for the business side of writing.

In terms of writing:

The Legend of Iski Flare Episode Five (my favourite by the way) was emotionally hard going to write but was released in June. Episode six is underway, although not quite as far along as I would like.  I do have the stories up to Episode Ten mapped out (although briefly) but I’m not sure where it will go from there.

Raven’s Dawn is actually very close. Not quite ready for the proof reader, but it will be this month and planned for release in August. I’m so excited by this one. The second book in the series, The Caged Raven, needs a lot of attention but I’m hoping will be released before Christmas. I’m trying not to think about the third one yet, but as I work on the others ideas keep sparking on ways to finish it.

Amongst all of this I have also completed a short story for a fantasy anthology, which will hopefully be released this month. The Silence is based on a legend from the Raven Crown Series and I had lots of fun writing it. I have been working on the plans for new stories as well, these are still very brief and by the end of the year I’m hoping to have a scenes list for both projects.

I have more and more ideas every day for stories I want to write but time is limited. I have discovered recently that what I would really like is more time to write, like whole days. This has just confirmed for me that I want to write full time and I continue to work toward that.

In the mean time we have our annual retreat coming up in August and I’ll have six whole uninterrupted days of writing. Can’t wait.

 

If you want regular updates on my writing projects, releases and giveaways sign up for my newsletter and receive a free short story!

How long does it take to write a book?

how-long-does-it-take-to-write-a-bookEveryone wants the answer to this question to be simple and the response along the lines of “It’s easy” and “Of course it doesn’t take long!”

But it isn’t.

Writing is hard and it takes time.

I have pumped out first drafts in reasonably quick time frames, but then there is a lot more work required after that.

There are edits required and I don’t care how good you think the first draft is, you are going to need to at least read through it again, and tweak something. And if this is your first book, there will be quite a few tweaks and changes needed.

 

Track your time

I track how long I spend doing different tasks. This tells me lots of things, how long each part of the writing process takes, how much time I spend writing, how much time I don’t spend writing.

Cleary the more time you put into a book the quicker the process. But it does need time to rest and ruminate to help it grow big and strong.

With all the writing and re-writing and non-writing time I spent with the Mark of Oldra it took me years. If I had knuckled down and focused better it would have only taken a fraction of that time. But then I didn’t think it through before hand and I found the thinking time between writing times helpful.

 

Planning and Outlining

I started out a pantser. Partly because I didn’t know any better. Now I am far more organised, at least planning out key points and character arcs before I start writing.

I am already playing with ideas for my next big project. These will expand into a solid outline and then beats for each scene before I start writing. Although I do have some time to do that, I’m booked up with other projects – namely the Raven Crown Series – and I won’t be able to start drafting until 2018. But I am going to be very ready when I start, and hopefully that will make the writing process smoother, and involve less re-writing. And thus speed up the writing process.

I hope to become the ultimate planner.

 

Just how long…

My writing process has taken years of learning, trial and error.

Each writing project teaches you more about the writing process and what that means to you, how you could do it better, how you could do it differently.

I don’t know that I will ever find the perfect system, the perfect process for writing a book. It seems to be evolving and it may be that for different projects what works for one, won’t work with another.

 

I’m not sure that I have answered the question.

In fact I’m not sure there is a steadfast answer that we could all use.

Writing is different for all of us. Life around writing is different for all of us. Our discipline and focus shifts.

Make notes, learn all you can from other writers, and track what you do and how that works or doesn’t work for you.

Determine how long it takes you to write a book and then see if you can apply process that with the next book.

Assuming that my outline and beats are perfect before I start my next project; and assuming my focus is razor sharp; that I’m still working full time; and that my current practices still hold, it will take me about 10 months from drafting to published. This includes a lot of assumptions. It may be that I finish sooner or it may take me longer.

Working full time doesn’t mean you can’t be a writer

Working full time doesn’t mean you can’t be a writer

For many of us trying to carve out a writing career around a day job or family or the like can be difficult. There are a lot of pressures on our time; a lot of competing pressures for our attention and energy.

Now that I am back at work after the summer break I’m finding it a bit more challenging to meet my writing goals.

 

Why:

Working full time where I look at spreadsheets all day is quite draining. And working full time there are all the other things you need to get done around work hours. This includes all the family stuff, housework, organising things, the gym, sleep and lots more. This doesn’t include any down time or quality time for that matter. So trying to fit writing into this mix can be a challenge.

 

This is what I’m doing:

I’m making appointment times to write. They don’t always go to plan but I am sitting at the computer (or the whiteboard) doing something writing related during those times.

I write first thing of a morning and then once the child and cats are in bed, I’m at the computer again. As mentioned above it can be hard (draining) trying to do it all and I’ve found that I need some down time. So, I have been taking an evening off once or twice a week, just so I don’t go crazy.

If I can, I’m writing during my lunch break, maybe little bits like blog ideas or links for the newsletter. Sometimes the lunch break can be a great time to let the air blow around my creative mind and I take it to the gym (great ideas are formed on the treadmill) or even a walk around the block or meet a friend for shopping. That way I’m not so tired of an evening and I’m keen to sit at my writing desk again.

 

What could you take from this:

We are all different, some write better at night, some in the morning, and some under pressure. Find what works for you.

Make time to write. Don’t try to find time –set the appointment and make it happen. Only you know how much you want this.

Test different times and different places to write.

Have your goals set: Write them down. Know what you are working toward.

Learn what your distractions are and make the decision to move away from them. The new series of the 100 on Netflix could be my nemesis but if I don’t sit on the couch, I can’t turn on the tv and I can’t sit up half the night watching episode after episode; instead I’m at my desk writing.

 

Writing and working can be a juggle. You don’t have to make hours a day. Even half an hour, or even ten minutes, every day would achieve so much more than you think it would.

If you have a tip for writing when you work too I’d love to hear your story.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2016

I hope your 2016 has started off with a bang. I’m all set for an exciting and busy year.

I was planning for this year well before it started. And now that it is here I am well under way. Last year I wasn’t keen to share my goals so early because I knew a lot was going to impact on them as the year went on. But that will happen every year and I’m sure these goals may change and evolve as the year develops. I might even achieve some things sooner and slip something else in.

 

My 2016 goals include:

  • Reading every day (Santa delivered a Kindle, *squee*)
  • Continuing with the Legend of Iski Flare novella series with episodes 2, 3 and 4 planned for release this year
  • The Raven Crown series books 1 and 2 planned for release this year. (Book 3 in 2017)
  • The Mark of Oldra (formerly known as Snow) will be released at the beginning of February
  • The Flow of Ink will continue to blog every week and produce a monthly newsletter. I am changing the posting day to Sunday.
  • Improve my marketing skills to boost readership of my books and blog

There will be some ideas generating for next year, including expansions on some of the larger works I’m putting out this year and a new series that has started bubbling away.

 

So far 2016 is a little scary. I didn’t get nearly as much out as I thought I would last year but I’m working more consistently and with a serious plan in place I have no option but to deliver (I hope).

This year I’m setting myself definitive deadlines for each project. Last year my deadlines were a bit soft and I think it will be easier to work to a set date. This will also make my planning somewhat easier.

I’m continuing to track my time and to review and adjust my plans/goals as required. I have found that very little goes exactly to plan but I think this year it will be close. There are no major moves this year and my work space is all set up. Other than the day job, a daughter, two new kittens, friends, family and housework; all I have is my writing. All going well, I will publish three novels and three novellas this year.

Have you got a plan in place this year? Are you going to meet your writing goals?

Dangers of the Soft Deadline

The Danger of Soft Deadlines

I have recently discovered that I’m not as good at meeting my own deadlines as I previously thought. And it is somewhat disappointing.

I had really hoped that I would be announcing the release of my next book but I’m not quite ready. Part of the reason is that I didn’t think to factor in other work I needed to reach the deadline, such as cover design. I only started discussions with the designer in the last week or so.

I also had a freak out about the story as a whole and sent it out to beta-readers. Thankfully they got back to me in a reasonable time but all of these activities impact on when I will be finished.

I haven’t been as strict with myself as I should have been either. My writing times have slipped and I’m a little distracted with other things, such as Christmas and end of year activities and catch-ups.

My plan for the future is to set a firm deadline with clear milestones and factor in some wiggle room. I have reworked my plans for next year to include some practices earlier in the process, such as cover design so that they are ready long before I need them.

I haven’t reached all my writing goals this year and that is simply down to me not completing work on time, or at all. I want to start treating this as a business, in that I take it seriously but I’m not sure that I’ve been taking myself seriously as a writer.

It is clear that the only thing holding me back is me.

I have changed the way I do some things over the course of the last year. Something that has dropped away is my weekly to do list. First on my list for this week is to create a list; capture everything I need to do and then make a clear plan. Too often in the last few weeks I have just moved items from one day to the next without thinking of the bigger picture.

If I am going to achieve what I plan to next year, I am going to have to make some changes to my thinking.

 

Stay tuned– there will be a new release coming shortly:

The Legend Begins, Episode 1 of The Legend of Iski Flare Series