How did you sneak up on me so fast?
The years seem to be going by faster and faster, the days streaming past like blurred fence posts along a highway, and I'm left looking back on what I've accomplished. I hate looking back... because I haven't come anywhere near where I want to be as a writer. True, I became a parent for the first time this past year, and I'm scrambling to prepare for baby number two in a few months, (didn't plan the second one, let me tell you!) but these are only parts of life any aspiring professional has to deal with. Why have I been dragging my feet so much for so long? *crickets chirping*
I don't have an acceptable answer.
As I get older and my family grows, I'm left with some serious choices to make. Mainly, how I'm going to support us in the years to come. I have a job that pays the bills, but it isn't the job I want to spend the rest of my life doing. My time there is limited--I've always known this. Problem is I haven't put enough effort into writing or anything else that will get me better employment. 2013 is the year to change this. I've come up with some goals to help me accomplish this. First, though, I'd like to point out a few things I've learned from professional authors this year.
Make writing your only option. This is what Bestselling author Dave Wolverton/Farland advises. This advice has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I've been wondering if it's time to hang up the writing hat for a while and go back to school. I'll never give up on writing, but a 4 or 5 year break would be necessary if I finished a degree. I don't have time to work full time, go to school, and write. Honestly, though, this sounds like a very bad option for me. I'm sure most of you creative types can relate. It's practically impossible to give up thinking about writing, so to stop writing for so long would only be tortuous. Dave says that you shouldn't have any other plans besides writing. According to him I ought to focus %100 on improving my craft. Make writing my area of study. I like this advice very much.
I went to a week-long writing camp with Dave a couple years back. I had some one-on-one time with him during lunch one day, and I told him how I was struggling with finishing school or not. He then informed me that he had dropped out of college to pursue writing. It can happen, people. All that matters is how much time, sweat, tears, and sacrifice you put into becoming a published author.
Another bit of wisdom I've garnered in the past little while comes from Michael J Sullivan, author of the popular Riyria Chronicles. It took him twenty years to become published. Twenty freakin years! When I read that about him my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Think of the dedication and perseverance it would take to keep trying for so long. His experience is quite inspirational. It tells me that success is out there for those willing to grasp for it.
So this is my goal for this year: write three completed novels, the first due by March 31st. This is going to be a difficult goal for me, considering I've never completed a single novel before. I'm approaching things differently this time, though, and so feel like I can do this. I'm going to write YA fantasy for the time being. I've started a few in the past and they are the ones I feel I need to pursue right now. The word count in a YA novel is significantly less than adult ones... somewhere around 80,000 words. The adult fantasies I've been working on are all above 130,000. I've made it to 80,000 several times, so I know what writing that many words feels like. I just need to shorten my story arcs so that I have a complete story with the lower word count.
Anyway, that's about it. I'm going to try and write each book in 90 day chunks. I gave myself a 1200 word count goal for each day. That means 66.5 days within the 90 day goal that I need to write to reach 80,000 words. I already know I'm not an every day writer, so this gives me a little breathing room. I'll take a break after the first book is done by March 31st. My son is due April 12th, so I'm expecting at least 4 weeks of 0 productivity. After we recover from the birth I'll set another 90 goal for the second book of the year.
Here's hoping 2013 is a great year.