Oh hey, it’s 2024! Who knew, right? I spent most of 2023 in a delightful exhausted haze due to first the tail end of a rough pregnancy and then the delight (-fully exhaustion LOL) of bringing my baby girl into the world and into our family! I’m still a little in shock that we finally got to meet her after years of infertility treatment starting to make it look like it might never happen for us. Parenthood has been an adjustment, to say the least, but she’s freaking darling and worth every single sleepless night and exhausted day. I had so many joyous moments thanks to my little full moon fishie, and I love knowing I’m going to experience so many more going forward. Honestly, she would have been worth a year where I wasn’t productive in any other way than just giving her life.
And she was DEFINITELY worth the again less productive on the writerly front than I’d hoped this year. (And always will be, of course - I’d just like to be able to have both my darling girl AND a well run writing career. I’m greedy that way!)
I didn’t have many firm goals since I knew the whole baby thing would likely tank my energy at least as much if not more than the hell pregnancy had, but I still had a few things I hoped to get done. I read books - far fewer than in 2022, but with more of them coming off my BeattheBacklist goal of clearly my physical shelves than ever. I (finally) got all of my developmental edits completed on 13 COUNTY ROAD 666, as well as a second developmental edit round and copy edits. I did the same for my short story in THE HOUSE WHERE DEATH LIVES, too. I even wrote a little. Not much, but more than 2022 (which may have been part of why my reading numbers were down a little).
All of those things were progress. I’m proud of all of those things.
However, this year I hope to do better by being more intentional with regards to my writing career.
Before I started writing this post, I looked back at last year’s “recap and goals” post and was a little amused to realize that uh… I never did list my goals for 2023 which seems appropriate in retrospect LOL.
And actually that is part of what I want to think about going into 2024. No, not forgetting to list things or blog (though yeah both are a trend for me), but to look at my writing career with some clearer “SMART” goals in mind instead of just “working” without a goal or direction like I have for so many years. Working hard but aimlessly hasn’t gotten me far, but I’ve honestly been scared to look at the possibilities or to take myself seriously enough to really strategize. And with two books coming out from publishers this year and a self-pub series that already has bookseller interest (even prior to it being completely written!!!), I can’t continue to approach all of this so haphazardly due to fear of both failure AND success.
Oh yeah, did I mention I have two books coming out from publishers next year? LOLSOB
But this year I just want to “Dare” to take myself that seriously, to submit to things I feel like I should never have a chance of getting, to write things that I worry I might not be good enough to write, to put myself out there even when imposter syndrome raises its ugly head, to create in ways I never have before, to be willing to suck if that’s what it takes to just get things DONE.
I want to be Daring this year.
Anyway, onto my list of 2024 “daring” creative goals, as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) as I can make them. Though, let’s be real, some of them will likely still be just vibes. shrug
1) Read 52 books for #BeattheBacklist2024 from my physical TBR, or 1 book a week. We all know I will likely get sidetracked by additional books whether non-physical or new release or rereads, but I am bound and determined to get some of my massive backlog read!
2) Write 150,000 words (so 12,500 a month) or 3,125 words a week over the course of the year. I am doing GYWO again, this year at a higher level than I have the past few years (which I really didn’t reach - oof), BUT I’ve realized focusing on a daily word count tends to lead to more chances for me to mentally derail myself by missing a day’s session. Whereas, if I have a weekly goal, I know I can knock it out in a few sessions or one big weekend writing session, etc. It’s a little more flexible while still keeping me on track. And of those words, I want to write…
3) At least one blog post (or newsletter - more on that below) per month, preferably posted by the end of the second week. When I actually write these, it’s a nice boost to my word count since I don’t feel as much pressure on this as fiction! Some months I may write more than one if I have several topics I realize I want to write about (hello January LOL), but I want a minimum of one written and posted each month.
4) A zero draft of Trailer Park Paranormals Book 2 - around 60k with awareness it will likely need to stretch in edits - by August 31st if at all possible. That’s only 7,500 a month which leaves me a nice cushion for blogs/newsletters, other projects etc. like…
5) A zero draft of the first book in my Jane Austen series to be eventually rapid-released via self-pub - around 30-40k and intended to be a short novel - also by August 31st if at all possible, which is only 3,750-5,000 a month. I am very excited about this series - it’s going to be my “play” story and hopefully give me that “no pressure” feel of fanfiction even though I intend to eventually publish. It is technically of lower priority than the Trailer Park sequel, but I am allowing myself to switch back and forth as long as I hit roughly the monthly goal for each/ensure I am actually WRITING on each even if I don’t hit the monthly goal.
6) Write at least 3 short stories. I already have 2 planned with early deadlines for myself - one a newsletter sign up/reader magnet to be mentioned in the 13 COUNTY ROAD 666 back matter, so obviously that has to be done as soon as possible, preferably before January 31st. This one can be short and sweet around 2-3k since it doesn’t have to meet a submission guideline. The other DOES have to meet anthology submission guidelines of 3-7,500 words total and is due March 31st. These might slightly throw off the book draft timelines, but we’ll see. The third story will be left for any other anthology that catches my eye/any story that jumps into my head. I’ve accepted that I do really enjoy writing short stories, but I don’t want them to derail my big priorities.
7) Speaking of derailing priorities, looking back over the past couple years, I wrote a LOT more fanfiction than I did original fiction. While it was nice as a mental break, I cannot let that continue if I want to focus on my author career. Thus, I am allowing myself to write only 2 non-exchange fics (both of which are already in progress and were for past exchanges I missed deadlines on) and enter only 4 exchanges (assuming each of them run on about the same deadline) - Unsent Letters (1k epistolary due around mid-April), FicInaBox (10k but can be split into multiple/easy to fulfill due around mid-October), FFFX (10k but due January 2025 so extra time to write it), and Yuletide my longest running exchange (1k due mid-December). The hardest part of this will be passing up on signing up for some of the others I’ve done in the past as I see them announced, but I’m hoping having the 2 WIPs to focus on first (as well as the original fic lolsob) will help curb that impulse!
8) Circling back to the newsletter issue, I uh - obviously I need one for the whole “professional marketing thing” according to basically everyone. Since I want to have it included in my debut’s back matter, I want to have settled on a program/get feedback or recommendations from folks and start it as of January 31st at the latest. As with the blog I want to send those at least once a month, possibly more as I get close to publication dates and/or if I have events.
9) Continue networking with the local small business group I joined back in December. It was a great encouragement and bonus a local indie bookstore owner and manager were also there. Networking ahoy! We should be meeting monthly, and I want to include it here for accountability/remind myself NOT to talk myself out of going.
10) Do 1 craft each month! Since writing is no longer “just” a hobby for me, I want to make sure I’m getting hobby time in and have given myself the permission to do crafting badly as long as I’m having fun. It may be anything from cross stitch to old book alterations/destruction crafts to jewelry making. I just have to enjoy doing it and complete at least 1 a month.
Man, I just realized how long this post is, but that’s OK! I’m actually really pleased to see all of this written down and sorted out. It’s a lot or it looks like a lot, but honestly wordcount aside, it’s not much more than I usually try to do each year - it’s just more structured. And I think that’s what I need this year to keep me focused and on task as I Dare to dive into the publishing career side of things.
But yeah - that’s me. What are y’all planning/resolving/hoping to accomplish this year?