Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for the 'Annual Writing Goals' Category

Writing Goals For 2017

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Let’s do the best we can, okay? Given the president we here in America are about to be encumbered with, I suspect 2017 will prove to be a bitter, divisive year. I hope I am wrong and that we are, by some grace, better off at the end of it.

In the meantime, there is the work.

Here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2017:

1. Write a NEW NOVEL. It may or may not be the one I’ve already started, but I want to have a new novel, either in my agent’s hands or ready to publish myself, by the end of the year.

2. Write a SHORT STORY. I’m only going to require one. Science fiction or fantasy, but unrelated to any existing work. If any additional short fiction happens, that will be a bonus.

3. Write a NOVELLA set in an existing story world. This is an unmet goal carried over into a third year. I still want to write it. There is a chance it will turn into a novel. So it goes.

4. PUBLISH the novel I finished writing in 2016. (More on that in the next post.) It’s going to be a complex process, but I’m looking forward to it.

That’s it! This list gets shorter every year, either because I’m getting older, or I’m becoming more realistic about what I can do.

What are YOUR writing goals for 2017? What are your reading goals? Share them here!

Writing Goals for 2016:
The Assessment

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Since 2011, I’ve been publishing a list of my writing goals for the year, and at the end of the year I take a look at that list and assess how I did at meeting those goals. So it’s time to assess 2016. What follows is a list of the goals I posted on January 1 2016, and how I did on each one:

1. FINISH the current novel-in-progress, where “finish” means it’s been revised and polished and is in my agent’s hands.

DONE. Done. Totally done.

2. START the next novel, where “start” means figure out the general idea behind it, and develop a rough outline with a list of characters. Bonus points for actually writing the opening.

This is actually DONE too. I’ve outlined a new novel and written the first 5,000 words. Circumstances being what they are, though, I will likely dump this novel… er, I mean, put it aside… and try to come up with something more traditional and possibly more marketable.

3. PUBLISH a second short story collection. This is going to be a round up of all my short fiction published since 2012.

DONE, with the caveat that it doesn’t include all my short fiction — I’ve held back the two Zeke Choy stories. Still, eight short stories! For more details on the new collection, click here.

4. Write a short story in THE RED story world.

DONE. This story was requested for an anthology that I really wanted to participate in, so that gave me the motivation to get it done.

5. Write at least one hard-SF short story unrelated to anything else I’ve done.

NOT done. Other than the story mentioned above, I didn’t even start any new short fiction this year. However, I did rediscover a story I wrote two years ago, but never sent out. It was better than I remembered, so I revised it and am now in the process of marketing it.

6. Write at least one novella set in an existing story world.

NOT done. This was an unmet goal from both 2015 and 2016, and it will now roll over into a 2017 goal.

Overall, 2016 was not a good year for my writing career. I’ll admit that my confidence has faded, along with the enthusiasm of a few years ago, and without that confidence and enthusiasm it’s been a lot harder for me to write. Still, I managed to do most of what I’d hoped to do. So I’ll give myself a pat on the back, and try to do better in 2017.

Did you have writing goals for 2016? How did you do?

Writing Goals For 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Happy New Year!

Since 2011 I’ve posted an annual list of writing goals that I want to accomplish in the ensuing year. “Goals” in this sense are things that I can accomplish through my own efforts and perseverance, as opposed to “dreams” which require the cooperation of others. So, for example, writing a short story is a goal, selling that story to Tor.com is a dream.

So here are my writing goals for 2016:

1. FINISH the current novel-in-progress, where “finish” means it’s been revised and polished and is in my agent’s hands. I’m really hoping to achieve this by the end of the summer. Right now I’m 35 to 40 percent through a rough first draft. This is going to be a stand-alone novel, not a series, so when it’s done, it’s done.

2. START the next novel, where “start” means figure out the general idea behind it, and develop a rough outline with a list of characters. Bonus points for actually writing the opening.

3. PUBLISH a second short story collection. This is going to be a round up of all my short fiction published since 2012. Several of these stories are available to read online, but I might as well consolidate them all in a single volume. And since I have absolutely nothing else scheduled for publication in 2016, I might as well go ahead with this. It will be published by my own imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC.

4. Write a short story in THE RED story world. This story has been requested for an anthology that I’d really like to participate in, so odds are good it will happen.

5. Write at least one hard-SF short story unrelated to anything else I’ve done.

6. Write at least one novella set in an existing story world. This is an unmet 2015 goal, that I want to try again.

Okay! I think I can do this…so long as I don’t squander too much time on Twitter. 🙂

What are your writing goals?

Writing Goals for 2015:
The Assessment

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Since 2011, I’ve been publishing a list of my writing goals for the year, and at the end of the year I take a look at that list and assess how I did at meeting those goals. So it’s time to assess 2015.

I want to start by saying that in 2014 I had some lofty goals — and I failed to meet several of them. So in 2015 I scaled down my ambitions. Here’s how I did:

1. Revise and polish the third novel of THE RED trilogy so that it’s ready for publication.

Yes. Done. And Going Dark has been published!

2. Write at least one novella set in an existing story world.

Nope! As I mentioned last year, I really want to write a novella. I still do. I like the idea of a complete, fully developed, novel-like story that can be read in just a few sessions, and I even know what story I want to write. Maybe in 2016.

I’ve only ever written one novella, “Goddesses,” which is available in my short fiction collection of that name.

3. Write at least two short stories unrelated to anything else I’ve done.

(more…)

Writing Goals For 2015

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Happy New Year!

Back in 2011 I started posting an annual list of writing goals that I would try to accomplish in the ensuing year. “Goals” in this sense are things that I can accomplish through my own efforts and perseverance, as opposed to “dreams” which require the cooperation of others (for example, writing a novel is a goal; having a novel sell madly well is a dream).

So here are my writing goals for 2015:

1. Revise and polish the third novel of THE RED trilogy so that it’s ready for publication. (The first draft is already done.)

2. Write at least one novella set in an existing story world. I really want to write a novella, though I’m not sure why. Maybe because it feels like a novel, but doesn’t take so long? 😉

3. Write at least two short stories unrelated to anything else I’ve done. (One story is already commissioned, so I have an extra incentive to meet this goal at least halfway.)

4. Write at least three nonfiction posts that I feel comfortable marketing to high-circulation websites. (I copied this one from last year. Maybe this year I’ll do it.)

5. I almost forgot this goal: WRITE A NEW NOVEL. But I’ll go easy on myself and call this goal fulfilled if I have a new novel planned and well begun by the end of the year.

I should be able to do these five goals. Right?

Writing Goals for 2014: The Assessment

Friday, December 26th, 2014

At the beginning of the year I published my writing goals for 2014. Now it’s time to assess how I did. And in short… I made very few of my goals. But you know what? I’m giving 2014 a big thumbs up anyway, because it turned out to be a positive year for my writing career in other ways.

So here’s how I did on my planned writing goals for 2014:

1. Revise and polish the existing first draft of my next novel, The Red: Trials. Publication is tentatively scheduled for May.

Well. I did revise and polish it, and I had it all ready for publication…and then I sold the entire series to Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. So The Red: Trials, now The Trials, will be published in 2015. Oh. And I also revised it one more time.

2. Write and finish two more Zeke Choy stories, bringing to an end the cycle that began with “Nahiku West” and continued in “Out In The Dark.” If I can pull it off, the last story will be long, maybe a novella.

Uh…nope. Didn’t even start on this. I think I’ve put this off for three years now, because all my writing time has been going to commissioned stories and novels. Expect to see this one reappear in my 2015 goals.

3. Write the initial draft of another novel. I’ve been debating what that novel should be, and though I haven’t decided yet, it will almost certainly be a sequel to something.

That was written by my younger self… and apparently I hadn’t decided yet if there was going to be a third novel in THE RED series. Well, younger self, there is indeed a third novel and I DID write an initial draft, and I am presently in the process of making that a presentable draft, so this goal gets a thumbs up.

4. Write at least three pieces of short fiction that are not part of the Zeke Choy cycle.

Nope. I wrote one short story at the beginning of the year and I did not like it. I refused to submit it to the requesting editor. 🙁 And the rest of the year went to novels. Well, I had a nice three-year run of short story writing. I was more prolific in 2011, 2012, and 2013 than I have ever been. Hopefully I’ll return to that in 2015.

5. Write at least three nonfiction posts that I feel comfortable marketing to high-circulation websites. (Nonfiction is very hard for me.)

Hmm…wanders off to check files…nope. No. I don’t think I wrote ANY. What was I doing with myself this year?? Oh, right. Working on three novels in various degrees of completion.

In summary, while I didn’t do everything I’d hoped, I’m pleased with what I did accomplish.

How did you do with your 2014 writing goals? Please comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Writing Goals For 2014

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year!

Back in 2011, when I was just getting serious about indie publishing, I started posting an annual list of writing goals that I would try to accomplish in the ensuing year. “Goals” in this sense are things that I can accomplish through my own efforts and perseverance, as opposed to “dreams” which require the cooperation of others (for example, having a novel sell madly well) .

So here are my writing goals for 2014:

1. Revise and polish the existing first draft of my next novel, The Red: Trials. Publication is tentatively scheduled for May.

2. Write and finish two more Zeke Choy stories, bringing to an end the cycle that began with “Nahiku West” and continued in “Out In The Dark.” If I can pull it off, the last story will be long, maybe a novella.
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3. Write the initial draft of another novel. I’ve been debating what that novel should be, and though I haven’t decided yet, it will almost certainly be a sequel to something. Maybe this one?…>>

4. Write at least three pieces of short fiction that are not part of the Zeke Choy cycle.

5. Write at least three nonfiction posts that I feel comfortable marketing to high-circulation websites. (Nonfiction is very hard for me.)

That’ll do it. This is already feeling far too ambitious.

Writing Goals for 2013: The Assessment

Friday, December 27th, 2013

At the beginning of the year I published my writing goals for 2013. Now it’s time to assess how I did:

The Red: First Light1. In March, publish my first adult science fiction novel in TEN YEARS.

Done! This of course was The Red: First Light. Have you read it? Did you like it? Lots of people, men and women both, who don’t ordinarily read military fiction have enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll give it a try.

2. Write the sequel to the novel referenced above. Bonus points: publish it before the end of the year.

Hmm…I was about to say that I failed this one, but you know what? I DID finish the first draft at the end of November and I’m presently doing the first revision. So I’m going to pass myself on this one. Definitely no bonus points, though.

3. Write and finish one additional Zeke Choy short story. Bonus points: finish two more stories.

The first Zeke Choy story was “Nahiku West” which was the second-place finisher for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The second Zeke Choy story, “Out In The Dark,” was published in Analog’s June 2013 issue. Did I write the next story? Er…no. I have notes though! And some pretty serious ambitions for the finalé of the series, but I haven’t started yet, in part because I was invited to write for some anthologies and that used up my short story time. Next year though…

4. Write and finish three other short stories.

Wait, let me count… Win! In fact, I wrote four stories. They will appear during 2014 in the anthologies War Stories, Reach For Infinity, and an untitled anthology edited by John Joseph Adams, with the fourth story due in April in the monthly magazine, Lightspeed.

5. Write and finish a completed draft of a third Puzzle Lands book…

Nope. As it turns out, I never seriously considered starting on this — though I’m already flirting with the idea for 2014. To be bluntly honest, these books sell very few copies — and I don’t know why. When people actually read them, they seem to really like them — but my science fiction is much more in demand, which is frustrating because I want to do both!

So in summary…
Only one novel and four short stories were written this year, but given how hard that novel proved to be, I’m satisfied.

How did you do with your writing goals in 2013? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Writing Goals For 2013

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

In 2011 I started posting a list of writing goals for the ensuing year, and at the end of the year I started doing an assessment of what goals I’d met, or failed to meet. Here’s my assessment of 2012, published a few days ago.

I’ve come to like this goal-setting routine. It helps me stay focused on doing the work, but diversified in the kind of work I’m doing. It also lets me realize that I really am accomplishing things, because when viewed on a day-by-day basis, progress can seem painfully slow.

In the context of these posts, a goal is defined as something I can control and complete through my own effort. This is opposed to a dream. Dreams depend on the cooperation of others, or of fate. Dreams are out of my control. I might dream of being on a bestseller list, or winning an award, or getting a movie deal, but those aren’t goals, so you won’t see anything like that listed here.

So with that understanding, here are my writing goals for 2012:

1. In March, publish my first adult science fiction novel in TEN YEARS!! Yeah. I’m excited. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this later in January.

2. Write the sequel to the novel referenced above. Bonus points: publish it before the end of the year. Can I do it? Time will tell.

3. Write and finish one additional Zeke Choy short story. Bonus points: finish two more stories.

(You’ll notice how I frame these goals so that they’re relatively easy to meet, while adding a degree of difficulty through the bonus points. This way I have a good chance to succeed, even if I don’t succeed stupendously. Clever, huh?)

4. Write and finish three other short stories.

5. Write and finish a completed draft of a third Puzzle Lands book…

(Oh boy! I hesitate to include #5 because I don’t know if I can do it, or even if it’s worth doing given the low sales this series has had, but I love these quirky books, and I’d really like to continue with them.)

And that’s enough commitment for me! I’ll check back here at the end of the year and assess how I did.

What are your goals for 2013?

Writing Goals for 2012: The Assessment

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

At the beginning of the year I published my writing goals for 2012. It’s time to assess how I did:

1. Re-publish my Puzzle Lands novel The Dread Hammer with a new cover, and publish the second book in the series, Hepen the Watcher, in ebook and print versions.

Done! The Dread Hammer was re-published in February, and Hepen the Watcher was published in March. My flirtation with the use of a pen name is over for now, and I’m glad to have both books out under my own name. I see these two fantasy novels as a quirky and interesting addition to my science fiction list.

2. Finish two original novels.

Technically, done! At least if “finished” refers to completed drafts. But there are caveats.

When I wrote this goal, I was 20,000 words into a new novel. Let’s call that Novel A. Things were not going well, and in March I took what I had and converted it from third person to first person point of view. Things went better after that, and by April 30 I had a first draft. I set it aside for a while, and then toward the end of May I did some edits…and after that I abandoned it.

Novel A is problematical. It reads fine, and it’s a decent story, but on reflection I think it’s just not a “Linda Nagata” story. It doesn’t have any edgy complexity to it. Ironically, I suspect for that very reason this could be my most popular work, but probably not with my usual readers. Then again, what do I know? At this point, Novel A needs a few background scenes, and then an appointment with an editor. This would be easy enough to do. What’s really holding me back is that this is not a stand-alone book. It needs a sequel — more likely two — and right now I’m not enthused about writing those. For the first time in my career I am flirting with the idea of persuading a co-writer to work with me — though I’m not at all sure that would be a good idea either.

And Novel B? Here’s how I feel about Novel B: 😀

Novel B came out of nowhere. It’s not a book I planned to write. It wasn’t anywhere in my goals for the year, but it demanded to be written. I started on it in early June, sent a draft to beta readers in October, applied their suggestions, and will be sending the nearly final draft to a professional editor in just a few days for a last look-over. Novel B will be published in March.

So, again: 😀

3. Finish four pieces of short fiction.

Fail! I finished only three short stories, though I did get to sell all three to good markets.

Update, December 31: In the comments one of my most supportive readers, Willy B, took me to task for calling this a fail, and then pointed out I had four days to write another short story … so I did. I finished a solid draft last night, and even though I still have to read it over and (I’m sure) fix it up, it IS a finished story, so I’m switching this from “Fail” to “Done.” Thanks, Willy B!

4. Consult with a professional editor on the potential and direction of my long-evolving novel The Wild, and either bring it to fruition or put it away permanently.

Done! I did consult with a professional editor early in the year on this many-times-rewritten fantasy novel, showing her the opening chapters of the last complete draft, as well as the new opening, written in a new style, that I’d done in 2011. She agreed that the new opening was better and more active…but you know what? I’ve finally moved on. I don’t want to rewrite the book again, not at this time in my life. What I’ve decided to do instead is to serialize the older version here on my blog — one chapter every Friday, beginning on January 4.

Bonus Points:
These didn’t happen. In last year’s goals I talked about possibly starting a third volume of Stories of the Puzzle Lands, as well as contemplating another book in The Nanotech Succession. On the plus side, I did make some vague notes on each, and I even started plotting a sequel to my novel Memory, but no bonus points for me this year!

How did you do this year? Did you meet your goals? Or exceed them?