Writing Goals: Making the goal, but missing the deadline

A few weekends ago, I had a write-in. My buddy wrote fiction. I wrote non-fiction (I hope): a list of 2012 goals. It got scary fast. Between unfinished projects, projects ready for second- or third-pass revision, beta reading, copy-editing, and projects that are chomping at the bit to be brought into the world, it added up to 750,000 words of fiction for 2012.

In my dreams. You know, the dreams in which independent wealth drops into my lap and I can spend all my time writing fiction, I could write 750,000 words in a year. I turned out that much and more at former day jobs that involved lots of correspondence and report-writing and proposals and specifications.

However, in present tense, that’s just not going to happen.

Today is February 1, the last date mentioned in my Writing Goals for the Next Six Months post. Here’s what I had in mind for the lasts two months:

By January 1: send NaNo 2011 to the fabulous folks who’ve already volunteered to beta-read it, and start the grungy work of dissecting it scene by scene. Last year, I did a spreadsheet of scenes, including who was in them, where they occurred, and what happened. Like a filmmaker, I treat the scene as the basic unit. Since I’m hoping to take some vacation from Ye Olde Day Jobbe at that time, let’s throw two more goals: (1) finish the revisions on The Shape-shifter’s Tale so that I have a finished second draft and (2) start reading about publication options, since the landscape is changing rapidly.

By February 1: Finish third-draft revisions on The Shape-shifter’s Tale, stripping the language down to bare essentials and removing all other fat. Sort through the beta-readers’ responses on NaNo 2011.

Last week I met the goal of sending the NaNo 2011 novel to the beta-readers, not by finishing it, but by sending it, and telling them that I’d be supplementing it with the replacement chapter (as it occurs around page 340, that isn’t an immediate worry). Instead of working on the revisions on Shape-shifter, I spent the time on finishing the NaNo 2011 novel. That’s good news, actually; I had real momentum on this project, which treated the external structure of National Novel Writing Month as a chance to get writing done, but continued the work thereafter. And weirdly enough, sending the project away as if I’d given up on the unfinished part gave the muse a little jump-start. (Nothing like the prospect of being read to get It/Him/Her going.)

Oh yes, and I made my decision about the publishing: both-and. I will be pursuing self-publication (tr. setting up an e-publishing venture) as well as following up on interesting anthology calls. However, I’m more than prepared to turn down a contract if I don’t like the terms. (More on all this in a later post).

The burgeoning draft of NaNo 2011 pushed the February 1 goal into the intermediate future. It’s worth looking at this failure to see where my estimates were accurate and where they weren’t. Not surprisingly, my forecasts go awry with the projects further in the future. It’s important to think in terms of big chunks of time, but to realize that projects have a life of their own. A successful project often eats up more time than expected, which bumps other projects down the line.

So the new timeline looks like this:

By March 1: Send the final version of NaNo 2011 to the beta-readers, and review the comments they’ve sent to date. Re-visit NaNo 2009, The Shape-shifter’s Tale, and write out a final scenario. This will give me the checklist of scenes that are missing from the first draft. Finish all of my current beta-reading commitments.

By April 1: Write the missing scenes for The Shape-shifter’s Tale. Collate the beta-readers’ comments on Necromancer and Barbarian. Edit Annie Brown, Max and the Ghost, and The Lost Pissarro. April is very busy at the day job, so I’m not going to get more ambitious than this. If I decide to do Script Frenzy in April, then I have to plan the project in March.

By May 1: Finish Script Frenzy project, if I decide to do it. Continue work on the editing, and make a list of projects spawned by the parts I carve away. Collate all of the beta-readers’ comments on NaNo 2011, and write out the scenario, including a list of missing scenes. Get out the big knife and prepare to cut.

And that’s it. Three months ahead is all I can see, and this list doesn’t include the work for the publishing venture.

In three months, we’ll come back and look at how it went. Stay tuned.

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One Response to Writing Goals: Making the goal, but missing the deadline

  1. Becca says:

    Oh the joys of adjusting the time lines. I know that it’s frustrating, but it is a grace of the real world that allows things like that to happen with minimal consequences. It’s nice when you need it, but it takes some of the motivation out of the deadlines.

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