Writing Objectives, 2010 in Review

2010 is waning fast–it’s time to see how I’ve done with the past year’s goals.

Ground Rules:

  1. Keep my priorities in order. The requirements of my spiritual life, family life, and day job have to come first.
  2. Submit quality work. Clean, tight, and worth reading.  I know how it should look.
  3. Have fun. If the writing becomes a grind rather than a creative outlet, throttle back.

While there’s always room for improvement keeping my priorities in order and fine-tuning the writing, I felt like I stayed within my ground rules pretty well again this year. I’m still having fun. If anything, I’m having more fun than ever.


  • Sustain. Slightly increase my short-story submissions. With two novels in the works, I need to make this figure more realistic. Goal:  30 submissions to paying markets (includes resubs). This is a little more than an average of two a month, which should be workable while pushing me to keep writing short stories.

I had 30 short-story submissions this year, of which 10 were accepted. A 33% acceptance rate isn’t bad at all in this game. Two submissions were to Digital Dragon Online Magazine, which is a non-paying market but serves a genre I care about (Christian speculative fiction). Money isn’t everything.

  • Reach. Submit to more pro-level publications. Goal:  10 or more submissions. I think this is still about right, I just need to hold myself to it.

Didn’t do so great here. I had two submissions to pro-level (5 cents/word) markets. It’s still very difficult for me to submit to a pro-level magazine if I don’t think the story is of superior quality or if there’s any question about it fitting the magazine’s style/content preferences. I need to stop making that decision preemptively. The good news is that 23 of my submissions were to semi-pro-level magazines (1-4.9 cents/word), and only five to token (less than 1 cent/word) or non-paying markets.

Yes, “paying market” is a relative term which tends to create unrealistic expectations. Nobody gets rich selling short stories. At some point, you do it simply because you love the short form.

  • Broaden. Write some non-genre material.  Goal:  Write and submit 5 or more non-genre short stories. Again, the goal is fine, but I need to make it a priority and be disciplined about pursuing it. I’ll add to this reading at least two literary ‘zines per month.

Another area that needs work. I wrote one story this year that might be considered non-speculative, or at least the editor of a speculative magazine told me it wasn’t speculative enough for him. There must be a few angsty stories about dysfunctional family relationships, not involving radiation-spawned mutations, inside me somewhere…

  • Network. Attend a writer’s conference this year and make some new contacts.  Goals:  2 conferences, at least 10 new writing contacts outside the local area and 5 in the local area. Had no trouble with this last year, so I’m raising the bar.

No problem again this year. Joining the local American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) chapter helped, and I’m counting the combined brainstorming session/anthology launch hosted by Every Day Fiction in Vancouver B.C., because it sure felt like a conference.

  • Stretch. Try something that exceeds my expectations.  Goals:  Continue marketing The Muse and help my publisher get past break-even on costs. Finish both novels under construction and begin shopping them around. Finish NaNoWriMo this year. Surprised myself last year, so I’ll continue to aim high this year.

Mixed bag here. Marketing The Muse in conjunction with other new offerings from Splashdown Books continues, though I don’t know if we’ve hit break-even yet. Perhaps after next month’s signing event.

The first draft of my sequel to The Muse (tentatively titled The Seer) is still on track to be finished this week. My other novel-in-progress is only about half finished. The third book of what will be the Muse trilogy is a little over 1/3 written, which wasn’t planned but emerged anyhow. Also notable in this objective area were award nominations for The Muse in the Carol Award (ACFW Book of the Year, speculative) and Clive Staples Award (readers’ choice) competitions.

I didn’t even start NaNoWriMo this year. When you’ve got three novels in progress, you need to work on the ones you have, not spend a month spewing out a new one. NaNo’s cool, and it broke a significant writing barrier for me two years ago, but it wouldn’t have helped this time around. Been there, done that, got the badge.

  • Study. Improve my writing skills.  Goal:  Learn 5 new things about the craft of writing this year, and apply them. To this, I’ll add take a writing course of some kind this year.

I did read a couple of books on writing technique, and am diligently working to kill some annoying bad habits, so I think I’ve made progress here, though I can’t quantify it. There was no time/money/wherewithal for a writing course this year, so that didn’t happen.

  • Read. Maintain a habit of reading consistently.  Goal:  1 book a month, with variety. This pace is about right for my lifestyle.

On target with this one. I read and reviewed 18 books this year, and read several more I didn’t review. Mostly spec-fic of some flavor, but there was some non-fiction mixed in there too. Yes, Ms. Austen, I need to read more plain-vanilla literary fiction.

In a day or two, I’ll post my writing goals for 2011. Measurable! Achievable! Challenging! Go team!


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