“Progress on what?” you ask. This page tracks my progress in my career as a professional fiction writer. I use that phrase purposefully, because I don’t like writing nonfiction, and I don’t really want to write anything except fiction. I’d rather earn my living writing, but only fiction, and if not fiction, then I’d rather earn my living doing something else. :)
2012 = 146,821 words
2013 = 268,191 words
2014 = 217,641 words
2015 = 250,011 words
2016 = 220,071 words
2017 = 126,581 words
2018 = 92,198 words
2019 to date = 134,223 words
I track only publishable words, not for any particular reason, but because that’s how my spreadsheets are easiest to maintain—I simply copy in my ending word count from whatever doc(s) I’m working on. Therefore, deleted words or discarded stories get subtracted from my totals immediately. So, yeah, I could have 100,000 today but only 50,000 tomorrow.
2012 = 2 short novels; 1 novelette; 2 short stories
2013 = 4 novels; 3 novelettes
2014 = 3 novels; 2 novelettes
2015 = 4 novels; 2 novelettes
2016 = 3 novels; 2 novelettes
2017 = 2 novels
2018 = 1 novel
2019 to date = 1 novel; 1 novelette
These are based on the word count scale below. I have to admit, one of those short novels from 2012 is really short. :) Also, one of the 2012 short stories is a one-off under a pseudonym that might never see another published story.
Looking at my output, I’m amazed I’ve been able to make a living with what I’ve put out there each year. I’m definitely a bit of an oddity, even if my living is modest. I know many other authors with as many titles who haven’t been so blessed. Of course, there are also authors with many fewer titles earning considerably more than me, so there ya go.
Novels > 40,000 words
Short novels > 20,000 to 40,000 words
Novelettes/Novellas > 7,000 to 20,000 words
Short stories < 7,000 words
I write everything under pen names, and although I think it’s fun sharing some details, I don’t share my pen names.
2018 was not a good year for me. If not for my own stubborn refusal to give up, I’d have seen the light and gone and gotten a job. I’ve made it, but man, it’s been rough this year financially speaking. One book in a year on the back of a slow year of only two books in a year just does not generate enough money to keep an author of the kinds of books I write full-time. Luckily, I’ve got a frugal streak inside me and I’ve held out.
I know I’ve been having trouble writing since about mid-2016, but the life changes have finally eased up, and a mild depression (maybe not so mild, who knows?) also got better sometime at the beginning of 2018. By the middle of 2018, I was really starting to feel more like myself again. As of now (2019), I’m doing well and writing is fun again. I’m making progress. :)
Things I’d like to do in 2019
#1 Write more
Why do I want this? Because I have so many series going that I absolutely need to write more if I ever want to see any of them reach their full potential. All my series have bigger stories wrapped up in them and they’re all important to me. I want to make progress on those stories while also writing some new things, and that’s all going to take time—and faster writing.
That said, I have really dumped all the planning and schedules and goals and quotas. For good, this time, I hope. I seem to never learn that all these things do is create pressure for me that actually decreases my word counts.
#2 Publish a book every 6–8 weeks
If I can reach goal #1, then I can reach goal #2. Simple. :) Publishing on a more regular schedule, and more often, will allow me to gain some much needed momentum on each of my series.
Right now, some series have gone more than two years between releases. That’s no way to build a series. I also have two pen names, and I’d really like to get that second pen name off the ground. I started it as an experiment and then immediately went nowhere with it. I still haven’t finished the third book. To be frank, I don’t even have one full chapter of it written. If I’d known it would take me so long to write the books, I’d have waited.
#3 Stop agonizing over every word I put down
Learn how to let it go. Learn how to enter flow faster and easier. Learn how to stay in the chair longer. Learn how to write even when I don’t feel like it.
I often make writing harder than it needs to be. I really want to stop that. I like writing. I don’t like it when it’s hard. It’s harder more often than it has to be, full stop.
I’m working on all of these things. Practice, practice, practice.
#4 Stop thinking and planning and start doing
I overthink things too often. I spend more time planning than doing. I want 2019 to be the year I finally stop doing that.
Sometimes my head feels like it’s going to explode with all the plans I make and all the self-analysis I do while I try to figure out why I’m behaving a certain why. That’s when I need to remember to take a step back and realize that the only relief for that is to do something. The only cure is action.