2013 Goals Post: Lughnasadh Edition

It’s always hard for me to keep writing over the summer, and this year has been no exception as I noted at the end of the last update.

So the general theme this time is that I’ve made progress on my writing goals, but not quite as much as I would have liked.

1. Finish Bluehammer

Last action: fix the outline.

I still think about this book, but I have done no further work on it.

  1. typo/consistency edit
  2. improve outline
  3. make the text match the outline
  4. hone the text
  5. make submission materials

Next action: fix the outline.

Since the second draft of Song is taking longer than planned, any new work on this book will not be until October, which is getting perilously close to November.

The real question about this is whether I can retain the story structure I have at the moment.

2. Execute the Song plan

Last action: finalise the outline.

I still need to finish the outline for the last two acts of the book, but I have been writing against the outline for the earlier sections which has certainly demonstrated that the more detailed outline is a useful tool for me.

Last action: rewrite.

I started the rewrite on my writing weekend, although I wrote about a third of what I had hoped. Part of it was distraction, but I mostly just had trouble in getting the words out.

The word count on the second draft currently stands at about 14k, which is a long way from where I want to be but I’ve been writing more consistently in the last couple of weeks which is something. Putting the story in first person does seem to be helping, also.

  1. To outline what I have
  2. To expand the outline of the first half into a complete story
  3. To work on that outline until the story is good.
  4. To plug in text I can use from Song 2011 – this is no longer a meaningful goal since I need to rewrite everything.
  5. To rewrite to match the outline.
  6. Make submission materials – synopsis, pitch, hook, and all of that.

Next action: complete the outline.

I will finish this task as the writing catches up with the outline state.

Next action: rewrite.

My intent was to have the second draft done by the end of July. Early September seems more likely at this point.

3. Submit one novel.

Last action: finish a novel

My best hope here is still Song.

Last action: to find some markets

No work on this.

I do not expect to actually submit a novel until next year, though. Trying to be heard in December is impossible.

4. Start looking for an agent.

Last action: research agents who represent science fiction.

No work on this.

5. Establish a daily writing practice.

Last action: use burndown chart to maintain focus.

Burndown charts are at their best when tracking many small tasks. In situations where there is a higher load available (ie where the effective working day is more like six hours than the two I am allocating to my writing) the rule of thumb is that a single task should take no more than two days.

My writing burndown has a lot of tasks on it which are quite big. That is, at this point I have two tasks for each act of the book: one for outline, one for word generation. This is problematic because my burndown activity is so small – I knock one number down each day and rarely finish a task.

So although the burndown chart is still helping, I may need to think a bit more about how I task out the writing in order to harness the great benefit of this tool, which is the constant hit of finishing things.

Next action: reconsider how to tracking writing tasks for big slabs of work.

Next action: keep writing.

A New Dawn

Last action: run at least one session.

I’ve run three now. The story is on hiatus while I do summer things, but the seeds have been planted and my friends have said they enjoyed the setting and the mystery. Equally, I am constantly surprised by what my friends choose to do in the situations I present.

The biggest challenge here continues to be to keep the story under control. My natural tendency is to add more and more to a story, but I have tight time constraints on both prep and play so I need to keep things as simple as I can while still telling the story. Even though I am not a short story writer, this is what I imagine writing short stories would mostly be about for me too.

But, a good start.

For this next six week period, I have to prep for the next run of sessions in late August and September. There is certainly no shortage of ideas.

Next action: prep for next run of sessions.

I also have a camping trip with my kids planned for later in August, and I would like to have a bit of material to run for them too. That is also superhero stuff, although not in the same setting as A New Dawn.

Next action: write kid supers material.

Blog

Dropping the blog posting schedule to once a week has helped a lot over the last few weeks – it has meant that the time I have for writing has been spent more on the book than on posting here. I am planning on getting back to the full schedule in September, when the blog will be a year old.

Next action: plan blog posts for reversion to full schedule.

Overall

Summer has been just as disrupted as I expected, but I have kept writing in the face of it, much to my delight.

Just keep writing.

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