2023 in Review, and Goals

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* The Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting
* Correction
* 2023 in Review
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling

“All my important decisions are made for me by my subconscious. My frontal lobes are just kidding themselves that they decide anything at all. All they do is think up reasons for the decisions that are already made.” Rex Stout, in Life magazine (Dec. 10, 1965)

“New Year’s Day. Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” Mark Twain

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley, in a Dec. 31, 2009 Tweet

Thanks to Dr. Mardy Grothe for these quotes.

The Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting

During the past week, in addition to whatever other fiction they’re writing, the following writers reported their progress:

Short Fiction

  • George Kordonis “Welcome to the Next Space Age!” 2345 SF
  • Adam Kozak “Devil in the Storm” 3135 General Fiction
  • Christopher Ridge “Houseguest” 2600 Horror
  • K.C. Riggs “The Sun” 1239 SF

Longer Fiction

  • Balázs Jámbor *Kylen’s Story* (tentative title) 2000 Fantasy (21800 to date)


In yesterday’s edition of the Journal, I wrote “(But then, I’m trying to siphon your bank account. I’m trying to help you with your writing.)”

I hope it’s obvious that I meant to write “(But then, I’m NOT trying to siphon your bank account….) Otherwise the whole thing wouldn’t make sense. (grin)

2023 in Review

Welp, it’s that time’a year again.

As you read the stuff below, try to remember I’m not complaining. I’m only laying it out for you, being transparent, in the hope that it will help you with your own writing in some way.

Most of my personal year in review as a fiction writer is in the Numbers below. You can scroll down to see that if you’re interested.

But what the numbers DON’T show is that I wrote 77% of my fiction after August 1. And most of that (all but one novel) was after September 1.

As most of you know, my production was paltry before that. Of the 11 novels I wrote during the year, I wrote 9 of them after August 1. And I finished 9 of them after September 1.

The whole secret to success as a fiction writer is to keep coming back, keep trying again and again until you’re actually writing every day (or at every opportunity if you have an outside job, children, etc.).

Sometimes having an outside job is necessary, and of course, family and children are precious. I get all that.

But if you regularly cite “other interests” as a reason for not writing, maybe you don’t want to be prolific as a fiction writer. And that’s fine too. Hey, if you don’t, you don’t.

But if you DO, then maybe consider resetting your priorities among those “other interests” and nudge fiction writing to the top (again, after the job, family, and babies).

I don’t always say what you want to hear, but I’ll always tell you the truth. If you want to write, you can. If you want to be prolific, you can. And again, if you don’t want to do either of those things, that’s perfectly fine too.

Okay, back to my year in review —

August was my restart month after two straight years of not being able to write. And during that restart, I struggled. A lot. I started, stopped, started again, etc. Some of you know the drill. You know who you are.

Starting in September, I still struggled a little, and I wrote only one more novel. But by the time I finished Blackwell Ops 10: Jeremy Stiles in late September, I was off and running again. At long last.

What do I mean by “off and running?”

It took me most of August and into September to write and publish Blackwell Ops 9. Then most of Septmber to write Blackwell Ops 10. So that was progress, but not much.

But I finished the other 7 novels (Blackwell Ops 11 through 16) on

  • Oct 10,
  • Oct 25,
  • Nov 5,
  • Nov 16,
  • Dec 2,
  • Dec 12, and
  • Dec 27.

If I can keep up that level of productivity from January through December of 2024, I will write 28 novels next year. (See Fiction Goals below.)

That’s what I mean by off and running.

And it didn’t require a plan or an outline or any of that. It required only that I sit my butt in the chair, trust the characters, and write the story the characters gave me as I ran through it with them. Nothing more.

Depending on your personal schedule, you can do the same or better.

On Christmas Eve, I laid out my writing goals for 2024. As a reminder (if you’re interested) and in order of my personal priorities, they are

1. Fiction Goals

This is my highest priority because writing fiction is all-important to me. If I don’t write fiction, nothing below this section matters. And again, what matters is not what I write (the individual story or novel) but that I write:

  • *Write 19 new novels (25000 words +)
  • Write 4000 new words of fiction per day (average), and
  • Write whatever novellas or short stories happen.

*If I miss this one, I hope it will be because one or more of the novels took off and ran well over 100,000 words.

2. Nonfiction Goals

  • Write a new edition of the Journal every day (with no “fillers” or placeholders — I hate those.)
  • Write at least 2 new nonfiction craft titles,
  • Plus either put out a much-revised 2nd edition of Writing Realistic Dialogue or write a companion volume to the one that’s already out there. It would be like a sequel in fiction.

3.Publishing Goals — Publishing all of the above, plus

  • Updating, rebranding and repricing 6 or 7 of my current nonfiction titles (not including WRD)
  • Rebranding and repricing 8 other old nonfiction titles

The rebranding will require designing a branded cover for all of them. That will be the easy part.

4. Production Goals

  • Meet or exceed my daily word count goal on every writing day
  • Have as many writing days as possible

This one’s kind’a silly. If I meet my daily word count goal and maintain an average of even close to 4000 words of fiction per day for the year, I’ll easily produce more than I ever have before.

In fact, I’ll surpass 1,000,000 words for the year and easily meet or surpass the 19 novels I listed as a goal in fiction above. In writing, everything boils down to the daily word count goal.

But I’m also planning to keep one eye on my production from when my writing finally took off on October 1 of this year through September 30 2024. Because that’s a year too. (grin)

You’ll see that new production record in “Numbers” in the Journal beginning on January 1. It will be sandwiched in between “Fiction for 2024” and “Nonfiction for January.”

It’s a way to motivate myself and keep myself from slacking off. And why would anyone want to slack-off from having fun?

Okay, that’s it for me.

How about you? Have you set your new goals for the year yet? If you have, please feel free to share in a comment or via email. But also print them out and tape them on a wall near your writing desk.

And remember, the only valid comparison for any writer is to compare what s/he did yesterday or last week or last month to what s/he does today or this week or this month. Just do your best in every moment.

But should anyone out there who’s reading this (Dawn? Vin? Johnny B? Anyone?) want to race me or something like that, hey, I’m all-in. I’ll even cheer for you to win. (grin)

Okay, that’s today, January 1, 2024. I hope to have the Journal archive for 2023 up on the website tomorrow or maybe the next day. Feel free to download it, of course. I’ve written some great topics in the Journal over the past year. You know, when I wasn’t doing much of anything else.

Of Interest

All works set to enter the public domain

1440 Newsletter Year in Review Some great stories.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 660

Writing of Blackwell Ops 17: Julia Stern

Day 1…… 4204 words. To date…… 4204
Day 2…… 4284 words. To date…… 8488
Day 3…… 3355 words. To date…… 11843

Fiction for January…………………….… ?
Fiction for December…………………… 119765 (done)
Fiction for 2023…………………………. 520599 (done)
Fiction since August 1………………… 405375 (done)
Fiction since October 1………………… 303057 (this will be a new daily feature)
Nonfiction for January……………… 1350
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 1350
2023 consumable words………… 797222 (done)
2024 consumable words…………… 1350

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 0
2024Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 82
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 238
Short story collections…………………… 31

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Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.


4 thoughts on “2023 in Review, and Goals”

  1. Last year I wrote more than any year before. So, 2024 I want to continue my improvement. I decided on 1,500 words per day at average. I’ll see how many times I’ll hit the goal…

    • That’s a GREAT daily goal, Balázs! Just remember that it resets every day, so even if you miss sometimes it’s all right. But it’s also all right to go above your goal. Also remember it doesn’t matter where those words go. One day you might write less on the novel, but also write a short story. All the words count. Good job! 🙂

  2. Hi Harvey,
    Happy New Year 2024 !!!

    A Fresh book opened up to write new chapters of your life and more importantly for this blog, also about the life of your characters !!!

    Inspiring to see the way you had set it up for the year. Thanks for sharing.

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