Challenge Time?

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* The Novel
* Topic: Challenge Time?
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“So [my] new challenge, starting October 1st, is two novels a month for the last three months of the year.” Dean Wesley Smith

Ahem. I’d like to note for the record, I set my adjusted goal for the rest of this year before I read what you see above in Dean’s post for today. (grin)

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” Truman Capote (born on this date, 1924)

“New robotic drug capsule drills through mucus lining in the intestines, allowing large molecule medications, including insulin, to be delivered orally instead of via injections.” Anne Trafton, teaser for “Breaking through the mucus barrier” from MIT News (SF story ideas, anyone?)

The Novel

As you can see from the numbers below, the novel’s coming along fine. Will I finish it today? I think so, but I don’t know. When I stopped writing yesterday, the end wasn’t in sight yet, but the beginning of the end was, if that makes sense.

So maybe. If today and tomorrow are typical days (no emergencies crop up, etc.) think it will end either today or tomorrow for sure.

My goal was for this story to finish on or before September 30. So I kind of made today my deadline. But it’s a false deadline, isn’t it? There are no consequences if I miss it, and no bonus if I make it. My publisher doesn’t run a very tight ship when it comes to publication schedules. (grin)

When I decided to finish the current novel on or before September 30, I also set a goal to write at least one novel per month for the rest of the year. When I set that goal, my mindset was that I was still “coming back” to writing from my force hiatus.

But my current novel shows me that I am back, not fully, but probably 90%. So I decided that goal for the last quarter really is too easy. I’ve just proven to myself with my current novel that I could take two weeks off and still write a novel in a month. So that isn’t much of a challenge. It won’t make me stretch at all.

So I’m changing that goal, yet without adding unnecessary pressure. I always bear in the back of my mind, if I miss a goal, there are zero consequences. If I meet or exceed a goal, though, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Win/win.

So to make myself stretch a little and to drive me to the writing ‘puter more insistently, here’s my adjusted goal: I’ll write at least five more novels by 31 December. So that’s five more novels in 92 days (beginning October 1), so a new novel every 18.4 days.

What’s more, so there will be zero chance of my continuing a story that ended in a previous novel—some critics and detractors wrongly believe continuing a storyline is easier than writing something brand new—I will alternate genres.

This actually will free-up my creative subconscious MORE than writing the next book in any series. I’ll be completely unfettered by the world, the storyline or story timeline, and previous situations and characters.

Small changes make a huge difference. With my goal for this quarter, the timeline (in my world as a fiction writer) is still tight, but it’s considerably looser than it would be if I were writing 6 novels during the three months remaining in this year, or a new novel every 15 days.

However, if I’m able to write 6 or more novels before December 31, that will be a bonus and I will celebrate. (grin) Isn’t this fun? So my personal writing challenge is set. We’ll see what happens.

But more importantly, what are YOUR goals for the last quarter of the year? And are you thinking about goals for 2023 yet?

Topic: Challenge Time?

Okay, first, don’t forget a brand new quarter starts tomorrow. So today would be a great time to come up with a personal writing challenge for yourself for the last three months of the year, either one month at a time or overall as the final quarter of the year.

If you’re relatively prolific (for example), you could jump in and join me in my challenge. Or you could back it up a bit and set a challenge to write a novel per month plus a short story per week for the rest of the year. Or you could write the novels and forget about short stories. Or vice versa.

In his post for today, linked to in “Of Interest,” Dean Wesley Smith sets his challenge for the last quarter, but he also mentions what looks like a pretty good challenge for himself, and for those who enjoy writing short stories as well as novels, for the coming year.

In that possible challenge for 2023, he talks about alternating from novels to short stories and back every quarter. He’s talking about writing a short story every day for 3 months and then a novel every two weeks for three months.

If that seems like an awful lot of short stories, you could also alternate in two-month and one-month segments, something like this:

Jan/Feb ……. 1, 2 or 4 novels
Mar ………….. 31 shorts or 1, 2 or 3 per week
Apr/May ……. 1, 2 or 4 novels
Jun ………….. 30 shorts or 1, 2 or 3 per week
Jul/Aug ……. 1, 2 or 4novels
Sep ………….. 30 shorts or 1, 2 or 3 per week
Oct/Nov ……. 1, 2 or 4 novels
Dec ………….. 31 shorts or 1, 2 or 3 per week

At the end of 2023, you would have a TON more inventory than you had on January 1.

Notice that after Dean sets his overall goal, he walks it all back to how many words per day it will require, and that becomes his daily word-count goal.

You can easily use any of the structures above but adjust the numbers to suit your current level of productivity. Maybe write one, two or three novels during the first quarter, and the next quarter write one, two or three short stories per week. Something like that.

Or you can change the structure itself. You could alternate the first half of the year with the last half of the year. Or alternate month by month. You can tailor the challenge to suit your needs and abilities, but if you want to increase your productivity and push yourself to practice more, a fun challenge is a great way to do that.

Of course, a challenge is also a great way to illustrate to yourself that Just Writing is a great deal more fun than planning, writing, revising, seeking criticism, and rewriting.

I do hope you’ll give this challenge thing a shot. You have absolutely nothing to lose, and literally everything to gain. And please feel free to share your challenge—for the last quarter, for next year, or both—with us in the comments. It might stir someone else to do something similar.

And if you’d like a cheerleader and someone to check in with as you progress with your writing, I’m right here.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Second Part of My New Challenge” at This is a great post, a catalyst, and yup, I left a comment. (grin)

See “Quiz: What’s Your Amazon Book Sales Potential?” at

See “Breaking through the mucus barrier” at As is often the case, the story isn’t as intriguing as the teaser.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1200 words

Writing of Carmen Morales (novel, tentative title)

Day 10… 3375 words. Total words to date…… 31839
Day 11… 3350 words. Total words to date…… 35189
Day 12… 3640 words. Total words to date…… 38829
Day 13… 3673 words. Total words to date…… 42502
Day 14… 3604 words. Total words to date…… 46106

Total fiction words for September……… 49383
Total fiction words for the year………… 115814
Total nonfiction words for September… 24990
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 153220
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 269034

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 67
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this Journal, I discuss various aspects of the writing craft. I advocate trusting the characters to tell the story that they, not the writer, are living. This is by far the easiest, most liberating, and most fun way to tell a story.

2 thoughts on “Challenge Time?”

  1. Great post as always.

    So, it’s a new month. For my challenge from last month, I only met one out of six goals but it was progress that I would not have made without the challenge.

    So for October, the goals remains the same but the specifics will be tweaked based on what I’d experienced last month.

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