The Journal: A Lot of Stuff, and 2020 Goals

In today’s Journal

* Thinking Out Loud
* Pressure (Fear)
* My Personal Writing Goals
* The Rules and Caveats
* My Patrons
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Thinking Out Loud

If you’ve been thinking about jumping into Dean’s short story challenge (or the novel challenge, for that matter), be sure to see the first item in “Of Interest” below. Both challenges are an absolute win-win.

Yes, it costs $600 to buy-in. But if you drop out anywhere along the line, you get $600 worth of credit toward his workshops. So you lose nothing.

You also get input from Dean on every story or novel, and when you’re finished you have that many more short stories and collections or novels earning you money.

If you succeed (and there’s no reason you shouldn’t) you get a lifetime subscription of your choice. The lifetime subscription to online workshops right now is worth $17,000.00. For only 600 bucks. Sheesh.

I was actually thinking (again, for the umpteenth time) about jumping into the short story challenge myself, but I probably won’t for two reasons:

1. I would kind’a feel like I’m cheating. I’ve already written a story a week for 70 weeks, so I already know I can do it. No real challenge there. (I might write to Dean and ask whether he’ll offer me the same deal but with the requirement that I have to write a short story every week for 72 weeks.)

2. Focusing on writing a story per week for a year (for a lifetime subscription as a reward in the end) would also more than likely sidetrack me from the novels I want to write. And that’s the real stopper for me.

Pressure (Fear)

Yep, I still feel pressure when I set goals. There, I said it.

Pressure, n. In fiction writing, an unreasoning fear combined with a kind of vapor-lock that the conscious, critical mind puts on the subconscious mind. “Unreasoning” because what, if you fail, someone’s gonna come to your house and shoot you? C’mon!

One facet of pressure: “Oh my god! Why did I ever say I’d write a novel every month! A novel is huge!”

To overcome that pressure, that fear, I recommend turning it around: How will I feel if I DON’T write a novel every month?

The answer is, I’ll feel like crap. But that’s tempered with “But at least I wrote X novels this year, so it’s all right.”

And that tempered response makes it easier to slack off and not reach my goals.

I would personally feel better and be more strongly driven if it were an all-or-nothing gambit.

For example, say I pay the $600 to Dean, so I have skin in the game. Then I start writing either a story per week or a novel per month.

In my all-or-nothing version, if I fall short, I forfeit the $600 and get nothing. But if I succeed, I get the lifetime subscription of my choice. (grin) Now THAT’S a challenge. And I would personally feel I’d earned the prize. (Note: Dean’s too nice to do this. See “Thinking Out Loud” above.)

Still, I like to believe I’m disciplined enough to set and reach goals on my own. And I want to overcome that unreasoning fear. So all this thinking out loud has led me to…

My Personal Writing Goals

My personal writing goals for 2020, strictly for the fun of it (to relieve the pressure a bit), are as follows:

1. Write at least one short story per week every week for 72 weeks beginning on Sunday, January 5, 2020. (The end date of the challenge, should I choose to end it then, will be Saturday, May 22, 2020. Yeah, I actually took the time to count out the weeks. Hope I didn’t screw it up.)

2. Write at least one novel per month during the same time frame. So 17 novels in 17 months. (The beginning date would be January 1, 2020, and the closing date, should I choose to end it then, would be May 31.)

Does that seem like a lot? Maybe. But it really isn’t.

So that actually gives me a boatload of short-term and long-term goals:

  1. A weekly goal of short story every week.
  2. An annual goal of 52 short stories in 2020, plus the extended overall goal of 72 short stories in 72 weeks to break my previous personal best. And I might go for 78 short stories in 78 weeks just to make it an even year and a half. (grin)
  3. A monthly goal of 1 novel every month.
  4. An annual goal of 12 novels in a year (I’ve never quite done that), plus the extended overall goal of 17 novels in 17 months (or 18 in 18).

And it’s totally do-able. Even if I write only 2000 words per day on average (two hours of writing per day) that’s 60,000 words per month. Subtract four 2000 word short stories (minimum length), that leaves a novel of 52,000 words.

The Rules and Caveats

1. For purposes of the challenge, each short story must be at least 2000 words. Each short story has to be written within that Sunday-to-Saturday week.

2. For purposes of the challenge, each novel must be at least 35,000 words. Each novel has to be written during that calendar month. (So my current WIP doesn’t count for the challenge unless I finish it by December 31. If I do, my novel challenge expands to 18 novels in 18 months.)

3. You might have noticed I’m focusing here on Heinlein’s Rules 1–3. I haven’t said anything about publishing (Heinlein’s Rule 4). Publishing is important, but for a goal of this magnitude, publishing must be secondary to writing. So…

a. I’ll publish every novel sometime during the month after it’s finished. (But patrons will receive it as it’s finished.)

b. I’ll hold off on publishing the individual short stories. Instead I’ll send them to my wife (and of course, to my patrons) for submission to major traditional-publishing magazine markets. (To qualify, they must pay at least 5 cents per word and all rights must revert within a year at the longest.)

So there you go. It should be fun to see how long I can last in the overall challenges and how close I can get to reaching each goal (week by week and month by month).

So what crazy thing(s) are you planning with your writing goals for 2020 and beyond? Don’t measure yourself against me unless you’re an old guy with a lot of time on your hands (grin).

Just create a goal or goals that will cause you to stretch without breaking. And please share that goal or goals in a comment below. You never know who you might help along the way.

My Patrons

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention where my patrons figure in all of this. They are increasingly playing a larger role than this Journal in holding my feet to the fire. These folks are sending me money or contributing in other ways.

So as they have from the beginning, those on my Patrons list will receive a copy of every novel and every short story I finish during this challenge as I finish it. That means they’ll receive it in PDF, .mobi (Kindle) or .epub (Nook/Apple) format, albeit probably without a cover. (I’ve thought this out: see Caveat 3 a. and b. below).

If you aren’t yet a patron but have been considering it, this would be a great time to jump in for as little as $3 per month. If you’re interested, take a look at

Today I’ll get hot on my current WIP. It would be really nice to wrap this one up by December 31 so I can count it in the novel challenge. (grin)

In light of my goals, I’ve also changed my numbers reporting a little bit. From now on, I won’t report fiction numbers as a stand-alone line (see below). In the future, I’ll report them in the individual “Writing of” section below. For example, I’ll report any fiction numbers on my current WIP tomorrow as Day 15.

Oh! I actually forgot and came back to add this: Merry Christmas to one and all. May you have an enjoyable holiday season and a great 2020.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See the comments on “Great Challenges” at

See “Great Publishing Challenge” at

See “Hardcover Decisions” at

The Numbers

Fiction words (see specific numbers below)
Nonfiction words today…………… 1320 (Journal)

Writing of Jonah Peach (tentative title)
Brought forward…… 4416 words

Day 10… 1490 words. Total words to date…… 25649
Day 11… 1544 words. Total words to date…… 27193
Day 12… 1554 words. Total words to date…… 28747
Day 13… 4102 words. Total words to date…… 32849
Day 14… 3538 words. Total words to date…… 36387
Day 15… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 33822
Total fiction words for the year………… 431387
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15310
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 318570
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 749957

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 44
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Journal: A Lot of Stuff, and 2020 Goals”

  1. Hello Harvey.

    Wonderful goal. Have fun with them.
    Like you I am still thinking about the Great Challenge and den Novel Challenge. They are great opportunities and surely a lot of fun.

    The way you make your goals public here is a great way as well.
    Might be a good idea for me too. I’ll think a bit about it.

    Thank you for detailing out your plans.

    • Thanks, Topaz. I used to make my goals public to help hold myself accountable. Nowadays I do it just in case it might help others set their own goals.

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