Goals – 2014 Edition

John G. Hartness
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I’m off work for a week. I try to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s whenever I have the vacation time left over because it’s typically dead in our industry and it’s a good time for management to not be in the office. My sales people don’t have customers to call, because they’re all on vacation, so if I’ve got the plan for next year in place (kinda) it’s a good time to take off and leave the mice to play for a few days. 

With that, my head immediately turned future-wise once I finished with Christmas dinner yesterday. Money was tight all around my family this year, which made for a less consumer-centric holiday and more introspection, which was nice and a little more relaxed. I did pick up a nice new pair of slippers, though, with better soles than my old pair so I can spend more weekend time without wearing real shoes. I’m not a fan of real shoes. 

So I started thinking about my goals for 2014. 2013 was a little bit of a slack year for me, as far as writing productivity goes. I say this and then start to measure my published output, and it sounds kinda dumb. I put out one novel, co-edited one anthology, published one Bubba collection, three Bubba self-published short stories, and had stories appear in two anthologies, one of them my own antho. I also had a third story accepted into another anthology, but it hasn’t come out yet. That’s not a bad output, really, but it’s not enough for my long-range career plans. Part of my financial success hinges on churning out a bunch of new short stories and getting them out into the world as ebooks to continue to discover new fans. I have a pretty good backlist of short stories now, so each new reader I hook feeds into that backlist. 

So here are the goals for 2014. I don’t do resolutions, because once you break those you can quit on them with impunity. I’m going for goals, which I can work towards all year without considering myself a failure. 

1) Write more. Specifically to average 1,000 words each day, excepting weekends. That totals up to roughly 365-(52×2) = 261,000 words over the course of a year. I’m going to let myself have a few holidays off and say that my word count goal for 2014 is 250,000 words. That’s a pretty good three novels, or it’s a bunch of 10,000 word shorts and a couple of novels. I don’t count blog posts in my word count, or interviews, just fiction or if I decide to work on a non-fiction book. So the hope is to knock out a quarter million words. 

That’s intimidating. The goal is 1,000 words every weekday. That feels much more reasonable. And I’m letting myself count this week’s productivity toward next year’s goals, so it should be easily reachable. It’s just going to take some of that 2010-2011 discipline that I used to have. 

2) Finish Exodus. I published Genesis a couple years ago, and it wasn’t ready. I republished a year and change ago, and it’s pretty good. The premise is good, but I’ve moved to a different place in my writing style, and that book is hard to follow up right now. But I have the first third of the sequel on a hard drive, so I need to quit whining about it and write the damn book. Because there is the occasional fan that comes up and doesn’t ask about The Black Knight Chronicles, but asks about the sequel to Genesis, and they deserve the promised sequel. So this year they get it. 

3) Polish the dragon book and shop it around. I finished the rough draft of the YA book with dragons. Now I need to polish it up, give it a heavy rewrite, because first drafts are crap, and then send it along to have folks take a look at it and determine its path to market. I think with enough polish it could go somewhere, but it’s another case of being done with the characters after one book, and New York loves a series, so it might be self-pubbed or small press. But we’ll see. First I have to polish it and get some opinions. 

4) Publish at least six Bubba short stories, preferably eight. Bubba is a cash cow, and he’s a lot of fun to write. I have a whole story arc ready to go for the boy, I just need to crack the whip on myself to write it. If I can do six, I get rights back this year to a couple of shorts I put in anthologies featuring Beauregard, Bubba’s Great-Grandpappy the original Bubba the Monster Hunter and I can fill out collections with those. If I can get to eight, I can do two contemporary Bubba collections and one Beauregard collection, which I think I would prefer. Consistency is the key with the Bubba stories. I have to churn them out frequently. For a long time, Bubba sales paid at least my truck payment if not my mortgage every month (I have an expensive truck and a cheap house, so those numbers are closer than you’d expect), but without having new product recently, Bubba has dropped down to paying the light bill (still a good thing to pay each month and I’m not sad that I’m paying some bills through my words, but the goal is to pay all of them). So I need to get off my ass. 

5) Play less Magic the Gathering but play it with more focus. I would like to get better at that silly card game, but to do that I need to play more real tournaments and less Commander. Probably less Limited, too. My Limited game is pretty darn good. My Constructed game is less than brilliant. If you’ve never played, I suggest you attend JordanCon in Atlanta in April, where you can learn from myself and Brandon Sanderson. Yes, most of that goal is written in code unless you’re a Magic geek. Sorry. 

6) Get a new contract for books 7-9 of The Black Knight Chronicles. I’m turning in Book 5 early this year. Not early as in before the deadline, early as in the deadline is February so we can try to make ConCarolinas because George R. R. Friggin’ Martin is going to be there and I expect attendance to be stupid high so I’d like to have as much product on my table as possible. Once that’s done I’ll only have one book left under contract. I know where 7-9 is going to go, and like a d-lineman going into a contract year, I’d like to get the paperwork dealt with so I have all that taken care of before I start cooking on Book 6. 

7) Join HWA. I recently realized I’m now eligible for membership in the Horror Writers of America, so I think I’ll join. It’s less than a hundred bucks, and then I get to nominate my stuff for Bram Stoker Awards. And since The Big Bad 2 is going to have stories from some AMAZING writers in it, it might be worth having some folks take a look at. I’m still not SFWA-eligible, so maybe someday they’ll remove their heads from wherever they are lodged and figure out how to address successful small press and self-pubbed authors. If not, I’m good with ITW and HWA.

8) Blog more on my own site. I’m only here once a week, and that’s been kind of a weak-sauce internet presence, so I’m going to try to blog more on johnhartness.com in addition to my time here at MW. That’ll be less writing-focused, might have a lot more Magic the Gathering, and will certainly be more profane, but usually entertaining. 

So what are your goals? Have you even started thinking about them? I know you have! 

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11 comments to Goals – 2014 Edition

  • Less MTG? That’s blasphemy. I do realize what you’re saying though, most of my playing time since like ’97 has spent with my son and/or my brother so I’m not going to be able to up my game without joining tournaments and/or playing other people. The goal of writing more is definitely one I need to work on.

  • I like that you set concrete goals. I imagine that’s the business influence. I was also in business before retiring to write fiction. As a result my writing goals (which I posted on my blog at http://petergpollak.com/blog/) include specific targets and specific dates. So many people make resolutions without targets which are doomed to fail. I also learned to share my goals with people whose support I needed in order to achieve those goals–my employees at my company and my spouse and critque partners in the present.

    I’ve never been to ConCarolinas, but this might be the year…not so much to be at the back of the crowd to hear G.R.R.M., but to meet some of the folks who write for Magical Words, yourself included.

  • Razziecat

    Well, one of my goals was going to be to hit ConCarolinas, but when I heard Martin was the major guest I scrapped that. It’s going to be too crowded for my taste; so maybe next year. For myself, “write more” is definitely a goal–I need to make better use of my time.

    I’m going to be doing some serious re-evaluation of what genre I concentrate on. I learned some things about myself during NaNo (finished that novel early this morning, BTW) that bear thinking about. For personal goals, it’s back to the “eat healthier and exercise more” plan I was on earlier this year.

  • sagablessed

    Goals? Get over this damn head-cold. ASAP.
    Get to CC no matter what, even if I have to pimp myself out in the skeezy part of town. I AM going. (Good luck to me on that one, LOL).
    I am oath-bound to finish my WIP before the Con. So I need to get typing.
    Be more spiritual. I have notice more adherence to my faith stirs the creative juices.
    Get more fit. I am getting….rotund. I am only 50. I should not be so corpulent. It also helps with writing when I get out and am more active.
    Yeah, most of my goals are centered around writing. I wonder how much therapy I need.
    Oh yeah, writing *is* my therapy. :)

  • This is a great, inspiring post. Thank you.

    My first goal is to spend some time and set up some goals for 2014. So you can how into this whole thing I am.

    Second goal is to quit giving other people advice on their goals. But that won’t start until 1-2-14.

    Sagablessed, if you will forgive me, I can see how several of your stated goals can work together synergistically to help you get to CC:

    a. Losing the girth will help you when working the skeezy part of town.
    b. Make exercise part of your faith’s ritual to help with the rotundity.
    c. Make writing a part of your faith’s ritual and install keyboard on the elliptical or get the
    Dragon voice recognition software.
    d. Skip the therapy approach: write, write, write.
    e. Set loose the OCD side of your personality.
    f. Ignore advice from geeks on blogs.

  • I’m trying to keep my goals simple this year. Write more, exercise more, eat more healthy foods.

  • Oh crap. I need to do goals… Okay. I’ll think on that a bit.
    John, you have an amazing story and a career that is totally bustin’ it. 2014 is your year. In fact, this year is going to see us all shoot for the stars!

  • I’m trying to keep mine simple, too: Pass math. Edit the darn novel. Don’t die falling off horses.
    Oh, that and celebrate the sale of my first short story, using the cash it’s bringing in. It’s not gonna be paying any feed bills, but I’ve been eyeing that stunning Western bridle for quite some time…

  • My goals:

    1. Do everything in my power to get representation by an agent. So, keep querying my finished YA high fantasy novel. Should nothing come of this, start looking at small presses to submit to instead.

    2. Devote time to writing the sequels should something good come of my efforts.

    3. Finish the urban fantasy I began last year. Revise it as much as I can. Then try to find a place for it given its less-than-typical origins.

    4. Finish the first draft of the new YA fantasy I began in November.

    5. Improve my health. Which is harder with a damaged ankle, but I’ve found ways around it at the gym. I can’t run, but I can still lift weights. So I will.

  • Yeah, I prefer goals too. I made a resolution once to never again make resolutions, and so far, I’ve stuck to that one. ;)

    A couple of my goals will be pretty obvious, and as soon as I get the edit requests, I’ll have to get them done on While You Were Away. I’ll probably also get edit requests, I’d guess mid year, on Rogue 5. Get those done in good time.

    Get my health back in check. I’m frankly not doing all that great. I can tell. With the job kicking my butt, the lack of quality sleep, and not eating well, the Crohn’s has kicked back up. Which will lead to the next goal…

    GET OUT OF GROCERY NIGHT STOCK! ASAP! It’s not good for me. I think I’ve lost 20 pounds of late and not in the good way. I haven’t been eating enough because I sleep much of the day, and when I do eat I feel sick to my stomach. I’m not really gaining much muscle because of that and the Crohn’s flare up. And add to that the bit about a Crohn’s flare making you tired all the time… So, yeah. Night stock not make Dan happy camper.

    I need to get Jasper done. Can’t do that when I have to sleep all day… But I need to get it done, edited, and out the door. It’s a fantasy young MG I promised my daughter I’d write for her. That has to get done in the new year.

    I also need to finish editing book 1 and 2 of my epic fantasy romance trilogy to get that out the door, and starting the third.. I’m on the cusp of something big there and want to remain at the forefront. Seems readers are starting to want that very thing. I’m tired of waiting too long and being behind the times instead of being ahead of the game.

    Get an agent. Rogue 5 and While You Were Away were done without one, but for the trilogy, and Jasper, if I find one willing to take on both, I want one this time around so I can avoid any potential hidden pitfalls I probably didn’t avoid before.

    Get new glasses. I think it’s bifocals time. :/

  • […] taking a leaf out of the book of one of Magical Words Bloggers, and creating a set of Goals for 2014, rather than Resolutions, because Resolutions can be failed […]