As a “semi-professional” author—one who gets paid, but not enough to live on—I’m attempting to write more words and to publish more books than ever. This won’t be the year I make a full-time income from my writing business, but I think it will be a year to remember.
My 2023 goals:
- Write 924,000 words total
- Edit and self-publish 4 novels
- Write and edit 2 more novels, for a total of 6
- Publish 26 full-length blog posts
That might look like a mountain of work, especially for someone who is not a full-time author. It is. But I’ve got a plan.
In the next few paragraphs, I’ll show you how I built these goals and how I’ll achieve them:
How Did I Create These Writing Goals?
In my end of 2022 update, I talked about how I spent the last year cultivating a larger writing habit. I went from writing 1000 words a day, to more than 4000 a day.
They say writing is a “craft.” It’s neither pure work nor pure art, but somewhere in between. But make no mistake—it is work. And the only way to get the work done is to start and move methodically and write consistently over a huge period of time.
Fortunately, a year is “a pretty huge period of time.”
I plan to write or edit:
- 4000 words a day, 5 days a week
- Write or edit 2000 words a day, 1 day a week (Sat or Sun)
If I can do this for just 42 weeks next year, that will allow me to hit my giant word goal, and I’ll have 10 weeks to spare.
Last year, I learned that marketing and book launches take up a massive amount of effort, so I built marketing into my schedule.
In addition, I only took a handful of days off in 2022. That’s how I discovered burnout can either hit you fast and hard, or it can creep in around the edges and turn anything you love (in this case, writing) into a bleak, dark, drag. Either way, burnout kills progress. My most productive days came when I was well-rested and stress-free, so I’m also adding a few weeks of relaxation and space into my schedule. Counterintuitively, I strongly believe this will make it easier to craft thousands of good words and hit my goals.
One more point: I include editing in my word count because I want to challenge myself to write at a higher level, and to focus on strengthening my existing ideas. I love editing, and I think it’s an integral part of my strategy as a writer: to craft high-quality concepts with high-quality prose and truthful characters.
How Will I Achieve These Goals?
Each year, I update my writing goals guide. Each year, working through this guide pays off dividends for my writing life.
In short, it works like this:
- Create a yearly goal
- Create monthly milestones to check your progress
- Create a daily/weeky routine that guarantee you hit your goals
I already showed you my yearly goal at the start of this post (924,000 words, 6 books, etc.), and my daily/weekly routine. We need only look at my monthly milestones now.
My 2023 Writing Milestones
Jan: Finish second and third draft of Pacifist, Book 1
Feb: 60% with first draft for the final book in my Human Gods series
Mar: Finish first and maybe second draft of Human Gods, Book 4
Apr: Finish final draft of Human Gods, Book 2
May: Publish HG, Book 2. Start final draft of HG, Book 3
Jun: Finish HG, Book 3
Jul: Publish HG, Book 3. Start final draft of HG, Book 4
Aug: Finish HG, Book 4
Sep: Publish HG, Book 4
After this quarter, the milestones become a little less clear, given that I don’t know yet how successful Pacifist will be, and I’m not sure if I’ll put more effort into it as a series, or work on another idea.
Oct: Final edits and publish Pacifist Book 1 (?)
Nov: Start Pacifist Book 2 or start new series (?)
Dec: Depends on Oct. results
My monthly milestones are mostly focused on finishing a huge series I started back in 2021. The words are already written, but I need to carve the marble from the stone. I’m hoping to publish books 2, 3, and 4 of this quartet only 2 months apart to get a feel for faster releases. We’ll see how it actually pans out.
Speaking of which…
What if I Fail?
The sky doesn’t fall. The horn of doom does not blow. No skeleton jumps out of the closet screaming “Aha! You failed!” while threatening you with a 17th century blunderbuss.
Nothing happens when you fail. You just fail. That’s it.
For most of us, the stakes of failure aren’t very tangible or painful. Life goes on, the status quo remains. Without stakes, without any real feedback system, most people forget about their goals within the first month of the year. And I don’t think you should try to create punishing stakes. That’s a great way to build a toxic relationship with the craft you love.
Instead of whipping myself like some neo-medieval flagellant, I find it more useful to accept that I’m going to fail, and make an intention to learn from those failures. At the end of each week, I try to write in my journal and discuss with myself what lead to my failures or setbacks.
- Did I get sick? Was I sleeping enough and eating well?
- Did I get stuck on writing one idea? Was it really so important?
- Was there a certain source of distraction or procrastination that kept me from spending my time in deep concentration?
Journaling provides structure. It sets a specific frame for identifying mistakes, creating concrete plans, and allows me to forgive myself for that which I cannot change.
Best of all, journaling allows me to celebrate my effort and successes on a regular basis. Seems such a small thing, but I can’t tell you how impactful this tiny revelry can be to your goals and—if you make a habit of it—your entire year.
Nothing is perfect. I’m sure I’ll fail at least one goal this year. But my home isn’t cursed and there aren’t any trigger-happy golden-age pirates lurking in my attic, so I think I’ll live. This year, I care about putting in the effort, and soaking in the lessons I learn while honing my craft. Might as well enjoy every minute of it.
What are your writing and publishing goals for 2023?
- What are the big milestones you want to accomplish this year?
- What kind of writing habit will you cultivate this year?
Tell me in the comments below. Commitment is the first step (even if you’re committing 9 months deep into the year).
– P. S. Hoffman