Plan of Attack

I like to set myself ambitious goals. When I began writing fiction in the summer of 2010 I had a straightforward yet difficult first target: to sell a story that year. Many freshman writers struggle for years before they accomplish that first sale, but I’m not patient enough to wait that long. Luckily I didn’t have to. I managed to get not one, but two stories published in 2010. Both sold to relatively modest markets, but nothing to be embarrassed by.

I wrote about my 2011 goals over here. I joined Write1Sub1, committing to write one short story every week in 2011. The goal was 10 story sales.  To date, I’ve had a total of 17 short story sales this year, including three to professional markets and a sole reprint to the NJ Board of Education. And the year isn’t even over yet.  I also joined SFWA, which was originally one of my goals for 2012.

So what is it I want to accomplish next year? Here’s a list:

Write longer stuff. I will probably write less stories next year, but they will hopefully be better, longer stories. Flash fiction has become my comfort zone, so I will push myself to write longer fiction until I feel as comfortable in the 3-5K word range as I do in under 1000.

To accomplish this, I will spend more time outlining and plotting each story before sitting down to write it. This is contrary to what I’ve done to date, which is to write mostly by the seat of my pants. I will also continue to participate in Write1Sub1, but at the rate of one story per month instead of one per week.

Be consistent. I will try to write at least 500 new words every day. That’s all-new content – editing previously written manuscripts doesn’t count. My biggest problem this year has been falling off the writing wagon for a few days or even a few weeks at a time. Training myself to write a little daily is a good start to accomplishing all of the other goals.

Upgrade SFWA membership  – I’m currently an associate member. Full membership requires 3+ pro sales totaling $250+. I’m at 2 qualifying sales and around $150 – so a single short story sale or a couple of flash sales to pro markets will put me over the top.

Socialize. I have never attended a science fiction convention, nor met many of my fellow writers in person. Next year I will strive to fix that. We are planning a special launch event for an anthology I’m in (more details on that in January) so I will get to meet folks there, but I also hope to attend at least one major SF con in 2012.

Blog. Now that I have this spiffy WordPress blog, I am resolved to update it regularly. The goal is at least once a week, but possibly even more often if I have something interesting to talk about.

Novel! The above goals aren’t particularly ambitious. But this one is, for me. I’m completely lost and intimidated when it comes to undertaking a novel. As I continue to work on short fiction, I will research, outline and begin writing a novel. I don’t necessarily expect to finish it in 2012. In fact, I probably won’t start on it till later in the year. Until then I will continue to work on improving my writing, read books and articles on the craft, and maybe even attend a workshop.

This post is part of a W1S1 blog chain where a number of Absolute Write regulars talk about their writing goals for 2012 and how they plan to accomplish them.  Samuel Mae started the chain on his blog this morning. Next up is A. G. Carpenter.  Please check out their blogs, and those of all the other excellent people who hang out at the Absolute Write W1S1 sub-forum.


6 Responses to Plan of Attack

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Heard of Nanowrimo? It might facilitate your novel writing. I’m SO impressed by your short story sales! I focus so much on the longer stuff that my short fiction has been pretty pitiful lately. Maybe I should refocus? Welcome to wordpress, btw!

  2. Alex Shvartsman says:

    Thanks, Kaitlin!

    I’m familiar with NaNoWriMo but wasn’t prepared to undertake the challenge this year. I write like a snail, so 50k/month is something I would only undertake with a huge amount of preparation and outlining. So maybe next year.

    If you do decide to dedicate some extra time to short fiction, check out the Write1Sub1 sub-forum on There’s an amazing group of very friendly people helping each other along with our writing goals. I learned tons from the fellow writers on there.

    Also, I checked out your site and the Athele world sounds really intriguing. Perhaps publishing some short stories set in the same universe might be a good way to introduce readers to both your setting and your writing style?

  3. Samuel Mae says:

    Those are some good goals, Alex.

    And I’m sure you’ll qualify to be a full member of the SFWA before 2012 is out.

    Write hard, dude! 🙂

  4. Great goals, Alex! As I’m sure you could guess, your “Be Consistent” one rings a special chord with me. In my own return to writing, that has been — hands down — the most powerful tool in my toolbox. Really committing to this means that you’re generating new words even on days when you really don’t feel like doing it. Those days can be hard, especially when you first sit down on them to do the writing. But I’ve had some pretty good words show up on some of those days. (In fairness, I’ve had some pretty awful words show up on some of those days, too. But they were new words and as they say “You can’t edit a blank page.”)

    Good luck with all of your goals!

  5. C says:

    Looks great, Alex. You’re so close to upgrading SFWA I’m thinking Sam is right you’ll make it before the end of the year.

    I had something else to say but I got distracted by the 1up above and can’t think of anything but the Super Mario Theme… so thanks for that 🙂

  6. JenniferB says:

    Nice goals – and I love the updates on your progress, too. Your short story sales are fantastic, and congrats on your SFWA assoc membership. Seeing as you say you started writing in 2010, you seem to be on fire.

    I’m starting W1/S1 next year and I’m a little nervous, but seeing success stories like yours really inspires and encourages me. Hooray for 2012!

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