Kelly Maher


Career planning as a writer

First, the first first draft of Project Ulna is done! Yay!! I finished on Friday with a final word count of 90,488.

Back in late-March/early-April, I worked out a rudimentary career plan for myself. If we take April 1st as a start date, my six month plan was to write and revise Project Ulna. That was it. I didn’t actually start Project Ulna until June 1st, two months later. This was due to the fact I had the WRW Retreat in April and alter ego attended RT and Book Expo America in May. There was also a lot of stuff happening at the day job. Obviously, I’ve finished the first draft in time for the original due date of October 1st. I don’t think I’ll finish the revision, however. In last Thursday’s post, I went into this a little bit.

The other near-term career goal I set for myself was to write 100,000 words of material in one year. I didn’t qualify it as “publishable” as my intention was only to produce and get into the habit of producing. For production goals of over one year out, I did add the publishable qualifier. Of the new material I’ve produced since the first of this year, and really, since the first of March as I’d started the file for Short Story B on March 10th, I’ve produced 101,195 words. 2,270 of those words are for two stories which are not yet complete. I expect to add another 90-120,000 words to that count by the end of this year with the novellas. I have greatly exceeded my expectations for myself in terms of production.

I do have plans for projects to work on through about June of next year. At this point, other than the novellas and revising Project Ulna, I don’t want to pin down absolutely any particular project. At the same time, I do want to start planning on how many stories I’d like to produce next year. I plan on submitting the novellas starting in December or so, with the hope of finishing the fourth by the end of December. While those are out on submission, I’m going to commit at least January, and probably part if not all of February, to revising and rewriting Project Ulna. I want it ready for submission by March 1st–even if I decide to stick it in a drawer due to the market at that point.

The most frustrating thing about career planning as a writer–especially if you choose the traditional publishing path for even part of your work as I have–is the uncontrollable factors. The most I can do is produce a story I’m passionate about, and make it an entertaining and well-told story. How others respond to it, be they agents, editors, or readers, is completely out of my hands. If I were to go the self-publishing route, certain factors would be back within my control, but I still cannot control reader response, and therefore sales. This is a very risky business, but if lighting strikes, you can do very well. Part of that means getting yourself into a position for lightning to strike. Which goes back to producing entertaining and well-told stories 😀

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