The other day I was looking back over the past year to try to quantify whether it had been a good year, writing-wise. Usually at the start of each year, I make a laundry list of goals, but in 2019, I’d skipped that, instead focusing more on process. I made a conscious effort to finish and submit stories I’d had languishing on my desk for years, and spent the rest of my writing time trying to scrape together a third draft of the novel WIP.
But as I looked back over the year, I thought it might be good to have some kind of objective metrics by which to judge the year’s accomplishments (or, I figured, the lack thereof). Several items immediately popped out to me as worth tracking: 1) Total Number of Submission Attempts (the # of times I had anything out to markets); 2) New Submissions (# of stories submitted for the first time ever); 3) Number of Personal Rejections (rejection is inevitable, but personal rejections could indicate I’m hitting closer to the mark at some markets); 4) New Rough Drafts (# of new short stories written to a complete rough draft); 5) Total Word Count (how much I wrote in kept new words (vs. scrapped words); 6) Stories Sold (control of which is out of my hands, but it’d be nice to track year-to-year); and 7) Number of Books Read (as it’s always a goal to read as much as possible). I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to track these things before, but went at it for 2019.
Turns out, 2019 has been the HANDS-DOWN most productive writing year I’ve ever had, better even than the year I’d considered my most successful to-date, despite not working much this summer, and being uncomfortably pregnant for much of the fall/early winter season, and battling a (thankfully short-lived) bout of first-trimester depression. The metrics don’t lie:
Submission Attempts: 39 (3x more than my previous best year)
New Submissions: 3
# of Personal Rejections: 8
New Rough Drafts: 3
Total Word Count: 114,000 (~365/day average)
Stories Sold: 1
# of Books Read: 42
It blows my mind, given that I’d been feeling especially unproductive this year, that I managed to up my game so much with just a few small tweaks to how I approach writing. And there’s SO MUCH ROOM for improvement! I mean, these numbers aren’t what I’d like them to be yet, they’re not at the level I’d consider a “professional” author to reach, but I can see easily how I could bump some of these numbers. I still have that novel draft to finish. I’d still like to submit more short stories. I’d like to read more. Figuring out how to best get novel drafts written to completion is a huge learning process. But at least with these metrics I know what I’m shooting for!
So in 2020, which is going to be a year chock-full of disruptions (like little Goldbug who was born just two weeks ago!), I have just one goal: Do just a little bit better than 2019. Even just a bit will yield great progress moving forward.