Milestones

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zircher
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Milestones

Postby zircher » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:20 pm

While I don't call myself an author, I do tend to dabble with a lot of writing projects. Today I threw Tephra Falls into MS Word and was surprised to see that the word count was over 52K. By NaNoWriMo standards, that counts as a novel (and I think there's a lot more of the story to do.) Sure, it might have taken me two years to get there, but I actually hit a meaningful milestone for me.

That got me to thinking about milestones and metrics and I wondered what you all here use if any for your writing projects? Is it motivational or daunting? Also, have any of you started on your New Year resolutions? You did make a resolution for writing something, didn't you? :-D

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Leoff
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Re: Milestones

Postby Leoff » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:49 pm

For me milestones are motivational, though I don't get many of them. Maybe I don't define milestones usefully; finishing writing something is an accomplishment, but it doesn't feel like a milestone until it's out there being appreciated.
Yes, I did resolve to write constantly, and I have been writing, though sometimes I erase more in a day than I write. Still working on Murder by Horse, started on Ranch Planet Twenty Nine, and several other plots hanging about in the wings.

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Re: Milestones

Postby The Blue Bandit » Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:34 am

I'd have to say I tend to think of it in the way Leoff described. Getting a piece done feels like an accomplishment, but the moment that feels like a milestone is when it's out there.

The wife and I decided last year that we were going to finally get our mutual writing career going, spurred on by having our story in Sojourn 2. We wrote our first novel (in several years, anyway; we have two other first drafts under our belts that we never got back to working on) last fall, and after three or four full passes, we finally have it submitted to an editor. We preemptively commissioned a cover, which turned out pretty awesome, and are hoping for a March release. That's the milestone for us. Once we can see that product out there, once it can be shared with friends and family and perfect strangers.

And though we dragged our feet somewhat over the months since finishing our first, using editing and whatever as an excuse, we started a second book with the new year. I'm using a simple spreadsheet to track our word count, which is ultimately meaningless (the story's going to be as long as it needs to), but it is a great motivator. We hit 44.5k words last night, and by our reckoning we're only about 1/3 of the way through.

Our goal, and what would be our second major milestone of the year, is going to be getting this second book out before year's end. We're trying to do this all to the same quality that professionally published pieces are held, meaning we are putting a good chunk of money into cover art and editing, we've tried to research the way the market in our genre works, good practices for self publishers, all kinds of fun stuff. We look at it as an investment into our future.

I probably got off topic a little, but that sums it up. Word count, in our experience, is a wonderful motivational tool, and finishing a piece feels great, but (for us), that end goal of a book that we can point a person to is the real milestone.
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zircher
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Re: Milestones

Postby zircher » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:31 am

Thanks for sharing, interesting stuff.

I find it intriguing that my definition of a milestone seems to be different. You all look at the milestone as a goal; "I've walked a mile in those shoes." On the other hand, I tend to look at a milestone as a fraction of the journey; "Miles to go before I sleep." I wonder if that's just a reflection on the pace that I have set for myself.

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Re: Milestones

Postby JediSoth » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:53 am

zircher wrote:While I don't call myself an author, I do tend to dabble with a lot of writing projects. Today I threw Tephra Falls into MS Word and was surprised to see that the word count was over 52K. By NaNoWriMo standards, that counts as a novel (and I think there's a lot more of the story to do.) Sure, it might have taken me two years to get there, but I actually hit a meaningful milestone for me.

That got me to thinking about milestones and metrics and I wondered what you all here use if any for your writing projects? Is it motivational or daunting? Also, have any of you started on your New Year resolutions? You did make a resolution for writing something, didn't you? :-D


I'll go backward. I didn't resolve to write anything, because that's pretty much already part of my regular routine. I resolved to TRY To be more positive in general and make a few other tweaks to personal issues.

I do set goals, which I suppose you could call milestones. Just after Thanksgiving, I finished the first draft of the third novel in my Scars of the Sundering series. The first novel came out at Gen Con last year, and I'm working with one of my editors on the revisions of the second novel. But, I had a short story opportunity with a very tight deadline come up, so I set a goal of getting that done in December. I pretty much did, but editing delays pushed the actual completion into January. I still got it out about a week before the deadline, so I'm pleased about that.

Now it's back to editing/revisions. I hope to be able to send the completed manuscript to a paid copy editor/proofreader by the end of March so I can debut the novel at ConQuesT in Kansas City over Memorial Day. I would REALLY like to have book 3 ready for Gen Con, but it might be too tight and I may have to settle for releasing only one book this con season.

When I start a new project, I usually set a goal of when I want to have the first draft finished (30-60 days). When I'm between projects, I let the goals get a little more squishy (especially if the work is out of my hands). Frankly, I need the time to recharge.
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Leoff
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Re: Milestones

Postby Leoff » Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:43 am

zircher wrote:Thanks for sharing, interesting stuff.

I find it intriguing that my definition of a milestone seems to be different. You all look at the milestone as a goal; "I've walked a mile in those shoes." On the other hand, I tend to look at a milestone as a fraction of the journey; "Miles to go before I sleep." I wonder if that's just a reflection on the pace that I have set for myself.


There are milestones and there are achievements. Finishing even a turning-point paragraph is a milestone in some ways. But I always feel that a piece of writing is only half-finished until it is available and being enjoyed. I tossed off a sonnet in an afternoon and it was immediately enjoyed, and that felt more like an accomplishment than the play which I sweated over for years and am very proud of but which has not yet been performed on stage. Writing is about communication, and if it doesn't connect with anybody outside the author's head there's the feeling that it must not be finished in some way -- like a very well-built road that doesn't get anyone anywhere.

That's one of the things I enjoy about Writer's Guild meetings and exchanges: someone has read the thing I wrote. Every piece of writing shared and looked at is a milestone. Every comment, however small, is a connection and an inspiration, and makes me want to get to the next milestone, like polishing and re-writing and (dare we think it) publishing.

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Re: Milestones

Postby The Blue Bandit » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:34 am

zircher wrote:Thanks for sharing, interesting stuff.

I find it intriguing that my definition of a milestone seems to be different. You all look at the milestone as a goal; "I've walked a mile in those shoes." On the other hand, I tend to look at a milestone as a fraction of the journey; "Miles to go before I sleep." I wonder if that's just a reflection on the pace that I have set for myself.


I'm going to try very poorly to relate the point of view I've already expressed to what you said through an analogy, because the more I think about, the more it seems we're not seeing things too differently. I think maybe the main difference is that, for me, writing is the goal and journey both. After procrastinating too long, this is our big push - we're dedicating ourselves to making a legitimate career out of this, to putting in the years of work, to dealing with the day job for another year or two or five so that one day, writing will pay our bills. That said...

I will now attempt to liken writing to a road trip in regard to milestones.

We recently drove cross country from Idaho back to my native New York. I've flown over all that country a few times, but never made the trip by land. Every day we drove, we were entering foreign territory that none of us had ever seen before. Every morning, I'd look at the map, let the GPS do some calculations, and say "This [insert random city] seems a good place to stop. Let's push for that." It became a smaller goal, and on the way to that goal we hit smaller milestones. Every border crossing between states was a milestone - "Hurry, take a picture of the sign before we blast past it!" - largely because it was a place we'd never been, something we could add to our list. Each was a smaller goal within the much larger one of crossing the country.

Writing is much the same in the way we're approaching it now. The ultimate goal is to write full-time. Every book we complete on the way is a little milestone, a little goal accomplished (though a novel-length piece is by no means a small feat to have accomplished). There are goals in the middle - not unlike the cities that I would pick as a place to try to reach before we found a hotel and turned in - that are more like "let's push to release two books this year, minimum" or "let's see if we can generate enough off of this release to fund the next". It all stacks up nicely towards our end game.

So, I suppose my point - I'm very good at talking my way roundabout to those, you've probably noticed - is that milestones for me tend to be both "I've walked a mile in these shoes" and "miles to go before I sleep."
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Contributing author to Sojourn: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction Volume 1 and Volume 2

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zircher
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Re: Milestones

Postby zircher » Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:15 am

Monthly update time: :-)

Wrote two short tales for A Fool's Journey, wrote up a scene for Tephra Falls.


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