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Saturday, December 19, 2015

December, Learning, Heinlein’s Rules and the Story-A-Week Challenge



December has been a busy month. I’ve applied the lessons learned in my Back-on-Track Challenge pass-fail. Pass, because I’m back on track; fail because I learned I was being unrealistic in what I thought I could achieve, and realised I had to change what getting back on track meant. Pass, because I can actually achieve what I’ve set as publishing goals for next year. And, yes, it bothers me that I didn’t succeed in the goal as set, but I’ll get over it—too much else to get done to wallow in it.
And speaking of December, and making changes, and setting goals for next year, it’s important to try and plan ahead. I’ve cut my study load by one subject, since I can’t finish my degree any faster by doing the extra one, and I could better use the time elsewhere. I also rejigged my publishing schedule so I am taking into account the fact I am a full-time student and I need to improve my grades by about 10 per cent, in order to keep a future option open. I also had to factor in the fact that I have a small child, who needs a little extra time in the early school years—and  acknowledge that the publishing side of things takes time, and I’d been focussing on writing and neglecting that side of things. Finally, I realised I had to start working on my health; if you don’t have that, you can’t do anything well.
Anyway, the new publishing schedule started out with the idea that a bi-monthly release schedule for 2016, followed by a monthly release schedule for 2017, was reasonable, coupled to the idea that I should be planning releases twelve months ahead. All this meant the work loading changed. The pressures on writing and publishing decreased as what I was aiming for became possible. They’re a challenge to get on line, and I only have until mid-January before the study kicks in again, but, with a little effort it can be done.
Now, is definitely a good time to be setting up what you want to achieve next year. And I was pretty pleased to see Dean Wesley Smith post about it last Friday, since it confirmed that I was probably on the right track. So much of this business is trying to work out what works for you, that it’s always nice to find a common factor that seems to work for others, too.
Why am I stalking Dean, you ask? Because I’m not stalking him; I’m following some advice about writers needing to learn, and he and Kristine Kathryn Rusch have been making a living from their writing for a very long time—and they’re generous enough to share their experiences. They’re also not the only people I stalk follow. Kids learn from adults. Aspiring chefs learn from chefs. Singers learn from singers. Writers learn from other writers and the world around them. Always learn, apply what you learn, admit your mistakes, don’t be afraid to fail, learn some more—and write, always write.
As part of my learning process, I’m following Dean’s December series on Heinlein’s Rules. Heinlein’s First Rule ("you must write") helped push me in a direction I’d been toying with, and the Story-A-Week and Holiday Extension challenges were born. I look at my publishing schedule and I fear I won’t make the goal, but I’m going to try anyway, because fear needs to be faced, and, in this case, proven wrong.
Heinlein’s Second Rule is “you must finish what you write”, and Dean blogged about that last Wednesday. It’s something I’m going to build that into my Story-A-Week challenge. I’ll start this challenge by finishing the short stories I’ve started. There are a few from my Story Match challenge that need completion, and I’ve been wanting to get back to Seppelitus for the last three months, so that’s a good place to start, and helps me move towards another goal.
Building your writing habits and learning doesn’t have to take away from your time spent writing. By that, I mean, it doesn’t have to be an additional chore. Everything you do, can help move you forward, and it should—or you’ll just be taking on stress when you don’t need to, and a stressed-out writer doesn’t write as well as they might.

Happy Writing, Folks.

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