It's been a fantastic, productive summer for me, the kind of prolonged period of progress in my work and my habits that makes me feel like I've leveled up. I have my first paid story coming out in Mad Scientist Journal's anthology "Selfies from the End of the World" this September. I'm working on selling others. I've started and maintained a website that provides and will continue to provide dynamic content for the people who follow me. I'm 55,000 words into a new manuscript that I only started writing at the end of June. I can foresee a point in the next year and a half when I am trying to sell two novels simultaneously. My bank account is not thriving by a long shot, but I am happier with my professional life than I have been in several years.
Now, the trick is maintaining this new rigor, and this new progress, and part of that, rather unintuitively, is going to be finding sensible ways to scale it back. In addition to writing, I teach college composition. The new semester starts on Monday, and I have a long history of sort of losing touch with my life while the semester is in. I have never maintained a fiction writing schedule during the semester, so this is a test.
In the past, teaching has always meant dropping other important commitments entirely, like writing or talking to people. But so much of what has improved the quality of my mental health this summer has been my new-found ability to perform and maintain those commitments. So that's where scaling back comes in. Teaching will take up most of my time -- there's no way around that. The writing schedules I've maintained the last three months are not sustainable with the additional workload, so here's a statement of the changes to my commitments, which will keep me on track and accountable.
I've been in the habit of writing a minimum of 1,000 words per day in my novel a minimum of four days per week, with additional days and words going into other manuscripts kind of willy-nilly, however they happen. That's an intentionally modest set of minimums, and most of the time I've been able to exceed them by around 50% or so. But allowing the modest minimum enables the extra production by reducing the stress associated with meeting them.
So the new writing minimums will be two days minimum of at least 1,500 words each, and anything extra I can manage beyond. I think this is sustainable, and will keep me knocking out 10,000 word chunks about every two weeks.
I've also been updating my blog three times a week. This has been fun but... difficult. That's a lot of days to have something new to say about things, and some days I do better than others. It also conflicts directly with my teaching schedule for the next several months. That in mind, I'll be changing the blog to update twice a week for the foreseeable future, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
So that's what I have to stay accountable to: at least 3,000 new words and two blog posts a week for the rest of the year. Easy. Let's do it.