So, here's what I set out to achieve in 2015 in terms of my writing aims.
I've copied the original aims below and put what actually happened in italics underneath each section.
I’m aiming to write (first drafts of) five novels this year which at about 65,000 each should be 300,000. I did my second Nanowrimo in 2014 and the end of the month deadline worked well for me, so I’m harnessing the competitive, deadline-driven part of me and I’ll draft a novel roughly every other month, by the end of the chosen month. The alternate months will be for editing (see below) and promotion of published books. I will continue to blog, as and when the need or the thought arises. It’s tempting since I wrote approx 476,000 words in 2014 to set myself a higher target for 2015, however I’m back at college, studying in 2015 so I physically won’t have as much time for writing, so I’m sticking with 300,000 target. Although I have effectively gained ½ - ¾ of a day a week as I’m no longer looking after Great Auntie, the college time will more than make up for that. If I fail, I won’t be too hard on myself as I exceeded my 2014 target so I’ve got a sort of buffer of words averaged over the two years.
Update: As of the end of 2015, I have written just under 280,000 fiction words, 38,000 other words (3 RNA New Writers Scheme reports) marketing consultancy work, beta reading for friends, some free-writing when my friend Nick passed away and an essay for my MA in creative writing. I've written 72,000 words of blogs for here and also promo blogs for my books.
In 2015, I didn't manage 6 novels, but I wrote 3 novels (Love U More, The Other Man, I Should Be So Lucky – my third Nanowrimo novel) and 3 novellas ranging from 15,000 words to 30,000 words (The Next Christmas, Serendipity Develops, Heat Wave Astoria). This slightly lower output is due to me being at college studying an HR qualification from January – August and then September to December starting a MA in creative writing through distance learning. I therefore don't think this was bad productivity this year.
In 2015 I also had 6 titles published (which means rounds of edits and promotion for each): Escaping From Him, Wrong Room Right Guy, Best Friends Perfect Book Three, The Guardian Angel, Heat Wave Astoria, The Next Christmas.
Grand total of 392,000 words across all categories, with 280,000 being fiction words, which considering all the other stuff I did in 2015, I'm pleased about.
As I wrote wrote wrote in 2014 I now have a bit of a backlog of self editing to complete: Kev 1,2,3 and Glitzy Gay Saga.
So my plan this year is to do a bit more editing as I go along, rather than leaving it too long. I like to leave time between first draft and self edit, but I’ll try for 1-2 months after, so I shouldn’t have a backlog again.
Update: I have self-edited Kev 1,2,3 and Glitzy Gay Saga, but haven't yet self edited the 3 other stories I wrote in 2015. I didn't have time to do this, while I was working on edits and promotion for contracted books in 2015.
Contribute to running Waltham Abbey Writers, with Jean Fullerton and Victoria Robertson.
Continue to attend the RNA London and SE chapter meetings when I can. I find these really valuable for networking and learning from other authors.
Update: I've gone to almost every monthly Waltham Abbey Writers meeting and at least half the RNA London and SE chapter meetings. I've also organised a write in for WAW in January 2016.
I will attend and help to plan the UK Meet 2015 in Bristol, doing my best to social media and market it all over the place.
I’ll attend the RNA Conference in London.
I’ll attend the Purbeck Literary Festival with Charlie Cochrane and Clare London.
I’ll attend a New Forest writing retreat in February to focus on some elements of these goals.
Update: This all happened, except Purbeck Literary Festival where our item was cancelled.
I enjoy social media. As someone once said to me, ‘social media, is you, online’ which is marvellous. What I struggle with is balancing how much time it takes, with all the other demands I have on my time. I’ve met some wonderful people through social media, and it’s a great way to connect with other authors and readers. I’m currently on facebook and twitter as Liam Livings, and am debating whether to join any other platforms. Hootesuite is great at managing things in one place, but for the moment I think I’ll leave it with those two, and my blog. There’s instagram, Pinterest, google plus, linkedin, goodreads, I could go on...but I won’t. I’ve had mixed messages about Goodreads, that it’s for readers and not authors, that I must have a profile there, that I shouldn’t, and honestly who knows. Sometimes I find all the different social media platforms a bit over-whelming, so I’d prefer to stick with the two I currently use, along with my blog, and use them well, but in a managed way, so it doesn’t take up too much time from real life/writing.
I will continue with my current social media engagement, blogging as and when required, and look into setting up an Amazon author page, and Goodreads account, and I’ll take it from there.
Update: Done this, look at my shiny Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk author pages! I have a Goodreads account but don't really log in as I think it's more a space for readers than authors. I'm sticking with Facebook, Twitter and blogging as the main places I hang out online. I'd rather do 2-3 things well than spreading myself too thinly over 5-6 platforms.
I will continue to be a reader for the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme. I think this is a fabulous member benefit and I’m glad to be able to help with it.
I’ll sort out branding/strapline/logo for Liam Livings. I didn’t want to do this straight away, until I had a few published books under my belt, but 2015 feels like the right time to look at it. As a marketing professional I know the temptation to over-think this, it’s been on my to think about list for a while, so now it’s on the to do list.
Linked to this, I will explore options of other marketing support/ services I could provide to authors/publishers.
Update: I read 3 manuscripts for the RNA's New Writers Scheme, I've asked someone to design a logo for me and have basically got a strapline which I had on my business cards: 'British humour with plenty of sparkle.' I did some marketing consultancy work for a publisher and would like to do more work in this area.
I'm going to set some writing goals for 2016 shortly. How do you set your writing goals for each year? Or do you go with the flow? I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx