October marks the start of my favorite time of year: when we hop from one holiday to the next. It kicks off with Halloween and continues straight through New Year's Day. There's decorating. Shopping. Family time. And a crazy work schedule.
Fall and the beginning of winter are probably my most hectic time of the year as a freelance writer-blogger-publisher, largely because I have so much else going on. It's also the time of year when I take a few weeks of vacation time, leaving me less time to focus on projects. So I have to make the most of what time I do have.
Last fall was productive. I wrote the bulk of my first mystery novel during November for NaNoWriMo (which I'll participate in again this year). I merged three sites, including All Freelance Writing, to create the site you're visiting now. And I made some big changes to my freelance business in an effort to spend even more time on the Web publishing and indie publishing sides of my business. I can only hope these three months are as productive as last year.
That said, things have not gone as well as I hoped over the last quarter. That's not to say I slacked off. But priorities changed, as they often do, as new projects came up. In my 2014 mid-year evaluation, I mentioned some writing goals and progress updates. Here is a summary of some of the things I still wanted or needed to do after my mid-year check-in, and where things currently stand.
Here were my freelance writing goals and their corresponding progress:
Cut back on my number of freelance clients by at least 50% by the end of 2014.
Limit days for client availability to three days per week by the end of March, and to two days per week by the end of the year.
Three days? Check. Two days? Not yet, but there's still time. I still occasionally take calls on non-client days if there's no other option, but it's rare. And I'll still work one of those days every now and then, but only if it's a result of my own mistake where I need the extra day to meet an agreed-upon deadline. Most of the time I simply account for it when negotiating project deadlines.
Start posting to my service site's blog at least once per month.
I'm not there yet. Posts have gone up every other month, which won't cut it. I'll post there this week, and hopefully I'll find time to draft and schedule a November and December post this month so I can get into this habit by year's end.
Blogs & Websites
Now let's look at my goals and my progress so far when it comes to the web publishing side of my business.
Release 3 e-courses here at All Freelance Writing.
I've been slow to put together the supplementary material. It might still happen. But one or two by year's end is more likely.
Set up a new theme on my genealogy blog.
Rather than choosing a new theme, I spent some time further customizing the blog's existing theme, and I was able to resolve the design issues that made me want to switch it out. So I'd consider this one reached.
Post to the genealogy blog at least twice per month.
Total fail. I've posted, but not nearly enough. Again, I might try to write the rest of the year's posts in October before I get caught up in NaNoWriMo and then the bigger holiday preparations. That's the only way I'll reach this goal this year.
Finally, here's how things have progressed on the publishing side of the business so far this year.
Revise my first mystery novel.
There is still a lot of work to do here. I noted in my mid-year evaluation that I might not finish this by the end of the year because it took a bit longer than expected to complete the first draft. I've also been working on a near-complete overhaul. There are big problems and they're simply going to take time to fix. This is a passion project, so it's not something I'm going to half-ass just to meet my original deadline.
Draft up to and including the ninth manuscript in my first picture book series.
I fell behind on this. But I've decided to work some of the planned picture book manuscripts into this month's writing challenge (combining them with flash fiction because of the similar word counts). So it's unlikely I'll miss this goal.
Start two other picture book series. Draft at least four books in each series by the end of December.
The planning is taken care of. I do need to make time to work on first drafts. These move very quickly (the real work for me comes with the revisions). Again, I'm working picture books into this month's writing challenge, so I expect to make good progress.
Finish the second draft of The Query-Free Freelancer.
Not there yet, but as I mentioned in my mid-year check-in, I expect to hit this goal by the end of the year. At that point I'll send it to a couple of alpha readers before the next big revision (which I expect to be much quicker than this one). Then betas, more clean-up, and off to an editor next year.
Release five Query-Free Freelancer e-books and three Busy Author's Guide e-books here by the end of the year.
This is not going to happen. Releasing three more combined is possible, making it four total for the year. But it's less of a priority than some of the other projects right now.
Draft the copy for the first game tied to my mystery novel series.
Not there yet. I might hit this by the end of the year, but because it's dependent on the novel itself, it might get bumped to 2015. Because of the big changes to the novel, it might simply take me longer to get to this.
Draft my first horror novel by the end of the year.
The draft is scheduled as this year's NaNoWriMo project. So I'll at least hit 50k words. No doubts there. Will I finish the draft? I hope so. I'm hoping to cover well over 50k words in November. I already have a rough outline of this, but I'm taking some time in October to try the Snowflake Method (which we'll talk about here in an upcoming post soon). I'm hoping having a more thorough outline will make it easier for me to push through the first draft next month.
Draft up to and including my 13th horror short story for a collection I'm working on.
It just didn't happen yet. I'll get through some more drafts over the next few months (I might even make December a short story challenge month for me). But I don't know if I'll hit a total of 13 or not.
Anything else previously planned for this year was already on my "probably-to-definitely being pushed to 2015" list.
Like last fall, I did make some unintended progress on top of my planned work. Here are some of the other things I worked on.
- I took on a website development project for The Horror Writer's Association. We launched the site on October 1st for our new Horror Selfies campaign. And so far it's going very well. I was happy to be a part of the project.
- I redesigned All Freelance Writing. Wait. What? Yeah. You can't see it yet. The official design change will go live when the e-courses and podcast series launch (or shortly after). I still need to overhaul a few things content-wise to accommodate the changes. While the design will be different, it's built on the same theme with the same basic structure. So you won't have to go digging around for most things. It was designed to have a new look but a familiar interface for you.
- Quite a few things have been going on on the back-end of All Freelance Writing, from speed optimizations to the improvement of older content. There's still a lot to do, but I'm delighted with the progress so far.
- I landed several new clients that I enjoyed working with (always a nice addition).
Putting that all together, here are the projects I'll be working on through year's end (in addition to client work that comes in, normal blog posts, and typical admin and marketing work):
- Make one more official adjustment to my client schedule, cutting freelance work down to two days -- I'll likely post the updates before my vacation time in December and they'll go into effect on January 1st.
- Write three blog posts for ProBusinessWriter.com. My goal is to write them all in October and schedule the later two in advance.
- Write six blog posts for my genealogy blog. Again, I hope to get through most, if not all, of them in October so I can pre-schedule them.
- Finish at least the first e-course for All Freelance Writing (editing and some supplementary material -- based on a free e-book I already have here). That course will be free. If I can squeeze it in, I might also release the first premium e-course, but I'm not counting on it.
- Continue working on the first mystery novel revisions. I don't know if I'll complete this draft by year's end. I just want to make some significant progress.
- If I do finish the next draft of the mystery novel, take care of the script for the first tie-in game.
- Continue with my picture book drafts (next year will be a heavy revision year for those, along with deciding on an illustration / final publishing plan). To make this easier, I'm tying picture books in with my flash fiction challenge in October.
- Work on revisions of The Query-Free Freelancer. I'd like to finish this draft by the end of December if at all possible.
- Publish three new e-books here at All Freelance Writing.
- Draft my first horror novel (rough draft) during NaNoWriMo this November.
- Draft up to my 13th horror short story for a collection -- I'm going to work through as many of these as I can, likely making December's challenge focus on short stories (though I will probably only work through the 18th, so that will be a shorter challenge than usual).
I don't have many new goals to add to the list this time around. There's plenty to do as it is. But there are a few new things:
- I'm going to launch my All Freelance Writing podcast series.
- I'm going to implement a design change here at All Freelance Writing (when the first e-course and podcast are ready to go).
- I'm going to outline another novel I have planned, so that I'll be ready to move forward with the first draft early next year.
What about you? Did you make good progress during the last quarter? Have you made any big adjustments to your writing goals for the year?