WRAP UP SEASON 2016: My thirteenth year of writing fiction

I generally tend to date the beginning of my fiction-writing career to December 20th, 2003, when I finished my first-ever short story. Since that first year of writing, I’ve kept fairly detailed records of how much I’ve written and on what days. Over time, I added other indicators, like how much time I spent writing, how much time I spent reading, etc, etc. And I usually publish those stats on my blog on this day. However the big news this year is that after more than twelve years, I’ve abandoned my record-keeping system.

To be honest, I simply got tired of it. The setting and keeping of goals was a huge hassle. It drained the fun out of life. And I also couldn’t see that it was really serving my main goal, which is to write great stories. On the contrary, I’d been following this scheme for years, and I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, and writing nothing that was any good. So I stopped. I also felt like it’d done all the good it was going to do me. After almost four years of writing every single day, the habit of writing was either inculcated in me or it wasn’t.

I deleted most of the columns from my spreadsheet, and now the only things I keep track of are whether I actually wrote anything at all (even one word) on that day. That’s only to keep myself in the habit of thinking of myself as a writer.

And I don’t think I’ve been unsuccessful. In the time since I stopped, I’ve written and revised a novel that I’m quite excited about. I’ve also written a few short stories, including one which just sold to F&SF. That’s not bad.

So in lieu of my normal detailed roundup, all I can offer are generalities. I wrote…a bunch. Probably less than I have in years. But I produced a novel! A good novel! And that’s more than I managed to do last year. I think the lesson here, if any, is just that people change. For years my spreadsheet was my one constant in life. I checked it like every day. Now I go quite awhile without looking at it (there’re still some daily things I track, but I can fill them in a few days at a time); it has left me unmoored, but also freer. Now I can take long walks if I want. I can lounge around. I can neglect my blog. It’s nice. Whether this state of affairs will last is, well, I’ve no idea.

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