To a realistic and yet ambitious November

November is National Novel Writing Month, and traditionally folks use the month to challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word novel. But there’s more than one way to celebrate the month.

I launched into the challenge in November 2019 and sailed along for about a week before the train derailed. It was glorious for a while — composing 1,667 words a day was a snap. Before Nov. 1 I’d completed the first chapter of a novel, and over those first few days I added more than 11,000 words and five chapters. Next thing I knew, November was over and I had stopped writing the novel.

In the ensuing couple of years, I’ve learned a little more about how I write and why my brain does this to my stories. And for this November I have set somewhat more realistic goals and yet more ambitious goals than I have conjured in quite some time.

Not long ago I announced that I would release my now-long-awaited next novel, Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus, on Nov. 26. Just like clockwork, once I made the announcement I stopped writing the novel. Some days I think I should find a nice therapist and talk about this.

Anyway, with Nov. 1, 2021, coming up Monday, I’m getting those goals set in my mind.

My first more realistic and yet more ambitious goal is to finish the first draft by Nov. 26. That would be about 20,000 words worth of story.

My second goal for the month is to make a plan to finish the other two novels that I have started and set aside in recent years, completing them in the first few months of 2022.

My third goal for the month is to set some realistic and yet ambitious goals for my writing during the rest of 2022.

My wish, my desire, my ambitious goal is to complete not just those three novels but three more before my 70th birthday, now a mere 18 months away, and to keep writing at that pace for as many days as remain. Actually, my wish and desire is to write much more swiftly than that and to have fun making so many books that I laugh at the idea I thought it was realistic to write only six novels in a year and a half.

Friday, I sketched out a first draft of a book-release plan for 2022. The first, second and fourth novels are the currently unfinished symphonies.

March 13 – Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus
April – No Chance to Dream: A Comfort & Joy Mystery
May – Jeep Thompson and the Martian Alternative
July – The Girl, the Alien, and Me
September – Newly conceived novel, working title The First Travelers
November – Jeep Thompson and the World Jumpers

That schedule, and that pace, would give me time to release two or three more novels before that magic birthday in March 2023, so I have some wiggle room if I commit to only six novels. But my goal is to set an ambitious schedule and stick to it.

You may ask, if making announcements like this in the past has shifted my procrastination into overdrive, why am I announcing this? Hell, I don’t know. Another topic for that therapist.

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