Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Writing Year: A Look Back and a Look Forward

It's a new year, the traditional time to take stock of what you've done and what you're planning on doing. Yes, it's completely arbitrary, but it's good to do these things every now and then.

The year 2012 was so-so for me. I only had one nonfiction book come out: The Last Ride of the James-Younger Gang, Jesse James & The Northfield Raid 1876. I also came out with the print version of my Civil War novel A Fine Likeness. Both have gotten good reviews, although I wouldn't mind better sales on the novel. I did get some nice attention when the city of Madrid paid me to give a reading at their annual Noche del Libro festival. Considering the state of the Spanish economy, I doubt I'll get to do that again!

Another milestone was seeing my fantasy novella The Quintessence of Absence come out in Black Gate Magazine. It's free online, so click that link!

For my travel writing, check out this Gadling post about my year in adventure travel and what to expect from me in 2013. I'm much more satisfied with that part of my career, with popular series on Iraq and the Orkney Islands. Lebanon won the "where to send Sean next" poll, so it looks like I'm going there, editor willing!

So what's up for 2013? I'm making fiction a priority. My dream has always been to divide my time evenly between fiction and nonfiction. My history and travel writing careers are humming along nicely, while fiction still lags behind. I wanted to finish the sequal to A Fine Likeness in 2012 but didn't. I'm also way behind on a story I promised A.J. Walker for an anthology we're doing. Several other fiction projects got nowhere fast.

It's time to get cracking. My goal this year is to write 200,000 words of fiction. While that sounds like a lot, it's actually only 550 words a day. Quite doable. Some days I'll write more, and some days I'll write none because I'll be traveling. When I'm on the road I need to focus on what I'm seeing and how I'm going to communicate that to my readers.

To keep myself honest I've put a word count bar at the bottom of this blog. I'll be updating it once a week or so. Light a fire under my ass if I'm not writing enough.

I'll also be ramping up this blog, reaching out to other bloggers for guest posts and to guest post on their own blogs. You'll see me participating in more blogfests too. This blog started the year with only 100 hits a day and finished with almost 300 daily hits. I'm going to see how much I can raise that.

It's going to be a fun and challenging year!


  1. Great goals all around. My "New Year" post was titled "In 2013, Always Be Closing" and that's going to be my motto going forward - to always be working towards concluding some goal, even if that goal is just one part of a larger project.

    I've also tried to set a word count goal for myself as well. I'd love to write a thousand words a day, but I don't think that's feasible - 500 a day is probably more realistic. Still, that's 3-4 short novels in a year.

    Here's hoping to a productive new year for you!

  2. Sounds like a good plan, Sean. It's good to assess our strengths and gaps at some point, so we can tell if we're getting ahead or 'treading water'. I will check out that novella.

  3. That's still impressive! I can do 75,000 a year. More or less.

  4. I always like to know what other writers are doing to further their careers, especially this time of year when we all have plans for the year ahead. If you want to do a guest post on my blog, please let me know. I'd love to host you!


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