Last winter I challenged myself to write every day for a hundred days. The streak I developed kept me writing through a series of crazy life events.  As silly as it seems putting a shiny star on the calendar rewards me. Seeing a line of stars and knowing I need to add another one is the best way to get me to a keyboard.

The manuscript that came out of my hundred days finished at 180,000 words, roughly three times the length of most manuscripts. Editing it took up most of my year, and it’s not ready to submit yet. Even with all that work I’m still in love.

But it drew me away from creating something new. I’ve admitted before it’s harder for me to edit than to draft a new work. It lacks the same freedom to do whatever I want. Checking editing tasks off a list quickly feels like drudgery, and I’d much rather create. I ended up not finishing anything but that manuscript in 2018.  

Hence 2019’s 100-day challenge (now with goals!):

Goal 1: Write every day for 100 days.

Goal 2: Try something new.

Goal 3: Instead of writing one super-long manuscript, write at least three “tighter” stories.

To satisfy Goal 2, I chose new genre: erotic romance. My editor for the Death Witch series scolded me the stories bordered on too hot. Final edits for Blood, Dirt, and Lies cut about 40,000 words including three sex scenes. Rather than working to avoid that I decided to get it out of my system. Hence, Goal 3, write at least three stories. My general plan is three 60K word novels. My stretch goal is those three plus a 10K short story for each one.

Before you write in any genre you need to read in it, so I stocked my to-be-read pile with erotic fantasy, erotic romances, and erotica. A lot of what I found fell into two types: books that were cruel to women (rape, abuse disguised as dominance) or stories with a few erotic scenes that developed the characters but weren’t integral to the story (not unlike my own books). I went down a rabbit hole trying to find what I wanted: stories about consenting adults, who care about each other, and have hot sex.

Since I couldn’t find it, I started writing it.

Creating sex positive love scenes has been a lot of fun. It’s harder work than writing a mystery or describing a crime scene for sure, but the challenge keeps things interesting. After a month of writing I have treatments for three stories. The first story, which features an adorable puppy named Max who brings the couple together, is 90% done.

I’m a bit superstitious about my writing streaks. I didn’t mention the last one until it was almost complete. So while I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this post doesn’t jinx me, I’m also doing things a bit differently. I’ve lowered my daily word count goal from 1000 to 300 and I’m taking time each day to keep up with the business of writing. My new words don’t mean I get to skip out on editing other works, writing that synopsis, or submitting. It’s a balancing act I’m not sure I’ve got down yet, but so far it’s worth it.

(Apologies to any ardent followers of Chicago style reading this. The rules on numerals vs. spelling out numbers are slippery enough that I decided to post rather than study the options. Mea Culpa.)