Knowing When to Scale Back and Scale Up
2024, The Year of Many Fictions
I know we’re only finishing the first week of November with 7 more weeks of the year to go, but my mind is already firmly set on 2024 planning. And there is a good reason for that:
2023 WAS A HUGE FAIL FOR ME
This might shock you to read. Trust me, I am more shocked to have to say it. But if I’m being honest, looking at the entirety of 2023 as well as the 7 weeks that have yet to play out, I did not, in fact, reach the goal I set out for myself in late 2022. That goal was simple, albeit vague at the time; write lots of fiction.
At this point you might be saying to yourself, “hold on, Erica, you’ve been writing these 100 word stories now since May and you’re on track to finish out the year having written 245 of them! If that’s not writing lots of fiction, what the hell is?”
Well, firstly, to answer your question I’d say, calm your damn nerves! lol Secondly, I’d say, 100 words daily is great but not much when you quantify that against the other things I’ve been writing for my newsletter. Those other things amount to (again I’m quantifying here) nearly triple the number. You can say I’ve been writing more fiction but it only seems that way because they are coming daily. At the end of the day/year the truth is, that is not how it happened.
And with my newfound “come to Jesus” moment I realize I have to do something drastic to my output or I’m in danger of being someone who talks about writing but never actually does any herself. I hate those people. If I’m going to ever talk about writing and be of help to those coming behind me, then the least I can do is actually produce more fiction content so I can have that to say “look, I know how cause I been doin’ it a long time, damn it!”
In any event, I have been beating myself up about this fact and licking my wounds the past week or so when I decided to take a look behind the curtain at my “stats” and production. It wasn’t pretty, let me tell you. But that is what makes the end of year so great (and mildly depressing at the same time)!
A NEW YEAR FOR RESTRUCTURING
In 2024 you will see a whole new Erica Drayton Writes from top to bottom. This drastic change might be my greatest achievement in the world of fiction or my biggest disappointment and failure and I’ll wish I had stayed with the 2023 blueprint. There wasn’t anything wrong with it. I got a hell of a lot done this year. But a change gon’ come! Starting with a process I’m calling “Scaling Back to Scale Up.” It’s a fairly simple concept that I came up with on the fly. Please use it as you wish if it appeals to you at all.
The basic idea of it is to look at what I’ve been producing this year in terms of content and then decide what needs to either go away completely or just take a step back in order to work on the next new thing I have plans for.
The reason I’m doing this, beyond the fact that I like to be as highly organized as possible is because I don’t want to overwhelm myself by simply piling on new things with the old stuff and hoping it all just works out in the end. That is an easy way to feeling overworked and stressed. Whenever I make any drastic move like this the first thing I make sure is none of what I am about to do will leave me burnt out and hating my own writing.
When it comes to deciding, with your own writing, what should stay or go I recommend a list. Lists are a beautiful thing. Draw a line down the middle of the page and on one side put what you’re currently writing. All the things. And then on the other side write down what you’d like to be writing. If it’s anything new. Then, with a highlighter (if you don’t have one, circling or underlining works in a pinch) select those things from both columns you really want to move forward with in the new year. Keeping in mind the time you have at your disposal to produce the content, those things that you love to write vs could do without. There are many factors that go into deciding what stays, what goes, and what you just want to do less of. The idea is to take personal stock and try not to let outside influences, especially algorithms and numbers and statistics play into your decision making. This is a writing cadence you’ll likely keep for 12 months, best to make sure it’s one you are most happiest with and won’t regret later on.
Now, onto my two columns. I decided to make one that was my fiction and one that was my non-fiction work. Then I decided, because I’m crazy with nothing better to do with my life, to see the word count across both. Suffice it to say, it was leaning much too far to one side. This meant I needed to make some key changes. I don’t want to outright get rid of my Editorial Wednesdays. They are important to me as it’s a way for me to get some points across that I otherwise can’t do anywhere else. I won’t bore you with the details but highlight below what I’m scaling back and scaling up in 2024. Keeping in mind that I’m actually not getting rid of anything. Just doing less of some things in some cases and more of another. What should happen at the end of 2024, when I do a similar review in November, is that my fiction will far outweigh my non-fiction writing and I will consider that a HUGE win in my book.
Wednesday Editorials | I will change from weekly to once a month. I’m going to attempt to share my thoughts on the second Wednesday of the month. This should prevent there being multiple emails from me on the first of the month as tends to happen and this way I can organize my Editorial email into a format more resembling my First Edition emails. Multiple topics discussed in one email a month.
The First Edition | This email will still come on the 1st of the month but I’m changing what I share. Content is very important and because I’m going to be fiction first I’m going to discontinue sharing YouTube videos in this email and will move it to my one monthly Editorial email. Consider this email a wrap-up and catch-up on all the fiction you should’ve received from me the previous month and what is coming in the new month. I will divide this email into two sections: Free Subscriber fiction vs Paid Subscriber fiction.
Fiction Community Activities
Pentober52 [Wednesdays] Every Wednesday, for 52 weeks, there will be a word (and perhaps some challenging prompts) to get your imaginations ripe for storytelling.
A 100 Word Story Collaboration [Fridays] One the first Friday of every month I will write 50 words to go along with the image prompt. You can then write your own 50 words to accompany mine. I will then select my favorite 50 word story and share our 100 word story collaboration on the following Monday in my Substack Notes.
Free Writing Fridays [Fridays] Every Friday there will be an image prompt to get your idea engine going to write and share a small piece of fiction. You can write any length but for an added challenge you can write a 100 word story.
A 100 Word Story [Daily, Free Subscribers] A tradition that started on May 1st, 2023 and I have not stopped doing since. Some days and weeks and even months are continuation stories as you will soon find out. After a month finishes all of the stories go into the Archive for Paid Subscribers only.
A Magicianary Story [Mondays, Paid Subscribers] The first serial that introduces a world filled with magician celebrities and many other colorful characters that can be found there.
Curio Fiction [Monthly, Paid Subscribers] Short stories of suspense and mystery. Think of Alfred Hitchcock trapped in the Twilight Zone
📢 I’d love to heard your thoughts on all of this: Do you ever do a look back on your progress at the end of the year? If so, when do you do it? Have you done it already? Will you share your thoughts on the past year and new year in an email to your subscribers? If you aren’t, I suggest doing it. It’s a great way to just “talk out loud” about what you’re feeling and hoping and excited about.