At the start of this year, I made myself three promises. I was going to eat and drink healthily, go running three times a week and write 5000 words a week.  A week in and so far (miraculously) the resolutions are holding. 

In terms of writing, nothing seems to work better for me than a firm target.  "X words by Y time".  Even better when I tell people about it (so I'm telling all of you.) The potential shame of saying I haven't done any writing when asked how it's going is always an excellent spur to self discipline when I hear the siren call of an episode of the Simpsons I've seen 20 times and am tempted to veg out on the sofa instead of doing an hour of writing.  Yes, even without a target I always do some writing, but it can be unfocused or I can make very little progress (for instance when "research" takes up 90% of any time spent on writing.) A hard target gives me nowhere to hide.

So I have a specific goal. The Chronomancer's Daughter comes back from the professional editing service on the 18th of February.  When it comes back, I'll have go back to that book to make the necessary changes, but until then, I've decided to go all out to do as much of the first draft of the sequel, The Iron Golem, as possible.  I think that if I do the 5000 words per week, I can be about 90% of the way there.  If I really push myself (and I have to work away at least once this month, so I'll be sat in a hotel with nothing better to do) then I can get to the end.  This is a goal worth working towards, because as soon as I finish the work following on from the edit of The Chronomancer's Daughter, I'll be out there, following up literary agents and (hopefully) impressing them with the perfection that is the finished edit.  Even better though, I'll be able to tell them that not only do I have a finished first book, but I'm also at the point of working on the second draft of the sequel.  That gives them more to sell to publishers - a lot of publishing deals are for at least two books.

I've written 26,500 words so far and I'm aiming at maybe 65,000 words for the finished article. I've learned a lot about keeping wordcount down and I intend to put it to good use.  I don't want to go through the heartache of chopping out words just to reduce the word count as I have with the first book. Instead, I'll hopefully be able to focus my editing on what I learn from the professional edit.  To get real value for money, I'm going to use this edit as an educational experience as well as a means of improving my product.

I feel positive about 2014.  I've heard good things from agents, my book is going to get the professional polish it needs and I'm well on with the sequel.  Let's see where it takes me......