I’ve now achieved every one of the eleven productivity goals that I set for myself in the summer of 2009


In the summer of 2009, I made a list of five productivity milestones I wanted to hit in the next five years. With the recent acquisition of my thousandth short story rejection, I now have ALL of them.

  1. Words
    1. 400,000 Words[1]
    2. 500,000 Words[2]
    3. 750,000 Words[3]
    4. 1,000,000 Words[4]
  2. Completed Short Stories
    1. 100 Stories[5]
    2. 120 Stories[6]
  3. Rejections
    1. 500 Rejections[7]
    2. 750 Rejections[8]
    3. 1000 Rejections[9]
  4. Novel Draft Completion[10]
  5. Novel Submission[11]

Some of these goals were obviously harder to achieve than others. I hit my 120th story and millionth word like two years ago. But still, at the time I wrote this list, I was nowhere close to any of these goals. I’d written about 300,000 words and 70ish stories and only had maybe 350ish rejections. So these goals were only achievable if I put in an order of magnitude more effort than I was currently doing.

That summer was also maybe six months before I quit drinking, I was nowhere close to getting my life in order. In fact, at that point, I was about to apply to eleven MFA programs that’d all reject me in the coming year. But, nonetheless, I went ahead and made these goals. And, in the coming years, I took them seriously. I feel like there’s a lesson here, of some sort, even though that lesson is totally counter to the advice I usually give (which is to set low-ball goals that you are sure of being able to achieve).

[1] Achieved on 9/9/9

[2] Achieved on 4/25/10

[3] Achieved on 5/13/10

[4] Achieved on 8/26/11 (nineteenth month sobriety anniversary too)

[5] Achieved on 9/9/10

[6] Achieve on 4/21/11

[7] Achieved with rejection by…somewhere, I dunno…around 6/30/10

[8] Achieved with a rejection by…I dunno…Asimov’s? Around 12/19/11

[9] Achieved on 4/24 with a rejection by Asimov’s

[10] Achieved on, I believe, 10/27/10

[11] Achieved w/ submission of This Beautiful Fever to an agent on 12/19/11

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