Posts Tagged ‘new years resolutions’

Let’s talk about goals today.  I wrote about writing resolutions for New Year’s back in January, but maybe it’s a good time to revisit the topic–because after almost five months, it’s probably a good time to revisit goals too.

I’m in the middle of making some revisions to my writing goals–mostly because I’m not in the middle of revising my writing, and I should be.  I think one of the hazards of writing is that it’s easy to get caught up in the new shiny project, and never finish that one that’s already had so much work put into it.  Usually I have pretty good focus, but lately I must confess I’ve been flailing a bit.

I have two novel drafts that just need some revision.  One only needs one last final round, the other a few more passes.  But I’ve also started thinking about my next project, the historical fiction novel I want to do for NaNoWriMo 2013.  I figured between now and then is a good time for some research–which is good.  Except that lately, I’ve been shunting aside the other drafts in favor of research, which is bad!

My original writing goal for the year was to write every day.  I’ve done pretty well on that and I still am…only I don’t feel like I’m actually moving forward, because I’m not working on what I really should.  To avoid an endless string of half-finished projects and to move forward on larger things like, say, publishing, I really need to finish at least one novel draft before concentrating on the new one.  So I’ve been coming up with revised goals.

I’m a big fan of small-picture goals, like writing every day.  It’s immediately attainable, it’s measurable, it’s something you have to do now rather than putting off (as you could something that has a longer timeline).  However, I find I need to pair my small-picture goal with some bigger-picture ones, and set some deadlines.

Right now I’m giving myself a week for no-pressure, no-guilt fiddling about with the historical fiction novel.  But I set a date to begin revising my nearly-finished draft, and another date for finishing it!  After that, I’ll set new goal dates for things like querying agents and revising that second in-progress draft.

So that’s where I find myself on writing goals, not quite halfway into the year.  Did you set any goals at the beginning of the year (or some other time)?  How has it been working out for you?

January ResolutionsThere’s something about a new calendar year.  It makes me want to tackle new projects and do exciting things and make all sorts of plans and resolutions–like new authors to read, new recipes to try, new places to visit.  But since this is a writing blog, let’s talk about writing plans.

Do you have a writing resolution for 2013?  Since I’m in the middle of figuring out mine, for this post I thought I’d share some ways I’ve found to make my resolutions easier to achieve.  The hero of my current novel draft has this thing about rules 🙂 but I won’t be that pushy.  I’ll just share a few suggestions that have helped me in the past.

Maybe you want to start writing—or write every day—or finish a project—or send query letters out for that finished project—or finally take a stab at the world of self-publishing.  All worthy goals, but all of them different!  Suggestion #1 is know your goal.  I thoroughly enjoy National Novel Writing Month, but I know that writing 50,000 words in a month isn’t the right goal for everyone.  Figure out what your own, personal, individual goal should be.

With that in mind, make sure you know exactly what your goal is.  Suggestion #2 is Make it specific.  “Writing more” is a great idea, but how do you measure it?  Same thing with “writing something.”  Don’t try to write more—try to write every day (or every week, or every other day, or whatever is going to work for you).  Don’t try to write something—try to write the first three chapters of your novel, or finish that short story, or write a poem every week.  That way, you can hold yourself accountable to exactly what you planned to do—and feel a sense of accomplishment when you know you’ve met your goal!

Suggestion #3 is Make it attainable.  I really, really, really don’t like not reaching my goals.  But I’m the one who’s setting them, so I make sure I set goals I can reach!  Or to drag in a little geekiness and quote Scotty from Star Trek, it’s a poor engineer who can’t complete a project faster than his own estimates.

If you didn’t write a single line of fiction last year, maybe planning to write a novel this year isn’t the right goal (though maybe it is!)  You could always start by trying to write a short story.  If you can’t find any time to write, don’t resolve to start writing for three hours a day; try to write for 15 minutes.  Don’t obsess over the goal you think you should have and make it impossible for yourself.  Don’t make it so easy either that you don’t accomplish anything…but small goals can often accomplish more than people think.  And you can always start small and make it bigger later on.

Related to the concept of making a goal attainable, make sure it’s something you control.  Getting an agent for your novel is a great dream, but the hard truth is, that’s not really under our control.  Some agent has to decide to take on your novel, and unless you possess Jedi mind control tricks, you can’t make them do that.  That doesn’t mean you can’t work on it—but set your goal around the parts you can control.  Resolve to send out 50 query letters, or to attend three writing conferences to meet agents.  Whether you get an agent or not (I’ll cross my fingers for you!), you know you’ve done what you can do about it.

And finally, Suggestion #4 is Don’t give up.  Maybe your goal was to write every day, and life (or streaming seasons of TV series on Netflix…I won’t judge you) got in the way, and you haven’t written for two weeks.  Channel your inner Scarlet O’Hara and remember, “Tomorrow is another day.”  You can always pick up and begin again.  The two weeks have already gone, but that’s no reason to throw away all the future work you could do.  Remind yourself why you set the goal to begin with, make changes if you need to, and remember that January isn’t the only time people are allowed to make resolutions.

I know I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I’d love to hear other ideas too!  What are your best suggestions (or even rules) for achieving a writing goal?  And what goals are you planning for 2013?  I’ll hold a good thought for you!