New Goals + New Approach = New Opportunities

Photo by Nordwood Themes

The new year is here. What does that mean? Resolutions! We all make them and unfortunately about one third of us break them. I’m sad to say I am in that group. Let me give you some examples from my life.

Resolution 1: Cut out frivilous spending. Reality: This beautiful journal with the sun and stars cover will make me a better writer. I need it.

Resolution 2: Stop eating sugar. Reality: My friend, who was born to be a baker, made a platter of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting and a sugar Wonder Woman symbol. I can’t say no. That would be rude.

As writers, we face enough rejection. Why add more opportunities for that? If you’re like me, not meeting goals brings out self-doubt and I was sure the answer to this problem was not to make resolutions. But we all need things to strive for. It’s how we push ourselves, how we grow, and how we become better people.

After looking at what I accomplished last year and accepting that not everything works as planned (post here) , I realized my problem wasn’t the act of making goals, it was the types of goals I made. So this year I’m putting a new spin on my resolutions.

 

NEW APPROACH

Photo by Estee Janssen

As 2017 was coming to an end and I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the coming year, two phrases put me on a new track.

First, my taekwondo instructor reminded me that pushing yourself a little every day leads to a big change at the end of the year. Okay, she was talking about stretching, but I’m sure the concept can be used for many things.

Second, during an interview, race car driver Danica Patrick said she strives to achieve her goals every day but acknowledges life happens and sometimes she’ll miss a few.

I’m using these concepts to make my resolutions this year. Instead of making big, inflexible goals, I’m focusing on achieving great things through persistence and being consistent.

Let’s look at a few writing goals I have seen online.

1. Write a book. Writing a book is a wonderful goal and you would assume in twelve months, you could make that happen. But sometimes the book does not want to be written. Not now, or ever. Or other times, life gets in the way and your planned writing time disappears.

New approach. Write. Write. Write. If it ends in a book (first draft or more), fantastic! If it doesn’t, know you are still working your way to a completed manuscript by working on your craft. It may be the one you started or it may be a completely different one. Either way, you are making progress

2. Find an agent. AKA: sign with an agent. There are hundreds (thousands?) of agents in this business, so it seems likely that at least one will like your writing. But this business is incredibly subjective and that is out of your control. As are slow times in the industry, agents’ vacations, and competition in the slush pile.

New approach. Realize the intricacies of this business and alter your goal a bit. Go hot and heavy on researching agents. Five a day, ten, or twenty. Their likes and dislikes. Enter contests. Sign up for manuscript critiques. And query. A lot. Make your goal to send out 100 queries this year. If you don’t find an agent, know you succeeded in doing all you could.

3. Sell a book. This may be more difficult than finding an agent. Traditional publishing is very difficult, and while there are a lot of publishing houses and a lot of editors, those lists are smaller than the agent list. Which means more competition in addition to individual tastes regarding genres and writing styles.

New approach. If you are in the position to sell a book, consider alternatives. Smaller presses, significant revisions, or self-publishing. You can also look at publishing stories in magazines and anthologies.

Here are a few of the writing goals I have for this year.

  • Play around with short stories
  • Revise my current WIP
  • Research writing in different genres
  • Do 15 minute writing sessions as many days during the week as possible.
  • Read books in different genres

I would love to hear your ideas for 2018 goals and any tips you have to keeping those resolutions!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HALLI GOMEZ teaches martial arts and writes for children and young adults because those voices flow through her brain. She enjoys family, outdoors, reading, and is addicted to superhero movies. Her middle grade science fiction novel is represented by Kathy Green of Kathryn Green Literary Agency. You can find Halli on Twitter.

 

 

Halfway through 2017 (GASP!) — Let’s Do a Goal Check-in!

Let’s climb that mountain!

Waaaayyyy back in January, I wrote a New Year’s post about goal-setting. A few of my fellow Pennies were inspired by that post to write down their goals with me – remembering to be specific, set deadlines, stay flexible, and above all, not beat ourselves up if we didn’t quite hit our marks.

Now that it’s June, about halfway through the year, I wanted to check in with everyone. And with myself.

My top-of-list goal was to finish drafting my WIP in March. I ended up finally typing “THE END” in mid-May, about six weeks late. I met a few other goals – launching our MYC series, for one! – but thanks to missing my initial WIP deadline, I’m a bit behind on everything else.

I checked in with a few of the Pennies and discovered that we were all pretty much in the same boat. Most of us had set and met a few goals, completely dropped the ball on others, and changed priorities dramatically as the year unfolded.

So the purpose of this post is two-fold.

First, I want to hear how your year is going? Did you set goals? Have you made progress like you thought you would? Let me know in the comments!

And second, I want to lay out some mid-year goal-setting dos and don’t’s:

DO reflect on the past six months. We all have to deal with the unexpected, which can interfere with our writing. From early November through February, I did not have one full week of work without kids, thanks to some crazy winter weather and a series of plagues that descended on my family. Those unexpected events messed with my productivity big time. Looking back in light of that, my six-week delay in finishing my draft was actually a pretty great achievement! Take some time to consider the reality of the first half of 2017 – you might find that you achieved more than it felt like you did.

DO reassess your priorities. That YA idea that seemed so hot in January might have started languishing in May. If you feel bogged down by a goal you set months ago, take a closer look at it. Is the project still calling to you, or are you slogging your way through it because you said you would? Did you pledge to attend an expensive conference, but are now realizing that the manuscript you’d hoped to pitch is far from ready? Consider a conference later in the year when your work is more polished. Or try a more economical conference instead. Life is not static, and neither should your goals be.

DO recommit. Are you right on track with your goals? Fantastic! Promise yourself that you’ll keep going and not coast on your successful six months. Not quite tearing through your goal list for 2017? Don’t toss it out just because you haven’t made the progress you’d hoped. Use this time to get back on track. You can still pull it out if you get busy now!

DON’T forget to have fun. January is a serious month, full of winter-deep thoughts about where we’re going and where we’ve been. (At least it is here in the Northern Hemisphere!) But June is a lighter month, where the call of the outdoors is strong. Get out there and enjoy it. Just bring your notebook and a pen!

Sound off in the comments and let me know how your goal-setting has gone. Let’s go climb our mountain — and fingers crossed we’re all a bit closer to where we want to be!

 

RICHELLE MORGAN writes, works, plays and drinks too much coffee in Portland, Oregon. When not writing fiction for young adults and children, she pens fundraising letters and other marketing copy for progressive nonprofit organizations. Richelle keeps an occasional blog about nonprofit marketing and communication. She has also written feature articles for The Oregonian, and her short fiction has appeared in Voicecatcher. You can find her on Twitter.

Want to Make More Progress in 2017? Write Down Your Writing Goals

It’s the New Year – new calendars, new notebooks, a new start!

I am a New Year junkie. I love the reminders to reflect on the previous year and lay out plans for the year to come. But as a staunch list-maker, I don’t just noodle on my goals for the year, I write them down.

At the end of each year, I pull up my 12-months-old list, x-ing out the goals I’ve accomplished, and mulling over the ones I haven’t. Some goals surprise me – did I really think that was a priority in 2016? And some are oddly outdated, reflections of circumstances that no longer exist in my life, like the year I insisted I was going to get back into shape, only to discover I was pregnant before I could even make the appointment to tour the gym.

I have a friend who writes herself a letter every New Year’s Day, telling her future self about the things she hopes to accomplish, the problems she’s currently facing and the hopes and fears she holds for the coming twelve months. The next New Year’s Eve, she opens the letter and reads the time capsule from exactly a year ago.

It turns out, my friend and I both practice a key strategy for success: writing down your goals.

New research reported here in NYMag.com, appears to show that the simple act of writing down your goals makes you much more likely to achieve them.

Of course, a big section of my 2017 Goal List is devoted to writing. Every year, I think about where I am now – what am I working on? What do I have waiting in the wings? How much time/energy will each of these projects take? Where do I want to go with each? And then I formulate a plan.

Are you ready to set your writing goals for 2017? Grab your coffee, your notebook and some chocolate and follow these tips:

DO be specific: Write a best-seller is not a great goal. Not only is the sales status of your book almost entirely out of your control, but the goal itself is too vague to be of use. Instead try to hone in on what you’ve already got going on. Finish first draft of my dog in space book or Query Yellowstone Adventure YA are more realistic.

DO set deadlines: I love to give myself a rough timeline. On my list this year is Finish first draft of YA WIP by March. Knowing how much I have to go and my current pace, this feels like a reasonable, achievable goal – and it serves as motivation if I start to slow down or slack off.

DO be flexible: Sometimes we can’t or don’t accomplish our goals for reasons out of our control. Sometimes our goals change completely. You can be determined to query your picture book about fairies, but if you hear fairies are done, or you suddenly realize you were meant to write adult true crime, that’s OK. Adjust mid-year.

DON’T beat yourself up: All too often, I’ll check in on my goals halfway through the year and zero in on how much I haven’t accomplished, instead of seeing how much I have. If you need to course-correct, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad or lazy person. It means you have a life! And you still have another six months to get back on track.

For me, the act of writing down my writing goals also becomes an affirmation that this endeavor is important, worthy of my time and attention. And in a business where progress can be achingly slow, it is heartening to see that I really have moved forward as the months have rolled past.

Do you write out your writing goals? How does it work for you? And if you’re trying it this year for the first time, let me know how it goes! Maybe we can do a check-in in June and see how much progress we’ve all made.

Write on!