New Year’s Writing Resolutions

‘Tis the season to set some goals! What do you hope to accomplish with your writing this year? Where do you see yourself this time next year? While you’re setting goals for writing, consider the following:

1. You can only control yourself, not agents or editors or even your crit partners. Therefore, set goals for what YOU will do, not what someone else will do for you. “I want to write 500 words a day” is a great goal, as is “Write and edit a whole novel this year.” Not so great is “Get an agent” or “Sell my manuscript for a million dollars.” (Unless you’re going to be your own agent and/or you have a million dollars sitting in a bank account somewhere that you’ll give yourself once your novel is done. Then have at.)

2. If you’re like most people, you can’t even control yourself all that well… so set small benchmark goals that will help you achieve the bigger, year goals. “Write over 180,000 words this year” seems really hard until you break it down to “Write 500 words a day” chunks. Also, build in incentives, like dinner out if you meet your goals for the month, or you get to buy a new book-that’s-not-on-sale every time you write another 10,000 words.

3. Start by thinking big, then think small. What do you want to accomplish in 2014? What are the steps that will get you there? How much will you have to write? How much time will you need to edit? If you want to submit 30 short stories to magazines, how many stories will you have to write every week? How much every day? How much time should you allot for editing (don’t skip editing). If you want to have a novel ready to submit to agents by October, when should your first draft be complete? How many people should you ask to be beta readers? How much time will you have for each editing pass?

4. A goal isn’t a goal until it’s written down. So said… someone wise. Before you write it down and tell people about it, it’s just idle thinking. If you tell someone, now you have someone who just might ask you how it’s going. Someone to whom you’ll have to admit just how badly you’ve been slacking. (Not that you’re going to slack.)

5. Goals don’t have to be big. If all you want to do is write one single really great short story this year, write that goal down and accomplish it. In fact, you should think long and hard about realistic goals while you’re setting them, since failing goals seems to be counter-motivational, while meeting even small goals makes you feel like you can accomplish more next time.

6. Make it a goal to spend time connecting with the writing community. Like at conferences. LTUE is next month….

What are some of your writing goals this year? I’m totally going write three novels, sell them to one of the big publishing houses, quit my day-job, and live off my bestseller-list royalties. All on less than an hour a day of writing time. Totally can happen. 😉