Thursday, August 12, 2010

Setting Writing Goals

Here in Kansas City, school is getting ready to start. As a student, this was always a favorite time of mine. The new packets of paper, the flawless folders, the clean notebooks. I loved that I hadn't flunked anything yet, or humiliated myself in gym class, or been caught passing a note when I should have been taking them.

And even though I've been out of school for 10 years now (hallelujah!) this has remained a time of year that feels like a chance for a fresh start. A time of untapped potential. A time to make some goals.

In his fabulous book on writing, The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell talks about the importance of goals, and I completely agree.

In the past I've written very specific goals. ("In September I'll finish edits on my manuscript and send it to Roseanna. In October I'll complete the project and turn it into my editor.") If you're in a more predictable stage of your life, I really encourage this. I'm eager to get back to the days of specific and aggressive goals.

But with a newborn in the house, and a writing career that's at more of a crossroads than I like, this really just isn't possible for me at the moment. So instead of throwing out the whole notion of goals all together, I instead just have to allow myself more of a time cushion. Here's my goals:

1. To finish the first draft of my WIP (work in progress) by December 11th.

2. To finish the first round of edits on my WIP by January 31st.

3. To finish the second round of edits on my WIP by February 14th and send it to my cript partner, Roseanna. (Who I'm sure will crack it right open on Valentine's Day ... especially since she sent me a manuscript, oh, a thousand years ago and I haven't gotten back to her yet.)

4. To input her edits and have the final polish done within 2 weeks of her returning the manuscript to me.

What are your goals for this fall? For this school year?


  1. You make me laugh, Stephanie. Yes, I probably will crack it open on Valentine's Day, because I'm going through Stephanie's-books-withdrawal. Guess I could reread one to hold me over, but I do long for something new. *sigh* ;-)

    My goals include returning an edit to a client by next week, finishing cuts to JEWEL OF PERSIA by the end of August so I can send to my proofreader and critters, and starting on the sequel in September. Which means having a clue what the plot will be before then . . .

  2. Ahh, the wonders of a CP...don'thchya just love em?


    Mine's a jewel

    My goals:
    Lord me.

    Or should I say..."push me"?
    Yeah, that works better.

    To finish this first draft by...December. that way, if my first real scheduled goal is met sooner, I'll know what I can do.
    I don't want to start off with an unreachable goal.

    I'll have to write that down, thanks, Steph!

  3. OH!
    I forgot!
    I'm getting some pics taken for my blog on Sunday.
    Get hair done! lol
    It does have to do with writing...

    What? It doesn't count if it's spa-ish? Well, at leat I tried :)

  4. Ro, the sequel is a definite? Cool!

    Kelly, lol. Something spa-ish TOTALLY counts. Setting a reasonable goal for yourself is a really good idea. I find there's some elusive sweet spot - it needs to be something that challenges you, but not something unattainable.

  5. Unless ideas refuse to come, yeah, I think it's a definite. Actually, I've got more of an idea for a third book than the second, LOL. Second will be about Esther's daughter--probably titled something telling like "Daughter of Esther" ha ha--and book three will be about the daughter of another character in JoP whose father trained her in weapons--she becomes a secret member of the royal guard. =) Two will include the book of Ezra, Three the book of Nehemiah.

    Also just got another Old Testament idea that revolved around a single verse in Jeremiah . . .

  6. So, basically you've managed to pick a genre even more difficult to sell than European historicals? :)

  7. Goals! Gotta have em.

    Goals for me this fall: Finish proposal for conference. Finish edits on a novel and get them to crit partners. Survive content edits on the book I just turned in. Participate in NaNo.

    I think that's enough to be going on with. :)

  8. Hush, you. ;-) (Not you, Erica. I'm speaking to our hostess, LOL)

  9. I'm so jealous that this is your FOURTH (third?) NaNo, Erica. One of these days...

  10. This will be the fourth. I wiped out on the first one, but 2 and 3 I finished well. :)

  11. My goals will probably be a little different than everyone else's but here it goes
    1) start senior year with good grades (and end it with good grades)
    2) take the ACT and get a good enough score
    3) Meet all my deadlines for the Siren
    4) Finish the first draft of the story I am currently on
    and number five... the big one
    5) choose a college

  12. I am new to your blog and following you.

    Kansas City, MO? Kansas City, KS? I live really close to both of those places actually!

    I start school on Wednesday and new school supplies are my favorite!

    I am glad I found your blog! I would love if you stopped by my blog and followed me.


  13. Mary: Choosing a college - yikes! I love your "good enough score" goal for the ACT. I'm living proof that life can be good even with a so-so score :)

    Maggie: Thanks for stopping by! Glad you found us too. I'm in Overland Park. Hope school starts off well for you!