Friday, June 2, 2017

Do you set career-related writing goals?



Hey all! Shannon here!
It's conference season in the writing community and all three of us are about to hit the road! We're teaching at various conferences across the country and we'd love to take you all with us.

Alas.

But seriously. You know the best thing about a writing conference? The panels! A group of authors or editors or agents all at one table--all answering the same questions and giving the crowd multiple perspectives on a single issue.

Thinking about these panels gave us a fantastic idea.

For the months of June, July, and August, we thought it would be fun to take a writing-related question and have all three of us answer it. But the part we're really excited about is hearing from YOU! Once you've heard what we have to say, we'd love you to use the comments section below to answer the question as well. This way, we all get to learn from one another!

Sound fun? We thought so. 



Do you set career-related writing goals, like earning a starred review from a major reviewer like Publisher's Weekly or landing on a bestseller list? 

 


Stephanie Morrill
Well, I certainly hope for those things, but I can’t really do much to impact those other than to write the best book I’m capable of and spread the word to the best of my abilities.

My goals tend to be more about building systems so that I’m slowly improving over time. So instead of a goal like, “I want to hit the NYT bestseller list!” I might make a goal specific to a piece of my craft and a piece of my marketing that I want to improve.


 
Jill Williamson
Wouldn’t we all love those things? The only career writing goals I ever had was to be traditionally published and to find an agent. I did both of those, so I feel pretty good about that. 

I think it’s dangerous to get too caught up in setting bestseller list or award-type goals because if it never happens, then you will have set yourself up to feel like a failure, even if you’d written a hundred mid-list novels and had a very successful career. I much prefer to write strong novels that my readers like and consider each one a milestone of its own.


Shannon Dittemore
Of course, I’d like to hit bestseller’s lists and I’d love starred reviews from all the review magazines, but I think the thing that would excite me most is to carve out my own place in the industry. 

I want to have the kind of career that has quality books hitting the market consistently. The kind of career that allows me to plan ahead a bit, to experiment with ideas, to travel and research. That’s the kind of writer I want to be, so I do my best to work and write with that goal in mind.


What about you guys? Do you set career-related writing goals?

48 comments:

  1. Not sure if I set career-related goals. Right now, I'm torn between self-publishing and seeking traditional publishing. I want my book to be a success. Not for the money or anything like that, but just to have a voice out there. I want people to see my message and want to read something I've worked on for years. For me, it's not necessarily about fame or money. Obviously if someone wants to survive on the income of just writing, then money is important, but I understand that writing won't be my only job if I plan to survive.

    All that being said, I usually try to make goals and deadlines for myself, but lately I've been in a mood where I just don't feel like editing my book. It just doesn't feel like it's where I want it to be.

    Thank you, ladies, for your wonderful post. I think having a different answer from each of you is a nice thing to see. It gives us different perspectives.
    God bless y'all :)

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    1. I understand. All artists want to be able to share their work with someone who can appreciate their labor of love.

      Hope you can get back to your book soon. Maybe you just need a little break? Editing can be tedious at times. :)

      -Ann

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    2. Yes! Surviving is key! Ha! It's okay to go through phases where you're contemplating where you're at and what you want. Don't begrudge it.

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    3. @Mrs. Dittemore: You're absolutely right. My mom reminded me that I'm way too hard on myself and she told me I need to stop getting in my own way.
      @Ann: Thank you for the encouragement. Editing is very tedious and I just feel like no matter how much I keep making drafts, they just don't go exactly where I want. Thank you for your kind words. God bless both of y'all. :)

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  2. It would be tricky to set goals where other people must be involved in the outcome. Why set a goal you can't control entirely?

    I have a couple of dream agents I'd love to work with someday. But my goal is not to land X agent. Instead, I focus on making my writing the best I can, then have a goal of sending 20 or so queries to agents within X amount of time. Past that, the outcome is out of my hands for the time being.

    I love the idea behind these new posts. Thanks for making GTW wonderful, ladies!

    -Ann

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    1. Well said. Setting goals should be based on our needs as writers. Great job, Ann!
      God bless :)

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    2. Fantastic perspective, Ann! Very task oriented. That will serve you well.

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  3. Right now my main goal is pretty simple: Get a book polished enough to submit to a publisher. Unfortunately, I've gotten a little off-track with that goal taking part in challenges like NaNoWriMo. I think it's time that I only take part in those challenges if I need to write a draft of my main novel... Anyway, I guess not getting distracted by stories, college, etc. is a goal.

    My actual career-related goals are the same as Jill's. After my book is ready I want an agent and to be traditionally published. The latter is just something I've always wanted.

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    1. Super wise! And I think it's important to realize that as we grow, our goals change and so does our process. Some of the things that are helpful during one stage (NaNoWriMo) are less helpful when the goal is to polish, and drill into craft, etc. It really is a journey.

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  4. I do often dream of hitting a best seller list or having people I don't even know, know my name - but that isn't my goal. Right now, my goal is to write a good book with a good point and a fun story, and see what God has planned for me next. I'd like to get an agent, and get traditionally published. But it all depends on what God has planned for me, doesn't it?

    Thanks so much for this post! I enjoyed reading it and hearing your thoughts on things!

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    1. Love this. So true. It's God's plans that matter most.

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  5. I'm not a huge fan of goals (probably because I can never seem to keep or make them), but publishing one of my books would be a goal of mine.

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  6. I love this panel idea!!! And I totally agree with all three of your answers. Making specific goals to hit a bestseller list or win a certain award doesn't seem wise, and it's too easy to attach your identity and personal value to other people's decisions.

    My goal right now is simply to get published, preferably traditionally! I'd love to eventually be a hybrid author with a foot in both doors (trad. and indie), but it would be awesome to start out traditional. And yes, I'd love to sign with a bigger publishing house, but for my first book I'd be good with a smaller to medium size. The longer I write and the more I learn about publishing, the more I realize this is a career that gets *built.* It's not something one usually falls into overnight. :)

    But ultimately my writing/publishing goals are to write excellent books that capture the imagination, make people think, and impact their lives in some way. The NYT bestseller list would be dreamy, but to me it's more important that my books get into the hands of a tribe of readers who love the kind of stories I pen, and wind up closer to God because of them. ^_^

    Looking forward to more of these posts! You guys always tackle great questions and topics here! <333

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    1. Thank you, Tracey! And I love your answer. Wisdom all over it. Keep that perspective as you grow, friend. There are others around you who will need it.

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    2. Thanks so much, Shannon! <3 I really appreciate your kind words.

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  7. I have never even thought of making such things a goal. (To be sure, I've /daydreamed/ about getting movie deals and being on best-seller lists...)

    My personal writing goal is to get my books bound and on my bookshelf. If traditional publishing is how that happens, then great! But if I end up self-publishing, then great too! I just want to be able to see my words on the page underneath the cover.

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    1. Fantastic goal! And so many ways to make that happen.

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    2. Did you know that J.K. Rowling got refused by 13 publishing companies before she found one that published Harry Potter? Just imagine how much they're probably regretting it now... My point is, that's a great goal to have, so don't give up hope if 13 publishing companies refuse you too.
      ~Mila

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  8. Hey everyone!
    I have a question for Jill, is there a way I can contact her?
    Thanks
    Keilah

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  9. Shannon, I read your goals, and I was like, Yes! I would love to do that too - write, research, travel. Jill, love your last sentence the most, for that is me too. Stephanie, that's all any of us can do - write the best we can and perhaps it will pay off big time. If it doesn't, it doesn't, and in the end it doesn't really matter. If you know you did your best, that's what counts, and your readers will know it. Julia, I too have lots of ideas and wondering where it will lead me, wherever God wants me to go.

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

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    1. High five, Anne! I love finding like-minded individuals out there.

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    2. Me, too! I love traveling and research/history. In fact, I just got back from a trip that my choir took to NYC.

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  10. Goals aren't exactly my strong points. Whenever I set one.....it doesn't seem to work out. I'd LOVE to be on a best seller list, but I agree with you Mrs. Williamson, I'd label myself as a failure if it didn't happen. Of course, I hep my books touch people, but it's all in god's plans. I'll go where he takes me, and ride his currents. It's all up to him.
    I DO have a goal of publishing, but like I said, it's God's will not mine. Publishing would make me feel like i've succeeded as a writer, but you never know. I'll be happy to finish a novel. Lol
    God bless, ya'll! I hope your goals are met. ;)

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    1. Finishing is such a feat in and of itself! It is definitely a noble goal and one you have far more control over than the other stuff, right?

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    2. Goals aren't my strong point either so I rarely set them. Although, if I did publishing one of my books would definitely be one of them.

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    3. Ivie B- Thanks! <3

      Mrs. Dittemore- Oh, it's so hard to even think about it. I don't know why.
      Yeah! I'll write as best I can, but like I aid, God's will be done. ;)

      Maggie- Yes, publishing my novel (when it's done, that is), is one of my goals. I really hope to do it. ;)

      Thanks for your comments, Ya'll. ;)

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    4. Yeah, it would defiantly help if the novel was finished before I tried to publish it ;)

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    5. Maggie: Lol, yes! God bless you. ;)

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  11. A goal is something that YOU achieve. A goal is something that you do on your own, and personally I wouldn't consider getting a book on a bestseller list a goal, more of a wish or dream. Like Jill said, you set yourself up for considering it a failure if it doesn't. Sorry, I'm not sure if I'm explaining this very well...
    ~Mila

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    1. If I understand correctly, or maybe just my interpretation, you're saying that a goal is something that you alone can set and achieve. A wish is where you'd want to see your goal take you to. For writing, it is a goal to get, say, 100,000 words down for the total book. Getting on a best sellers list is a dream or wish. That's what I got from it, which is very inspiring when you think about it. Thank you, Mila.
      God bless :)

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  12. https://www.gofundme.com/help-noahs-recovery

    Hello, guys. I commented on a past post a while ago about my cousin Noah. He came home to a fire and saved his baby daughter, mother in law, and grandmother in law, but he got seriously burned in the process.
    He is getting out of the hospital today, but is still in A LOT of pain. Please pray.
    I would appreciate it you guys tried to spread the link (above) around. We need all the help we can get. :\ Thank you!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that! Is he expected to fully recover? I will be praying for you guys.

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    2. I'm her sister. Lol
      They say he'd have oil splatters on the side of his face FOREVER. But, we prayed and they're GONE!!! Praise God. I've seen so many miraculous things happen in Noah's incident. It's amazing how God changed this sad thing into something so powerful.
      Let's just say, he got 3rd degree burns and second degree burns, went through horrible, disturbing nurses, and has been through so much pain, but he's healing.
      So, to answer your question (I tend to ramble), I'm sure he is going to fully recover. Well, he'll probably have some scarring, but that only reminds him of his bravery. He listened to God who told him that he needed to go straight home. If he had gone to Waffle House like his friends had invited him to go to, his baby and their grandma and great grandma would have burned to death. They were asleep while it happened.
      I thank God so much for bringing him to the house. I thank him for giving them all second chances. This incident could have been so much worse. They all could have died. My cousin could have ignored God and went with his friends, his baby daughter would be dead, and the grandma and great grandma would have died as well. But no, God intervened. He saved them all.
      So, scarring should happen and he has a lot of healing and recovering to do but this whole thing is a miracle. So, Jesus Christ cares. He really helps us, and hears our cries.
      Thanks, Maggie, for caring. <3 Oh, and thanks for the prayers. ;)

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    3. I'm glad that he is expected to fully recover and the rest of his family are fine. It is amazing what God can do.

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    4. Thank you, Maggie. <3
      God is so mysterious. When you stop believing that there are miracles trust me he'll show you.

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    5. I will pray for him. God is wonderful. He will heal Noah. God is watching over y'all.
      Psalm 34:20

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    6. Thank you! He got to go home yesterday (after a mild panic attack - he was so nervous), but he had to go back to the ER this morning. His shoulder was bleeding. They got it stitched, though, and he's able to go back home again. Thank you for all of your prayers!!!

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    7. @Ivie B---That verse! It's so sweet. Thank you!
      You prayers really mean a lot. All of ya'll really mean a lot.
      God has done so many miraculous things, and there's no doubt that he will be healed. Not the slightest doubt. I know he'll get better. He's so much better than before, but his hands....he finally got to hold his baby. I'm so happy. Reunited after 2 weeks. It's so touching!!
      Thanks again, you all. <3
      Oh, there are pics of him on the site with his baby. It also shows how he's doing.

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    8. Both: I'm glad to hear he's home. God is watching over y'all. I intentionally looked for a verse about healing. :)
      Sorry to hear that there was some difficulties on coming home, but glad to hear it all worked out. God bless y'all. :)

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    9. So am I. I'm glad he gets to see his baby girl. Aww, that verse was perfect. Thanks for telling us about it! I need that. <333
      I know that everything works out fro good fro those who love God. God will turn this thing into good. I don't know what, but I know that he will.

      Numbers 6:24-26

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    10. It's good to know that he'll make a recovery. It's so great that he was able to save all those people, and that he listened to God and went home right away. I hope he gets better really quickly!
      ~Mila

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    11. @Mila:
      I'm going to see him today. His experience is really bringing him close to the Lord. I am SO happy about that. It hurts that he went through what he did, but I think his rededication is what was being worked out for good in this situation. I found out what I didn't know. ;)
      I'm so glad that he listened to God. I'm so proud of him.
      Thank you so much, Mila! You're so sweet. By the looks of how he's doing, (his shoulder started to bleed again), he still needs to recover a bit, but he's doing SO MUCH better than before. He's still having trouble with his hands.
      He had to get 80 staples and had to have ALL 80 taken out the other day. he was worn out. At least it's all over with (painful surgeries, grafts, and debridements). God is doing good works in him. ;)
      He's so blessed about all of you who care, it really helps. <333

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  13. I am pretty new to the writing community, having not even been writing for a year yet even though it has been a lifelong dream. So far I have found that I get farther along if I don't put those very high goals on myself! Instead, my current goal is to find an agent after I finish my edits! and keep pressing forward and praying continuously! ;)

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