Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Setting Writing Goals

I'm pretty sure we've established this on here, but I like lists. You might say, I loooove lists.

On Saturday, I got together with some writer friends of mine for breakfast. We were all supposed to bring a list of our goals for 2011 and I ... well, didn't. I thought about making my list, and then ... you know, went to change a diaper or something.

Usually setting my goals is fun for me, but at the moment I'm in weird author's limbo. I'm waiting to see how my editor feels about the project I turned in, and then even if she likes it, we'll be waiting to see how the board feels. While this is a time I'm normally anxious to evaluate how I did and plan out while I hope to accomplish, it's been tougher this year.

But after Saturday's meeting, I once again grew excited about setting some goals. So now I'll pass on the opportunity to you guys. Especially since many of you are gung-ho about the Write Now curriculum we're doing next year where I'll spend the year detailing the steps to writing a novel. (Again, I'm sorry about having to use that curriculum word. It sounds like no fun, and it will be!)

A couple guidelines on making goals: (See, I even love lists that precede lists!)

1. Your goal should be something that pushes you, but isn't ridiculous.

2. It should be something that only YOU can do. It's dumb for me to say, "My goal for this year is to be on the New York Times Best Seller list." That's something I have very little influence over.

3. You should know what steps you plan to take to achieve it. Like if your goal is to learn how to write better characters, some good steps might be checking out books where the author did a good job with characterization, studying how to craft characters, etc.

Ralene, our leader, had us choose a daily, weekly, and monthly goal.

Normally my daily goal might be something like, "Write 1,000 words." But that's tough for me to predict these days. It's a goal that would only frustrate me. So I decided my daily goal would be to pray over my writing and to pray for my audience. It's something I used to do consistently and now I'm pretty spontaneous.

My weekly goal is to write 2,000 words if I'm in a writing place, or to edit 5 chapters if I'm in an editing place.

My monthly goal is to read two books, guest post on one additional blog, and e-mail other authors about what I enjoyed in their books. Which will be helped out by my plan to read two books a month. I can pick one of those authors, get on their web site, and send them an e-mail saying what I enjoyed. Authors never get tired of this, and it encourages them.

Then Ralene asked us to come up with goals we wanted to achieve by March, June, and December 31st, 2011.

Here's where I had to make mine fuzzier because of things being up in the air for me at the moment.

My March goal is to finish and polish my current project, and prepare a book proposal for either my new idea, or the sequel to my current project, depending on the feedback from my publisher.

My June goal is to finish the first draft of my new idea or the sequel to my current project. Again, just depends.

And by the end of the year, I hope to have polished the manuscript for my new idea (or the sequel) and to have a proposal ready for an idea yet to be determined.

It's okay if your goals get fuzzier. They're not etched in stone anywhere. Mine are scribbled on the back of my page-a-day The Office quote calendar. They can be changed, tweaked, rewritten. But having them serves a purpose. It means when I sit down at my desk, I don't have to think, "Okay ... what's the best way to spend this time?" I can look at my goals and know, "It's Thursday, and I've yet to write a word. Better get going on my weekly 2k."

What are some of your goals?


  1. Making the bestseller list is on my list of "Crazy" goals that Debbie Macomber had us write down at the 2009 conference. You know, the ones that can be 50 years in the future . . .

    As for realistic ones, my March goal would be to have finished my Annapolis story (and hopefully have turned it in to an eager editor!) and to have gotten a good start on whatever project next needs my attention, be it the next Bib-fic for WhiteFire or something from one of the many proposals out there.

    June would be to have finished whatever that next project is. By December . . . sheesh, it's so up in the air, I haven't a clue, but I'd really like to know what my 2012 year will look like by then!

    When in a writing place, my goal is always 2K a day. Challenging when I'm in a rut, easy when I'm in the zone. =)

  2. Okay, I don't know why the background on this post is white. Weird.

    I'm with you: 2k feels like a breeze when I'm really going, and it's hard for me to really get going these days. Especially when I'm balancing promotional stuff. Hopefully when the kids are in school and I have more predictable work time, I'll be able to set a more rigorous word goal.

  3. My goal is to finish editing one of my books and hopefully finish one within the next few months...
    For some reason I've had no motivation for writing lately... =/ Like I get a spark and I'm SO excited to write it and then when I try to later on after like a day or so, I go "Ugh... this is really boring..."

    How do I cope with not having any motivation? Is there any way to really motivate myself to write?

  4. That's a great question, Jazmine. I'll put together a post with some thoughts.