Come the end of December, I take some time to think about my goals for the year. I make lists–tangible evidence of what I’ve achieved, then settle down over a cup of coffee and congratulate myself on my awesomeness. Once that’s over and done with (honestly, musing on my awesomeness can take hours!), I think about the goals I haven’t yet reached, and spend some time thinking about why. This, believe it or not, is the fun part.
I like hitting my goals, I really do. And I’ve achieved almost every goal I’ve set myself over the past few years (I also do a mid-year goal evaluation). I also like a challenge. And I love lists.
This year, the goal I haven’t reached is running a 10k. There are a few reasons:
- When the Tufts 10K rolled around, I opted not to do it. Why? My parents and Joe’s parents had just left, and it was a long weekend I wanted to spend with Baby and Joe.
- I had Baby in July. 5 months isn’t long to train when you’re short on time, let alone when recovering from giving birth.
- I started working again 2 months after Baby. Granted, it’s only part-time, and I’m working from home, but my days are still pretty full.
Looking at the list, part of me wants to say, “So? You should have worked harder!” The other part, though, the more forgiving, squishy part, tells me these are all valid reasons. And, although I can’t yet run a 10k, I can run a 5k in 30 minutes, and have lost 22 out of my 32 lbs of pregnancy weight. These, that forgiving, squishy part says, are evidence that I will get to 10k level sooner or later.
Once I’ve settled my lists for this year, I start the ones for next year. First, I sketch out my writing goals (Joe and I work on family lists together; my freelancing goals are separate). This is also fun–it lets me see how I’m doing on my current projects, and anticipate finishing things. I love finishing things!
My 2010 writing goals look a little (I’m still working out the kinks) like this:
- Finish revisions on Listen, my YA contemporary, by the end of April.
- Write at least one piece of flash fiction per month
- Find 6 agents I’d like to query
- Submit something for every second critique session
- Take at least one writing class
- Read more – I’m working on a list of books I’d like to read throughout the year.
Are these crazy big goals? No. But having them helps me not just plan out my time, but have confidence in myself. This year, I’ve built many more connections as a result of my goals, had positive, personal feedback from a couple of agents, rebuilt my blog, and am starting a book reviewing gig (more on that soon). Without my goals, I’d probably have spent the better part of the year trying to figure out what to do next.
Want to get started with your own writing goals? It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Seriously.
- Write down the things you’d like to achieve.
- Break those into manageable pieces. Be honest about what you can do–sell my book and get a 7 figure advance is not realistic.
- Add the numbers. Put time limits on things (by April), or minimum efforts (at least one class).
And you’re done!
Tip: don’t set goals that depend on others. Things like “get an agent” or “get published” rely on someone else–and set you up for failure. Querying, polishing, and finding ways to make yourself more agent/publishing worthy are not just much more useful goals–they’re much more satisfying.
The takeaway: setting out goals helps build confidence, and helps us grow as writers. It’s also okay to not meet a goal–just make sure you’re still traveling along the right path.
Do you set writing goals? Do you write lists? Or are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of writer?