‘Tis the season for posting about your writing goals and I’m no different. As 2017 fades into the sunset and 2018 dawns, let’s see how I did, and make some new plans for the coming year.
How did I do? Not so hot.
- Release Finding Angie. This didn’t happen. Renamed Discoveries, the book is still going through alpha edits. I’m working on chapter 19 of 28, having added one chapter during edits.
- Finish Sad Girl Book 3 (Working Title: In Plain Sight). This is not close to being finished. I’m about 18,000 words into something I expect will end up in the 90s.
- Two short stories. I only finished one short, and that one for school.
- 70 blog posts. Yeah, not even close. I made 31 posts. I came up with plenty of great ideas for posts, but just didn’t finish them.
- Host 5 guests, and write 5 guest posts. Didn’t get any done on either part of this goal. I said it would push me outside my comfort zone, and it did, in a big way. I’ve apparently become far too comfortable in my comfort zone, so that’s going to have to change.
- Up my fiction, blog, and total word counts by 25%. My goal was a total of 418,000 words, and I only hit 327,063. That’s about 98% of last year, so not only did I not make my goal, I didn’t even meet last year’s total.
Fiction hit 16,594, or 406% of last year. No, that’s not a typo. Even during what felt like a light writing year, I quadrupled my fiction word count from 2016.
The blog hit 35,537, or 59% of last year’s total.
- Enter one contest this year. Thought about it several times. Even picked a couple out. Didn’t do it.
- Attend a writing conference this year. I actually made it to two conferences. OWFI was in May, and NightWriters did a one-day event in October. Both were great events, and I should be able to make both of them this year as well.
- Schedule three author events. I had two scheduled, and had to cancel one of them due to a gout attack that left me grumpy and unable to move easily.
See? Not so hot. Pretty terrible performance, actually. But I don’t want to beat myself up too badly. Yes, I didn’t meet my goals. But that’s not a horrible thing, and it doesn’t make me a bad person or writer.
That’s one danger with setting goals: that by missing them, you set yourself up for an emotional beating. But you don’t have to give the beating, and you don’t have to take it. Goals are designed to give you a way to evaluate what you’re doing. If you don’t have goals, it’s very difficult to figure out if you’re making progress toward your dreams, whatever they are. If you set a specific target – a goal – then you can measure your progress and decide if you’re on the right course.
I can say I’m a good shot with a rifle or pistol. But without a target, that’s just talk. If I set a target out at 300 yards, and consistently hit the center of the target, then I’m on more solid ground when I brag. But if my shot groups are two feet across and are spread all over like a shotgun pattern, it becomes obvious I need to work on some things. For instance, if my group is narrow but spread out vertically, I need to work on my breathing control. If it’s fairly short, but consistently off to the right by varying amounts, I’m probably jerking the trigger. Seeing the results of my actions gives me feedback so I can know what to work on.Seeing the results of my actions gives me feedback so I can know what to work on. | What Professional Goals Have You Set For 2018? Click To Tweet
I don’t think any of these are unreasonable. Are they a stretch? Hopefully.
- Release Discoveries. I want this out by spring. If I had to put a date on it, I’d say late April, because I haven’t even talked to my cover artist yet.
- Finish In Plain Sight. I’m about 18,000 words into something I expect will end up in the 90s. My goal is to hit this at full speed once Discoveries is off to edits. I’ll say fall 2018 for this, perhaps aiming for October.
- Two short stories. I only finished one short last year, and that one for school. One thing I discovered was that if I let myself be inspired by a song, I tend to get too focused on hitting certain beats. My class story, “Down a Westbound Road,” was inspired by Bob Seger’s “Roll Me Away.” Several times I felt like I was forcing the characters to do something that they wouldn’t do, and the writing suffered. I commented on that in this post last March. I still want to do two short stories this year, and I’ve got general ideas for them.
- 50 blog posts. That’s close to double what I did last year, but less than last year’s goal. I think it’s more realistic though.
- Host and write guest posts. I’m not sure how else to phrase this. I need to push myself to write more. I’m just not sure where to do it. I wrote a couple of pieces this year that earned me some compliments, and I’ve toyed with the idea of submitting a couple of them to Huffington Post or Patheos. That’s such a huge leap for me to submit to those sites though. Scary stuff.
- Up my fiction, blog, and total word counts by 25%. My 2017 word count was 327,063, so my goal for 2018 is 408,829. Fiction goal is 100,000. Blog goal is 57,000. My fiction goal is more than 25% over last year, but my other goals include finishing In Plain Sight as well as writing two short stories. Likewise, the blog goal is more than 25% because my post goal is almost double what I did this year.
- Enter 3 contests this year. 2 would be easy enough. Tulsa NightWriters does an annual flash fiction contest near the end of the year, and Oklahoma Writers’ Federation also has an annual contest centered on the convention. Since two are easy entries, I need to stretch and find a third. I think the biggest reason I didn’t enter anything was fear of judgment. When you enter a contest, you’re asking specific people what they think of your work. If the contest is done right, they don’t know who each writer is. But they’re still judging you, and that’s kind of scary, even if I’ve got two books done.
- Attend two writing conferences this year. They’ll likely be OWFI and TNW again. Money is what drives this goal, although the TNW event has been free the last two years.
- Schedule three author events. I’ve got a bookstore in mind for one, and the library will probably have another December event. I might (should) do a third or even a fourth for book releases. We’ll see.
- Plan my work week better. I need to come up with a schedule for my writing time. I only sort of have one in place right now, in that Monday is my blogging day and Wednesday is sort-of a social media focus. Making that schedule more detailed than that will help me get focused when I sit down at the computer. Generally, if I don’t have something scheduled, I don’t get much done. My wife breaks things down into morning and afternoon blocks, which will probably work for me. I need to give that some more thought though.
What goals have you set? What are you doing to make them happen? I think this last goal—planning my work week better—is going to do the most for helping me meet the rest of my goals. I’ve been far too unfocused about what I’m doing each day. If I create a schedule, print it out so I see it every day, and then stick to it, that will do wonders for my focus.
The other thing I’m going to work on is finishing a blog post as soon as possible after coming up with the idea. That way I can schedule it and move on to the next idea. I’ve come up with some great ideas for posts. But I let myself get overwhelmed by the amount of research it might take to finish the post. Then I get frustrated at the low number of posts. But if I write a post and schedule it as soon as it’s finished, I can look at my queue and see some emotional breathing room.
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