Near the end of 2014, I had something of an epiphany about goal-setting versus writing production. It turns out that if you set goals, you tend to make progress toward achieving those goals. That led to setting writing goals for 2015, and I think it helped me be a better and more productive writer. When you set goals, you have to evaluate your progress toward those goals, and set new ones. I did that at the end of 2015, so I need to do it this year too.
Rachel Thompson has two great posts on why writers should set goals, and how to maintain your focus on achieving those goals. Read them here and here. I already had my goals set when I read Rachel’s post, but I’m going to implement some of her ideas.
Here’s a great post from Dean Wesley Smith about setting goals as well.
On to my numbers then.
Last Year’s Goals
- Finish In Plain Sight (Sad Girl Book 3) by the end of April
Didn’t happen. Not even close. I’m only 13,000 words into and haven’t really worked on it since May.
- Get Finding Angie and Don’t Stop Believing Goal: vague.
DSB is released. Finding Angie, AKA Book 2 of The Sad Girl series is not. I got into a non-writing funk at some point and wrote very little fiction this year. That may have been partly due to Booktrope’s closure in May. That emotionally thumped me (and many others) very hard. I think I didn’t realize how hard it did, and how long it would take me to recover. That’s really the only explanation I have for my lack of fiction production. But I think I have recovered.
- Resume work on Blown Away.
Didn’t get anywhere on this, either. What little writing I got done this year was on Finding Angie.
- Two shorts by the end of the year
Again, missed this one. See previously mentioned writing funk.
- 48 original posts in 2016. Host 6 guest posts. Write 4 guest posts.
I managed to do fairly well on this. Counting this post, I have 70 posts this year. I wrote 7 guest posts on six blogs. I also hosted 7 guest posts. All of those guest posts were part of a Gravity round-robin posting party that ended around the time Booktrope closed. The Gravity survivors set up another session this fall, but I felt like I was too busy to contribute.
- 4 journalistic posts on the blog. I’m going to say I didn’t accomplish this one. I wrote nine posts in my Voice category this year, but I’m not sure I’d classify any of them as “journalistic” pieces. I’m not sure exactly what I meant by that though. I should probably work on defining that better.
- Increase total output by 25%. Made this one. My final word count is 332,043, and my final category word counts break down like this:
I’m changing the categories next year, because I’ve rolled too much into the Non-Fiction category. I spend a lot of time on social media and various forums, and those words belong in something other than “Non-fiction.”
Set Goals for 2017
Here’s my preliminary list of goals for 2017. Why preliminary? Because one should always be reevaluating one’s goals.
- Release Finding Angie. That will involve finishing the edits, retitling, and cover work. In this post, I suggested mid-to-late June as a release date, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. Let’s set a goal of August 15th.
- Finish Sad Girl Book 3 (Working Title: In Plain Sight). I expect that to come in around 85k or so. I want to have the first draft finished by October 1. That puts me on track to get it released in early 2018.
- Two short stories. I said last year that I could have a couple of good ideas out of the original Sad Girl book, and I do. I’ve even started on one of them. I’ve also got a couple of ideas for Red Dirt Justice short stories that should work well, and have started one of those. I’m hopeful that the Short Story class I’m taking for the spring semester will kick-start that writing.
- 70 blog posts. That’s right about where I was this year, and that’s a fairly decent pace of just over one per week. I’ve been consistent about getting a #MondayBlogs post up almost every week, but I don’t want those to be the only posts I do.
- Host 5 guests, and write 5 guest posts. That’s going to push me outside my comfort zone more than a little bit. With Booktrope gone, I don’t have quite the ready-made stable of prospective guest authors that I did. That means I need to go out and find some new people to write for me. I’ve got several ideas though.
- Up my fiction, blog, and total word counts by 25%. That’s easier for my fiction count than any other category, and that’s not much of an overall goal for fiction. I only managed about 11,000 fiction words this year, and a 25% increase only raises that to 13,750, which is barely two short stories. My fiction count really needs to be close to 100,000 if I want to write two shorts and finish one book.
Along the way, I’m going to change the way I track my writing. I have two categories for fiction: Fiction and WIP. The latter was supposed to be for whatever big project I’m working on, and the former was for any other projects. But fiction is fiction, so I don’t really see a need to break that down to such detail. I am going to break social media, email, and school writing out of the non-fiction category though, at least for my personal records. I know I spend a lot of time on Facebook and various forums. But without keeping some sort of record, I won’t know how much.
With the sidebar widget gone, I’ll have to come up with some other way to remain accountable with my wordcount. I might do a monthly total post.
- Enter one contest this year. This is a new goal. I need to stretch myself in order to grow as a writer. This is one of the best ways I can think of to do it.
- Attend a writing conference this year. It’ll probably be the OWFI conference in May. Two of the luncheon speakers look especially tempting; one is on short stories and the other on the writing process.
- Schedule three author events. I did two book signings this year, both in December here in town. They were a lot more fun than and not nearly as awkward as I was expecting. Plus I sold books. It’s a great way to interact with readers, too.
Those are my goals for 2017. What are your big plans for the year? Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter and subscribe to the blog so you never miss an update.