Friday, December 30, 2011

Writing Resolutions and Goals

by Matt Sinclair

The calendar page will turn soon, and all of a sudden it will be 2012. Of course, it’s not a sudden change. The year has been moving inexorably toward 2012 for lo these 364 days. That’s one nice thing you can count on about time: It keeps moving.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve wished it would move backward so I could change things, add accomplishments, and kiss that pretty girl from high school who I didn’t know liked me until it was too late. Of course, as fiction writers we can go back in time whenever we want, albeit with an unsatisfying lack of reality. But I learned long ago that one way to bridge the time/reality gap is to plan for the future.

Yes, folks, it’s resolution time! I know that not everyone makes resolutions, but I find them very helpful. I actually start drawing up mine in October, but that’s me. I also split them into personal, work/business, and writing-related. Truth is, there’s a fair amount of overlap these days. My writing-related goals include freelance targets (which are boorishly measured in dollar amounts—how unartistic of me!). And those targets help me achieve personal goals (and feed my family, for that matter).

I asked a few of my fellow Write Anglers whether they have writing-related resolutions. Some do, some don’t. I particularly liked what R.C. Lewis said: “One of the most important things I’ve found when setting these goals is to know myself, my schedule, and my capabilities. And not compare my goals to anyone else’s.” Sage words from a sage woman. She added, "To some people, writing three manuscripts in one year is a lot, to others it’s nothing. And that doesn’t matter."

Some people like having quarterly targets, others break them down to months, some simply plot an annual goal: I’ll write this book and edit that one, for example. At AgentQuery Connect, Mindy McGinnis oversees what she calls the “Writing Odometer,” which is a daily and monthly list of personal goals. There’s nothing mandatory about it, but it’s helpful for those of us—myself included—who like the added pressure of making our goals a bit more public. They seem more real that way. She added that it’s helpful to share your goals with your critique partners. (A good goal, by the way, is to join a critique group if you haven’t already.) Crit partners can help you write when you don’t think you can muster the energy.

Because writing is a Sisyphean task, it’s good to have someone cheering you on to push that rock up the hill.

Just imagine if you pledged to write 350,000 words in one year. It might sound impossible in January. But a daily kilo of words would get you over that hump easily. You could even skip your birthday, Thanksgiving, and your favorite winter holiday and still be done by mid-December.

But writers are never done. There’s always another scene to write, another query to craft, another synopsis to sum up, and characters to corral—or at least make the attempt.

Got any ideas for resolutions you care to share? Did you meet your goals for 2011?

Whether you articulate your goals or not, I hope you meet them. From all of us at From the Write Angle, have a wonderful New Year. We’ll see you again in 2012!


Darke Conteur said...

I posted my resolutions last year and the year before, and it was interesting to see how many of them I accomplished. Just two, btw.

I'm not sure if I'll do any this year. I find that if I set a goal, life tends to mess things up. :D

Matt Sinclair said...

Life often gets in the way. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." But for me, plans must be made, otherwise I languish on a manuscript for half a decade.

RSMellette said...

I'm not a big goal-setter, either. I have a couple of projects on other people's desks, so all I can really do is wait.

While waiting, I have a book I want to write that's a bit out of my style. If I get that one done this year, then that'll be fine.

Along with the usual sending stuff out.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I love setting goals. This year I'm going for 1,000 words a day. I figure that will get the habit started, which is what I really need right now. Great post.

Mindy McGinnis said...

The writing odometer definitely keeps me on my toes!

Jemi Fraser said...

I always think I should do these - maybe I'll start small with the Writing Odometer group! :)

Leslie Rose said...

My critique partners and I pony up monthly goals to each other. I need that gentle pressure/encouragement for fuel.

J. Lea Lopez said...

I'm not big on resolutions, writing or otherwise. But I do have a goal this year: publish. I'll be self publishing a few smaller things, but I think it's high time I finally stopped standing on the outside, looking in, and actually jumped in for myself! I'm trying to state it publicly everywhere I can, to help keep myself accountable. I know my FTWA crew will keep me on my toes :-)

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks everyone. And you bet, Jen!