Writing resolutions and goals

2011. One more year to go before the Mayan end of the world, so I’ve been told. So, whatever you want to get done, make sure it gets done this year, cause we’ll be facing down the apocalypse soon.

In all seriousness, we know what a new year brings. Resolutions. Promises to ourselves and others that things will change. That they’ll be better. That we’ll reach new heights of success, prosperity, productivity.

All good things. But hand-in-hand with making resolutions is breaking them. Forgetting them. Waking up six months down the road and realizing that we’ve somehow fallen off the track we set forourselves on January 1st. Then we start battling regret. We let standards slide and figure, since we’ve missed the mark so far, there’s no point continuing to try.

As a writer, that kind of mentality is dangerous. In my previous post, we talked about how writing success is what you determine it to be for yourself. This involves setting specific goals (the more detailed, the better, in my opinion) and striving to achieve them. This could include resolving to finish your novel, to attend a conference and pitch to an agent, or joining a local writing group and getting your story critiqued.

Whatever your resolutions, whatever your goals, you are in control of whether you succeed at them or not. The trick is making sure the writing goals you set are ones that you can actually control.

What do I mean by that?

Consider these resolutions: “I will get signed on with a literary agent this year.” vs. “I will attend at least one conference and pitch to at least two agents at that conference.”

What’s the difference? The second resolution is one you actually have control over. It’s something you can definitely achieve. The first one is a good goal to aim for, but there’s no guarantee it’ll happen. You can do your best, query and pitch to your heart’s delight, but this year may not be the one in which you get your agent. However, you alone are in charge of your writing and the steps you take to make yourself a better writer.

So when looking at 2011, consider what you will have control over and what you won’t. Look at where you are now as a writer, and where you want to be by the end of the year, and then map out what it will take for you to get there in concrete terms.

Don’t be vague. Vague resolutions are easier to fail. Give yourself specific word counts. Definite timelines when you want that story finished, revised, and submitted. The number of short stories you want to write by next summer. Hard numbers are much more motivating than fuzzy ideas.

Set yourself up for writing success by laying down resolutions that are measurable, achievable, and will act as steps toward your larger goal of writing success.

Here are a couple of my resolutions:

  • To complete my current WIP, with at least a 80k wordcount by the end of February at the latest.
  • To post at least once a week at Write Strong (vacations and emergencies not included).
  • To gain three freelance clients by June (slightly cheating here, as I have one in the works already).
  • Attend at least one writing conference or convention.

Now, I have other hopes for the year. With my novel on submission to publishers, my hope is to have a book contract within the next few months. But that’s not something I can control. If I achieve that next step towards my dream, wonderful! If not, then I will continue to persevere.

What are your resolutions? Do tell.

See you in the new year as we continue to write strong together.

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