Writerly Goals 2016

DSC_0615_editLast week I shared my accomplishments of 2015 and–in the interest of both accountability and education–today I’m going to share my goals for the year of 2016. This year I’ve actually also divided the goals into quarters and even figured out how far to progress on each goal during the first four months of the year. Of course, this is always subject to change, but I’m pretty proud of the way I’ve broken things down:

1. Submit Good Bye to 30 publishers(or until I get a contract) — Good Bye is actually a novella so this is a somewhat ambitious number, but it’s totally doable.

  • January: Finish editing Good Bye and edit the synopsis/query(queries will be customized but the blurb will be the same for each one) 3-5 times. Submit the initial batch of queries at the end of the month, probably 10
  • May: By now I should have heard from most/all of the publishers in my initial submission batch and if I haven’t gotten any nibbles I’ll revise the submission package and send it to a second group of publishers
  • October: Again this is plenty of time to have heard from publishers so this is when I’ll submit to the third batch of publishers on my list if I haven’t gotten any nibbles. At this point I’ll probably revisit the actual manuscript and potentially make some small changes as well

2. Submit Moonshadow’s Guardian to 40 publishers(or until I get a contract) — As an adult fantasy novel of roughly 67,000 words there are tons of markets for this book so I think 40 submissions is totally reasonable. This is currently on submission so whenever I hear back I will immediately submit to the first batch of publishers unless I decide to make a few more last minute edits(or miraculously get a contract from the first publisher I queried).

3. Write sequel to Moonshadow’s Guardian — I actually wrote a sequel for this book initially but scrapped it years ago. This year I had some brilliant new ideas for it and I’m already a quarter of the way through the outline. I’m going to start on this right away once I’m done editing Good Bye so it will theoretically be in something like readable shape when I actually get a contract.

  • January: Finish outlining and start the first draft
  • February: Complete the first draft
  • June: I’ll have spent two months away and be ready to start the second draft of this novel at this point
  • July: Knowing me I’ll convince myself I can finish the second draft in June, hit a snag and have to do massive restructuring, so I’ll finish the second draft sometime in July

4. Rewrite Some Secrets Should Never Be Known Pt. 1 for submission — This used to be one book but has grown enough to almost be its own book. I’ll be adding a couple subplots to flesh it out completely and mercilessly editing the already existing scenes. I also want to make sure the second part goes through at least a couple rewrites so I can adjust the story in the first part as I need to before submitting.

  • February: Outline Pt. 1 and Pt. 2
  • March: Start writing new version of Pt. 1
  • April: Finish new version Pt. 1 and start new version Pt. 2
  • May: Finish new version Pt. 2
  • August & September: Edit Pt. 1 & draft submission package
  • October & November: Edit Pt. 2, Start part 1
  • December: Finish editing Pt. 1 and start submitting

5. Blog Regularly — I really fell off the blogging bandwagon this year when a heavy workload and insomnia conspired to leave me without a lot of energy, but I’ve been working quite hard on my writing and I’ve also acquired a lot of books. So here’s my blog plan:

  • January — April: Reviews & Things! I’ll be exposing some excellent books with diverse casts that are far too often ignored, as well as reviewing all of the books I enjoy from a massive(think 30 books) bundle of ebooks about writing I purchased during a Nanowrimo special. This is the first time I’ll ever be reading so many writing related books in a relatively short period of time and I’m excited to share the best ones with you.
  • May — August: I suspect by this point I’ll be heavily into video production on some projects I’ve been sort of working on for the last month or so. Depending on where things are, I might be talking a lot about them and what I’ve learned as well as sharing them here. Otherwise I’ll probably continue to review craft related books.
  • September — December: I’ll definitely have some wicked video stuff to show during this part of the year, but I’ll also be taking some classes(both writing related and not) that I’ll be reviewing here.

6. Double my writing income(without working more hours) — It’s a fairly lofty goal with everything else going on in my life, but I’m fairly confident I can do it. Of course I will be working 5-8 extra hours a week at first to research clients and publications to pitch as well as working on the pitches themselves, but I’m going to get a strong start on this at the end of this month when one of my existing contracts wraps up.

For this one I have a simple goal: research and pitch 10 companies every month. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to consistently get my name out there and a few excellent clients can easily double my income. I’ll also be applying for some grants this year in the hopes of taking a sabbatical to edit Some Secrets Should Never Be Known.

What are your goals for this year? How have you organized them? Let me know in the comments below!

Choose your commitments wisely this holiday season

Squirrels have almost nothing to do with writing, but everybody could use more cute in their life.
Squirrels have almost nothing to do with writing, but everybody could use more cute in their life, happy holidays!

Christmas is right around the corner, and whether or not your family celebrates it, chances are pretty good that you still have holiday obligations. My family certainly isn’t religious, but we still have Christmas dinner every year. It’s a good excuse to get together and enjoy ourselves, and it’s usually pretty nice to get presents.

But most of us don’t have just one dinner with our family. We have friends eager to see us, holiday dinners with the in-laws, maybe even company holiday parties. Everybody wants some of our time, and ordinary life doesn’t just stop because you want to go to an extra holiday party.

As tempting as all these celebration offers might seem, think hard before agreeing to each one. A company holiday party might sound fun, but it might turn out to be more awkward than enjoyable. Going out with friends every day for a week might actually get boring on the third day.

Many years of school taught me to instead think of the holidays as a time to write more. I tend to write out more goals than are humanly possible when planning for the year ahead, and I see these last two weeks as my chance to make one final attempt to hit those goals.

If you have some time off in the next two weeks and you’re not hosting Christmas dinner, you might just want to do the same.

Even if you’ve accomplished almost none of your goals this year, you can still make these last two weeks matter.

Those of you who completed Nanowrimo this year already know the amount of work you can get done in two weeks when you really put your mind to it. And most of you completed Nanowrimo while maintaining full time jobs and some semblance of relationships with the people around you.

If you can write 25, 000 words–or even 15, 000 words–in two weeks, you can accomplish quite a few big things in those two weeks.

In the last two weeks I’ve done one quick read of a novel I edited last year, taken notes for the next edit, edited some spelling and grammar errors along the way, and then did the last editing pass on a novella I’ve been working on. Oh, and I created a booklet of 110 Novel Planning Resourcesfor people subscribed to my newsletter.

Now, I don’t have a full time job, but I’ve also been working for Musa Publishing part time, writing articles for money, working on pitches for potential freelance clients, doing a series of workshops on storytelling as it relates to advertising, and planning out what next year will look like here on the Dabbler.

These are my plans for the next two weeks:

  • Perfect the query and synopsis for my fantasy novella — I started on these today, and I already have a couple people, one who’s read the novella and one who hasn’t, who have agreed to give feedback on these so I can revise them a few times.
  • Submit said novella — I’ve got this written on my calendar for December 30th. Submitting this novella was actually on my goal list for this year. I think we call this “cutting it close.”
  • Identify 15+ companies to pitch in the new year — I really want to start off strong in January with a lot of pitches, and this will be easier if I have a list to start with. Once I get going, I know I’ll stick with it.
  • Draft January blog posts — I’ve got a pretty good idea what I want to write about here at the Dabbler come January, and not much work in the next two weeks, so I’d like to get these done and hopefully even scheduled in advance.
  • Plan first 3 months on The Dabbler — My plan for The Dabbler currently ends at the same time January does, and I’d like to have a more solid idea what I’m doing with this blog when the new year starts.

Ambitious, right? To be honest, once you get into the rhythm of these things most of them don’t take too long, and I’m confident I can accomplish them, especially since I won’t be posting here next week.

So what are you planning to do before the year ends? Are you going to be wrapping up any big goals? Let me know in the comments below!

Tactics for when you’re stuck on rewrites

I’ve spent a long time in rewrites–first working on Moonshadow’s Guardian, then the second draft of my 2011 Nanovel–and the last two weeks have been the most unpleasant of all. Each day I wrote a page, maybe less, of the actual novel and spent hours entranced in other writing. Avoiding the novel itself.

Late last week I hunkered down, figured out the issue causing my avoidance and worked through it. Now I’m back to work on my novel, confident I won’t stall again.

When you’ve been working on the same project for a long time it can be difficult to continue. You start to lose your enthusiasm and writing becomes like walking on hot coals. Every scene seems an insurmountable challenge. The book itself becomes a monster you avoid like the one you thought was under your bed in childhood.

There are many potential reasons why you’re stalling, and many potential solutions. I’ve pulled together the methods I used to get myself back into my current WIP(Work In Progress). Still, the most important advice is to be persistent. If you write a paragraph every day, the day will eventually come when you write several pages instead and the dam is broken. If you want to start writing several pages a day again, beginning with tomorrow, these strategies should be able to nudge you in the right direction:

1. Re-assess your goals: stalling might be a sign you’re focused on the wrong goals. Maybe there’s another project you’ve been ignoring because you’ve been too focused on your WIP. Or maybe you’ve been pushing yourself way too hard and you need to scale back. Schedule breaks. Time to work on other projects, time for fun. Even when you’re not stuck, it’s good to re-assess your goals and current life balance often to make sure you’re on track.

It’s more important to build everyday habits that will help you achieve your long term goals than it is to finish it fast. Give yourself a goal that allows flexibility and room to relax. Pushing yourself too hard will only make you hate your novel and extreme burnout. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way a few times, and I suspect I’ll end up having to learn it again eventually. Re-assess your chosen goals and your overall life now–and again every few months–to avoid learning it the same way.

2. Modify your outline: the problem might be that you’ve taken your story in the wrong direction. It may be that you’re approaching a scene from the wrong angle, that you’re writing the wrong scene or even that your story is completely off course. Whatever the problem, if you’re working from a solid outline, you can find it there.

Examine your outline carefully. Are there significant changes since your first draft? Maybe the old story line was better or maybe you took it in the wrong direction. If you didn’t make any large changes, maybe it’s time you did.

3. Develop your characters: the issue might be that you don’t know all your characters as well as you should. You might be stuck because you don’t know a character’s motivations or how they’d react in a given situation. Or perhaps you’re not quite used to a PoV(Point of View) character’s voice.

Usually taking a troublesome character through some writing exercises is a good start and sometimes all you need. Doing a brainstorm session around a period of their life or their motivations, filling out timelines and physical descriptions can all be useful.

Sometimes you need to create a new character or kill one off. Don’t be afraid to do either one–whatever makes the story stronger–and don’t be afraid to take your time. Getting to the point where you won’t stall again is more important than working on your novel today.

4. Work on your backstory: sometimes you need to go back and take a closer look at your setting or other details of your backstory. For my current WIP I found myself having to write out the kingdom’s laws and several pages about the dominant religion before I could get back to my novel. Most of the time these issues are self evident after you reread the last few scenes you wrote or can be found easily by looking at the outline.

If you’re confident you need to develop your setting further, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do I know about my MC’s religion?
  • How much do I know about laws in my story’s setting?
  • What are some local delicacies?
  • How much do I know about the science/magic/medicine of my setting?

These 4 strategies should get you excited about your novel again and smooth out the process of writing that second draft. Rewriting will always be difficult, but you can get through it–and if you want to be a pro writer, you will.

Week 4

Judgement day is now very near. Our days to finish the novels we’ve been working on this November are almost over, and it’s time for the final push. It doesn’t matter if you have 49, 000 words or 5, 000 words, be ruthless this week. Cut out as much of your socializing as you can and beg or bribe someone else to do your housework. Your focus should be on writing this week, and getting as close to 50, 000 words and “the end” as possible.

It’s entirely possible that if you free up enough time, you can write almost your entire novel this week. So don’t despair if you’re behind, and if you’re ahead, keep pushing yourself towards the end. Of course there’s some things you still need to do–for example, paying bills is important, so you shouldn’t quit your job just so you can write this week–but the great majority of things aren’t that essential. TV is not important, and your family and friends don’t need all your spare time either.

You can do all the fun things you want when this month is over, and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself if you actually finish the novel before you go out to celebrate and have fun.

Don’t let yourself down. Write as much as you can every day this week, and you’ll walk away from Nanowrimo with most or all of a novel. Then go out and celebrate, but don’t take a break for too long. Now is the perfect time to create or strengthen your writing routine, since you’ve been writing every day or almost every day for a month. If you’ve been writing for two hours every day this month, maybe you’ll want to cut it back by one, but don’t let the writing routine you created during Nanowrimo slip away. That routine is one of the most important things you can have, and it will allow you to get much more done over the course of a year than you’ve managed to before.

So open your word document and start writing–and make sure you write every day until the end!

How to make the most of this weekend

Tonight marks the beginning of the last full weekend of Nanowrimo, and no matter where you are in your word count–unless you’re one of those lucky people who has already finished their novel–it’s important to make the most of your time. By creating specific goals and a detailed plan, you can balance your weekend between social commitments, housework and writing, and get a lot done.

Most people recommend working in short bursts and then taking short breaks. Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA suggested the Pomodoro Technique during her writing marathon last weekend, which involves working on something for a 25 minute period and then taking a five minute break. I personally find that how long I like to work on tasks depends on the task–often a blog post will take me a little bit less time to write, and I usually take a break between each one, but a chapter of my novel will take a bit longer.

Taking breaks is important so you don’t burn out, and you can choose to take a break from writing by making food, cleaning up a little bit, or just reading a book to recharge, depending on what you need to do. If you live with family or room mates, you can choose to spend your breaks from writing with them. Make sure that you time your breaks though, and have them be no longer than 15-20 minutes at the most, so you don’t lose steam.

To make your plan for this weekend, write down all the things you know you have to do, and what you want to work on this weekend. Include exactly how much work you want to get done on each project. If you have limited time, put numbers beside them to indicate their level of importance, so you can work on the most important ones first.

Decide how long you would like to work on each item on your list for, and choose a day to work on it. You can write it all out by the hour or write it out in two hour chunks, but I prefer just having daily to do lists instead of schedules by the hour or the half hour. Make sure that you have everything you need to write ready to go, and spend a few minutes outlining what you’d like to write this weekend so you don’t end up stalling.

Set up some sort of timer and get to work, taking regular breaks to recharge your brain. Don’t allow yourself to walk away from the computer until the timer goes off. Even if the writing is painful and slow, you’re bound to get something done if you force yourself to stare at the document for the entire time. If you’re feeling really stuck, re-read the last thing you wrote. Often that will give you a fresh idea for where to go.

What’s your main writing goal for this weekend?

Progress Report April 2013

April’s been a pretty exciting month for me. I got a job writing, editing and promoting blog posts for DJiZM Disc Jockey Services and I’m thrilled to be working with them. I’m also working on becoming a paid contributor to a large Canadian music blog, but I can’t reveal too much about that yet.

I’m still behind on my personal goals, but I did make more progress in April than I did in March, so let’s take a look:

April progress

Editing Moonshadow’s Guardian– I ended up only editing four chapters of Moonshadow’s Guardian this month instead of six, but I am making progress. I’ve now created a concrete plan to make more time for writing, both personal and professional, and I’m hoping to actually do six chapters in May.

Write twelve guest posts– depending on what you mean by ‘guest posts’, I might have made a lot of progress this month. I had three posts published on the DJiZM blog published in April and I’ve got more scheduled in May. This isn’t a blog for my target market, so it’s of limited value in terms of bringing me readers, but it’s certainly looking good on my LinkedIn profile, so I consider this a success. This would put me at seven posts for the year, which is pretty awesome. I do still need to get into more blogs aimed at my target market.

May plans

As you can see, while I originally set myself up with several goals for the year, I’ve only been making progress on one or two of them each month. Since the seasons have changed and it’s warm outside, I’ve decided to re-evaluate my goals and make a plan for May involving as many as possible.

Here’s the plan, goal by goal:

Query 12 Articles– I’ve decided that this exact goal is going to be scrapped. Instead, I’m going to alter this goal to ‘Make at least $5, 000 from my writing and writing-related activities. I’ve already made over a hundred dollars through my writing this year, and not only am I working for DJiZM and negotiating with one other company, I’ve also gotten ideas for articles I’d like to query to different magazines because of these jobs. This may seem like a big goal, and as someone who’s only ever made a couple hundred dollars here and there, it is, but I still think it’s totally achievable.

My income goal for May? $650. That’s a little bit less than I need to make each month to reach my goal for the year, but I’m planning to do a lot more writing work this summer.

Launch 10 Commandments– this project has been put on hold, but really all it needs is an intro, some exercises, and a conclusion. I’m probably going to be working on that a lot this month.

Launch an email newsletter– I’ve decided to hold off on this project as I’m having difficulty choosing how I’m going to run it and I’ve got a lot going on right now. I might come back to it this year, but for now it’s off the table.

Create Dear Diary Workbook– I’d really love to get this done this year, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the time, seeing as how behind I am on my edits for Moonshadow’s Guardian. Still, I’d like to get it close to done, so my goal is to write at least one page of this book every month until the end of the year.

Edit Some Secrets Should Never Be Known– This will get started as soon as I’ve finished editing Moonshadow’s Guardian, which seems like it will be an eternity. I’ll probably end up working on this during the summer.

Write one new novel– this is for November, but this month I’d like to figure out what the basic premise of my story will be. I might end up using November to do a full rewrite of the second half of/sequel to Moonshadow’s Guardian. I don’t know yet.

This month I’ll be buckling down on my time. No more distracted procrastination for me. I’ve already started carving out more time for myself, but by the end of this month, I’d like to make sure I’m spending at least one hour every day on one of these goals.

What are you doing to reach your goals this May? How did you do in April?

Rules for Productivity

I mentioned last week that I realized I was over committed. The truth is, I’ve known it for a while, but I denied it. I wanted to be super woman, to be able to manage eighteen projects at once while still in school and even working. Unfortunately, I’m not super woman, and I reached a point where I couldn’t deny it anymore.

So I decided to create a plan. But it didn’t turn out to be like any other plan. Instead, it’s a list of rules. Some of it is taking my own advice from my series on finishing projects. I know how to finish a project. I’ve written over a dozen novels. Yes, editing is always slower work for me, but that’s no excuse for the pace I’ve been working at. My new rules govern how I spend my time, ensuring that I’ll have time for my important projects. Perhaps you could adopt one or two yourself.

My new rules

1. I will not work more than three days a week. This is at my part time job handing out flyers. As much as the money’s nice, I don’t need to pay rent right now, so there are much more important things than money. Also, considering that I don’t pay rent, I’ll still make a decent amount of money by working three days a week.

2. I will take breaks from Dianna’s Writing Den. I love blogging here at Dianna’s Writing Den, but it’s a huge commitment to post three times a week. From now on, I won’t be posting on holidays, and I’ll be taking one week off every month. The first of these breaks will be April 22nd-26th. Each post I don’t write is an hour spent on a different project, and right now I need all of those hours. I’m hoping this will allow me to not only put more hours into other projects but to bring you better content during the other three weeks of the month.

3. I will refuse any unpaid commitment requiring more than two hours of my time. Two hours is about the time it takes me to outline and write a guest post. I already have several unpaid long term commitments, and frankly, I need to guard my time carefully. I also need to focus on profits, so anything more than the smallest unpaid commitment is off the table.

4. I will not spend more than an hour on email on week nights. I get a lot of email. It’s actually ridiculous. Every day I get a few dozen awesome articles or blog posts in the mail along with essential correspondences. Making sure I don’t go over this limit means making sure I have time to work on other projects before bed. Playing catch up on the weekends isn’t a big deal either. Most of those emails can wait.

5. I will make progress on one of my main goals every day. This doesn’t have to be a lot of progress. I’m often exhausted when I get home, and I have to make sure that I’m awake on time for school. The important thing right now isn’t how much progress I make each day, but that I make progress each day. Even if I only edit one page of my book or write an outline for a guest post, that’s still a step in the right direction. If I take one step each day, sooner or later I’ll reach my goals.

These rules are designed to help me complete the projects that are important to me. They fit with the busy life I’m leading right now, and most are good advice at any point in a writer’s life. Once I’ve finished writing this post, I’ll be printing up this list and putting it somewhere prominent in my house. In a place where I’ll see it every day.

If you’ve been struggling to complete your projects due to a ‘lack of time’, perhaps you need to adopt some of these rules yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much a simple set of rules like this can change things–every minute counts, and a few hours of extra time a month can make a big difference.

Do you have rules around your productivity/writing/time?

Staying Focused

For the last few weeks we’ve been discussing how to deal with various disturbances in your writing. We’ve discussed family interruptions, technological interruptions, school/work interruptions and even writer’s block.

Today we’re going to discuss one of the most important things any writer can do, especially when working on a book length project: staying focused.

For most people, staying focused–especially for the amount of time required to complete a novel–is no easy feat. In a world that’s all about instant gratification, it’s hard to keep your focus and to stick with a project that might provide no gratification at all. But as writers, that’s what we have to do. If you don’t want to hunker down and get focused on a project that admittedly might never make you a dime or see the light of day, go do something else.

So how do you stay focused? I use a simple three step process, and while it’s not perfect, it keeps me on track most of the time.

1. Figure out your focus. Choose a project to work on and commit to finishing it by a certain date. Be specific. Is this going to be a novel-length project or a series of poems? Often a lack of focus is a symptom of being too vague about your goals. As any motivational writer will tell you, it’s much easier to stay focused on a specific, measurable goal. So be as specific as you can when choosing what you’re going to focus on in the coming months.

2. Make a plan. Now that you know what project you’d like to focus on, make a plan to complete it. Take a look at the deadline you’ve specified and how long you want your project to be. How many days between now and then do you have? How much would you have to work on the project each day to finish it by the deadline? Is it a reasonable amount of work? If not, you might have to adjust your deadline.

Make sure that you include all kinds of work in your estimate. If it’s a first draft, writing might be the only thing you need to do, but on the second draft you might have to write some new scenes as well as edit the old ones. If it’s an ebook you plan on self publishing or a website you plan on launching, you’ll probably want to do some advance marketing.

Give yourself a reasonable deadline based on how much work you can be expected to do each day, then start planning your time. Are you going to spend an hour a day editing your novel? Or are you going to spend one day editing and the next marketing? Decide how to organize your time and write down your plan.

3. Eliminate distractions. This is actually what we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks, and it is perhaps the most important thing. Now that you’ve carved out time to work on your project and figured out how to use that time, it’s your job to defend that time. This part involves saying no to people and creating strategies to deal with the distractions you’re most susceptible to.

The easiest way to do this is by scheduling time to work on your chosen project each day and making sure nothing interferes with that plan. Make it a habit to write at the same time every day. That way it’ll become routine and soon you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just write at that time each day.

Conclusion

This may seem like an over simplification and maybe it is, but I think keeping the focus to finish a project depends entirely on these three things. In fact, I argue it could even be simplified to two things: make a plan and stick with it. It’s a simple concept in theory that becomes incredibly complex when you try to implement it, but if you follow those two rules–no matter what it takes–sooner or later you’ll have a finished project.

And that will be worth all those hours of hard work, right?

Writing Goals 2013

In the last month I’ve been talking a lot about goals. So have thousands of other people–so many that you might even be sick of hearing about it.

Well, for those of you who are sick with new years resolution talk, I’m sorry, but please bear with me. Today I’d like to share my writing goals for the next year with you both so that I can be held accountable to what I’m doing over the next year and so that you can see why I chose each goal and get an idea how to structure your own list of writing goals for the year.

Goals 2013

Finish editing Moonshadow’s Guardian–This has been on my list forever. It’s been shunted aside due to injury, Nanowrimo and post-Nanowrimo burnout, but I’m back on track now and I’ll probably finish this in January. This goal is here because I absolutely have to get it done. I’m passionate about this project and I’m already most of the way through this goal, so I should be able to cross this one off early, too.

Write 12 Guest Posts–I’ve done some guest posts in the last couple of years and they’ve all been well received. I’ve also gotten good traffic here from doing these, so my goal for next year is to make sure I write at least one guest post per month. It’s a good way to get more traffic and to build a reputation, bringing me not only relationships with new readers but also with the blog owners themselves. Twelve is one per month and it seems like a reasonable goal to me even with everything else that’s on my plate.

Query 12 Articles–This goal is all about getting myself into the freelance marketplace. It’s about making sure that I always have at least one thing being looked at by an editor. It’s also at the one per month scale, meaning that while it is a commitment, it shouldn’t interfere with my other work. Oh, and just a note–it says query twelve articles rather than publish twelve articles because unless I’m self publishing, I have to depend on editors liking my work to publish. Thus, publishing twelve articles wouldn’t be such a good goal because I wouldn’t be able to do it all on my own.

Launch 10 Commandments–The 10 Commandments of a Serious Writer–no, it isn’t religious–is an ebook that I’ve already done most of the writing for. I’m hoping to have this ready in March. It’s going to be a flimsy freebie used mostly to test how many people would be interested in ebooks I produce and also to help me get comfortable with the ebook creation process.

Launch an Email Newsletter–I’m already pretty familiar with the technology used to run one of these, and I’ve always wanted to have one. My biggest issue has been figuring out what the format would be. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want to do with this now. I’m aiming to launch it with the 10 Commandments of a Serious Writer ebook.

Create Dear Diary Workbook–I’ve always wanted to turn the Dear Diary Workshop I’ve run on this blog in the past into an ebook that people can work with on their own time. I’ve already got a solid outline for this and an intro, so I don’t think it will take too long to get it up and running. By the end of the year is totally reasonable. I’m hoping to sell this as it’s very dear to my heart and I think it’s a great tool for writers. This should help me further build credibility and hopefully make some money.

Edit Some Secrets Should Never Be Known–This is my Nanovel from last year, 2011, that’s in pretty awful shape. I do quite love the story though, so I’m probably going to start an entirely new draft of this next year. I do someday hope to turn this into a publishable novel, and I didn’t have time to this year with all my other projects. But I’m going to be doing a serious restructuring this year so I have more time to write, giving myself time to finish more than I did last year.

Write One New Novel–Every year I participate in Nanowrimo and this year will be no different. I have no idea what I’m going to write in November. All I know is that I insist on participating and that writing a new novel is never a bad thing–even if it’ll be a couple years before I get the chance to edit it.

These are all my goals for the year. Each one is designed to contribute to my writing career in some way, and this list has a good mix of editing, non-fiction and fiction projects. I’ve also kept it relatively small–at least in comparison to some of the lists I’ve had in past years–to leave room for new things that come up. I’ve already got some ideas of what else will come up in the new year, but I’m trying not to overload myself with official goals this year so there’s room for new things and so I actually feel accomplished at the end of the year.

What are your goals for the new year? How did you choose them?

Re-Evaluating your Writing Goals

It’s that time of year again. Everyone’s after your money, the houses are all lit up with half a dozen colours, and people are singing in the streets. The new year is right around the corner and it’s time to start re-evaluating our lives and deciding what changes we want to make next year.

For us writers, it’s important to look carefully at what we want to achieve in the next year. For those of you who are hobby writers and plan to keep it that way, you need to pick a goal that’s reasonable and that fulfils your creative needs. For those of us who are aiming to become professional authors, we need to look even more carefully at our goals to make sure that they’re really moving us in that direction.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that we should really make four sets of goals: one set of long term goals, one set of goals for the next five years, one set of goals for the next three years, and finally a set of goals for the next year. Today I’d like to walk you through the process of creating these sets of goals.

First, look at the goals you’ve made for this year. Cross off whatever you’ve achieved, make notes of the ones that you’re still working on, and make note of which ones you won’t be able to accomplish before January first. Then look at any sets of longer term goals that you’ve had and take note of whether or not you’ve made progress towards these goals in the last year.

Your first set of goals should really be a statement about what you want to achieve long term. Think of this as something like a ten or twenty year list. Mine would be to have published several short stories and three or four novels in ten years, and to be making enough money to live solely off of my writing. Include all the major things that you want to accomplish in the next ten to twenty years.

From there, we’re going to work backwards. Now create a goal list for the next five years. This goal list should include how many novels you want to write during that time period, how many you want to edit, whether you want to try a different kind of fiction each year, and an idea of how many short stories you’d like to write–say, between 20-30. My list currently includes goals relating to novels, short fiction, and non-fiction. Make sure that all of your goals will lead you in the direction of your long term goals.

It’s time to create a list of goals for the next three years. Once again, this includes any novels you want to write or edit, any grants or competitions you specifically want to enter, or whatever other writing goals will lead you to your final destination. If you want to be a famous novelist, make goals relating to writing, editing and submitting novels. Do the same for short stories if that’s where your interest lies. Aim to have a certain number of subscribers to your blog or hits on your website. My three year plan hopes to see Moonshadow’s Guardian either on submission or happily at a new home and the same for the novel I’m currently finishing.

Once you’ve got those plans, it’s pretty simple to figure out what you need to do next year. My goals for next year involve editing Moonshadow’s Guardian once, sending it to beta readers, editing it again and then hopefully submitting it for publication by August of next year. It also includes one full rewrite of the novel I’m currently finishing. Another goal is to write and submit one short story each month next year. These goals are designed to help me reach my long term goals of sustaining myself and being a well known name. Your goals should be designed to do the same thing.

Remember that these goals are probably going to change somewhat, and that’s okay. In fact, you should closely examine your goals every six months to see if they’re working for you. It’s important not to push yourself towards things you’ve realized you don’t really want to do. I’m not going to look hard for non-fiction work because I don’t want to. But I am going to write more this year and submit more. That’s my passion.

It’s all up to you to decide what you want to do. I hope this has helped you work on your goals for next year. I’ll be posting my complete list, with the specific reason for each goal, closer to the end of the year.

What kinds of goals do you think you’ll be making for 2012?