Seems like every second (okay, fifth, tenth?) writer’s blog out there is already talking about setting some writing goals for 2013.
But if you insist…here’s some thoughts from down my own road.
The Negatives on Goal Setting
All Goal-ed Out (for the moment)
As much as I love a bit of goal setting myself, I would like to enjoy (if that’s possible in 35 degree heat) the rest of December first. There’s Christmas, family time, Boxing Day, the summer sales (we badly need a weed trimmer) and that week between Christmas Day and the New Year where it’s quite normal to start thinking ahead.
But I am thinking ahead in some ways – for my daughter. We’ve been working on a poster sized Zoo Map which maps out her 2013 goals. Trying to get through the necessity and potential success of writing out goals and tasks is a little difficult when dealing with a ten year old who just wants to jump into the pool, but…
The map is based on a real zoo map, of Auckland Zoo, New Zealand, which we visited last week. Many of the wild life areas for the real zoo have been replaced with sections relevant to her goals for the coming year – academic, sporting, friendship etc. We are hand-drawing and colouring with artist pens and watercolours.
It’s taking blinkin’ ages.Days, maybe weeks. We did some brainstorming for it whilst in New Zealand – fortunately she took over only a small book, so when boredom set in I asked her to get out some scrap paper, and think.
That turned out to be the hardest thing to ask of a tweenie, used to living in the day to day. To see ahead for another year, and to imagine success.
My work on the giant wall poster of an imaginary goal zoo for a ten year old means I’m baulking at making my own yearly goals. I’m out goaled for the moment.
Hand-in-hand with the many goal-setting posts on the internet we find as many retrospectives, or summaries of a writer’s year, often as a “Learnings” post. I’ve done some lately myself, it kind of comes with the territory of finishing up a first draft in November with NaNoWriMo. We WriMo’s fall into December with some relief, still buzzing from the success (or otherwise) of the previous writing month, and WANT TO DO SOMETHING even better.
But first, because every first draft is bad, we are forced to look back at it, revise, edit, and look back some more.
So, it’s good timing for making those future plans for the new year, also with all that retrospection.
As this blog has lasted slightly longer than a year, with some trepidation I looked up my New Years Resolution Post for this last year. It can be found here. (And I see I was also in the process of helping my daughter set some smaller goals for the year for herself also).
Looking back, it’s some guts, some glory – unfortunately my big high end goals of publishing 2 novels this last year have not been made to come true. ** Blush **, but (she adds quickly), all the smaller goals like attending the Sydney Writer’s Festival, and writing four days a week, have come into fruition.
My goals made in January this year were created by somebody still learning. After a year of writing, I can say I achieved those two novels (and half of another two-book set), but my own learning process has meant I have postponed publication for the sake of achieving a quality debut publication rather than a quick one.
Writing takes time – but editing and revising takes triple that – and I had to experience that before I got a full understanding. The learning will go into creating some more high end goals for 2013, when it comes time for me to write them out of my head.
Small Stuff, Yeah, and Really Large Stuff, Too
Everyone knows the answer to the question – “How do you eat an elephant?” but when it comes to goal setting, it’s often the whole darned animal in the gob that’s the problem.
Me, I’m good at setting small achievable goals, like I make public for ROW80. I even leaked some short-term goals of mine for January-February 2013 within the techno post on writing a first draft recently. So, you possibly know that this month I’m “Revisualising” my WIP, and January/February will be entering the revision/rewrite first stages, alongside of taking several online writing courses targeting the same approaches.
That’s the easy stuff – little tasks follow other tasks.
But the big ol’ elephant isn’t such an easy dream. I guess I must go back to similar targets as I had for this last year – publish two novels, promote, then write / complete another. At some point over the gap between Christmas and New Year I might actually write that elephant down.
When it comes to a herd of the beasts I’m back on game again. I already have a 4 year plan (see the link to Joanna Penn’s Olympics post below) written, which can easily become a five year plan, even a ten year plan. And regarding my relative unachieval (I’m reluctant to use the word “failure”) of publishing two novels this year, it looks better when viewing from the four year plan flashback into-the-future POV. It looks like only a slight blip, a postponement along the timeline.
In that aspect, I’m not alone.
Set and Forget (Set and Fret?)
Writers are particularly notorious for setting goals, and not achieving them. All the world knows a wannabe writer (author) and wonders what happened to that plan and good intention around February or later. Everyone knows somebody “writing a book” but not so many who have published a book.
I don’t want to fall under that same category and go out and pick some public goals for an entire year, then fail at some (all) of them. My writing life at this point has matured enough to understand that I’m already doing what I need to do to achieve my smaller and long-term goals (to use the confuluted metaphor above, the chunks of elephant meat, and the herd of elephants). But I would suffer needlessly if I failed dismally or just gave up on the actual public elephant. My ego still needs some preservation.
I’m also a regular participant in ROW80, which is all about goals and goal setting through the month or a week. And about changing those goals to suit circumstances. 2013’s first round of eighty days starts January 7th, and I’ll be there.
That doesn’t take away the fact that all writers (including ROW80 participants), need some high end goals for the year, to be broken down into achievable challenges. We need strategic goals which can be supported with our normal goals through the year. We need to move.
But there is help on the subject –
The Positives on Goal Setting
Setting Writing Goals (Resource Links)
- Gabriela Pereira, of DIY MFA, has been spending a week on goal setting, and just recently posted a set of PDF goal worksheets to download, asking amongst other things for us to state the play currently, and what we want to see in a year’s time. Freebie download.
- Once you’ve gone to that post to get the worksheets, check out the side-bar “Related” box which points towards several writing goals or resolutions type posts from 2011 and recently.
- Duolit‘s Toni introduced No Excuses: 15 Minute Goal Setting for Authors which has do-able steps to target your goals – which includes adding the due dates onto a calendar in the same 15 minutes.
- Janet Tait had a two part series on goal setting for writers in January. Goal Setting for Writers and other Creative Types. She also uses one of the many free websites out there for putting up and checking off goals.
- C.S. Larkin guest posted at The Creative Penn in January with Writing for Life: 5 Practical Goals for Writers which are generic for any writing projects you may have in mind.
- Bob Mayer talks about strategic goal setting in this January post, excerpted from his Write it Forward workshop – Goal Setting for Writers for 2012.
- Several authors have discussed creating a 5 year (even a ten year) writing career plan to really get a handle on things like promotion, publication, and writing. Here’s Marissa Meyer in 2011 – Creating a 5-Year Writing Career Plan,
- In August Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn wrote a post on measuring achievements and setting goals to coincide with the four year cycle of the Olympic Games, asking where we were four years ago during the Beijing games, where we were during London’s games this year, and where we want to be in four years time during Rio’s Olympics. I loved this post, and immediately put it into play, creating a writing manifesto looking back at what I have achieved, and what I might achieve with some smaller goals. Measuring Achievement By The Olympics – How Much can you Achieve in Four Years?
- ROW80 for a community of writers making flexible goals.