Writing 101--Goal Setting--How to get Started

Originally I planned to simply link to an article that I wrote last year . . . until I looked for one and it wasn't there. I didn't write my goals setting hints in 2010, I had written them in 2009. I didn't want to be totally lame-o about this, so I'm writing my current perspective on this.

Shoot, I was probably more entertaining in December of 2009. Feel free to peruse those articles. I'll probably repeat myself, but repetition is  a great learning tool. Okay, that's probably blowing too much smoke up your skirt, but I thought I'd try.

Yearly Wrap-Up, Part One
Yearly Wrap-Up, Part Two
Yearly Wrap-Up, Part Three
Yearly Wrap-up, Part Four, Monthly Goals
Yearly Wrap-Up, Part Five, Weekly Goals
Yearly Wrap-Up, Part Six, Daily Goals

So how to start?

First of all think of your goals as a fluid object. If you don't meet one, then that's okay. Stuff happens. Goals change. Life (er, or the child) interrupts. Blah, blah, blah.

If you set goals last year, look over how you did. Did you call them 'resolutions'? Well, that was your first mistake. Resolutions are broken all the time. Goals are the end product that you strive for.

If you didn't set any goals, then that's okay because I'm willing to share mine with you. I will warn you though that I don't just set writing goals, I set LIFE goals. Plus the goal must be tangible. Something that you can accomplish, not something that is dependent on another person.

For example: I want to sell a manuscript to a New York Publishing house.

Everything about this goal is outside of your abilities to manipulate.  
1) you are simply one of a gazillion authors wanting to be published,
2) there are a gazillion stories that are a) better than yours, b) more salable, c) more unique 
3) it's subjective. You can't make someone buy your story. Trust me, I've tried. Doesn't work.

I'm also not a fan of, "Write the best story that I can." 

Simply because you spew something onto a page and think it's the best story ever written, doesn't make it so. I don't care if your mom, girl/boy friends, kids, spouse, etc. think it's the best thing since sliced bread, reality is that it probably isn't good enough. You can always improve your story. The more you write, the better you'll write. The more you study craft, the better the story you'll write. The more you write, the more you will learn your strengths and weaknesses, your voice and your genre.

Here is an example of my goals for this last year.
2011 Writing Goals

 ·         FAERIE—send out queries, edit –esp. pacing ch. 8 –Published 5/9/11
·         GNOME—at Jabberwocky R 2/1/11, Reread and edit for possible self-publish 2/11/11, rewrite 1st chap.  PUBLISHED 3/1/11
·         TROLL—edit, write blurb self-pub
·         TROLL 2—write the second part of the story once I figure it out--THOUGHT ABOUT IT
·         DEMON—finish the damn thing!
·         Judge at least 3 contests (name, # in category, date rec’d):
o   Golden Heart (5 historicals) rec’d 1/7/11, returned 1/11/11
o   Winter Rose (1 historical, 3 paranormal) Rec’d 2/2/11 ret, 2/10/11
o   Dixie First (5 paranormal), rec’d 3/5, returned 3/11/11
o   Daphne (6 paranormal), rec’d 3/21, returned 3/29/11
o   Molly (3 paranormal), rec’d 6/1/11, returned 6/3/11
o   Lone Star (3 historical), rec’d 6/15/11, returned 6/22/11
o   Golden Pen (5 historical), rec’d 8/22/11, returned 8/31/11
o   Where the Magic Begins (4 paranormal), rec’d 8/25/11, returned 9/7/11
o   The Emily (5 YA), rec’d 10/9/11, returned 10/23/11
·         Crit when needed: Edie 1/20, Dale 6/22
·         Return to healthy lifestyle by portion control, more fruit and veg and exercising—joined Weight Watchers and started walking daily mid-June, as of 12/1/11 LOST 35 lbs!!
·         Write short stories when the urge hits
o   Writer’s Digest Jan. photo prompt--Done
o   Writer’s Digest Feb. sentence prompt—Done

 ·         Attend one conference
·         Read 50 books—keep log
·         Self-pubbed LOST LEPRECHAUN LOOT 1/2011
·         Self-pubbed TO GNOME ME IS TO LOVE ME, book one of The Goblin’s Apprentice 3/1/11
·         Self-pubbed THE FAST AND THE FAERIEOUS, book 2 The Goblin’s Apprentice 5/9/11
·         Self-pubbed A MAZE OF MONSTER MIX-UPS   8/29/2011
·         Self-pubbed SUGAR PLUM DISASTER   11/1/11
·         Write 3  1 post leprechaun stories--thought about it, nothing written
Reviewed TWIST OF FATE (a romantic suspense), and sent it to Carina Press--I only did this because Cyndi pestered me. 11/28/11
Books read in 2011
Title, author, book type (MG, Novella, romance, UF, craft), date finished
1.       Mammoth book of Paranormal Romance—anthology of short stories—1/9/11
2.       The Hobbit—classic—JRR Tolkien—1/15/11
3.       Treasure Island—classic—Robert Lewis Steven—1/15/11
4.       A McKettrick Christmas—romance—Linda Lael Miller—1/16/11
5.       A Creed Country Christmas—romance—Linda Lael Miller—1/17/11
6.       The Burning Bridge—MG Ranger’s Apprentice series—John Flanagan—1/23/11
7.       The Icebound Land—MG Ranger’s Apprentice series—John Flanagan—1/24/11
8.       The Battle for Skandia—MG Ranger’s Apprentice series—John Flanagan—2/28/11
9.       The Sorcerer of the North-- MG Ranger’s Apprentice series—John Flanagan—3/2/11
10.   The Siege of Macindaw-- MG Ranger’s Apprentice series—John Flanagan—5/24/11
11.   The Lightning Thief—MG Percy Jackson series-- Rick Riordan—3/8 /11
12.   The Sea of Monsters—MG Percy Jackson series-- Rick Riordan—3/10 /11
13.   The Titan’s Curse—MG Percy Jackson series-- Rick Riordan—3/ 14/11
14.   The Battle of the Labyrinth—MG Percy Jackson series-- Rick Riordan—3/ 17/11
15.   The Last Olympian—MG Percy Jackson series-- Rick Riordan—3/ 23/11
16.   Mammoth Book of Scottish Romances—anthology—4/1/11
17.   Fired Up—romance—Jayne Ann Krentz—4/5/11
18.   Stranger in my Arms—romance—Lisa Kleypas—4/7/11
19.   The Fellowship of the Ring—fantasy—J.R.R. Tolkien—4/24/11
20.   Immortal Warrior—romance—Lisa Hendrix—5/14/11
21.   Immortal Outlaw—romance—Lisa Hendrix—5/18/11
22.   Immortal Champion—romance—Lisa Hendrix—5/19/11
23.   Royal Weddings: an anthology—romance----5/28/11
24.   The Perfect Poison—romance—Amanda Quick—6/11/11
25.   Burning Lamp—romance—Amanda Quick—6/13/11
26.   I’d tell you I love you, but then I’d have to kill you—YA series—Ally Carter—6/14/11
27.   Don’t Judge a girl by her Cover—YA series—Ally Carter—6/15/11
28.   Just Like Heaven—romance—Julia Quinn—6/19/11
29.   The Red Pyramid—MG series—Rick Riordan—7/1/11
30.   Throne of Fire—MG series—Rick Riordan—7/8/11
31.   Running Hot—romance—Jayne Ann Krentz—7/13/11
32.   The Devil who Tamed Her—romance—Johanna Lindsey—7/26/11
33.   A Well Favored Gentleman—romance—Christina Dodd—8/1/11 COULDN’T FINISH
34.   Thirteen Chances—romance—Cindy Miles—8/6/11
35.   Highland Knight—romance—Cindy Miles—8/7/11
36.   MacGowan’s Ghost—romance—Cindy Miles—8/16/11
37.   Into Thin Air—romance—Cindy Miles—8/20/11
38.   Night Magic—romance—Jennifer Lyons--on Kindle read while on vacation, but then it became like all her others.
39.   Cowboys & Aliens—novelization— Joan D. Vinge—9/9/2011
40.   The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook—research—Jason Heller--9/10/11
41.   No Plot? No Problem--research--Chris Baty--10/5/11
42.   Candy Cane Murder--mystery novellas--Joanne Fluke--10/31/11
43.   The Naughty List--romance novellas--11/10/11
44.   Highlander for the Holidays--romance--Janet Chapman--11/11/11
45.   Santa Baby-- romance novellas--11/19/11
46.   Christmas at Timberwoods--mystery--Fern Michaels--11/26/11

I will tell you that the main reason I log the books that I read is to force me to open this document. Though it is on the main page of my documents, I don't always look at it. But the more you review your yearly goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them, adapting them as circumstances change.

Since it is only the beginning of December, I still have a month to finish my goals. I know I'll finish reading the 50 books. I might finish editing TROLL, but it won't be formatted for publication, etc. etc. I also tend to judge contests instead of critiquing people.

When I set up my goals for 2012, I'll probably follow this similar format with different books to be written. In 2011, I decided to self-publish my middle grade stories. I knew it would take a tremendous amount of time to edit, format, etc to get them ready to publish and I didn't plan to write much. I did write on GARGOYLE and the beginnings of two other inter-related Young Adult stories. Those will probably be my primary writing focus of 2012, along with Book Four of The Goblin's Apprentice.

Start jotting down notes with what you want to accomplish in 2012.

I'll be back soon with another installment on goal setting.


Jody Werner said...

I am amazed you find so much reading time. Although, if i didn't spend four hours at the barn every day, that would translate into a lot of books, huh? :)

magolla said...

Some months I have more time to read than others, which is why I put the dates on my log.

Reading or riding, hm . . . tough choice, Jods, as both are wonderful things to do. :-)

Twisted Sister said...


magolla said...

See this is the thing about goals.

'I' thought I didn't do very well since I didn't complete a couple of my original goals, but Meg's "WOW" made me realize that though I didn't complete it, I still managed to accomplish a great deal in 2011.

Goals are fluid. Even I need reminding of that sometimes. :-)

Marilyn said...

I'm impressed. I haven't kept up with my own goals, though I also keep a list of books I've read. I'll have to pull together what I have and see what I accomplished and where I dropped the ball.

magolla said...

That's why I love using my yearly goals this way, Marilyn. Though I've not accomplished some of them, I've accomplished other goals.