Writing 101--Setting Yearly Goals

Yearly goals are the big picture items. Before you sit down and pen a list, review my comments from my Getting Started blog. These are your goals. Don’t write down a goal that depends upon another person. If you work 40-60 hours a week, then you will have less time to spend on your goals than someone who writes full time. Be realistic.

-- I will confess that I spent more time writing when I still worked, than I seem to do now that I’m retired! It’s a matter of prioritizing.

Yearly goals tend to be the toughest for me to write, so I’ll start with the easiest one.

·      Read 50 books--keep log

If you call yourself a writer, but you aren’t a reader, the question then becomes how good of a writer are you. Writers read . . . a LOT. Maybe not 50 books worth, maybe more, but you should be reading something. Start with a doable number. A book a month? Could you fit that in your schedule? Probably. When I started jotting down yearly goals, my goal was to read 35 books. BUT 10% of those books MUST BE CRAFT-RELATED BOOKS. I think I’ve read virtually every craft book out there. I have a list of my favorites, but I will say there are a few out there that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Read within your genre AND outside your genre.

You should also be reading current material. It’s fine and dandy to read the classics, but you need to be aware of the current market, considering that is your audience.

When I finish a book, I’ll type the name of the book, the genre, the author and the date finished. If I really didn’t like the book, I’ll comment on it, too. You don’t have to go into this much detail, but it works for me.

Why keep a log of the books you’ve read? 

 --Because it forces you to revisit your yearly goals on a regular basis.

·        Return to healthy lifestyle by portion control, more fruit and veg, and exercising

I’m basically cutting and pasting this one back into my goals. In 2011, I joined Weight Watchers and lost 35 pounds. This is the reminder to keep balance in your life. If you are a writer, you sit for a living. If you sit long enough you will eat (especially if your ‘office’ is in your kitchen--mine is). And what happens if you sit and eat? You will eventually get a wide load butt.

If you are stuck on a story, go for a walk. If you get the munchies, go for a walk. If you can’t go outside, drink a HUGE glass of water and then walk around the house. Have easy-to-eat snack foods around. My favorites are grapes and blueberries. Simply being aware of what you toss into your mouth is half the battle.

·        Judge at least 3 contests (name, # category, date rec’d, finished, returned)

I enjoy judging contests. As long as coordinators need judges, I’ll judge, BUT I will only judge the categories that I read, or write (historical and paranormal romance and young adult).


--Because I don’t know the accepted criteria for any other genre. True, I could probably judge romantic suspense, but so many of them have become too graphic for me. Yes, a good book is a good book, but I doubt if I could honestly judge a category romance simply because I don’t read them

A long time ago, I learned that the best way to find flaws in your own work is to judge other people’s stories. The key here is not to agree to judge a contest and then wig out on the coordinator. This is NOT professional. When I agree to sign up, I usually jot a note down on my MONTHLY GOAL CALENDER when to expect the entry packet to show up and when they are due.

TRUE STORY--I judged a contest entry once and about four years later, I receive a contest entry in a packet that sounded familiar. I look it up (yes, I still have all my records) and IT WAS THE SAME ENTRY--literally. I returned it to the coordinator because I would give the exact same advice that the writer ignored the first time.  

·        Crit when needed

I have to admit that I don’t really enjoy critiquing. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1) I tend to crit the big picture stuff, story/character arcs, characterization, pacing, while many people want their grammar fixed. Sorry, that’s not in my job description, besides I’m NOT a grammar maven. Find someone who is.

2) I don’t want to see the writer’s work again. Once is usually enough, which is the beauty of contest judging. If you have judged an entry before, they want you to return it to give the entrant a chance to have another person’s opinion.

3) I’ll be ticked off if the writer doesn’t take my AWESOME-BLOSSOM advice. Sorry, I’m human. If I think the pacing starts too slow and the scenes are repetitive, and I pointed out those particular errors with page numbers and the writer ignores my comments . . . well, it doesn’t make me happy.

Notice it’s all about me? When you ask for a crit, you need to find the right person to give you the crit you need. Odds are I’m NOT that person.

Oh, and if you thought judging a contest is the same at critting, you would be wrong. Contests provide strict guidelines that the judge must follow to come to their conclusions. The rules are in the contest committee’s hands, not mine.

And now for the hard part:

·        Write XX  book(s)

In general, one book equals 85-90,000 words, give or take. Category, westerns, young adult and middle grade run between 40-70,000 words. If that goal seems overwhelming, then make a goal of, “Write 100 (insert amount) words a day, X days a week.”  Or “Write one short story.” Or “Write five poems.” Technically, don’t count your blog posts. Yes, I know that’s writing, but none of your brain dumps count toward this goal. If you want, you could add,

 ·        Blog three days a week.

To your yearly goals.

If you have a publishing contract, then this is where you would declare your obligations, INCLUDING a deadline.

With all my writerly advice as to how to set yearly goals, it’s your turn. It’s okay, I’ll wait. I’m not going anywhere, people.

*hums Jeopardy! Theme music*


I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours. . .

2012 Writing goals

·        Edit TROLL  --  polished, format, pay for cover and self-pub

·        Write GA #4 (Book 4 in The Goblin’s Apprentice series), DRAGON? -- edit, self-pub by December

·        Write short story w/Kyte Webber and dragon-dog

·        Plot Mystical Elements series (FIRE, EARTH, WATER, AIR)

·        Write FIRE

·        Continue healthy lifestyle by portion control, more fruit and veg, and exercising

·        Judge at least 3 contests (name, # in category, date rec’d)

o   SARA Merritt--@ 2-20-12
                  o   No. Texas Winter Rose--@2-10-12
(I just signed up for these)

·        Crit when needed (document)

·        Blog at least three days a week

·        Read 50 books--keep log
Books read in 2012

Title, author, book type (MG, Novella, romance, UF, craft), date finished


And that, my friends, is that. Goals are set for next year. Save your list to the first page of your documents file where you are forced to look at the title 2012 Writing Goals every time you open up a document

Next time, I’ll be covering Monthly Goals--and yes, I use a free Microsoft calendar for this one.


Jody Werner said...

As you're well aware, I am one of the writers that does not read. When I do read, I prefer non-fiction. That sorta works, because most of what I write is in the humorous real-life-essay vein.

I find that when I read, I want to be entertained, but not have to think so hard to keep plot/characters/etc straight that it becomes a chore (I tried reading the first in the Red Pyramid series, and though I thought the writing was stellar, it just got too complicated for me to want to wrap my brain around). Yeah, and it's a young adult book.

I also don't like to read violent/explicit/graphic stuff.

So the challenge for me is finding a book that I actually want to FINISH. It's hours of my life I can't get back!

You know what I AM gonna read? "War Horse." BEFORE I see the movie.

magolla said...

Hm . . . maybe I should have qualified my statements to encompass genre fiction, Jods.

I will admit that Riordan tends to intro many characters/story lines, but resolves only a thread or two during the book since he has the over-riding story arc that he keeps the reader dangling. Yes, it's irritating, because now I'm waiting for the third book!