On Writing: Dreams and Goals for 2014!
Taking a peek back at 2013 - well, it was a messy year. I had more than one thing explode on me over the months packed in there. Injured an ankle badly enough that I thought it was broken at first. Lost a job. Had more than one heartache, and more than one week where I was wondering how the heck I was going to get things back on track.
But good times, too. I met some amazing people. Some of them will continue being part of my life for a very long time, I think. I've started feeling a little more settled about Boston, finally. I acquired a new job relatively quickly after losing the other one; and if it's not my ideal workplace, it IS at least filled with some really nice coworkers who make the days there much more pleasant than they were where I used to work.
So it hasn't been the best year; neither the worst.
Dreams vs. Goals
Before I start on last year's goals and 2014 goals, I wanted to mention the idea of "goals" vs "dreams".
A dream is something you want to have happen which you don't really have control over. You can work toward a dream; but you can't really control whether it happens or not. Getting hired for a particular job is a dream, because you can't control the hiring. Getting a book traditionally published is a dream. Winning a literary award is a dream. These are things that you can influence indirectly, but over which you have no direct power.
Goals, in contrast, ought to be things over which you have complete control that help you toward your dreams. If your dream is to get a new job, for example, your goal might be to apply to three new positions every week. If your dream is to get your book traditionally published, your goal might be to submit the work and keep submitting it to new publishers after every rejection. Word count is a good goal, because it is under the writer's control. Indie publishing stories is a good goal, too, because again it's under your control.
My dream is to be free of the "day job" and write full time. How I will move toward that dream is by setting powerful goals.
I started 2013 with a simple writing goal: indie publish 12 new titles over the year. I was allowing myself to count print as a separate title from ebook, and given that, I JUST managed to squeak out a success on my goal by publishing two new stories on the 31st of December. Hey, 11th hour accomplishments still count. *grin*
It was a challenging year, in a lot of ways, on a lot of levels. I don't really feel like my writing goals were adequate, though. I feel like they allowed me too much slack-off time. They were light enough to be too easy to accomplish, and that let me lose my focus, more than once.
In crafting a new set of goals for this year, I came up with a couple of major points that I wanted to hit.
* The goals have to be spread out over the year. Not "12 titles in a year", but "one title or more a month", for example. That way, I know I am working all year.
* The goals have to be tough. I'm working to make this a "get serious" year, writing career wise. That requires serious goals.
* The goals should allow for a mix of long and short work. So "indie publish 48 stories" might sound great, but what if I end up writing a couple of novels, and less shorts? Then the goal falls apart.
* BUT, the goals should also include some steady production targets. I've seen what not having new products coming out regularly does. It's not good. So producing - often! - is key.
I probably put more thought into these goals than I ought. I do take this sort of goal-setting seriously, though. I try to set goals that are attainable, but difficult. Last year, I made them too easy, and it enabled me to procrastinate and accomplish less than I should have. So this year, I worried that I might go too far in the other direction - set goals that were so high they were unattainable.
Well, worst case then, I end up with goals I didn't quite meet, and a BUCKET load of new fiction written and published.
If you set goals to produce 360,000 new words, and only reach 300,000, and your best year ever before was 150,000 - that is still a BANNER year. That's an awesome year. That's a huge accomplishment.
So I am setting goals that will make me push hard. And if I make them, AWESOME. If I don't? Well, I will still likely be farther along than I was before, and likely have accomplished a lot more than I would have otherwise. I hereby give myself permission to fail - provided I have worked my tail off trying to succeed.
Without further ado, then:
I will indie publish at least 24 new titles over the course of 2014 (this can include compilations and print editions). At least one will be published each month.
I will produce at least 480,000 new words of fiction in 2014. At least 20,000 words per month. Revision doesn't count toward this; complete redrafting of an old unpublished work will count, however.
I will send out at least six newsletters to my email list, talking to them about new releases.