The New Year is right around the bend. I can almost see it! Sooo. It’s that time of year again.

As writers, we don’t have bosses, time clocks, or long commutes. Jogging to work, for me, is about twenty feet to the right and down one flight of stairs. Because we can go to work in our jammies (and often do) writers might begin to think that we have all the time in the world to finish a project. We might become complacent and lazy about coming deadlines. Professional writers can’t give in to that easy mindset. We have to be self-motivated, self-starters, and able to focus deeply and widely on a project to the exclusion of all else. This means that we always have to have goals: long range, short range, and oops-I-have-an-unexpected-deadline goals.

Because it’s the time of year for introspection and self renewal, and because I’m still celebrating (koff koff) the holidays, I am going to post something short and sweet instead of my post on Chinese portraits, which will go up next week. (Okay, I have a deadline. I’m behind. So sue me!  😳  ) I want to share my goal-making process and some of the results for the coming year. (Not resolutions—I won’t call them that!)

  1. I have been getting healthy for the last year (one of last year’s goals). Regular exercise, eating better (well, a little bit better) and surgery to remove a pesky organ, has resulted in a lot of improvement in my health, stamina, and activity level, as well as an overall improvement in my short term memory. Go me! This year, I’m adding regular weight lifting to my health regimen. Baby steps. But important baby steps. This will help with all the hours, unmoving, BIC. (For any newbies this is MW’s way of referring to the most important part of being a writer—butt in chair.)
  2. Get my writing room finished. It is still in the process of being painted, the fireplace facing bricks redone, and the bookshelves replaced. I need a neat place to work. I need this for better productivity. I also need a new desk chair. The padding in this one is gone and it’s like sitting on a board. As a writer I have to do lot of BIC, so the C has to be comfy to my B.
  3. I’m a type-A personality. I would work 20 hours a day 7 days a week if I could. But that is detrimental to my health, productivity, and family life. Time away from the BIC is necessary. I took time away from the goals last year and this year I am making it priority. I’ll set special time apart for the hubby, doing the things we love. That’s the goal. More rivers to paddle! I learned to kayak roll (making 1 out of 4 tries) and now I have to perfect it, as well as develop my combat roll (a kayak roll in the middle of a rapid. Oy). This will make me a better writer. Really. It will! It will clear my mind and help me focus.
  4. Lose the dang pounds I put on over the holidays. Lovely chocolate. Delightful cakes and pies. Sigh… This is the only purely personal—meaning not writing—goal in my list!
  5. Write 3 short stories in January. One featuring Jane Yellowrock. One featuring a secondary character in her world. One about Thorn St. Croix.
  6. Finish the rewrite of the AKA’s last book in February. It has been gathering dust.
  7. Finish the role playing game / world book Rogue Mage, set in Thorn St. Croix’s world. I really think it can be done by summer. (Fingers crossed)
  8. This takes me up to March for my writing goals. In early March I want to start another (the 5th) Jane Yellowrock novel. I want to be done in 4 months, but I have to leave room for a 2 month rewrite of Raven Cursed, the 4th Jane Yellowrock novel, so that brings me up to August. Then? Then I should have a contract for something new and I’ll know where I stand with future projects.
  9. Attend all the cons I have signed up for and meet my fans, other writes, and MW folk!

Do you have goals for the coming year? Are you willing to share them? Post them here and we’ll cheer you on! And hey — Mercy Blade is coming out on the 4th of Jan. Pick up a copy! Get it on Kindle. And buy an extra for a pal. Okay, blatant ploy is over. (Laughing)



29 comments to Goals

  • I posted my new year goals on my blog. You can find them here: http://splinteredvision.blogspot.com/2010/12/end-of-2010and-2011-begins.html
    Some will get done and some…well…we’ll see.
    Kristine Duffey

  • Faith,

    The health and fitness goals, IMO, are just as important. Not only does the C have to be comfy, but the B has to be refreshed and energized in order to last!

    Most of my (writing) goals are about moving my life forward:

    1. Finish the WIP. I am so very close. This is my week off and I’m supposed to be using it. Time to get unstuck on this one part that is giving me issues, so I can move forward with the rest of it.

    2. Get an agent. It may be a self-esteem thing, but it would be nice to have the validation. Plus, an agent would help me figure out a teeny tiny problem that just came up.

    3. Get a new pen name! It’s old news now, but there’s another Moira Young out there whose post-apocalyptic YA will be published in June. Given that I’m working on YA fantasy, a name change is definitely in order. Not her fault, but it does remind me of my priorities (BIC, finishing the WIP, getting an agent). And patience. *Then* I can start worrying about exactly what my pen name will be.

    4. Continue to work on my own health and fitness. I was very successful over the summer, losing about 23 lbs. Lately, I’ve sort of plateaued. Since I’ve got a ways to go, it would be nice to complete the process in time for ConCarolinas. Which means getting the butt *out* of the chair so that I have the energy to *stay* in the chair long enough to be productive.

    5. Work on focusing on one thing at a time, and not getting distracted by–ooh, shiny. In other words, *not* multitasking, because I get so much less done. It’s a technique I’m trying to implement both at home and at work, just to increase my productivity.

    So … yeah. This should keep me going for a bit. It would be nice to be able to revisit them because they have been met. 🙂

  • Faith,
    It’s wonderful to hear that you did well with your health goal. I think that’s key, regardless of what career path one takes. Your BIC limit has the feel of a relationship/life goal, which is also wise. I hope you did well on all your goals for last year, it certainly sounds like you did.

    I like how you’ve stretched things out over a time-line and made them attainable, it reminded me of when I was in sales. Back then, we talked about SMART goals: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timed/timely (not sure about the exact name of the last one but it had to do with setting a due-date or fixed duration).

    In 2009, I was diligent with goals, but less so in 2010. Lo and behold, 2010 wasn’t nearly as productive as it could have been. Sure I finished a novel and drafted a new one, but many of my smaller goals got left by the wayside.I’m going to go figure out my SMART goals for 2010.

    Happy Holidays. Thanks again,

  • I like goals much better than resolutions as well. Just wish I was better at attaining them. I’m with Dave in applauding you for working on your health. That’s something I need to work on too.

    Last year my only goal was to finish my WIP. Six months in, I set that novel aside because the backstory made a better novel. So my goal for this year is to finish the current WIP, no giving up, no excuses.

    Off topic, now, but I just received my copy of “How to Write Magic Words” and I am so excited! I’ve only read a couple of chapters so far, but can’t wait to sink my teeth in further. I love how the format is similar to this blog. Great job, everyone!


  • I’ve been thinking about these for a while:

    1. Finish the co-authored novel (hopefully before the new year starts) so that we can do a final edit and sent it out to agents.

    2. Finish my novel edits and send it out to agents.

    3. Get an agent.

    4. (And this has a specific date!) have my scholarly article done and to the journal in which I want to publish it by Jan 15–since that is deadline. That’s my first two weeks of January right there.

    5. Work on my personal relationships some and strengthen them. And try to be less neurotic about my relationship.

    6. Get back to diet and exercise so that I can feel better, have more energy, and BIC more.

    7. Get my academic life organized so that I can teach well, while not having it suck all of the time and energy out of my life!

    8. Have a good trip to London over spring break with my students. This is my first time taking students abroad and I’m alternately excited and terrified. If it goes well, it could boost the school’s Study Abroad program and my own career (that is, my chances of tenure) at the school.

    I think I’ll take this goal list and post it somewhere useful. An make it another goal to take some step toward at least one of these every day. Even if it is just making sure I eat my veggies!

  • Unicorn

    I love goals… and I totally agree that the B has to like the C.
    My writing goals? Humble as ever, since nothing has been published, or even considered for publication yet.
    1. Revise my ex-WIP. I finished it today. Squeeee! (if I may). A bit shellshocked about that at the moment. I can’t believe the first draft is done. I’ve always been bad at revisions, they were either half-hearted or never happened, but this time I MUST revise.
    2. Start writing my first ever real series. That lovely shiny sparkly idea is going to get bored and wander off if I don’t write it down soon.
    3. Try to get into the whole marketing thing. Pitches, researching the genre, that sort of thing.
    Thanks for a great post. And here’s hoping you all attain your goals this year.

  • *smacks head* That should have been: “How To Write Magical Words”

  • Before I start with replies – you know how the other shoe will drop sometimes?

    I was taking a brisk 1.5 mile walk with the poms and the hubby when a neighbor’s white pitbull slipped its leash and attacked. Before you worry — no teeth, no blood. (But it did sound dramatic, didn’t it?) The huge muscle-y pitbull knocked me down and dragged me. (Less dramatic sounding but I’m hurt just the same.)

    Elbow and back that had been making progress just got hurt again. That’ll teach me to crow about progress! So I’m waiting to see if I can get back in (again) to see the chiro, whose office I had just left. Life goals may have to wait a bit this week! Dang it.

  • Kristine, good luck on the goals — and congrats on the marriage plans! Writing every day is important, but (just a suggestion) not on the honeymoon! 🙂

    Moira, three things: 1. While is isn’t fun to have to think up a new pen name, it can be a way of re-creating yourself! I got lucky on the hubby’s last name — Hunter has sooo much better conotations than the maiden name, and has been a good one for my career. 2. I’m with you on the diet. I had been good, lost a few pounds, and then came chocolate season. Dang it. 3. Maybe we can all brainstrom at ConC about that agent thing. If there’s a chance for us all to get together (read party) we can do it then…

  • NGDave, I *like* SMART goals. Excellent term! I’ll incorporate that into my thinking.

    EK — sometimes the creative mind takes us on a side trip, and the side trip becomes the main journey. I am so glad you are liking the bookf. We are very proud of it, and we (literally) could not have done it without the readers and commenters here.

    Pea Emily, that *get an agent* goal is such a huge one. It’s easy to let it become the center of your life. Hopefully we’ll see you at CC (hint hint) and we can brainstorm ways to approach agents for each of you. And — LONDON??? I LOVE London! I haven’t been since the release of Betrayal ages ago. Green-eyed-me.

  • Yay Unicorn! WHoowhoo! Celebrate! Enjoy that lovely feeling of accomplishment! And yes, after the delight eases a bit — rewrite. It is vital in this biz.

    EK — I didn’t even catch it. 🙂

  • Take care, Faith! What a scary and painful thing that must have been. And thanks. I was in a state about it yesterday until a friend pointed out that I have nothing to lose by doing nothing right now, and focusing on the (way more important) goal of finishing the WIP and getting an agent.

    I look forward to that party!

  • Doesn’t a kayak roll in the middle of a rapid put your head awfully near the rocks that might be causing all that bubbly water in the first place? … it’s the danger rush isn’t it!

    I have a list of goals for this year (celebrated the New Year on Winter Solstice-got it out of the way early!)that I’m currently breaking down into bite-sized chunks…. by month, week, or task components if it’s not a time sensitive project.. a nice balance of deadlines and doodlings that works for me.

  • Moira, that soudns like a good friend to have!

    Widders, yes it does. But the part of the roll that turtles you over isn’t exactly voluntary. Once upside down in a low-oxygen environment, it’s nice to know how to get back upright without a nasty swim.

  • Faith> I hope you feel better soon! And yeah, I won’t let the agent goal become the center of stuff, but if it isn’t on the list… 🙂 I’ll be at CC for certain… there will be parties, oh yes, there will be parties! And London is a fun city, and I’ll get to show it to students who’ve never been there before, including one or two who’ve never been out of the country.

  • mudepoz

    Let’s see…goals? Make it through the day without killing any students, breaking any rare bones, including my own, and survive the day to day.
    My day to day is a little different so I don’t really DO goals. That way I always meet them!
    Hm, I do have a goal. I just received this nifty how to write book on MW. My goal is to read it, grok it, and bother youse guys on the stuff I don’t understand.
    Faith, carry either an air horn or pepper spray. I have pepper spray or binaca for my obedience classes.
    Which reminds me…
    Pardon me, I have to go train my new cabana guy.

  • Unicorn

    Get well soon, Faith. So sorry to hear about the pit bull incident. And yeah… I’m basking in the glow of accomplishment for the moment, but I’ll have major work to do once rewrites begin – it’s 160 000 words long, for a start. Ugh.
    And you others are sooo lucky to have your MW How-To books already! I am green up to the hairline!

  • Mikaela

    My goal right now is to get that blasted AC-adapter that I ordered november 9th. Everything was OK. Until the crappy replacement stopped working. grr. (Why, yes. I am a wee bit cranky.)

    But I am still writing :). Which I plan to keep on doing next year.

  • Sorry I’ve been absent from the conversation the last couple days. I just got back from the North and am trying to reclaim my life (going through mail, restocking the shelves, etc). What’s going on? And why is it colder here in the South??

    Anyway, sorry to hear about your dog incident, Faith, but I’m glad you’re okay. As for goals — well, I’m going to start the year off writing with David, and since I parted ways with my agent last year, this year starts (hopefully) with getting a new agent. I need to get back to exercise (don’t we always), and though I hadn’t thought about it until this post, my C could be nicer to my B, so if money is nice to me this year, maybe I’ll take care of that, too.

  • Thank you all for nice dog-vs-Faith comments. I am stiff and sore this morning but a hot bath and an hour of *very* slow yoga will help. I hope.

    Pea, what a great experience. Take plenty pf pics in London!

    Mud, I am going to make a spray bottle of pepper and water. And … you *are* going to build a cabana, yes?

    Unicorn, yeah 160K is a bit long. But you will be amazed how much comes out when you ask yourself, “Does this scene push the plot forward?” And, “If I cut it, will the book suffer?” And then being brave.

    Mikaela, electronics and I have a hate / hate relationship. Which is why I have a farting dog in the house, on my monitor. Good luck!

    Stuart, glad you are back! Yeah, it’s been snowy/icy/cold here! Climate change is scary!

  • PS — I now am the proud owner of *Dog Spray*. Yep, that’s the name.
    That pitbull will learn a lesson if he attacks again!

  • Faith, forgive me for not sharing my goals now — but this will be the topic of my next post. So glad to hear that the health stuff is looking up (the pugnacious pit bull notwithstanding). Your goals for the new year sound terrific — ambitious and yet still attainable. I look forward to watching you achieve them all! Happy New Year, my dear!

    By the way, I am home at last, and looking forward to being a more reliable commenter in the days to come.

  • Kerry

    I pre-ordered Mercy Blade and B&N is not waiting until the 4th to ship.
    I finished it during dinner. Now I really want to read the next one. Brava!!

  • David, I am just happy you all made it back and aren’t stuck in a snowbank or an airport!

  • Faith, sorry to hear about the pitbull attack. I hope you don’t have to use the spray. Thanks again, for the reminder about goal setting. I linked from my blog to here at MW.

    I’ll post my 2011 goals below so you don’t have to track down the original.

    1. Run my first race (5K) by March 31st
    2. Find an agent for Shadowslayer by April 30th or for Song of Fury November 30th.
    3. Revise Song of Fury by Sept. 30th.
    4. Write a third novel by Dec. 31st.
    5. Write a short story every month.
    6. Participate in a live workshop (Odyssey, Viable Paradise, or Clarion)
    7. Publish two pieces of short fiction
    8. Run at least one race per quarter, and work toward New Haven Road Race (20K) Sept
    9. Cycle 1500 miles in 2011

    Finding an agent might be tough, but there are things I can do to make it easier like polish my query and synopsis and send more out.

    All the best,

  • NGD, yes! There are many things you can do to increase your chances for finding an agent, and a lot of them are right here at MW. And I am in awe of the running goals. Wow!

  • Kerry, somehow I missed your post! We must ahve posted at the same time, last time!
    I am so glad you liked MB!
    (And maybe you’ll post a nice review? somewhere) 🙂

  • Yeah, I like goals better too. I made a resolution years ago that I’d never make another New Year’s Resolution and so far I’ve kept to that. So goals work.

    2011 Goals

    1. To get the novel edits finished and out to potential agents before my birthday (March).
    2. Get the next novel finished quicker than the first.
    3. To find another Crohn’s specialist.
    4. To get my health back on track.
    5. Get our side business up and running.

  • Daniel, great goals! They sound workable and realistic.
    Crohns is tough to live with, but a good specialist will make all the difference! (saying a little prayer)