Writing Goals and Real Life


Mindy posted Here, and Here about goals and plans.

Then, David updated his yearly schedule and goals on Monday, and I had to think a bit about mine. Once I started, I realized I had a bit to say on the subject and so I decided to push back this week’s post on the Agents Series for a bit of reflecting. I wanted too look and see what I had accomplished and what got kicked aside. Here’s my original list, and looking at it, I am dismayed at the way it hasn’t worked out! My accomplished goals ended up being reconfigured and semi-achieved all over the place!  

My original list:
I will lose 15 pounds by May 1. I will cut all artificial sweeteners out of my diet and I will exercise 3 times a week, even if it’s for only 30 minutes a day, through May 1. I will follow the recommendations of my new PR company and work to increase my web presence wisely, thereby increasing my online FB fanbase to 2500 by May 1. I will finish 4 short stories and outline one book by May 1.

This year I’ve: learned that the goals we plan must make way for the interruptions we couldn’t plan for. I’ve known that all along, but this is the first year I didn’t get bent out of shape about it. My health, family members’ health, storms and such got in the way. So, while not all my goals are met, they are well on the way.

Since the goal date in March, I have lost 9 pounds, but it took a lot longer due to a bout with bursitis in my hip. J (Can we say, Faith is getting older? BIC takes its toll!) I successfully cut most artificial sweeteners out except on weekends, when I am at the lab. I have moved toward the healthy exercise goal more slowly, also due to the bursitis, but I walk every day that my hip will allow, and I am lifting weights three times a week. Go me!

The fifth Jane Yellowrock novel has been outlined and the rough draft is 1/3 finished. Only two of the needed new four shorts got written, but two of the anthos were cancelled due to ill health of the anthology editor so I wasn’t too upset. I have one short to write before Sept. 15.

The FaceBook fanbase goal took a hit from my publisher – in a good way. The short stories I was planning to self-pub were bought by my publisher and the release date was pushed back by six months, therefore, I could not use them to build the fanbase. Despite that, the numbers on the fanpage are at a respectable 2494 as I write this. And the pub is promising a huge PR blitz when the shorts come out, which is not something I ever, ever, ever expected.  

I have created a FB fan Page for my character Jane Yellowrock, and another for her alter ego, Beast, which has been tremendous fun. I have planned out the new book trailer for Raven Cursed. Well, partially. I still have a way to go on that one.

I agreed to a new book contract, and that changed my plan because dates were moved up for the release of book JY 5 and 6. Therefore I must finish book five in the Jane Yellowrock world by Oct. 1. When the contract was signed, the date was Sept 1, but Dragon Con got in the way ot that.

The co-written short with CE (Catie) Murphy, Easy Pickins’, has had to be fitted in between both of our schedules (horrors) but it nearly done. I loved the world we created!

As I mentioned earlier, health, both mine and family members, (part of the un-plann-able things) got in the way of some goals. I haven’t learned to Eskimo roll in the kayak yet and haven’t paddled as much as I wish because sitting in the boat was impossible most days.

I still have one of Gwen’s books to finish rewriting, and think I’ll be done before leaving for Dragon Con.

I finished the 6-week rewrite and the line-edit of Raven Cursed (4th in the Jane Yellowrock world). It went back to the editor Last Thursday. A few small goals got pushed back because Dragon Con took a lot more time to plan for than I expected, and because Dragon Con was not in my list of goals in the first place. It got shoved into the list and everything took a bit of rearranging. Oh! And I have been heavily into merchandizing for both Rogue Mage world and JY, and that took some time. Time consuming fun!

Both personally and professionally my life has been in flux. But I am going with the flow and getting things done. And the best thing of all, is that I haven’t let the interruptions get to me. I’ve been rearranging as needed and making things work. Hope to see lots of you at Dragon Con!




17 comments to Writing Goals and Real Life

  • Anymore, when I set goals, I make sure that goal is something that’s even in my power to do. Is it in my hands or does it rely on an outside source? If it relies on an outside source, I don’t count it as one of my goals. Becoming published/finding an agent by blah date is one of those. I was going to post on someone else’s blog here in a bit about how I’ve spent a massive amount of time trying to build my confidence and such, dealing with it being torn down as a kid and dealing with introversion and pessimism. I’ve noticed that it’s a blow to my long cultivated confidence and optimism each time I set a goal that relies on outside forces that fails. So, I qualify them. I can’t set a goal to get published by the end of the year, but I can set a goal to send to a number of agents/magazines/publishers in that time. It’s still a blow to my confidence when I get the rejection, after so many years of trying to get it right, but it’s not as devastating than if I fail in a goal I didn’t really have control over in the first place.

    Right now, as I mentioned in David’s post, my goal is just to get the epic fantasy duology done, or at least almost, by the end of the year. At my current pace I could see the first drafts finished by the end of the year. Of course, there’s still outside forces that could intrude, but it’s still ultimately in my hands to pick up the slack and make it work.

  • I think there’s wisdom in what Daniel is saying. That was actually going through my head as I read this article. There are things that are in your control, but there are things that aren’t. You can only do anything about the things that are in your control. If I set a goal that is based on some outside factor that I can’t control, I’m setting myself up for failure.

  • Exactly right, Daniel and Stephen. I was *born* with control issues. When I was younger, I made goals and got bent out of shape when they didn’t happen as I wanted. Those were not goals so much as dreams, like rubbing a lamp and hoping a genie was inside to hear. Even as I got older and wiser, I often made goals that were out of my hands.

    This year, I’ve made goals I *might* have some control over, and even when *those* goals went south, I didn’t get bent out of shape. It feels good, and lot Zen, to let them go or push them back or even let them die, having done all I could to make them work. I learn a lot in the trying, and nothing is wasted.

  • I made a few reasonable goals for the year: get Hell Mary edited and send it out to agents, lose some weight and exercise, have a good study abroad trip, pitch Knyghtspelle, make progress on a new shiney novel, submit short stories. I made some good progress.

    Hell Mary isn’t as far along as I want it to be, but it is with a beta-reader.
    I lost about 10lbs, and didn’t gain any over the summer, and i’ve gotten back to exercising.
    Had a great time in London, and am planning another trip
    Pitched KS, it’s still with a couple agents, so we’ll see. That’s stopped the pitch of HM, ’cause I’m waiting to hear from these folks.
    I’ve done NO work on the new shiny.

    I’m ridiculously over extended right now. I said “yes” to way too many project, and a slew of crap over the summer just killed a lot of my time, so the next two-to-four months aren’t going to allow me much time to work on my own stuff. *sighs* So, one of my goals for the coming year (starting now!) is to really keep my priorities straight and not say “yes” to stuff that will crowd out my writing time!

  • I admire all that you’re done on the publicity front, Faith. I have so much to learn in that regard, and will have to learn all of it before the release of THIEFTAKER next spring. As to what we control and what we don’t, yeah, it’s often a matter of luck, of not having life get in the way. I’ve been lucky so far this year in that I’ve been able to write, basically without interruption. That’s a luxury I don’t have every year.

  • Pea Emily, saying no (and meaning it) was the hardest word I ever learned (which is weird because most kids learn it quite early on!) I used to work 90+ hours a week between writing, PR, time I gave to MWA boards and such, and work at the lab. My lifestyle was not healthy and I am still paying the price. I cheer you on when you practice the *NO* philosophy. 🙂

    David, I have learned so much from my PR person, and will continue using her services for some time to come! ROC PR even let her coordinate PR with them, which was a huge load off my shoulders. PRivate PR and ROC PR talk on email and I get to have more time to write. Okay, paddle, but you get the idea.

  • In my day job, we use a bunch of project management styles that generally are supposed to deal with interruptions, changes in priority, and so on. They basically acknowledge that ‘things happen’ and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.

    Perhaps some of those techniques may be useful for managing a writing career. The following perhaps:
    * Don’t set a timeframe for your goals, beyond perhaps a month out. Who knows what an entire year is going to bring.
    * Re-evaluate your priorities once a month, as new goals and interruptions will happen.
    * Don’t assign yourself massive goals. Break them up to perhaps something that can be done in a month.
    * Measure yourself on the number of goals you can complete in a month. Early on, you’ll be wrong, but over time you’ll develop a good idea of how much you can accomplish in a month. Try to meet that every month.
    * Every month, if something goes wrong, figure out why it went wrong and create a plan to prevent that from going wrong in the future.
    * At the end of the year, look back and see what you accomplished. Rejoice at all the great stuff you’ve done.

  • Faith – I’m impressed with the way you’ve regrouped (and re-re-grouped, etc.), especially in the face of injury with regard to the health-related goals. I figure we’re all always learning. Deep thinking, huh?

    And yes, Daniel and Stephen – I’d agree that we should only set goals (as goals) that we are capable of controlling. That said, I tend to focus on goals that make it more likely than not that I’ll succeed. (E.g., I set a goal to sell three books this year. I have submitted far more than three proposals to far more than one editor, in hopes of achieving that goal. I’m not quite there yet, but that’s what the last four months of the year are for!)

  • Looking forward to seeing you at DagonCon, Faith. It wasn’t on my list either, but sometimes things crop up that you need to react/respond/reply to. I’m too good at that, which is another way of admitting that I’m prone to taking off and chasing the new stuff at the expense of the old. *sigh* It’s all about balance.

  • I’m in the midst of the usual pre-semester freak out in which I become crazed with frustration at not being able to write, at being over tired, at having to put up with stuff I don’t want to put up with because 1) I’ve been spoiled all summer by having no boss but myself and 2) I have to re-learn how to say no.

    There’s been lots of BIC, but it hasn’t produced any fiction because it has all been oriented toward other work.

  • Rox, I think that is an excellent way to look at goals.
    I especially like number 2 —
    * Re-evaluate your priorities once a month, as new goals and interruptions will happen.
    I do that instinctively. Uesd to be, I’d be upset at not making the goals, but now it’s a lot easier, becaseu I’m making realistic goals and saying NO resoundingly!

    Mindy, yes, thank goodness we can still learn. I went to highschool with a guy who stopped learing new stuff (on a personal level) on graduation day. He went on to college and became a doctor, but he still lives and acts like the 12th grader.

    Ed, yeah, it’s all about the *new shiney*. Hard to grind away when new stuff is just *there* to try! Draagond Con is gonna be a blast!

    Sarah, gotta say no! Ane get the mind back into fantasy. It’s a reprieve!

  • Jeremy Beltran

    My goals for this year were to start and finish a novel. Lose 20lbs so I was ready for gastric bypass surgery. Get to a regular workout schedule one hour in the gym and one hour swimming laps in the pool. Learn more about my craft to hone my natural storytelling skills with tried and true skills learned by those who put them to use every day.

    First the bad news: Well to say that life has put the boot to my personage might be an understatement. In the last 6 months I’ve lost two grandfathers and an uncle. I havent been able to think enough to get more than a page or two on the twenty plus false starts. I keep finding myself tuning out of the story. It hard to get others interested in your work if you cant keep and interest. I lost 20 lbs but with everything going on the last couple of months I gained 23lbs. My surgeon received a large research grant and so he’s no longer operating. Which meant I have to restart the program with a new surgeon, first appt is the 6th. I did get in a 5 day a week work out schedule that lasted for two and a half months before things started falling apart.

    Now the Good news: Ive learned allot over the last 6 months. I found myself lucky enough to find half a dozen mentors in a craft I’ve loved since I could read and write. I dont know if I can ever fully express my thanks for all that you do here for all of us. But thank you from the bottom of my heart. Also today as I was surfing the web this morning something clicked in my head and I suddenly knew EXACTLY how to start my novel. After spending months staring at the first pages of dozens of novels to try to figure it out, it hit me and I was off and running. It feels good to be back at it. Like a part of me that was missing is back. Im really pumped. Now back to BIC.

  • Rhonda

    One thing I’ve done in terms of goals, is to make sure I keep them in mind all the time. The strategy that has worked the best so far was to write out my goals on small pieces of paper and place them strategically around the house. One was on the bathroom mirror so I would read it twice a day while brushing my teeth. One was above the key hook in my front hall, where I would read it every time I went in and out.

    Of course it depended on my stopping and reading them, but I did my best to make a habit of pausing whenever I saw those little pieces of paper, reading them with my full attention (only took about 10 seconds) and thinking about which one (or more) I was working on today. I did my best to not let my eyes skim over that persistent piece of my environment.

    I got full success on 3 of the 7 and partial success with solid progress on 3 more, and dropped 1, so overall it was pretty good. (Over the course of an entire year.)

  • All this talk of Goals this week has me re-thinking my goals and wondering why I’m so far behind. I planned for only two months for beta readers and they took five. I should have started another novel during that time, but hadn’t planned anything. I suppose there’s a learning curve here too for planning long-term goals.

    I know I wasn’t idle during that time, but I wasn’t pushing either because the novellas and short stories I was working on didn’t take up as much time as I thought they might. That said, I might need to put in some solid BIC over the next few months to make up lost ground.

    The only goals I’m hitting are my exercise goals, which I seem to have more direct control over.

    Mindy, David, and Faith, thanks for bringing up goals again. This almost makes me think I should re-check more frequently.


  • Jeremy, life has kicked you pretty hard this year. It’s difficult to drop back and punt, but you did, and you will be stonger for it. I’ll say a prayer, and be thinking about you for the gastric surgery. And — it looks like you are off to a great *new* start. BIC, Dude!

    Rhonda, I think the *reminders* is a great way to train the brain to think right about goals. Excellent!

    NGDave, hitting the exercise goals is pretty important. I didn’t hit mine and ended up with bursitis from sitting and BICing too much. Movement is *very* important. As you sit down and BIC (yes, we’ll cheer you on!) remember to keep the movement up!

  • Roxanne, Agile much? 🙂 Computer nerds ahoy!
    Life does change things around. With the arrival of my bundle of joy I’ve had to push back my plans of buying a rally car and joining the local car club. But that’s ok, the little one is nice to have around (so far).
    Sunday will be the culmination of a year long goal, to beat last year’s time in the City To Surf marathon. My legs already ache just thinking about it.
    I’ve taken up a new goal though: finish revising my first novel. It got put aside for a while after I realised it needed so much more work. I wrote another one and I’m 1/3 through a third. I’ve decided I need to get the first one polished and out the door so I can hurry up and get my rejections. I won’t be happy until I get a rejection from at least one agent by the end of the year. 🙂

  • Life gets in the way sometimes. I’m of a mind that everything happens for a reason, but it’s also up to me to make things happen, too. That’s all I can do.