So 2013, in writing terms, was a sneakily great year. I say that because it would appear that I didn’t do so hot. I didn’t begin and finish a book. I didn’t write 20 short stories. I spent a lot of the year in a depressive funk where my writing is concerned (why oh why is my career not going anywhere?). But when I look past my angst and really delve into what I accomplished this year, it’s sort of awesome. I ran the Origins writing program; edited my first anthology; had three short stories published and two more accepted, all in anthologies; wrote a novella; took a stab at a new novel, hated it, and started again; and performed readings of fiction and nonfiction.
You know what? I’m doing okay.
Goals for the next year are much the same as they’ve always been. Read more. Keep putting my work out there. Jumping on opportunities when they present themselves. Write, write, write.
I have a secret project that I can’t talk about.
I can’t believe I just said that. It’s something I swore I’d never do, but here I am, doing it. Why? Because I like to blog about the ever-moving goal posts of writing. And one of those goals–or maybe it’s more like an unlockable achievement–is getting a big gig that you can’t talk about until someone way, way higher than you on the food chain says you can.
I’m getting ready to sign a contract for work that a non-disclosure agreement doesn’t allow me to talk about.
I’m excited (yay, paid work!), scared (please please don’t let me fuck this up), and contemplative (hmmmm, I could write about this or this or this …). Mostly I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
Happy New Year! Let’s talk goals.
Back in 2010 I created a five-year writing plan, which I’ve stuck to pretty well (it helps that I designed it to be flexible). It’s been helpful for figuring out where I want to be in the future and what steps it will take to get me there, plus tracking my progress, and reminding me that I am making progress.
Last month I found a nice worksheet for creating a similar plan: the Writing Goals Sheet from diyMFA. It will walk you through setting achievable goals for the next year and beyond to help you reach your dream.
Note the difference between goals and dreams: Dreams are stuff you can’t control–selling a novel, winning all the awards, becoming a household name, selling a $%&^ short story for more than token rates… Goals are what you can do to get there–write many novels and stories, study craft, identify your weaknesses and work on them, etc. Some people use different terminology for dreams vs goals, and I don’t care what you call them…just don’t decide that you’re going to do something that you don’t control, or you’re setting yourself up for failure.
The worksheet has you work backwards, from where you want to be 10 years from now, to where you want to be in five years, three years, etc. Plus what it will take to get you there. If you’ve done this kind of planning before you might find it simplistic, but if you haven’t, it’s worth a look.