Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Some of us are already looking back at 2009 as if it were the last drunken party guest of a very tired host. While I’m enjoying the holiday season, I’m also just a little impatient to “get on with it,” as if the upcoming New Year were a magical transition into a whole new me.
Yep, a magical transition. Well, the truth is that maybe it could be if I could ever get organized enough to figure out where I put that damn magic wand. You know the one. The one we would wave -- if we could. It’s the same wand that would cheat us out of the growth that we can only accomplish through a plan and work. There, I’ve said it. Two four letter words. PLAN and WORK. That’s how to construct the real magic wand: plan and work . (I left out the “hard” for those of you who are especially squeamish about work.)
So, three days ago at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning, my critique partner and I sat down and had what we in the South like to call a little “Come to Jesus” meeting. For those of you without the drawl and a true aversion to grits, that means that we made a serious assessment of ourselves. We got real.
We first took a hard look at our 2009 goals and, for the most part, we were pleased. I had finished my first novel, entered the Golden Heart, and sent a partial to an agent. I also attended GRW’s Moonlight and Magnolias writing conference, took one on-line class, and strategically submitted my work to contests for feedback. My critique partner's accomplishments were more impressive, but I won’t steal her thunder in my post!
Next, we drew up our writing goals for 2010. Now, I could tell you all about my goals, but I’d rather talk about how to set them. What I’m hoping is that, with a few simple guidelines, you too can set realistic, practical goals for the upcoming year. No magic wand needed!
Here are four guidelines on how to set realistic goals:
1. Set a goal that you have a reasonable chance of controlling. For example, My goal is to submit my recently finished romantic suspense to anywhere between 6-10 agents whose preferences are in my genre and with whom I feel I would be compatible. NOTE: My goal is NOT to get an agent. Sure, I want that from a purely business point of view. But, I can’t control is whether or not one of these agents wants to represent my work. So, my goal is to research and make my submissions. Make sure any goal you set is under your control.
2. Set a specific writing goal and break it down with deadlines. One of my writing goals is to finish my revisions on Redemption By Blood no later than the end of February. I’m allowing for the fact that holidays and life are standing between me and my goal. I’m also allowing for the fact that without a deadline, it won’t get done. Practically ever
3. Plan for feedback, but choose your venues wisely. I plan to enter three specific contests next year because of the excellent, practical feedback I received from them last year. Oh, trust me, I know all about the “other” feedback that you can get from contest judges. I choose not to let that stop me. I also plan to continue in an online critique group and with my critique partner.
4. Choose your conferences and on-line courses based on your own professional development plan. For more on a professional development plan go read Tammy Schubert’s post on having one at http://petitfoursandhottamales.blogspot.com/2009/01/take-charge-of-your-writing-career.html
My guidelines aren't exactly new or innovative. But, I'd like to think that they'd help you to wrap up the 2009 party and get on your way to tossing out the last of those drunken guests so you can set realistic writing goals for next year without the aid of a magic wand.
Now, let's hear about what other guidelines you feel should make the list. Or tell me about one of your specific writing goals for 2010.