Thursday, December 3, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the New: a Look at Writing Goals

I just have to tell you that I love our theme for the month of December. Here in the maelstrom of Christmas, we Petit Fours consciously decided to take this time to evaluate how many of our 2009 goals were accomplished. I needed that. I needed to think about what I have finished rather than what I still need to do because the list of Christmas presents to buy is daunting, and the task of figuring out how to pay for them is more daunting still.

So, here goes. I wanted to finish the third draft of the novel that will be my Master’s Thesis. Check. I wanted to have business cards before Moonlight and Magnolias. Done. I wanted to enter the Maggies and finish that novel before the conference. Also done. I vowed to enter more contests. Mostly done—I entered three.

Thinking about what I have done now makes me think of what still needs to be done. What did I learn in 2009? I learned that I need to have at least half of my Maggie entry finished before I submit the partial, so one of my goals for 2010 is to have at least one hundred pages written before May. I learned that I need to change the point of view of my Master’s Thesis yet again. I’m over one hundred pages into that story, and I really don’t have much choice in finishing it. My goal is to finish it and to submit it to every place I can think of. Of course, the most important writing goal of 2010 is to keep on writing even though I’m co-chair of the conference. To tell you the truth, I want to curl up in the fetal position at the thought of spinning so many plates, but I’m still standing. And I have at least three of those plates spinning.

It’s going to be your turn in a minute, and I hope you’re chomping at the bit to tell me both what you’ve done and what you hope to do. Before you start making lofty goals for 2010, though, I would like to tell you something I learned from Missy Tippens when she spoke at one of the monthly meetings. She warned us all to set goals that we can accomplish—and this is a lesson I learned the hard way. Missy said you have to make goals that you can control. You can’t control whether or not you find an agent. You can’t control when your first sale will come. You can control how many pages each day you write or how many contests you enter. What I would have given to have heard Missy’s speech several years ago when I vowed to be published by thirty. I have to tell you that thirty has come and gone, and I’m still not published, but I have written four novels.

Here’s another tidbit of incentive. For 2010, the Georgia Romance Writers’ PRO members are going to sponsor a new contest. You already know about the great “Finish the Book” contest. We’re going to start the First Annual Rejection Collection Contest. We’ll all kick some money into the kitty, and the person with the most rejection letters at the end of the year will win what’s in the pot. You can’t control when you’re going to find someone who loves your work, but you can control how many noses you put it under.

So, now it’s your turn. What did you accomplish this year? What do you hope to accomplish in 2010? This is your moment, and if you type it here then it just might come true.


Anna Steffl said...

Wow Sally, you accomplished major things this year! I feel guilty now...only revised my book (but it is a 13400 word thing). Well, I almost finished revising. My goal is to finish it by the end of the year.

Next year, I to draft a new book -- and win that rejection contest. I don't really want to win, but I want to be in the mode of sending out stuff.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Love the rejection collection contest. I plan to be a major contender! My rest of 2009 goal is to finish my revisions on my finally finished manuscript!

Marilyn Baron said...

I also love the idea of the rejection contest. Now if it could just be cummulative rejections for years past...Next year I plan to submit the manuscript I just finished to more agents and editors and write a new one.


Christine said...

I love the idea of the rejection contest. You've accomplished a lot this year!! Pat on the back.

I set goals every year for my writing--I have a macro list and then I break it down by month into bite size pieces on a spreadsheet (I never use speadsheets for math functions). I put the due dates in or the weeks I want to work on the goal. I love checking off all the goals I achieved! I have a Writing Side and a Family Side. I usually revamp it by mid year or quarterly.

Goals this year were GET PRO, yup, enter 3 contests (maggie, GH, and one other); check. Find some local writing friends (need contact), improve craft through online courses, find a CP in my genre (I have two fabulous CPs in Women's Fiction and RS--but I felt it important to have someone who knew my genre)--check. Go to my first National Conference and PITCH (gulp--yes).

Big year for me. Lots done and lots more to do.
2010 will be busy as well.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Thanks, Anna! I know what one of your goals is: keep writing while we do this conference thing.

Debbie and Marilyn--you are on when it comes to the rejection collection contest. Being a competitive person, I thought it might be a good idea to raise the stakes for all those who are competitive like me. : )

Sally Kilpatrick said...


You are trucking! Way to go, and I can appreciate anyone who starts breaking goals down on spreadsheets--I don't use them for math, either.

Attending Nationals is one of my goals for 2010. I suppose we should all be saving our pennies!

Maxine Davis said...


Really liked the post. I like what you said about concentrating on what I accomplished rather than what I didn't. That helped.

Like the contest idea.

Dianna Love said...

Sally - Way to go on that list of To Dos. And I love the Rejection Collection the PROs will be starting. GRW has to have one of the most active - and productive - PRO groups in the country.

Missy was spot on when she said to set goals that you have control over. I've seen a lot of writers burn out because of unrealistic expectations. That's very hard on a creative person. Giving yourself something you can earn then cheer about is so much more positive.

I tend to work on "taking time off" goals since I'm one of those Type As who focuses heavily on responsibility goals. So i hope to see more of you this upcoming year by coming to the meetings as often as I can.

Cyrano said...

I have yet to read a PFHT post that I simply haven't adored, and yours Sally, is no exception.
I wish I would have heard Missy's workshop. I think that was the day my son was rushed to the emergency room for something and I had to leave early. (He's okay...just a rowdy kid)
I like the idea of making goals that are in your control.
My first goal is to write every day during the week in 2010.
I ran out of time to enter my Golden Heart submission this year. I procrastinated and well, RWA will have an extra 50 bucks in the kitty, but one less manuscript to judge.
If I would have written everyday I would have had my submission finished in time.
The writing everyday is my main, do-able goal. I can control that.
My next goal is to submit a manuscript on time to the Golden Heart contest.
I've neglected to ever enter that contest (except for this year) and I refuse to let 2010 go by without mailing in my copies.
I love, love, love the idea of most rejections contest!!! Fabulous.
That's my third goal. Send my stuff out, and keep sending it!!!
I'd like to win that money!
Keep up the good work Sally. We love you and appreciate the time you spend spinning plates. You're a natural.
I'm here to help and follow orders, so delegate baby, delegate!
Thanks for the inspiring post.
Have a gorgeous, productive afternoon,

J Perry Stone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J Perry Stone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks so much for the encouragement, and I'm glad you like the Rejection Collection idea.

I think you're absolutely right about taking time off. I didn't think about that, but I've been reading in several different spots that we all need some time off to let our creativity "recover." One of those spots was in Kelly's new book, I think. I also vividly remember one of my professors, Jeffrey Stepakoff talking about that part of your job as a writer where you're staring into space and you look as though you aren't doing anything, but you really are.

But thanks for dropping by, and I look forward to seeing you at meetings--great goal. : )

Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thank you so much for all of the positivity you radiate! Let's think on the bright side: you don't have to write too many days in 2010 to get your submission ready for the Golden Hearts. You're almost there; I heard you say it!

Great goals!

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Sally! I know you will be fabulous this year. No worries! We have faith in you. Great job on all you've done and you didn't even mention the classes you are taking OR the fact that you are a mom. Big, big jobs!

I didn't get nearly what I wanted to do this year. I wish I had, but I'm brain dead after all the classes I'm taking and end up unable to be creative.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am completing a few goals. I have one semester left of school and then I'm FREE!!!!

Okay, back to finishing up a power point presentation!

Thanks for a great post.


Ana Aragón said...


Great post and wonderful idea on the rejection contest! That will be a big boost to those of us who tend to sit on our hands instead of getting our manuscripts out there.

I didn't accomplish as much as I wanted to on the writing front, but in three weeks I am halfway finished with my master's program. I've done lots of writing with the PFHTs and that kept me focused on my personal writing when it seemed that all I was doing is writing papers for my class.

So here's to a great 2010, where I will attempt to finish the novel I started during Nano, rewrite my last novel and send it everyone!


Christine said...

Okay, got a big first one for the year. R from Knight Agency ... boohoo... does it go in the pile?

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, a lot of you around here are students! That always impresses me to see someone doing that when they work, have families, and have a zillion other responsibilities! So kudos to all of you students!

Great post, Sally!! I still cringe when I think of setting my 5-year plan and saying I would be published by then. :) Of course, once I started submitting, I don't think I ever looked at the plan again. I knew I had been way too naive. :) And of course, I ended up being on the 10-year "plan" afterall. :)

Goal for this year coming year: to work more quickly on proposals--and to get much better at doing them!

Missy Tippens said...

Also! Dianna, if you're still around...

I brainstormed an opening scene for my last proposal while in your workshop at M&M. And I just recently sold that proposal! The editor said they loved the first chapter. :) So thank you!!

Tammy Schubert said...

Congratulations on accomplishing so much in 2009!

I love your rejection letter contest idea. This is definitely a way to inspire a lot of people to put themselves out there.

Good luck with your thesis and your new goals. I have complete faith in you and your ability to do anything you put your mind to.

During 2010, especially as you work on the conference, you need to be sure to take some time for yourself.

Linsey Lanier said...

"Think about what you've finished rather than what's left to do." Sounds like great advice. And like many have said, you've done a lot. And you got to write a novel for your Master's Thesis. Way cool.

Four novels is quite an accomplishment. They say it takes at least five novels before you're ready to publish, so you're almost there, Sally.

The rejection collection contest is a fabulous idea. Count me in.

I remember Missy's advice. Thanks for repeating it. I need to follow that. I have a tendency to set unrealistic goals... like finishing the draft of a second book before the end of the year. Maybe I'll get fifty pages done, LOL. I need to follow Dianna's advice, too.


Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks for the kind words, and I know you are working your tail off but still have time to serve as registrar and to keep us all on our toes here at the Petit Fours.

I'm with you on that one semester and semi-freedom. All we can do is keep on keepin' on.

Sally Kilpatrick said...


That's the spirit! I hate having something undone, but at least Nanowrimo kept me writing in a month where I would have been tempted to slack.

Here's to 2010!

Sally Kilpatrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks so much for stopping by, and thanks for that advice a while back. It was a real a-ha moment for me.


Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks for your encouragment and advice to take time for myself. I was just reading something that I wanted to read (Spook by Mary Roach) and it felt positively decadent.

You hang in there for 2010, too! What are your goals?

Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks--and I totally agree on realistic goals. Maybe we should all set really low goals so we can overachieve. : )


Nicki Salcedo said...

You are my hero. I'm bummed that my rejections have no value until 2010! But I love a challenge. Thank you for thinking of this.