Friday, January 8, 2016

Writing Goals for 2016

Every January I like to take a little time to look back at what I accomplished the previous year and take stock of what needs to be accomplished in the year ahead. I'm a firm believer in setting goals--it's the single most important exercise we freelance writers can do since most of the time we are accountable only to ourselves. Goals help us stay focused and moving forward.

Looking back, here are the goals I made for 2015:

1) Read 52 Books. I'm proud to say that I actually read 54 books. This is a big accomplishment for someone who used to read 1-2 books per month. I used to call myself a slow reader, but not anymore. By signing up for the annual Reading Challenge on Goodreads I made more of an effort to read. The one downside: I was less likely to drop a book that I didn't love because of the time invested.  

2) Post More Often. I was surprised to learn that I achieved this goal, too--but not by much. I posted 22 times last year, which is more than I had the previous three years. Still, not a great number. It was tough keeping my focus on the blog because I was heavily immersed in rewrites.

3) Continue to Build Platform on Social Media. This goal was purposely vague, but I did reach out to my local writers' community and had more engagement than ever before. Also, my blog readership continues to grow.

4) Finish Short Story. Yeah...this didn't happen. I did make headway, though.

5) Finish My Manuscript. I came oh-so-close. I'm in the process of finishing rewrites and hope to be done by the end of January. 

And my one wish for 2015 was...

Sell My Manuscript to a Publisher. This didn't happen, either, because I'm still working on the manuscript. 

With all this in mind, here are my goals for 2016:

1) Read 60 Books--and Some of Them Have to Be Classics. Ok, I'll admit it--part of the reason I was able to read so many books in 2015 is that some of them were pretty slim. Also, at any one time I was reading a work of fiction and a work of non-fiction. When I look over my list for the previous year, I've noticed that I read a lot more memoir and non-fiction because it was a lot easier to read quickly. The fiction I read was mostly contemporary, which can also be easy to read. This year I'm going to dive into some thick novels and some classics that I've never tried. Like War and Peace. There are just so many books to read--it's overwhelming. 

2) Post 36 Times. Instead of being vague, I'm committing to a number. I'm aiming for 3x a month. Still not often enough, but to be honest, coming up with compelling content is not easy. Maybe a book contract will give me lots to write about...

3) Stop complaining. This comes straight out of Elizabeth Gilbert's BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR. I just devoured this book and will post about it soon. Briefly: Gilbert reminds us that we should approach our work with a grateful, playful attitude and not take ourselves or our work too seriously. Deep in our hearts, we artists know we've got it good, but we feel that if we don't act like it's a struggle, the outside world will think we're just goofing off. We should own our good fortune. So when someone asks how the writing is, I'm not going to sigh and list all my difficulties (after all, no one's making me do it!), instead I'm going to cheerfully say, "It's going well, thanks!"

4)  Finish My Short Story...and Maybe Send It Out? Believe it or not, I've never submitted a short story for publication. I stopped writing short stories the second I graduated from college. I've always seen myself as a novelist, but want to challenge myself by writing something in a different form.

5) Finish and Submit My Manuscript. This is a cheater goal, because I know this is going to happen. I'm only a few weeks away from making this goal. Sometimes you need to throw in a sure thing just so you can feel successful at the end of the year. Will a publisher buy it? That's anyone's guess. It's completely out of my hands, so for now I'm not going to worry about it. My goal is to get my work done--the rest will take care of itself.

So here they are--my humble goals for 2016. Nothing earth-shattering or exciting or all that different from the previous year. This list underscores how the writing life is just a slow and steady continuum. It's perseverance. It's keep on keepin' on for the love of the work--without expectation of glory. It's making a commitment to yourself to create (and finish your creation), even when no one's looking.

What are your writing goals for 2016? 

No comments: