Making Writing Goals

September 14, 2012

I’m going to piggy back on Elley’s post a little bit because it touches on something I’m pretty passionate about: setting goals. Elley talked about how I made her a game plan. Yup, I did. Because I love a good plan. I’m a former teacher, so I know going into something without a plan is rarely a good idea.

I have been writing since I was able to write, but I didn’t actually finish a novel until I was twenty years old. I didn’t sign a contract to publish a novel until I was twenty-nine. Why the lag? In those nine years I wrote over ten complete novels. I was definitely learning my craft, trying new things, getting feedback. So, what changed in those nine years aside from just becoming a better writer with every book?

Goals.

When I was twenty my goal was to some day be published. That’s it. And, for most of us, that’s probably our overreaching goal. We want to be published. But, to be published, there are a lot of steps to get there.

The first year I set myself actual writing goals I, for the first time, received rejections with comments. (The goals were finish a book, submit a book). The next year I set myself writing goals, I was offered a contract. (The goals were write three books, submit those books). And so on and so forth. Goals led me to success because they held me accountable. Sure, my first book wasn’t like a best seller or anything, but I’ve published a book! I’ve met that lifelong goal.

There are two parts to a goal. The goal itself and how you’re going to get there. So, a goal should look like this.

What do I want? To be published. How do I get there?   -Write   -Submit   -Repeat

Each year I challenge myself to write more, to submit more. Each year, my goals shift and change. Contract offers and rejections change my goals. Contest opportunities might shift my goals. Goals are liquid. They are not strict, rigid rules constraining your creativity.

Just like when I was a teacher walking into the classroom each day. Some activities took longer than I thought, some shorter. Sometimes the kids just didn’t get it and I had to start over. That plan is a blueprint, but it isn’t carved in stone. Sometimes you improvise, but you have a plan. Even if the plan changes.

Set goals. Do what you have to do to get there. Reevaluate. And always, always, keep working toward that goal.

Nicole

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