Ah, it’s time to review past goals and make plans for the future! I actually always enjoy this time of year, because I’m very list-oriented. I like making what plans I can, and seeing how the chips fall. Well, maybe “like” is a bit optimistic, but I do find it interesting to reflect on what I wanted to achieve as of last year, what I actually managed to do, and why things did or didn’t work.
So without further ado-! Last year’s goals and results are as follows:
1) Read one book a week until B-Day in June (like the beginning of last year, only, don’t stop), with an overall year goal of 25. –Actually managed to read 26 books this year! In all, I read 14 books before the Little Guy showed up, which means I managed to read 12 books after he was born. This blows my mind, and makes me feel like there’s a chance I could read a fair number of books in this coming year. I read some great books this year, and am quite pleased with this. Someday I’d love to get up to reading 70 books (or the page equivalent) a year, but for now, I’ll take this small victory.
2) Finish the rough draft of Shadow Engines.–Done and done! Managed to write the finale to this one in January 2015, making it the fastest finished goal I’ve had on one of these lists. I’m still not quite ready to revisit the draft yet, though I do have some rudimentary ideas for the massive rewrite it’ll need, but with time, it may have something worthwhile at its core. Now to learn how to EDIT novel-length manuscripts!
3) Get as many new short stories written/edited/submitted by B-Day in June so I have something to juggle even if I’m not writing much for those few months (6 = good, 10 = amazing).–Okay, this one is pretty close to what I wanted to achieve. I didn’t get more than 2 stories submitted by the Little Guy’s arrival, but since then, I’ve gotten three more out, so I’ve got 5 total submitted. Considering that that’s more than I’ve ever had circulating at one time, I’m pretty pleased with that. One story short of what my dream-goal was, but still not shabby, and I’m in a position to get more out this coming year, so not a bad way to start 2015!
4) Keep up with a reading journal every day to discuss what I’m currently reading so I actually THINK about what I’m reading in a concrete way, rather than just spinning the ol’ brain wheels repeatedly without cementing anything specific.–This one was a complete and total flop, I’m afraid. I tried, I really did, but it was just a mess. I did however find that I love mapping out plots to YA novels as I work through reading some of those for research, so that almost works. I prefer lists of LIKES/DISLIKES compared to full-length journal entries, so I’ll be keeping that in mind for goals this year.
OVERVIEW: So all in all, I accomplished a large chunk of my goals for this past year! Despite a lot of major life changes, this was a pretty productive year, and what’s more, I think it’s set me up for a very productive 2015. I’ve learned a lot about plotting from reading several books on the subject, and have learned a ton about word-reduction in short stories, so that’s a major plus, too! I feel as though I’m finally starting to understand story structure, which is something I’ve always struggled with. I also started my own small business (which I’ll talk about more in a separate post), and am settling into motherhood rather well, if I do say so myself. This coming year is going to be another major life-changing year, with the hubby graduating from med school, our relocation to wherever he matches, the little guy turning 1, and several conventions I’m hoping to attend this spring/summer. Should be exciting!
And with that in mind…
Goals for 2015
Years ago, I used to set goals at this time of year for all aspects of my life, but after years of failure and too many goals to keep in mind at any one time, I’ve pretty much settled on only setting goals for writing. It’s easier to track and in the long run, I find that having goals for writing makes me a lot more productive, whereas having goals for exercise and other life-bettering things doesn’t necessarily make much difference. I can be constructive enough on those things simply by forming good day-to-day habits, but I find long-term goals for writing keeps me better on task during the year.
This year, I’ve created a goal for each* area of importance in a writer’s job: read, write, edit, submit, repeat. I’m hoping this will keep me realistic about what I can and can’t achieve in the course of a busy year, and raising my son.
1. In 2015, I am going to try to read 30 books (or 9000 pages), including one short-fiction magazine a month (see list). Magazine pages are included in the overall page-count, and ezines will count by word-count (estimating 350 words a page). The magazines I especially want to make sure I check out once this year are:
5. Glimmer Train
6. Intergalactic Medicine Show
8. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
9. Shock Totem
10. Cemetery Dance (if open to subs)
I also want read The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy/Horror for this past year, and several books from the WeNeedDiverseBooks blog, such as: Akata Witch, If I Ever Get Out of Here, Otherbound, Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass, Fake ID, Huntress, Tankborn, Skeleton Man, Control, Drift, and Orleans.
I’d like to say I’ll read 70 books a year like a certain Mr. King, but in order to not risk disappointment, I have to be a bit more realistic. Since I don’t yet know how reading time will accrue as the Little Guy gets bigger (and therefore 1) more mobile, and 2) more distractingly hilarious), and because if I’m taking time away from him via babysitters or family watching him I want it to be for putting words on the page, I’ll be more restricted than I was at the start of 2014 (when I read–for a few weeks) a book a week. 30 may be pushing it, but I feel like adding 4 books to this year’s count isn’t impossible.
I want to write every day. It may not be more than a sentence, but I want to get down at least a sentence every day. Handwritten or typewritten doesn’t matter, though I’m loving writing by hand, so I may try do to that more.
This goal might be optional: I’d like to tackle the rewrite of “The Clearing of Lunar Lots #277-846: or, How TiCom Eliminated Five Billion People With No Bad Press.” It’s a novella at the moment, but with some development, I think it’ll shift into a short novel. I love this story, and there’s a lot I’d like to do with it. I’m not sure I can get this done by the end of next year, but I’d love to keep it in mind and try. If it could be submittable by 2016, I’d be thrilled.
This is the big goal for this year: I want to continue with my goal of submitting one new short story a month. So far, I’ve done it for three months in a row, and although it might be a stretch once I blow through my loitering rough draft backlog, I think it’s reasonable. I’ve written stories in one sitting and edited them within the same month which have been good enough to publish (and republish), so I know I can do it. This, more than anything, will make me feel like a “real” writer, even if production is otherwise slow. That would mean, if all the stories I have out circulating now are still circulating, I’ll have 17 stories out to markets by December 31, 2015.
So there we are! In summary, this year I’d like to:
1. Read 30 books (or the 9000 page equivalent), plus one short-fiction market per month.
2. Write every day, even a little bit.
3. (Optional) Rewrite “Lunar Lots” to submittable form.
4. Submit one new short story per month, totaling 12 new stories.
It’s a lot, and I’m a bit intimidated, but I think if I can achieve even a part of these goals, I’ll be a better writer by the end of 2015. Do you set writing-related goals each year? Do you set them at this time, or on a different annual schedule? What kind of goals do you find useful, or detrimental?