Lesson #54: Setting Goals for the New Year

Setting Goals for the New Year


It’s that time of year when people make resolutions they’ll never keep, so we might as well jump on that bandwagon and talk about goals. If you’re serious about writing, you need to set goals.


A few things about goals:

            *Need to be reasonable and achievable

*Need to have a plan on how you will achieve them

*Need to lay out quantifiable benchmarks


            Reasonable and Achievable

                        This means set goals within your skills, time allowances, talent, and resources. If you make a moderate income or are a college student, a goal to attend ten writer’s conferences in a year is plain ridiculous. Unless your last name is Trump, you probably can’t afford that. Or, don’t set a goal to write a novel-a-month. Unless your last name is Woodhouse (first name Kim), you probably won’t be able to meet that one either. You’ll only end up frustrated and feeling like a loser.  When it comes to setting goals, you want to end the year NOT feeling like a loser!


            Plan on HOW to achieve

                        Think map. This is how you get from point A to point B.  Maybe you want to outline a plot, but you’re not sure how. You address the HOW by investing time to read books by James Scott Bell, Jeff Gerke and Donald Maass on the subject. Set yourself up for success – EQUIP yourself to achieve your goals


            Quantifiable Benchmarks

                        Fancy edu-speak for set deadlines or measurable goals. Say you want to write 1500 words each week. Keep track of your word count and record on a calendar. I highly recommend weekly vs daily goals, or even monthly goals to give yourself wiggle room. Life happens. It knocks you off your game. Build in many days each month and get ahead when you can for when you are knocked down longer than expected


What kinds of goals should you set?


Depends on where you are at in your writing journey. A newbie writer may want to find a way to educate themselves on the craft of writing. Don’t despair if conferences are out of reach. I love conferences. BUT there are other alternatives. Here are a few: local writer’s groups sometimes have one-day clinics that are under $100. If the presenters are published, or respected I the industry, it is worth the time and money.


Community education classes. Many colleges and universities offer non-credit classes for community members. These classes are taught by qualified adjunct instructors. I’m looking at the catalogue for Casper College (where I teach such classes on writing) and the fees are usually less than $50 for a six week class.

If you are 50 or older, look and see if the college/university in your area has the OLLI program (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). You pay a small annual fee for membership and can take one class for free, and additional classes are like, $8 or so depending on materials etc. The instructors are interviewed and screened to make sure they are qualified to teach. I also teach writing classes in this program at Casper College. It is a national program. See what offerings are near you.


More experienced writers need to set work count and submission goals. You do want to get in a place where you write a novel in a year’s time and send queries for agent representation or synopsis for publication opportunities. My goal is to write my third and final book in the Guarded Series in 2017. While I do that, I am looking for an agent, and planning out my next two writing projects.


No matter where you fall on the authorial food-chain, you need to learn. Read books on the craft. Set goals for how many craft books you will read. I mentioned some of the best writers of such books a few paragraphs up.


Write it down


Researchers say people who write down goals are more likely to reach said goals than people who think of goals and leave them in their head. Write them down. It makes them real. Put them where you can see them.




Life happens and gets hard to near impossible at times. This is where accountability partners come in. My Bloodthirsty Crit Partners hold my rear to the fire. They kick me along as needed. I do the same for them. We do what it takes to push each other toward success. Friends don’t let friends fail if they can help it. If you are accountable to no one, or say your dog, you will find every excuse under the big hot gaseous ball in the sky to not follow through when it gets hard.


What are your goals for 2017? Share in the comments below. Then write them down and post in the wall where you can see them.


With Pen to Paper,



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