Sunday, December 30, 2007

2008 Can Be Your Do-Over Year

I returned to work this past Wednesday. I'm figuring things will be relatively peaceful until January 2nd, which should give me a chance to catch up on everything I've missed. And to think about the coming year.

My critique partners and I are working on our goals for 2008.

I'm a huge believer in goal-setting for the important stuff. It's a quirk in my personality because most of the time I wing it. I don't know what I'm going to wear until I look in the closet that morning (right now, I'm wearing a turquoise sock and a Kelly green sock); I don't think about what I'm going to eat until I'm hungry; and I love spontaneous road trips.

However, when it comes to the really important things, I set goals. If I needed to drive to Quebec from Dallas as quickly as possible, I'd use a road map to plan the trip. When I finally decided I wanted to write professionally, I scratched out a five-year plan for myself. It was so detailed (and I was so determined), I achieved all my goals in three and a half years.

I love the beginning of a new year. No matter how awful the previous one has been, you get a do-over, a chance to try again. You get to wipe the slate clean and re-write your story for the new year.

Such tremendous opportunities should never go to waste.

In this post, I'm only going to address my writing goals. I have separate goals for my personal and "other" professional life.

I divided my writing goals into four categories:

1) The actual writing: What I want to accomplish in 2008

2) My craft: How I plan to go about improving my writing this year

3) Contracting: What I'd like to accomplish in terms of obtaining new writing contracts (and how I'm going to do that)

4) Marketing: Growing my own name and marketing my books

After I establish my goals, I break each one down into very specific steps. These steps are the way I reach my goals. For example, if I were to say I wanted to complete an 85K-word paranormal by December 31st, I'd need to write about 1,650 words a week between January 1 and December 31.

If, however, I have another deadline in 2008 (which I do) and could not start on the paranormal manuscript until later in the year, I'd need to upgrade my word count goal to accommodate this shortened schedule. As it is, I'll have to write about 2,400 words a week in the latter half of the year to reach my paranormal goal.

Under Craft, I included the obvious: take two classes this year and read four books--one a quarter. Two of those will be books on craft, but the other two will be writers writing in my genres so I can see the devices they use to move a story along.

Also under Craft is something less obvious that I've been putting off. I need a new critique partner to replace one who dropped out of sight four months ago. I've been putting this off because I was harboring the hope she'd return from wherever she's gone. No one who knew her knows what happened. My phone calls and emails have gone unanswered. She'll continue in my thoughts and prayers, but it's time to fill the cavity.

There was talk on my agent's blog recently about the difference between getting your name out there and getting your books' names out there. Obviously your publisher is more interested in marketing the books. You need to be doing both--marketing you and marketing your books.

So, have you started your 2008 goal list? If not, why not?


Maria Zannini said...

I make goals year round. When one is checked off, it is replaced by another. This way it always keeps me moving forward. I was glad to see you divide your goals by category. It appeals to my orderly self. :o)

Maya Reynolds said...

Maria: One of the Golden Compass questions was, "Do you stick to the plan?" I marked "disagree" because I do amend and adjust goals throughout the year. When one is checked off, I celebrate (and give myself a small reward of some kind) and then look to see what's next on the list.