When I sit down to write my goals for the year, I first take some time to reflect on the year previously. I ask myself these questions and make notes as I go along:
- What worked well last year? (Note taking processes, writing space configuration, times of day able to write, etc.) What can I tweak this year to fix anything that did not work?
- What stories do I have to finish? What stories need full revisions? What stories need a polish edit?
- What story ideas do I have to add to the story catalog? (Note on this later)
- Are there any goals I made last year that I did not accomplish? What got in the way of me completing the goal? What do I need to do to complete the goal? How does the goal need to be modified?
Once I’ve completed that part, I move on to asking myself questions about what I want to accomplish this year. Again, I make notes as I go along:
- If I could accomplish anything this year, what would it be? What do I need to do in order to make those things happen?
- What story ideas am I going to commit to writing the manuscript for?
- What books would I like to read this year? (This I complete in Good Reads, adding book titles that I want to read there)
- What big writing events are happening this year? What do I need to do to prepare for those events?
I don’t have all of those answers right away. Sometimes I remember something after I’ve set my goals that I realize I haven’t included or I think of an idea for a story that I get swept up in. If that happens, I simply go back and add those things in. My goal planning document is a fluid document. I change and modify it as need be. I’ve made a blank copy of the template, if you’re interested in seeing it. Click here for the Writing Goals Template. It’s not anything fancy, and I’ve based it off of a bunch of different templates and documents I’ve received at conferences and workshops over the years. I took everything I’ve seen and made a version that works best for me. I’ve also included an example of how I use the template with one of my goals for this year. I do that same thing with every other goal I’m working on this year- write out the goal, and then figure out how much time I need and where I’m taking that time.
I had to keep reminding myself as I went to be flexible as I made my calendar. I know summer is super busy with both girls home and taking vacations or doing day trips where we can, so I didn’t plan on any new writing happening then. Instead, I planned my summer for revising work I’ve already done, and finishing manuscripts hanging around from the year previously. I also gave myself time after the spring NESCBWI conference to digest of all the amazing but overwhelming information and inspiration I’ll get. Lastly, I gave myself the last half of October and all of November for NaNoWriMo.
A resource I’ve just started utilizing and absolutely LOVE is having a story idea catalog. At one of my peer critique group meetings, one of the lovely people in the group talked about keeping an ongoing document where they keep story ideas for future reference. They said they would write a pitch for a story, or a paragraph about the basic premise of a story, or an idea with the inspiration for the idea, so later on when they had time to write but might be stuck, they could reference the document. Absolute genius! I’ve started a Scrivener document for this, but it could be kept as a bullet point list in a Google doc, a Microsoft Word doc, an email draft, etc. It’s just a really great idea and I’m so thankful they shared it!
Dedicating time to set my goals and go through this entire process has changed the way I view my writing. It was one of the most important steps I took in turning my writing from my hobby, to my work. My goals keep me focused, keep me motivated, and keep my moving on the journey.
What goals are you working on? What are some of the big things you want to accomplish this year?
A note on the blog for the rest of July- The rest of July for me is all about finishing a manuscript I started years ago that I have been anxious to go back and finish. I’ve re-read the story, made notes on the holes that need to be filled, and decided that the ending needs to be completely re-written, because something I had a character doing, doesn’t ring true with who that character really is. The Blog for the rest of this month will be all about the process of finishing that story.
Happy writing and happy goal planning!