Setting the Goal Posts for 2013

Setting goals for the following year can be quite cliched at this time: everyone seems to be doing it. But I think that they do it for very good reason. The start of a new year is a great place to mark a line and start thing afresh when I feel I need a new perspective on things. It’s also typically a time when I’ve had some much needed rest and time away from things to feel I can assess my life from a slightly more objective view point.

This year, I find myself wanting to create some more concrete goals to aim for as oppose to ‘write’. Whereas last year this was a suitable enough goal because that is, in fact, just what I needed to do, this year I think I need some more specific targets to challenge me and also practice my technique with.  As a result, they need to be focused enough to be achievable but also broad enough that I won’t feel restricted by them. Therefore, I’ve come up with the following writing goals for 2013:

Writing Goals for 2013

1. Enter five short story competitions

2. Attend a Literature Festival

3. Go to a Writing Group Meeting once a month

4. Prepare NaNo #1 to share with beta readers

5. Write three blog post a week

6. Read Writing Magazine every month

7. Read one new novel a month

These seven have been re-written themselves a number of times. Mainly because, they all have to be manageable, realistic and clear enough for me to understand when I have succeeded. For example, I started out with ‘Enter at least six short story competitions’. I changed it because the phrasing puts pressure on me to aim for more than six short stories and then I’d feel that I hadn’t really achieved this aim if I ended the year having only entered six.

Another one that I changed slightly was ‘Prepare NaNo #1 to share with beta readers’. Originally this said I would ‘Edit NaNo #1′. How ambiguous is that? Granted, ‘preparing’ is just as open to interpretation, but at least I have identified an audience and left myself open for the possibility that there will be mistakes to be fixed once I have gone through the manuscript once and edited it appropriately to feel able to share it with someone. I’m somewhat restricted on being too specific in this aim anyway, having never attempted to edit a novel before, so I have no idea what it really entails. I’ll be creating more detailed targets through my weekly To-Do-Lists.

As for the others – I’ve been wanting to go a Literature Festival for some time now, and I have already identified at least three that I could easily get to. However, the hope is that I will be able to get to the Telegraph Hay Festival; but this is entirely dependent on funds and availability. So there is some thinking and planning to go on before I can commit to the specifics of that particular promise. In the meantime I want to be able to meet some like-minded writers, so aiming to go to a writing group once a month seems like a good idea to do this.

I’m also sticking to three blog posts a week, as I seem to find it relatively easy to stick to such a routine. I’m going to keep Saturday for my weekly word count round up and progress report. I plan to write up my ‘To-Do-List’ every Sunday, to be posted up on Monday, along with any other bits and bobs. Then, there will be another post mid-week (Weds or Thurs) that will be for anything I like: enough lee-way to be creative but clear enough that I know what to include every week without struggling.

Finally, there is reading material. As for Writing Magazine: I’ve been buying this sporadically over the past six months and have found it useful and insightful for a budding novelist. Not least because it is packed with articles on how to tackle novels and structure sentences and writing successful dialogue, but also because they have regular competitions that are open to subscribers: linking back to aim number one about entering competitions. Fortunately, a subscription to this very magazine was a thirtieth birthday present so it worked out quite well!

On top of this, I want to expand my reading and make time to ensure I read at least one novel a month. It doesn’t matter what it is, and it certainly won’t harm me to read more. But, one is something I can definitely commit to – and if anything, I want these goals to be reviewed with positivity and pride at the end of the year.

So, now I have my yearly goals to achieve, the task of getting these done will be broken down into weekly ‘To-Do-Lists’, as indicated in a previous post. This week the focus is on getting NaNo #2 finished, starting another book (I’ve already finished reading The Hobbit this week, having seen the movie on New Year’s Eve) and identifying a short story competition to enter. I’m going to try and stick to five aims per week, as this won’t seem overwhelming. So, here we are:

To-Do-List

January 7th – 13th 2013

1. Write 3,000 words on NaNo #2 

2. Start reading The Red Tent (as recommended by Mum)

3. Identify short story competition to enter

4. Write three blog posts

5. Go through copies of Writing Magazine and highlight articles on Editing

Good luck to all those who have set themselves writing goals for the New Year. Let’s make 2013 our year to be proud.

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14 responses to “Setting the Goal Posts for 2013

  1. Pingback: Setting Realistic Writing Goals | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

  2. Pingback: 2013: In Review | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

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  4. Pingback: Have you reviewed your writing goals? | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

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    • I quite like the varied articles in WM – not just for fiction writers but those who write non-fiction and poetry, along with lots of fiction genres – crime, children’s books, historical….I feel like it often provides some food for thought, which I lack in other elements of my creative life.
      Let me know how you get on if you try it again, would be interested to hear if you have any other magazine recommendations that you found useful?
      Take Care, Cat

  7. Good luck with your resolutions Cat. I find some of these easier to do than others. Writing magazine is a great read and that (along with a novel a month is easy), but entering competitions is always a chore for some reason (not the writing, but the mailing it off) and the writing circle I was part of I had to leave for two reasons: 1. They thought what I was writing was ‘weird’ and couldn’t critique it. 2. They were too precious about their stuff and their idea of criticism was to fawn over any old rubbish that was written. I was honest but fair and got a terrible response from them.

    I wish I could find a decent writing group. Anyone know of one near Wigan?

    • I find the pressure of competitions quite a challenge: I’m never happy with whatever I send off as I don’t think I have the right editing technique yet. Plus I always feel too close to it to really critique it correctly. I often reason – if I wrote it like that in the first place, that is how I meant it.

      As for writing groups, I used to belong to a fairly good one – with a published author at the helm – but I moved away and couldn’t afford it any longer. 8o( It’s always difficult to find true honesty with people you can’t connect with, which is what occasionally happens in such meetings: just because you all like to write doesn’t mean you all share the same standards or view as to what constitutes a ‘good’ novel,
      But, I’m going to try one out in Manchester on the 20th – will let you know how I fare.

      Take Care, Cat

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