2012: A Year in Review

I really don’t do the whole New Year’s Resolution thing. I find that “resolutions” tend to be things I wish would happen, but not things I can realistically expect to accomplish. And I think, for me, there’s psychological pressure in the idea that a resolution means I have to accomplish it or I’m a failure.

I don’t like failure.

So I decided last year that I would have goals, not resolutions. Measurable goals, so I could at least see how much headway I made if I didn’t actually reach them. So I sat down and looked at my time, my schedule, and my enthusiasm levels. Because as we all know, if you’re not internally motivated to do something, it’s not going to happen—willpower is not enough to carry something for the long term.

I focused on my writing goals for the year. I had 3 goals:

1) To post on my blog every Thursday without fail.
2) To have at least one novel ready to query agents by the fall.
3) To write at least one short story and send it to several markets.

So how’d I do?

1) I haven’t missed a week blogging. That makes 2 years in a row I’ve maintained the pace!
2) I sent my middle grade fantasy Ozcillation out to agents this fall. Hurricane Sandy kind of got in the way, but I’ll resume the queries after the holidays.
3) I have written 3 short stories and sent one of them to multiple markets. The other two should be ready after the holidays.

So you can see that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do this year—even did a little better in some places. Yay, me! It’s nice to feel like you’ve made positive progress in your life.

Next year’s goals? I haven’t thought them all through, but they currently look like this:

1) Keep up the pace with the blog, and start to use the blog to more effectively connect with my potential readers.
2) Continue to query Ozcillation.
3) Send out at least one more novel by mid-year.
4) Continue to write short stories and send them out.

Those are the writing ones. I really need to add some personal ones like exercise more, eat better, and get more sleep. But I’m wary of them because I rarely have the stamina to maintain those for long periods. Usually after a couple of weeks, I’m back to my old habits. Which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make them goals. It just means I need to think more about how to turn them into achievable goals, instead of fantasies.

So here’s to reaching our goals in 2013! What goals do you have for the coming year?

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Detours on the Writing Road

I have to admit that for a creative type, I am pretty type-A about some things. In many ways I am highly routinized, and in some ways I’m just a touch obsessive-compulsive. I like to set goals and reach them in an orderly fashion. I like things to progress steadily, to be able to count on a schedule, to be able to move forward at a predictable pace.

Then I had a baby, and all that went out the window.

Now my toddler is two, and I have learned a lot about rolling with the flow in the past 2+ years. My daughter does not nap predictably. She usually sleeps well at night, but some nights (like last night) she was up from 3-5 AM. I don’t know why. So my “free time” and my state of exhaustion varies quite a bit.

Therefore, I can’t count on moving forward steadily on my writing. This has been an incredibly hard thing for me to deal with. Before my daughter, I could churn out words like nobody’s business. Now I struggle to get a few hundred a day. It is frustrating, and at times I am impatient and irritated as my type-A facet conflicts with my Mommy facet.

But on the whole, I have learned to be a little more laid back. Being more flexible does not mean I am not as driven as I’ve always been—it just means I’ve realized the drive will be longer than I planned. I also have learned to be more forgiving of myself when I don’t hit my goals. Partly because I have realized I often set unrealistic goals, and partly because sometimes there are simply things out of my control.

For instance, two weeks ago my daughter had vomitus eruptus. For a week. Then I got it. For a week. I did manage to get some work done, but I was nowhere near as productive as I normally am. Things like this happen when you’ve got a kid. You can’t plan for it, and you can only get through it as best you can. So instead of beating myself up for not getting as much done as I had hoped in the past two weeks, I can choose to look at how much I DID accomplish and be proud of that. (Thanks to writer pal Jerry Waxler for teaching me the value of perspective!)

Perhaps at this time in my writing career, a weekly goal would be more productive than a daily goal. With toddlers, the doctors say not to worry about how much they eat in a single day—because that can vary widely—but to look at the weekly consumption to make sure they are eating enough. So with my writing. My daily writing can vary widely in productivity, so making a weekly goal may suit me better. Certainly looking back over an entire week will leave me feeling more positive about my progress than some single days do!

As I try to plan how to reach my goals from my current position, I do so knowing that there will be detours along the way. I hope to face such detours with calm and with an open mind.

After all, the same thing that makes a detour scary is the thing that makes it exciting—you never know where you will end up or what you will find along the way.

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a fun holiday.

I’ve never been a big one for New Year’s Resolutions. I figure if I can’t stick to my resolutions at any other time of year, why would ones made on Jan 1 be any different?

I did make a resolution last year – to post at least once a week on this blog. And I am proud to say that I did it! I missed one week in November, but since I posted more than once several times in the year, I figure it evens out.

I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs about writing resolutions and goals for the new year. I think the best piece of advice I read was to only make goals that are completely within your control. For instance, having blog posts written and ready for each week was totally within my control. Having my blog appear in the Writer’s Digest Top 100 Best Blogs for Writers (it didn’t) is not in my control. By choosing goals where things are out of your control, you are setting yourself up for failure.

So I thought about my writing goals for 2012. I have two:

1. Write every day. No word count goal, because my daily writing time is unpredictable (something out of my control). But write something each day. A blog post, a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence. Something.

2. Polish my two middle grade WIPs and query agents. I can do that. Note that I didn’t say, “Get an agent.” That’s because whether the agents accept me or not isn’t something I can control. I can, however, research agents that are a good fit for me and query them.

Another thing several blogs suggested was sharing your goals, because once you tell someone else you have an accountability and will tend to work harder to achieve the goals you set. So I’m telling all of you!

What are your goals for 2012?

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