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« Writing improves thinking | Main
Monday
Oct042010

Hey, how are those writing goals coming along?

 

One of the best craft classes at the June creative writing residency at Wilkes University was conducted by poet, novelist, and freelance writer  Lori A. May.

Maybe Lori's advice resonated deeply with me because this residency was my last one in the master of arts program. Soon thereafter, I would be relaunched into the "real" writing world--where I hung out before starting a formal creative writing program--to succeed or fail based on my efforts, without the crutch of mandatory weekly submissions to faculty mentors.

 

Lori suggested writers use a simple framework to create and follow concrete goals for themselves, year by year. Basically, you merely set up a three-column table or spreadsheet with these headers:

GOALS FOR 2010-11 | What I Need To Do Now To Achieve Goals | Calendar Months

Then you fill in the spreadsheet. For my 2010-11 goals, I listed:

  1. Revise SHAKER mss and resubmit to [certain publisher]
  2. Complete three of five WIPs novels
  3. Have 4 quality journal credits to add to my clips
  4. Make some money from my writing
  5. Meet new writers, editors, agents
  6. Be a better Literary citizen
  7. Improve my visibility as an author
  8. Further my craft and push myself as a writer
  9. Have a fiction manuscript accepted for publication
  10. Cultivate and deepen opera network in preparation for book tour

 In terms of What I Need To Do Now To Achieve Goals, I listed the following concrete steps:

  1. Do a week's worth of research and finish rewrite
  2. Prioritize list--complete and polish one novel every four months
  3. Polish up new stories and submit to a journal every two weeks
  4. Send short fiction to paying markets; begin writing pieces for demand studios; look for casual work at a small publisher
  5. Find and begin more online relationships; attend a conference; take cards, follow up
  6. Write at least one book review per month; find books I can review on Amazon or at other locations, i.e., Twitter once a month
  7. Create website, interact on social media, do cross-promotions with other authors, give readings
  8. Read 2 pieces of literary fiction; enter two contests;
  9. Obtain a new agent with a record of selling fiction
  10. Create template for interview questions; do one two interviews a month on Operatoonity.
I  created my spreadsheet in mid-July. So, two full months later, how much have I accomplished?
  • I improved my visibility as a writer by winning an national songwriting contest sponsored by the Washington National Opera--my lyrics won first place as selected by Placido Domingo (Goal #7)
  • I created this new blog on writing and another blog to review audio-books (Goal #8)
  • I attended a Social Media conference. Though not a writing conference, it did expand my social media toolkit for marketing myself and my writing. (Goal #8).
  • I widely queried my opera book in August, receiving and fulfilling fifteen requests for partials or complete manuscripts thus far. They continue to dribble in one or two a week. (Goal #9) 
  • I followed some new writers, editors, and agents on Twitter, to build my online network (Goal #5)
  • I completed and requested new interviews with opera companies, directors, and composers. (Goal #10)
  • I did two readings since setting my goals and I sold three anthologies in which my work appeared (Goal #4 and Goal #7)
  • I'm doing a write-a-thon on October 30 to benefit my local library (Goal #6)

I have a long way to go toward realizing my goals. But I'm not displeased with my effort in the last two months. I can and will need to work harder in the coming months. Yet, thanks to Lori's framework, I'm heartened and rejuvenated at the progress made, for which I had no mechanism to chart my effort in the past.

 

How about you? How do you go about setting and realizing your writing and publishing goals?

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