I can honestly say that I think I've been operating at pretty darn close to my full writing potential (given my other obligations) since I delved back into the writing pool this summer. I've written and sent out for submission 23 short stories since late July, totalling a bit over 50,000 words. I wrote a first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo, another 57,000 or so words. If you include various WIPs and the few things I've started and shelved, I've written a total of about 135,000 words in that time, pretty much spot on a 1000-word a day pace on average. And I've been regularly blogging here; I'm coming up on my 100th post soon. I've also exchanged works with probably close to a dozen other writers for critique and been actively networking on various social media sites.
The point of this really isn't to brag. (Honest!) The point is that I am sure I wouldn't have done half of that if I hadn't set goals for myself in advance and that the act of setting those goals and then following through on them has giving me results which I'm very happy about.
With that as prelude, I want to talk about my 2012 goals and how I plan to go about meeting them.
My goals for 2012:
- Go through revisions on my NaNo project and get it out the door on submission.
- Write 250,000 words of fiction on new projects.
- Write a first draft of a new novel during NaNoWriMo.
- Stick to my established blog schedule.
- Keep my Seinfeld Chain going throughout the year. If I absolutely have to break it, start a new one ASAP.
- Attend one genre convention. (Thanks for the idea, Alex S!)
- First off, I'll still set monthly goals. The monthly goals will be derived from the yearly goals but I will work better with the greater immediacy of monthly goals. This also means that I can recalibrate as needed. (Hopefully I'd only recalibrate upwards...)
- For goal #1 above, my general plan is to spend time in the first half of January analyzing my first draft, time in the second half of January planning the second draft, and then making second draft revisions in February and, if necessary, March. I'm hoping to be able to request the April slot for my critique group. If that works out, then I'd spend May and June working on revisions based on the critique group. I'll also spend the first half of the year researching the process of getting a novel out for submission (Which, generally speaking, I think mostly involves preparing a set of query-related documents and querying agents. The vagueness of that last sentence gives you an idea of how little I know about that process at this point.)
- For goal #2 above, I expect to have a monthly word count goal. That word count goal will vary from month to month. The months that I'm heavy in revisions on the novel will have lower new-fiction word counts. I don't plan to set any month's goal below 10,000 words and I know my November goal will be 50,000. Those baselines get me to 160,000 right there.
- For goal #3, I'll start seriously trying to come up with a novel-length idea in July and having a 300-600 word or so ultra-high-level premise note written by the end of August. (Naturally, if one comes to me earlier in the year, I won't complain...) I'll plan on October being the month where I do serious prep work and then I'll write like mad in November. I'll aim to have 4 vacation days at work I can use to take one day a week off again like I did this year.
- For goal #4, one thing I really need and don't have is a queue of three-five pre-written posts which I can put up if I'm really pressed for time on a regular post day. So, I'll have a goal sometime early in the year to build up that queue and then have a general rule that I don't let the queue shrink below three posts without putting new things in the queue. The other thing I'll do is keep an eye on if it seems like blogging is taking up more time than I can justify. If I feel like that's the case, I might officially change my blogging schedule. Doing that, and then sticking to the new schedule (as long as the new schedule involves at least two posts a week) would meet the spirit of this goal for me.
- For goal #5, there's really no planning involved. I can't "bank" days or anything like that. I just have to make time to write every day. One thing I could do to make it less likely I have a day where things go awry is to be better about taking my netbook to work so I can write on my lunch break.
- For goal #6, there are lots of options. I already go to Pulpfest every year, and that's arguably related. (In fact, I was sitting in the Pulpfest panel room when I wrote up my original notes for my 2011 NaNo project...) But I'm looking to also hit something bigger. Bouchercon is in Cleveland this year, and would be an intriguing possibility. For the first time in forever I'll also have the option to go to Marcon as it won't be conflicting with my Memorial Day weekend commitments. And, of course, there are scores of other conventions out there.
- Finally, I'll work hard to ensure that if I run into some rocky times with one or more goals that I don't let it sabotage the rest of my goals. That's where having a bunch of great friends in the various writing communities is so valuable -- we hold each other up when we're feeling frustrated and cheer each other on when things are going well.
Also, if you've got thoughts about your own goals for the year which you'd like to discuss here, by all means feel free to do so in the comments!