By Sara Grant
I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many folks are on holiday. Schedules are forgotten. The alarm clock is never set. I meet up with friends and family. I go to the cinema or sit quietly and read. I always find time to write too. That week feels like a no-man’s land between the past year and the year to come.
It’s also the week my husband and I write our goals. We review our success from the last twelve months and set a course for the next. I always imagine when Big Ben chimes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve that the slate wipes clean, and I start afresh leaving bad habits and bad memories behind.
I believe in setting yearly goals that feed into where I want to be in five- and ten-years. There’s something powerful about imagining and then writing down your goals. They feel achievable somehow.
If you don’t do so already, why not set a few goals for your writing in 2016? Can you finish your novel? Will you start something new?
Make your goals reasonable. From initial idea to published book can take years – and that’s even if everything goes perfectly (which it rarely does). Setting unreasonable goals will discourage – rather than motivate – you. I’ve heard writers set a deadline by which they must be published. If they don’t have a book deal by the end of the year, that’s it.
Others allow one road block to end their journey. ‘If my extract isn’t selected for Undiscovered Voices then I’ll give up.’ There are so many good reasons why great writers don’t get published – reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their writing or the magic of their story. Writers must be tenacious. Keep writing and submitting.
Your goals must be something you can control. How many words will you write each week? How many pages can your revise? What workshops or events will you attend? How many agent queries will you send? When you aren’t under contract with a publishing deadline, writing can be the first thing that gets pushed aside for a myriad of other important work and family activities. Carve out time for your writing every week (every day if you can) – whether it’s crafting something new, revising, researching agents, submitting to contests or attending writerly events.
Once you’ve written down your goals, re-visit them each month. What will you accomplish that month that will take you one step closer to your goal? Has your situation changed? Do your goals need to be re-adjusted?
A few suggestions for 2016…
- Try something new. If you write for teens, try something for a younger audience. If you generally write fantasy, why not experiment with rom com? It doesn’t have to be a novel, just a short story or a few pages. You might be surprised what stepping outside of your comfort zone might spark.
- Read. Read the books that are winning awards. Read bestselling books. Re-read books that inspired you. Dissect the books you wished you’d written and figure out what makes them tick. How can you apply what you’ve learned to your writing? How many books will you read in 2016?
Experience something new. Visit a museum or art gallery. Travel. Go for a weekly walk without your phone. Be in the moment. Use your senses. Don’t simply take selfies, really experience the space. Some of my best ideas come when I’m doing something out of my ordinary.
I hope one of your goals will be to join us for the Book Bound Retreat in June 2016. Check here for the details of how to apply.
What are your writerly goals for 2016? Whatever they are, I wish you all the best in the new year!