Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Year

What I'm reading: U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton.

Thanks, Tory, for sharing your adventurous life. If you haven't read or commented on her post, you should--she's giving away one of her books. Scroll down and comment there. The winner will be announced next week at Romance With An Attitude.

Hard to believe another year has slipped away. Aside from an early dinner at our local favorite Italian restaurant, we don't normally go out to celebrate, figuring there are too many crazy people on the roads, but we felt "obligated" to go out on New Year's Eve when 1999 became 2000. Was it really 10 years ago?

It's the time of year when everyone is reflecting on what they've done, what they should have done, and what they're going to do. For us, on the real-life front,we dealt with hubby's retirement and with trying to sell a house. For my writing, I contracted two short stories as part of an anthology that's supposed to come out in 2010, and I rewrote a romantic suspense which is due out in July. I also parted company with my agent, and am stepping off the edge of the cliff in trying to begin all over and find a home for it. And, like everyone else, it's time to look at goals.

For the past couple of years, I've shared Roxanne St. Claire's goal setting strategy as it pertains to writing. I've also been seeing other advice, so I thought I'd share those as well.

First, from JA Konrath:

Goals should be within your power. In other words, anything that involves a yes or no from another human being isn't a goal, it's a dream.

You can and should dream, and dream big. But "I want to be a bestseller" isn't a goal. "I want to attend three writing conferences this year, polish my novel, and send queries to ten agents by November" is a goal.

Learn the difference. And don't forget to reward yourself when you reach those goals.

Read the full post here.

Next, from Nicola Morgan:

But dreams and aspirations are not goals and they're not resolutions. I believe the best way to look at goals is to follow the well-known "SMART" doctrine. This states that goals should be "specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based". These are the sort of goals that we do need to achieve, otherwise we may spiral into powerlessness.

Read the full post here.

And, from Roxanne St. Claire:

1. Write every goal on paper and make sure it is MEASURABLE
2. Post your goals where you will see them every day
3. Don’t go to bed until you’ve written a word minimum
4. Keep a daily track of words/pages produced
5. Do one thing every day, first thing in the morning that’s on your goal list

The common denominator: Goals have to be under your control. Dreams are good, and setting and meeting goals can help you meet those dreams, but if it's out of your hands, understand it. I found these goals which I'd set back in 2007. Whether I met them or not was totally in my hands. Some I met; some I didn't; some I exceeded.

3 ring binder for research for Book 5
500 words a day, 6 days a week = 3000 words/week
Sort and file workshop notes
Create an expense record keeping system by Feb. 15th
Clean desk Sunday night Sub chapters to crit groups

Query 3 agents by March 15th
Deconstruct one book for plot by Feb. 1st
Listen to two tapes on pacing
Try the story board to review first 10 chapters of #5
Read 6 books a month for pleasure
Critique within 3 days of receipt
Attend craft focused workshops at Fun in the Sun

Website updates twice a month
Blog twice a week
Post to groups once a week Research postcards & bookmarks

Good luck with your own goals – and dreams.


Jemi Fraser said...

All good advice. I tend to tinker in little bits with my life rather than set resolutions. Life is so busy, adding more to it just creates unnecessary stress - and who needs that? :)

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - I make resolutions for hubby. Measurable goals are more manageable and help set a routine. Heck, "eat chocolate every day" is a measurable goal!

Carol Kilgore said...

I like JA Konrath's statement that goals must be within your own power. Goals are very different from resolutions, at least for me. Goals are something I work toward. Resolutions are something I can break :)
Happy 2010!

Terry Odell said...

I make hubby's resolutions, not mine. That way there's no breakage on my part.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good advice, Terry. Writing goals down and posting them where I need to keep looking at them is a great help to me. The number one goal on my list should be to hang my bulletin board behind my desk so I have a place to post my goals. LOL

Terry Odell said...

Sounds Perfect, Patricia - and one you can accomplish straightaway and check off your list!

I've been seeing a lot of "dreams" posted around lately: Get an Agent, Get Published. Until you break them down into things YOU can control, they're not really goals.

Judy said...

I am going to try and stick with my goals this year. I got my fingers and toes crossed

Terry Odell said...

Judy - good luck. It helps if you have a 'goal buddy' -- someone you can check in with once a week to keep each other motivated.

booklover0226 said...

I like to make small changes throughout the year. If I make many small changes, I tend to stick with them and a big change.

Tracey D

Terry Odell said...

Booklover, sounds like you have exactly the right idea.

Marie Tuhart said...

Good post, Terry. I do most of it right now. I convince my critique group to put their goals (realistic) onto paper and we each get a copy. Then we check in weekly to see how we're doing (I'm in charge of the wet noodle) and we work towards our goals. I made the mistake for years putting on my goals - to sell a book - well, that wasn't realistic, because I couldn't control if a publisher would buy my book or not, so now my goal is to submit a book or two, I can control that goal.


Terry Odell said...

Exactly, Marie - and you can refine that so you have a goal of submitting to 5 agents, or writing 1000 words a day, etc. Those small steps mean you're rewarding yourself for success along the way to the big picture.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I like the way you divided up the different things you needed to do. I like baby steps, too--but I like the way you *organized* the steps.

Ack. I need to make the website update a goal of mine, too...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - Those were year-old goals; as my blogging got more serious, website updates moved down to once a month (unless there's something noteworthy to add)

Maryann Miller said...

Very helpful info, Terry. I like that Konrath defined the goals the way he did. Too often we waste time wishing, when we would be better off working toward a goal as you outlined,.

Debra St. John said...

Great post, Terry. I follow the acronym SMART for my goals: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timed.

Terry Odell said...

Maryann - wishing is nice, but working gets the job done

Debra - Yes, Nicola's blog article refers to the SMART system. A good way to remember.

Sam said...

I use the acronym CROW when goal setting: Concrete, Realistic, Observable, and Worthwhile.

Sheila Deeth said...

Thanks Terry. I'm not sure what my goals are at the moment. Just planning to enjoy the rest of Christmas, and then enjoy the rest of my Mum's visit. The future will creep up on me one way or another I expect.