I’m returning to the blogosphere after a much-needed break over the Christmas/New Year holiday. It’s been fun to take time off, and now I’m back in the saddle and ready to roll for the coming year.
I am no big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually made one in my life. I have serious doubts that such things work. The goal of a New Year’s Resolution seems to be to suddenly BECOME someone new, all in one day.
Yeah, right. The real world doesn’t work that way. In the real world, you don’t suddenly switch from being one person to being another person. In the real world, change happens in increments. One day at a time, as the AA people say.
In the real world, change happens because you start DOING something new, and keep doing it and keep doing it. Six months later, you suddenly realize that you have BECOME someone substantially different from who you used to be.
It happens when you decide to take action today, and to take action tomorrow, and to take action the day after. Taking action is what makes things happen. Not taking action is what makes things stay the same.
It‘s all about continuous improvement, not instantaneous improvement.
I’ve got my action list for today. It’s different from the action list I made yesterday, because I got (most of) that action list done.
As a novelist, you’ve probably got some Big Goals for this year. Those might include:
1) Developing your skills as a writer.
2) Writing a first draft of that novel you’ve always wanted to write.
3) Making connections with agents at editors.
All of those are great Big Goals, but none of them can happen in a day. What can happen in a day is that you take an action TOWARD reaching that Big Goal. One action I’m taking today is to apply some new analytical tools to my current three sample chapters. I learned these tools from Margie Lawson, a psychologist who specializes in helping writers develop better characters.
What about you? What actions will you take today? There are hundreds or thousands you could take. Some will move you toward your Big Goal. Some won’t. Here are a few examples, taken completely at random:
1) Write one scene in your novel.
2) Buy a book on writing, such as Dwight Swain’s “Techniques of the Selling Writer” or James Scott Bell’s “Plot & Structure.”
3) Clear out a workspace for your writing where you can write comfortably.
4) Schedule time to write on a regular basis.
5) Browse the web to identify a good writing conference to attend this year.
6) Buy a lecture series on the craft of writing fiction, such as my Fiction 101 or Fiction 201 courses.
7) Buy a program that teaches you how to type better and faster.
8) Talk to your family about taking on some of the tasks you do so you’ll have more time to write.
9) Learn to use your time more effectively by using a time-management tool such as Simpleology.
10) Start a blog that you can use to develop name recognition and begin building the marketing platform for your next book.
There are many other possibilities. One blog I read every day is James Brausch’s blog on building an internet business. If you are familiar with James, you’ll see that I’ve learned a lot from him. I certainly use several of his tools for building my business. (And thanks to James for linking to this blog today.) The reason I read James’s blog is his unswerving commitment to taking action today. Nothing happens unless you take action.
So that’s my question for you all today. What’s your Big Goal for this coming year, and what action will you take today that will move you closer to achieving that Big Goal? Leave a comment here.
Mary E. DeMuth says
I wrote a bit about some goals/aspirations for 2008 to help folks get published. If you’re having a hard time framing a goal or task, maybe the short article will give you a few ideas. The permalink is http://aratus.typepad.com/tma/2008/01/happy-new-write.html
Finish the novel,for real.
Finish my synopsis, attend a writers’ conference, meet people, sell my novel, get a new wardrobe for Oprah, Leno, etc. 🙂
I’ve been blessed with a scholarship to attend Mt Hermon in March, and as a new writer, my goals are to survive 5 days of soaking up a sea of information while watching my own head spin—a very cool party trick—and keeping something foot-obstructive in my mouth until I get back home.
The Writer’s View challenged us to set attainable, tangible goals for the year, ones that you could account for if others in your group dared to ask at year’s end.
Mary DeMuth shared a “S.M.A.R.T.” post (at least I thought it was Mary, I can’t find it now…) which I used to make my list. I probably shot a hair low to be safe, but at least I know I can do it and can have no reason to wimp out.
It’s tougher than you’d think to write out goals that can be measured. I had to rack the little writing part of my brain to find words that weren’t general, relative, or something that ounded like a Hallmark card.
Ditto Randy—I detest new year resolutions. Thanks for the sound, realistic advice.
Sorry for the double adjectives, Mary. It’s a pet habit I plan to slay this year.
Charlotte Babb says
My goal for today is to outline my protag’s journey through the second novel. It’s a big goal for me, but using y-writer-2 last night did show me that at least one section of what I wrote won’t fit in this book. Bummer, but at least now I know.
If any readers live in the Southeast, Check out the 32nd annual Southeastern Writers conference, June 15-20. It’s been called the Maui of the South.
My Big Goal is something I’ve been working on in over the past year – to get a manuscript ready for the Mount Hermon Conference to propose to a literary agent. I’ve taken several steps toward getting that manuscript ready but currently I am completing other commitments to clear the plate for one more go at the proposal.
Eleyne Presley says
Regular, daily writing. Which should result in at least two completed novel drafts. Time is not an issue for me, but using it well is. Completing projects is another goal for the year. I’m a great starter, but need some motivation to be a finisher.
Pam Halter says
I’ve set down goals … kind of like a TO DO list.
* Write the second book in my middle grade fantasy trilogy
* Attend a writing retreat in January
* Attend Mt. Hermon in March
* Write the picture book series on working dogs I started months ago
* Continue to participate on writing blogs
* Give some time to help beginning writers when I have the chance
* Pray more regarding my writing direction
* Hopefully sign with an agent (I’m still waiting to hear!)
* Attend the Philly conference in August
* Continue to attend the two writer’s groups I’m a member of
* Read good books
* Take advantage of writing opportunities
It looks like a lot, but I believe these are attainable goals for me. I will print them out and tape them to my desk so I can see them everyday. And I’ll remember that I don’t have to accomplish them in the month of January! I have a whole year.
Carla Stewart says
Hi Randy, I didn’t realize how much I missed your daily insights until you took a Christmas break. So glad that you are back. Another observation. What you say on here must be soaking in because I find that I think now in terms of the BIG goal, followed by what I want to do on a daily basis. I’ve also posted a piece on setting goals on my blog (www.carlastewart.blogspot.com) called GET SMART (a takeoff on Mary’s earlier advice).
A new year? A great time to take action. Keep up the good work.
Pam Halter says
A friend just sent an article on setting goals. It’s really good.
Wow! It looks like many are going to Mt. Hermon. See you there!
Lois Hudson says
Today: I will reorganize my workspace to be free from distractions when I’m working on a project.
With the holiday extras–guests, celebrations, meetings, church activities–the “schedule” gets skewed. Setting the year’s goals comes next, but not today.
Today: I will reorganize my workspace…
Thanks for the encouragement, the inspiration, the motivation for staying connected.
Today: I will reorganize…
Robert Treskillard says
Inspired by your last topic with Susan Meissner, about a week ago I setup a log where I am tracking my writing efforts.
I already have an estimate of how many words I have left to write, and so from that I have made the spreadsheet “Writing Log” calculate my predicted finish date.
Based on the progress I have made over the last week, it is predicting I will be finished on May 26th! That assumes that I write a little over 400 words a day, which should not be a hard goal to achieve. Obviously if I can go faster, that will be better, but just seeing that date motivates me to not let it slip and to keep plugging away.
I have been slowed down doing plot-rework during December, so it is really exciting to be back writing again.
Thanks for the inspiration, Randy!
I subscribed to your newsletter!
Sally Ferguson says
I made 12 phone calls today to build my speaking platform!
bonne friesen says
My writing goals for this year include:
1. Reading through Randy’s recommended book list for writers (I got them ALL for Christmas!). One chapter a day first time through.
2. Daily writing or re-working scenes from my Nano novel, trying to apply what I’m learning
3. Going to the Surrey International Writing conference this October (first conference ever, hoping for Mount Hermon in 09)
4. Continuing contact with writing buddies
5. Having at least part of a manuscript ready to bring with me to SIWC and actually (gasp!) show an editor
6. Fiction 201
bonne friesen says
Sally, you rock!
Paul D says
Anybody read “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Christian Fiction” by Ron Benrey? If not, check it out!
Karla Akins says
My action for today to move me toward my big goal is to think of rewards for my family in exchange for their support in giving me time to write.
I am also going to finish reading POP by Sam Horn as recommended on this blog.
For the year:
[ ] Finish BREAKOUT NOVEL workbook.
[ ] Write consistently everyday for 1-3 hours (if possible with family obligations met first)
[ ] Take better care of myself physically, spiritually and emotionally.
I am toying with the idea of learning how to be a morning person. I have never been a morning person, but it seems to me to be the only way to squeeze in more writing time and “take care of me” time in terms of exercise, etc. I wonder if anyone here has ever been able to change from a night person to a morning person and if so, how did you do it?