SavvyBlogWriting Life

So You’re Writing Again, or Mid-Year Goal Setting by Leslie Dow

Goals in August?

A few years ago I stopped writing. I just stopped. I suspect that some of you will be nodding now.  It’s happened to you.

Something happens in your life, a job change, a divorce, kids leaving or new ones entering your life. Your writing gets derailed,  you discard the healthy habits you so carefully built, and you simply stop writing. And by you I mean me. I look back on the past few years and see a total wasteland of creativity.

But then something wonderful happens.

You pick up an excellent book, you talk to an old writer friend, and her joy is infectious, or maybe you’re tidying up the computer, and you open the dusty “Writing” folder. Whatever it is, it’s something or a series of somethings that makes you open a file and read something you wrote a long time ago. And then you make an edit. Or maybe it was the latest Scrivener update which opened your file of writing ideas? It could be anything but suddenly days go by, and you are writing! It’s a freaking writing miracle. 😉

It’s a freaking writing miracle. 😉

And now you are writing again.

For me, that writing hiatus was nearly six years. At points, during that period I would dabble a bit. Look at work in progress and make a few edits. Try to plot a new story. A few times I even finished a couple of chapters. What makes this time now different from those? Why do I think, make that know, that my writing is back?

Three big things.

One: I have integrated writing into my life.

I write most days but even the days I don’t I, think about what I will write. I jot down notes. Scrivener is nearly always open on my computer. 🙂 I am in writing mode. I don’t have to get myself in the mood to write. I treat writing like one of the other critical things I do every day, like working, cleaning house, and paying bills. That’s not to say it’s a chore, more like part of my routine which sometimes I like and sometimes not so much, but no matter what my mood, I still write.

Two: I am reading critically again.

Not just reading the non-fiction I default to when I cannot read anything else, or reading those few old favorites (And when is the next Outlander book coming out anyway?). Putting down books I know so well I can half-read them and still stay with the story. And picking up new books by new authors and as I read I compare to what I am writing, I look for tips and tricks that I can use, I take notes and diagram sentences. I am reading like a writer.

Three: I am an active part of the writing community again.

I spend quality time in our Chatroom sprinting. I have an active and enthusiastic crit partner. I am accountable to the whole community to keep writing. There is nothing like public declarations of intent to keep your head in the game. I highly recommend it.

Accountability is missing.

These are all good things, but I am a planner at heart and will always be a project manager. I need goals! I need the public declaration of goals. I need regular check points with goal score cards! It would be nice if there were prizes, too.

Usually, I set goals at the end of the year or the beginning of a project. But how do you set goals when you are dropping back into something you left? How do you pick up and go again, and what is the right thing to be working on? It turns out I know how to do this! Years of project management finally have some practical application.  😉

First of all, you need to forget every bad thing you did or goal you did not meet. You are starting fresh. Clean slate. All sins are forgiven. Anything else is simply not useful. So, now with a clean slate consider the end state.

You leap forward in time.

It’s December 31, 2017, what have you accomplished?

Imagine that evening; you’re sitting at home with your family talking about the wonderful year. What would you say? And don’t add things that are not in your control. You cannot control selling a manuscript or signing an agent. You can control submitting three manuscripts and developing a top three agent list, then submitting to them

For me, I want to complete one book each quarter, and by complete, I mean finished and submitted. That’s a stretch goal, right? LOL. I want to succeed so my definition of a completed novel is a category-length contemporary romance. 50,000 words is a lot more reasonable a goal than 90,000! Part of goal setting is defining your goal so that it is possible, but a bit of a reach and completely under your control.

A good goal is a stretch but possible and completely under your control.

So, since we are starting on August 1, by Dec 31 I will have submitted two manuscripts (I have one ready to go now) and have one in final revisions. I’m considering signing with an agent, but don’t have any idea about who I might like to sign with. It’s reasonable to add my agent research to my goals. That should help me better understand that side of the business even if I decide to continue unagented. Notice I am, not adding anything about self-pubbing. I have made a conscious decision that I don’t want to go that way in 2017. I will revisit this when I do goal setting for 2018, but at least for now I can stop thinking about that.

The last thing I want to add some goals around is getting and staying active in my local RWA chapters. I’m a member, but my attendance has been shall we say sporadic? LOL. Here in Phoenix, we have two chapters, and I think I will sign up with both this year. My goal will be to decide which one fits me best by attending at least 1/2 of the meetings through the end of 2017. At the end of 2017, I will pick one to commit to.

That’s it! I will work out to do lists for each goal and have checkpoints on a monthly basis so I can track progress, but I think, for now, this is about the right level.

Are you accountable for your goals?

What about you? Do you have some mid-year goals you want to commit to? If so, I invite you to add them to a new part of the SavvyAuthors Forums. An Accountability Forum where any SavvyAuthors member can publicly commit to some goal and then update it on a monthly basis. If you decide to do this with me, don’t worry one of my tasks is to update on my progress on this blog monthly, so I will remind you! Ok here are mine!

Pink Owl

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Leslie DowLeslie is:

  1. The site director and owner of SavvyAuthors.com where she sits behind the curtain most days turning interweb knobs and twisting network dials.
  2. A complete and total slacker-writer who, if she does not get off her laurels and WRITE, is going to be flayed by the very talented writers who keep SavvyAuthors going.
  3. A rabid hiker who, when not on the trail, pours over the REI catalog, Sierra Trading Post website, and tries to justify buying more gear to shave another 1/2 ounce off her base pack weight.
  4. A medical device consultant who, when not hiking or thinking about hiking, occasionally works helping companies bring exceptionally cool and useful medical devices to market.
  5. A biology and chemistry Adjunct Professor at SouthMountain Community College. GO COUGARS!
  6. An enthusiastic grandmother of the two cutest babies on the planet!!!!

OK, I’m out..time to sort the latest crisis is to afflict SavvyAuthors  ;-).

Follow Leslie on Twitter @lesliedow, Facebook lesliedow, and LinkedIn lesliedow.

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Leslie is: The site director and owner of SavvyAuthors.com where she sits behind the curtain most days turning interweb knobs and twisting network di...
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    Rachel
  • August 5, 2017
Thank you for your article. I have been fighting some of the same problems. It's been two years for me, but I am writing some, just can't get organized like I was before. I plan on writing every morning, but I let other things interfere and it takes a lot longer to write a book that way. I, too, have just started back to attending my local RWA group and I have kept close to writer friends who encourage me. Hopefully, by next year I'll be back in the grove. Reading your article was encouraging.
    Hi Rachel. I know it seems like an uphill battle some days. But I just keep treating it like my other things. I get up, shower, get coffee (not in that order LOL), check Facebook and email, and then write. Even if it's only for a few minutes that's a win. I've also been spending time in the SavvyAuthors chatroom. Just being around other authors who are writing is inspiring to me. :) Good luck! I know you can do it.

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