Writing Goals for a New Year

Good goals help you shoot for the moon!

Notice that title? Not a peep about ‘resolutions.’ That’s on purpose. Resolutions are made every year, ’round about this time, and forgotten or abandoned perhaps a month later. Goals, however, last the whole year.

Part of it, I think, has to do with our understanding of the word. ‘Resolution’ seems very authoritarian and stern, more like a commandment or chore than a happy destination. Ah, but a goal, now, that’s an enticement to continue. A goal has no whip or stick behind it, just a carrot tugging us ahead, ever down a path towards accomplishment. And that accomplishment is what it’s all about.

That said, you can’t just rename a resolution, call it a ‘goal,’ and go on as before. No, no, no, that’s no good. Our brains aren’t that easy to fool (more’s the pity, eh?). You have to phrase your goals in terms that you can control. For instance, “Write a short story every week.” This is phrased well, and is something entirely within my sphere of influence. Now, that’s not saying it’s a good goal — only I could determine if this is fitting for me, and you for you.

But, “Get a story published by June,” is not a good goal. Publishing is not in my control. I can’t force an editor to accept my story, even if that story is good. This could be re-worded to: “Send out at least 12 stories to markets this year.” I can control this, and if I’m sending out twelve new stories, and I’m improving my craft with each one, I’ll likely find a home for one.

See how it works now? Go on, try it. Give yourself goals to aim for.

Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.  ~Les Brown

To get you started, and to keep me honest, here are my writing goals for 2012.

  • Work on my two main craft weaknesses: character arc and conflict.
  • By the end of the year, have six submissions out at any given time (thanks Sue Healy!)
  • Finish at least 2 short stories a month. (But I can be working on, researching, editing, etc, as many as I like. I just have to finish two.)
  • Continue to blog here, and otherwise widen my circle of writing contacts and acquaintances. (Yes, I’m a terrible wall flower, so this is a big goal for me.)