2017 Writing Goals

I ended the year by losing two weeks of dictation! It was raining during my commute for a solid week. The last week of December I got off (I work at an Academic institution and the campus was closed) and I spent it doing Christmas stuff, entertaining family, and catching two colds back to back! Currently I can dictate about 60 seconds before having a coughing fit. So that’s nice…

Anyway, It’s the new year and time for resolutions that no one has any intention of keeping. But unlike “Exercise every day,” I am more likely to keep these. In fact, I’m excited to keep these, and not in the same way that I’m “excited” to keep (and “serious” about) resolutions like “eat less fudge.” Anyway, I have to keep these goals if I intend to write another book, let alone get one published.

So here are my goals for 2017.

  1. Post one new blog post each week,
  2. Complete one flash fiction piece (500-2000 words) each month and post it to the blog (which leaves me with 3 more posts a month to figure out),
  3. Finish the first draft of a new novel (80-100k, unrelated to my previous novel),
  4. Participate in NANOWRIMO 2017even if it’s just to help me fulfill #3.

So this breaks down to 52 (more) blog posts, 12 flash fiction stories, 1 first draft, and a possible second first draft.

So, the thing about goals and resolutions is that they quickly fall by the wayside and are forgotten if they aren’t managed. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to write a book!” and another thing entirely to actually write that book. One thing leads to another and the day I plan to start writing I have a family function, then I forget, then I get sick, and then, and then… it’s 8 months later and I wonder where the time went.

Vague goals with no plan are a set up for failure. I went to college with goal and no plan: be an artist and work for Stan Winston Studios as a special effect’s artist or in set design. I ended up going to the only college I visited and applied to and I took classes that sounded interesting to me. I dropped out after 4 years, a lot of units, no degree, and a lot of debt. Having a plan and a pathway to reach my goal of being a special effects artist had never occured to me or any of the advisors I ever spoke to, apparently.

It was different with my Master’s degree. I went back to school to get my Bachelor’s with a vague idea that I would be a Librarian one day.

Q: How do I become a Librarian?
A: Get a Master’s of Library and Information Science from an ALA accredited school.

So I researched such schools.

Q: How do I get into the Master’s Program at these schools?
A: Have a GPA of at least x.

My GPA from my art degree was ridiculously bad (GO TO CLASS, KIDS! And do the work! It was art. Seriously. How do you tank an art GPA? You can throw balogna at a canvas and call it good, for heaven’s sake!). Anyway, I grabbed some calculators and realized that I needed to have a 4.0 GPA for my English degree in order to bring my overall GPA up enough to get into a Master’s program on a provisional basis (thanks a lot, past me).

Q: How do I make sure that I get a 4.0 in all of my classes?
A: Work. Do not miss a single class, do not miss a single assignment, and track assignment points like a wolf tracks a rabbit.

I succeeded. Then I had jump through the hoops of actually applying. Once I got in, I needed a new plan. What kind of Librarian do I want to be (yeah, we come in flavors) and what classes do I need to take to get there?

Anyway, all of that to say, if I want to be a writer and I want to meet these goals I’ve set for myself, then I need a plan that’s just as rigorous as the plan that transformed me from an office monkey into a book ape (master of L-Space and Time).

My Pathway to Success (hopefully)

1. One new blog post each week

This can’t be too hard, but I’ll need to be on top of it. Pick a posting day (Tuesday), make a spreadsheet listing every Tuesday for the next 52 weeks (yay, procrastination via spreadsheets!), list out the topics of future blog posts, keep notes of potential future blog posts, assign the topics and ideas to dates. Pick a day (Saturday?) to write posts. Let posts simmer. Review post. Better: Create a backlist of posts and try to have them written and scheduled well in advance. This would let me have time to make modifications, and also have a buffer if I get sick or hit by a duck or something.

2. Complete flash fiction each month

I only have this idea because i just rediscovered Holly Lisle’s website and writing classes (which I own some of already). She has a new free course out called “How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck” and I have signed up for that. The course gets you to write 5 flash fiction stories in 3 weeks. I’m not sure I can get it done that fast while starting my new dictation journey (and I’m not short on words). I figure the class will give me something to dictate while I’m practicing. Using this class, I could do the process three times and meet my quota and then some (15 stories).

3. Finish the first draft of a new novel

I got this bug when I discovered that Holly has a novel revison class. I have her other work and I like it and so now I’m all jittery about buying this revison course. But it’s expensive and I won’t be able to afford it during the sign-up window. I was also angsty about it because while I want it (and I’m prone to angst over potential purchases anyway) I had made a promise to myself that I would not touch my first book again until I had completed (and revised) a separate, unrelated novel. I’m sure Holly will have the class again (it’s not the first time it’s been offered). I need to produce another book.

So I’m going to break out Lazette Gifford’s 2 Year Novel course that I got forever ago, condense it into a 1 year plan (Yay, spreadsheets!), and go at it starting… now.

4. Participate in Nano

The 2 Year Novel plan (condensed into 1 year) has my first draft done by June. If I manage that then between July-October I will do first part of that course again for a SECOND first draft novel and start the actual draft writing on November 1st (it actually gives me extra time to prep if I push the draft start to November 1st, too). This would get me TWO first drafts done by my year-end deadline. If I fail to get the first draft of the novel done by the end of June, then I can write the first draft during NANO. I’m liking the idea of two first drafts by Christmas, though…

So there. I have a goal, and I have plans (and spreadsheets). Now I need to do it.

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