See that picture, that one there, to the left? Notice that beach peeking out through the numbers? Yeah, that beach is where I want to be right now, as the temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic finally plummet to more seasonal levels (sub-30° F). In fact, that beach, assuming it comes with tropical drinks and a pool with a waterslide, is where I want to spend all of 2016. There I could write my little heart out and meet, nay, surpass all my 2016 writing goals.
Alas, that beach is not where I am or where I will be. So I’m going to have to achieve my goals the old-fashioned way – through planning, tracking, and working around all the life stuff. If you’re not hiding out on a tropical beach for the remainder of the year, you might be in the same sad, ramshackle, beachless boat as I am. Hopefully, you’ve already set your goals. If you haven’t, or even if you have but you need help refining or tracking them, I’ve got you covered. We, with some help from the wider blogosphere, can get through this together. (And if all else fails, I have a frozen margarita maker we can use to make those tropical drinks.)
Aligning Goals to Your Publishing Path
We’ve talked many times on the blog about traditional publishing. The most common way to do it is to find an agent who loves and supports your work, signs you as a client, and then (hopefully) sells said work to an editor. If seeking an agent is on your agenda this year, check out Jane Friedman’s Complete Guide to Query Letters. Armed with this knowledge, you can set timelines and goals around writing, submitting, and tracking your queries.
If indie publishing is in your plan, whether in the short- or long-term, you’ll want to align your goals to get you there. But there’s so much to learn and absorb, so many things you should know. Big things, little things, details you might have already considered and more details you don’t even know you don’t know. You know what would be great? An easy, succinct primer to point you in the right direction, or at least get you thinking about the right questions to ask (and where to ask them). Ask and ye shall receive. Stop by Jacintha Topaz’s blog for her advice on how to debut as an indie author in 2016 or beyond.
Aligning Goals to Your Career Strategy
We often talk about our goals here on the blog. But meeting individual goals isn’t the end of the exercise. Meeting a series of goals in a logical, strategic, dare I say rational way can help you establish and maintain the writing career you want to have. (Or not. Not everyone is in this writing thing for a career. YMMV, YKINMKBYKIOK, etc.) If you’re ready to look at the big picture of a writing career and break that down into the smaller, more manageable goals that will help achieve it, I recommend, once again, Mindy Klasky’s The Rational Writer.
This book is described as project management for your writing career, and the good news is, you don’t have to be a certified project manager to follow it. This is a guide, complete with downloadable spreadsheets, for those of us blessed (aka afflicted) with a creative brain. Don’t quite understand what a strategic plan is? Don’t know how to form a mission statement or why the hell you would even want to do so? Don’t know what goals you should even be trying to accomplish in 2016? This book will teach you these things in ways even writers can understand.
Tracking Your Goals
Once you’ve figured out the general path you want to take, a career strategy for the next 1-3 years, and some achievable 2016 goals to get you started down that path, you’re finished, right? Except…not so much. Setting goals is only the first step. Working on the goals, tracking them, readjusting them when necessary, and eventually checking them off as finished will be a process that will take you the rest of the year. If that sounds daunting, there are tools out there on the world-wide web that can help you. Check out sites like Passion Planner to set up your weekly or even daily plans, reminders, and tracking. For a more interactive experience, check out the Goal Buddy software. And if you need some help managing your time to help you achieve more of your goals, you can start tracking (and maybe changing) your habits, both good and bad, with the Way of Life app.
So let’s talk about 2016 goals! I’ll be back next Monday to share my list with you. In the meantime, what’s on your calendar this year? What are your plans? Where do you hope to be as we ring in 2017 in just 12 short months?