If you’re a human being with dreams and aspirations, this is a great time to be thinking about what you want to attain or achieve in 2016.
If you’re a writer, that means thinking about goals.
At the minimum I recommend setting a daily writing goal, one that automatically resets at the beginning of each time period. If your goal is to write 1000 words per day and you meet or exceed it, great. At the beginning of the next day, it resets to zero and your goal is to write 1000 words. See how many days in a row you can meet or exceed your goal.
One caution here— Set realistic goals. By “realistic” I mean goals that you know you can reach, but that make you stretch a bit. If you find yourself meeting your goal continually, you might want to raise it a bit. If your set your goal too high so that you very seldom reach it, and if that starts to become disheartening for you, lower it a bit.
I also recommend setting a mid-term goal. What do you plan to accomplish before January 1, 2017? It’s only a year away. And what about long-term goals? What do you plan to have accomplished by January 1, 2021? January 1, 2026? Those are only five and ten years away.
A Quick Discussion of Goals vs. Dreams
Beware of confusing these two.
A goal is something that is within your control, at least for the most part.
For example, writing a certain number of publishable words of fiction per day is within your control unless some sort of emergency derails you one day. And if it does, that’s all right because the goal resets the next day.
Writing a certain amount every week also is within your control, again, more or less. You could write a short story every week and see how long you can keep that streak alive. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. (grin)
A dream, on the other hand, is in no way, shape or form within your control.
A dream might be to hit the bestseller lists with your first novel, or to make a million dollars on your first novel. That’s a wonderful dream, and I hope you achieve it, but if you do it won’t be because you decided it would happen. Too many factors are not within your control.
So by all means, dream and enjoy it.
But in the meantime, set realistic goals. Setting goals is your best shot at realizing dreams.
Before I do this, one disclaimer — Your goals don’t have to mimic mine. We lead different lives and have different priorities, and that’s fine. If you surpass me by a bunch, I’ll applaud and cheer you on. If you attain your goal of writing only one hour per day, four short stories and one novel per year, I’ll applaud and cheer you on.
If you are a writer, what matters is that you write.
My goals are based on writing approximately 1000 publishable words of fiction per hour. That’s only 17 words per minute. Leaves a lot of time for staring off into space.
So here are my personal writing goals. I know I can achieve them because I’ve achieve them before. But they’re big enough to make me stretch. If you’d like yo watch my progress (or hold my feet to the fire), Sign Up for my Daily Journal.
- 3,200 new publishable words of fiction per day, plus whatever nonfiction (blog posts, articles) I write.
- write at least 500 words of publishable words of fiction every day (Going for a streak here. Even if I miss my daily goal, the 500 words will keep the streak alive.)
- At least one new short story every week. (This was recommended by Bradbury, and it’s a great deal of fun. My previous attempt resulted in a streak that lasted over 70 weeks and about 75 short stories.)
- 22400 new publishable words of fiction per week (the daily goal x 7).
- One new novel per month (in addition to the short stories and necessary nonfiction).
- Write at least 12 novels during the year. I would like some of these to be in series.
- Write at least 52 short stories during the year. I hope, this year, to write at least one story in every major genre except mystery. Mystery just ain’t my bag.
- Write at least one million publishable words of fiction. If I meet my daily goal for at least 313 days I will exceed this goal by 1600 words.
- Create an ebook cover for each of the publications above, plus for the five- and ten-story collections I compile from the short stories (so covers for 12 novels, 52 short stories, and 15 collections—79 covers).
- Format and publish all works as ebooks
- Layout and publish all major works (novels, collections) as print booksAlso I will have compiled those short stories into 5 ten-story collections and maybe 10 five-story collections. (Giving readers an option.)
I haven’t set my mid-term or long-term goals yet.
For the sake of full disclosure, and because it seems appropriate to this post, here are my personal definitions of the various lengths of literary genres. This is a brave new world in which we no longer have to worry about hitting a certain page count (a certain folio) for traditional publishing’s price points:
6 to 99 words — Flash Fiction
100 to 2,000 — Short Short Story
2,000 to 6,999 — Short Story
7,000 to 9,999 — Long Short Story (or Novelette)
10,000 to 29,999 — Novella
30,000 to 39,999 — Short Novel
40,000 to 69,999 — Novel
70,000 — Long Novel
Okay, looks like that’s it for this time. See you on January 1 with a new post of interest to professional writers and aspirants.
‘Til then, happy writing!
Remember, to sign up for my mad diary of a professional writer’s journey and learn by osmosis what to do and what not to do, click The Daily Journal.
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