When I first started getting serious about writing, my New Year’s goals usually looked like this:
- Send out queries
- Get an agent
- Sign a publishing contract.
Kind of unrealistic, not to mention self-defeating, since #2 and #3 weren’t in my control. Starting in 2012, I realized I needed writerly goals that I could accomplish, regardless of anyone else’s decisions or actions. I wanted to challenge myself, but I didn’t want to set myself up for failure.
- Finish revising my New Adult contemporary romance, Field Rules. Normally, I might plod along with my revisions, but I need to have this manuscript polished in time for the agent round of Pitch Wars, on January 22. Being chosen for Pitch Wars was a great way to end 2013 and has resulted in a ton of helpful feedback from my awesome mentor, Karma Brown. My job, for the next three weeks, is to make my book the best it can be, so that I can do her team proud.
- Write another book. When I was struggling to revise my YA novel last summer, a few people suggested I set it aside and write something new. At first, I was skeptical (“I can’t abandon my novel! I love it! I have to keep plugging away!”), but once I got into a new story, I stopped feeling so frustrated and fell in love with writing again. The best way to keep improving as a writer is to keep writing! (Not that I’m dismissing revision, because it’s a crucial step of the process, but, with every new book I’ve written, I’ve learned more about the craft).
- Attend a writing conference. Last year, one of the best decisions I made was to attend Midwest Writers’ Workshop (MWW) in Muncie, Indiana. Although I went with a friend from my local RWA chapter, the others in my group were people I only knew from Twitter. (Yes, I went on a road trip with people I met on the Internet!). It was a bold leap for me, but I met some amazing people, made new writer friends, and came back revitalized. A good writing conference can do wonders in terms of inspiration and networking.
- Put my work out there. By this, I mean, enter contests, seek out new beta readers, and take people up if they offer critiques. This can be really scary, because sometimes the feedback is negative. Sometimes the contest results are depressing. Even though I’ve done a lot of online contests, I was nervous sending out queries for Pitch Wars. What if no one requested pages? What if all the feedback I got said my book sucked? But I’m glad I entered, because I ended up being picked as a mentee.
- Write something different. An essay, a short story, an archaeology article—anything that forces me out of my comfort zone. Bonus points if I have it critiqued and submit it somewhere.
- Read at least 52 books (1/week average). A simple goal, but a really important one. Sometimes, when I’m in the thick of writing or revising, I don’t want any distractions, even books. That’s okay in the short term, but it’s not good for me as a writer. Reading is something I’m passionate about—it’s one of the main reasons I started writing. As with last year, I plan to read widely: YA, MG, NA, narrative non-fiction, adult fiction, and memoir.
That’s it for now. I’m excited and energized to make 2014 one of my best writing years ever!
What are your goals for 2014?