This time last year I was meditating on writing goals amid the realisation that life had thrown me another curveball. That particular curveball turned out to be, first, worse than I could have imagined, and then better than I feared. At least for now. And for that I’m grateful.
Still, my conclusion was basically, “write, damnit”.
Write while I’m drowning in work. Write while I’m facing a scary set of new students. Write while travelling up and down the country to enjoy time with and take care of loved ones. Write when I have a blessed day off. Write when I have a week filled with catch-ups with friends I don’t see often enough. Write as well as live.
I mostly did that, although it’s not terribly measurable. (I guess you can measure it by the fact that I am now in the habit of writing before I do anything else when I sit down at my desk.)
I also set a couple of more specific goals:
To achieve those things, I set myself a target of entering one writing competition or submitting one piece of work each week. In the end I didn’t get anywhere near that…but I did achieve my goals, and that’s meant an awful lot to me.
It also took much less effort than I expected to get results. By which I mean I was expecting to send out twenty, maybe thirty, fifty or a hundred submissions in order to get one success. Actually (if you count success as any kind of recognition, e.g. longlisting) I got results approximately half the time. This is mindboggling. I’ve had all this writing sitting on my hard drive, when it could have been out there in the world.
That said, the one thing I really wanted this Christmas was to have a novel out on submission to agents. I don’t have that (although I’m much closer to that stage than I was last year)… and coincidentally, I didn’t set a specific goal for this last year, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it hasn’t happened yet.
I don’t regret setting the other goals. Getting my writing recognised was something I needed desperately. It’s all very well (and helpful and much appreciated) to have writer friends praise your work, but at some point you (or at least, I) need to know that someone out there objectively thinks your work is good.
I know I would write even if there was never any hope of being published, because I have that conversation with myself approximately once a month, but still, the confidence that comes from external validation has been invaluable to me this year. It got me back to my YA novel when I was ready to shelve it, and I’m now halfway through an exciting new draft (draft 4 I think. I’m losing count). And it allowed me to be up front with people about my writing, and that meant a lot to me. For example, I felt I could finally tell my mum I wrote things! I don’t know why I never dared tell her this before, but such are the quirks of family relationships.
All the same, this year when I set my goals, I’m going to have an eye on that submission-ready novel that I intend to have by this time next year. 🙂
Did you set goals this year? How are you feeling about them now? Are you planning on tweaking your approach for the coming year? I’d love to hear your writing-related goals, if you have any!
*Btw, if you’re of a certain age and have had a weird earworm since reading the title of this post, the song you’re thinking of is probably this one. You’re welcome.