Goals, Wishes, & a Reality Check

Today I posted a giant essay on GOALS (how to make good ones and how to achieve them) over on the Manuscript Mavens blog. I won’t regurgitate myself here, but I’ll wait for you if you want to go read it.

(No really–go take a peek)

Back? OK. (Did you really go? I hope you left a comment over there. I’ve got my eye on you. *g)

I wanted to do a New Year’s Resolution reality check at the halfway point through the year, but with one thing or another, I ended up a month behind. Better late then never, though, so here we go.

The Top 10 Goals for 2007 I posted on January 1 are as follows:

10) Attend the national conference in August
09) Attend all local monthly chapter meetings
08) Meet with my local CPs at least once a month
07) Be more active (and interactive) with my online CPs
06) Query and/or pitch at least 5 agents
05) Query and/or pitch at least 3 editors/publishers
04) Enter at least 4 contests
03) Blog at least once a week
02) Write two novel-length stories
01) Do something writing-related every single day

Now, to be good goals, they must be specific, quantifiable, realistic, and attainable. Let’s see.

10) Attend the national conference in August

Check. I did in fact achieve this goal. Although I achieved it in July, since that’s when the national conference was. Next year I’ll add “learn how to read a calendar” to the list.

09) Attend all local monthly chapter meetings

Fail. I missed a couple meetings due to being out of the country. Although this goal was specific and quantifiable, in retrospect it may not have been particularly realistic or even attainable, given my schedule. I will reword this when I update. This item belongs on an ideal-world Wish List, not a checklist of goals.

08) Meet with my local CPs at least once a month

Fail. Being out of the country for six weeks at a stretch kind of killed this one for the same reasons as above, but also my local CPs had their own life issues tangle up our potential together-time. Therefore, this goal was neither realistic nor attainable, right from the start. Again, this is an ideal-world Wish List item, not an achievable goal.

07) Be more active (and interactive) with my online CPs

Check. We met up at the National conference, started the Manuscript Mavens blog, and email almost daily.

06) Query and/or pitch at least 5 agents

Check. This is a good goal. It’s specific, quantifiable, realistic, and attainable. “Get an agent” is not a good goal, because getting an agent is as much a function of luck and perseverance as it is skill and talent. I pitched a total of three agents and queried a good dozen before I ended up signing with Lauren Abramo of the Dystel & Goderich literary agency.

05) Query and/or pitch at least 3 editors/publishers

Fail. For multiple reasons. I did pitch one editor at National, but did not otherwise pursue this goal. I decided it was much smarter to get an agent, instead, and let her submit proposals to editors at publishing houses. If that process happens this year, I guess I will indirectly achieve this goal.

04) Enter at least 4 contests

Check. Jury’s still out on one contest I entered, but I ended up triple-finaling in the TARA Contest. Which, I’d like to point out, is a nice accolade, but did not lead to the agent, directly or indirectly. Goal #6 led to the agent.

03) Blog at least once a week

*maniacal laughter* Er, check. Clearly, I have an addiction. I blog here at least once per weekday, even when I’m not in the country. I blog over in Mavenland every Monday. And I have the non-guest Friday slot over on Romantic Inks. So, yeah. At least once a week.

02) Write two novel-length stories

Not yet. I wrote and got agent representation for one story, and am 2/3 through the second Nether-Netherland book, although I may revise a previous story before finishing that one. I am still hoping to make this goal this year.

01) Do something writing-related every single day

Fail. Like #s 9 and 8, this goal simply isn’t realistic or attainable given a) my erratic schedule and b) life.

So.

It’s time to revamp the goals for the rest of the year. They are now:

10) Schedule a writing retreat for sometime within the next 6 months
09) Attend all local monthly chapter meetings if in town to do so
08) Attend weekly Maven chats if Internet access is available
07) Polish TATTF and send to agent
06) Finish first draft of DATD
05) Revise Touched
04) Read an average of 1 book per week
03) Blog at least once per weekday
02) Visit my blogroll at least once per week
01) Do something writing-related every workday with Internet access

What changes did I make?

Well, some of the goals are completely different, as I removed those I’d already achieved and those that were impossible. And some of the goals now have more sense-making caveats, such as attending all chapter meetings if I’m in town, as it’s dreadfully difficult to make them from out of the country.

Some of the goals are harder than others and some are more time consuming than others, but writing is a profession, and success isn’t for the lazy.

If I want to be an author, I have to work at being an author.

That said, all goals are not created equal! You have to make the goals that are right for you. You do not need to attend retreats or conferences or chapter meetings in order to be an author. You do not need to blog or enter conferences or even get an agent in order to be an author. Only you can determine the goals that are right for you.

YOUR TURN: I hope you *have* determined the goals that are right for you! Care to share any of them with me? Are you a goal maker or a goal breaker? If you made New Year’s resolutions back in January, how’s that going for you?

26 comments

  1. B.E. Sanderson - Reply

    I’m not much on goals, per se. I’ve never been good at them, and every time I try, I end up worse off than if I just leave myself alone. Maybe it’s performance anxiety.

    Having said that, however, let me say that I have extreme admiration for people who set and keep their goals. Good job, Erica. You have lots to be proud of. =oD

  2. Alyssa Goodnight - Reply

    My goals are actualy going surprisingly well. (I didn’t want to revisit them because I was worried about my current standings, but I did, and I think I’m okay).

    Yay for you!
    And thanks so much for my prize–got it in the mail Friday!

  3. Tammie - Reply

    Hi Erica! Thanks for stopping by and the words of encouragement.

    Between a wait for a response for an agent and an editor I feel like I’m in a holding pattern although I know I should get back to more writing.

    Love your post on goals – with kids heading back to school soon I should probably lay some out as well.

    Again thanks for the encouraging words!

  4. ERiCA - Reply

    B.E.: LOL. Leave yourself alone then so you can get some work done! =)

    Alyssa: Yay, so glad the prize came and that the goals are going well! Fabulous!

    Stephen: LOL. Trust me, I have my fair share of couch potato days, too. *g

    Tammie: I totally understand about the holding pattern thing. I don’t think that ever stops–this industry is so full of deadlines and long stretches of waiting around. But the important thing is to keep trying! Perseverance is definitely the key!

  5. The Anti-Wife - Reply

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. My only problem with goals is losing the list. I tend to forget I made them then a few months later find the list on the bottom of a pile of papers. But you have inspired me. Great post on both blogs

  6. A Paperback Writer - Reply

    Well, this is a very interesting blog. I followed you over since you made comments on my blog. I’ll have to drop by again. Your goal list makes me think that maybe I should be listing my own!!

  7. ERiCA - Reply

    Anti-Wife: I make to-do lists multiple times a day sometimes because I tend to lose them, too. *g But posting my writing goals directly to my blog turned out to be great! First, I knew just where to look to find them. And secondly, I opened myself up to being held publicly accountable to them. (A great motivator! *g)

    Paperback Writer: Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck making your own goal list! =)

  8. Bill Clark - Reply

    I won’t regurgitate myself…

    Ah, Erica, nothing like a dose of your inimitable wit to start the week!

    *Sill scratches his head in wonder – how does she do it?!*

    Yes, goals should always be a WIP (another WIP – just what we all need). 🙂 If you’re still pursuing last year’s identical goals this year, you haven’t exhibited much growth. Or progress, for that matter. 😉

    It was interesting to see that world domination only appeared in white text. I suppose it’s best not to alert the soon-to-be dominated world as to what’s coming. Tactics, right? 🙂

    OK, time to hop over to the Mavens’ blog and see what you’ve been up to in that quarter.

  9. ERiCA - Reply

    *pauses, decides not to comment on Bill misspelling his own name*

    Very astute–I’ve decided to implement stealth tactics on the world domination front, at least for the short term. But the long range plans… ah, the long range plans! Mua ha ha! Mua ha ha! Mua ha haaaaa! =)

  10. M. C. Pearson - Reply

    Hey! Thanks for visiting my blog.

    I’ve heard so many opinions on agents for first time authors. I’m not sure what your audience is, having just met you, but the majority view is that if you write for YA or children, go to the publisher first. I’m a YA writer, so that is how I’m attacking it. Also, going to writer conferences is an awesome way to get your foot in the door…as I see you are doing. GREAT! I’d recommend the book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published”; it has been an awesome resource.

    I’ll go check out your post on the other blog now. Ha ha…didn’t go when you said!

  11. ERiCA - Reply

    M.C.: Ha ha…didn’t go when you said!

    LOL. You little scamp! =)

    I hadn’t heard that about YA. I do have some friends who write YA and some of them are agented and some are not. The agented ones are also published. There may be correlation there, but not necessarily causation. And of course, my sampling is of less than half a dozen people, since I’m real-life friends with only a handful of YA authors. That said, I’ve never asked them whether or not they’d recommend agent-first for aspiring YA authors or not. I will rectify that and let you know if I find out anything interesting! =)

  12. M. C. Pearson - Reply

    Tee hee…just came back, looking over your stuff. Yes, let me know what you learn (although my YA is also in the Christian genre which might make a difference in the opinons).

    I’ll let you know what AMG Pub says in their new products meeting about my book.

  13. ERiCA - Reply

    Definitely keep me updated re: AMG! My fingers are crossed for you!! =)

  14. Bill Clark - Reply

    My YA friend, Sarah Littman (aka the AuthorBabe), got her first book AND her soon-to-be-second book published through the wiles and expertise of her “Super-Secret Agent”, as Sarah affectionately dubs her. She’s never told me the name of said agent, but if you hop over to her blog at:

    saraclaradara.livejournal.com

    (her blog title, BTW, is “It’s my life and I’ll blog if I want to!” – wish I’d thought of that first!)

    …and leave a comment for her, I imagine she’d be happy to share.

    Also check on her recent post on “What Saraclaradara’s been reading”, as well as her pics and commentary from her recent trip to Germany.

  15. lacey kaye - Reply

    My goals are posted on my blog. Not nearly as detailed as yours, but I’m managing!

  16. M. G. Tarquini - Reply

    If I want to be an author, I have to work at being an author.

    Yep.

  17. Tristi Pinkston - Reply

    I did go read it, and I really liked it. I especially liked the part about making sure that your goals are realistic for you. Some can set higher goals than others and we need to keep our own circumstances in mind so we don’t unduly stress ourselves, but set them high enough so we’re always learning and growing.

  18. Thomma Lyn - Reply

    Wow, you’re doing great on your goals! I’d been slacking more than I care to admit before Seventy Days of Sweat came along, but thanks to the Challenge I’m catching up.

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your encouraging comment! 🙂

  19. dink - Reply

    Hi Erica,

    Wow! Setting goals and following up on them later? What a concept.

    I’m stunned.

    😉

  20. Isabel - Reply

    You are awsome, Erica! I’m off to work on my list of goals.

    To answer your question about New Year’s goals, the good news is I did make a list of goals, some of them could have been acomplished. Except, that I saved that list on a disk that I rarely check.
    This time around, I’m going to have that goal list where I can see it and be reminded of what I’m working on.

    If I want to be an author, I have to work at being an author.
    This is going to be my “quote of the week” over at my blog!

  21. ERiCA - Reply

    Bill: Thanks for the link! I went and checked out her blog (and of course let her know I dropped by on your recommendation *g)

    Lace: Great goals–and congrats on the one you’ve already met!!

    M.G.: Thanks for dropping by and agreeing with me! (Erica rubs her hands together as her plot for world domination edges still closer to success)

    Tristi: Some can set higher goals than others and we need to keep our own circumstances in mind so we don’t unduly stress ourselves, but set them high enough so we’re always learning and growing.
    Brilliant! This is exactly the case!!

    Thomma: Hey, thanks. My pal Diana is doing Sven (er… you know what I mean) and I keep thinking about trying. Maybe when the next challenge comes up.

    Dink: Way to distill my 3000 word post into one sentence! *g (Perhaps this is why I have such trouble keeping a synopsis to one or two pages?)

    Isabel: I’m being quoted!!!

    *squees, looks around furtively to see if anybody caught her squeeing, and then blushes*

    Thanks!! =)

  22. Jill Monroe - Reply

    These are all excellent – I’m impressed. It makes me want to start up my own list, but I might not be as brave as you are and post them : )

  23. Kate Pearce - Reply

    I really think it helps to have goals-I know that some people insist that you cannot control what is out of your hands, ie publishers, editors, agents etc and that is so true but you also have to have something to work toward and tick off your list. I gave myself a 5 year goal to get published originally and I achieved that goal in the 11th month of the 5th year 🙂
    so maybe I’m biased about goals!
    Good luck with your list!

  24. ERiCA - Reply

    Jill: Whether you post them or not, I think having a list is a great start!

    Kate: Hey, that’s a neat story! Very similar to, I believe, Sue Grafton’s, who likened the process to getting a degree. You wouldn’t expect to be a surgeon after just a few months of trying, so we shouldn’t expect instant gratification from writing, either. But we should also set goals and an ideal timeline of sorts so we can make sure we’re heading down the right path! =)

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Erica Ridley
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