Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  Goals and Evaluation
Last year I set some goals for the year, and I met a significant number of them. Of course, there were a few I didn't meet, but at least I was keeping track.

I feel like setting concrete goals is so important in the absence of a deadline. Even with deadlines it's important -- so you can see where you are, where you're trying to get, and how well you're making progress towards it. So you can change whatever needs to be changed in order for you to reach your goals. Or so you can adjust your goals to something more achievable, and thereby less frustrating.

One of the things I try to do when I set my goals is to say things like, "write and submit five short stories to the major sf magazines" rather than "get three stories published in a major sf magazine" because I have a lot more control over the writing/submission end than the acceptance/rejection end.

Similarly, I don't go for a word count goal for fiction -- I go for an hours per day or hours per week, or even sessions per week with a flexible time frame (not writing long enough in a session is not an issue for me, I NEVER write for just fifteen minutes, it's always two or three hours minimum).

The exception to that is non-fic. Two columns a month for RNS is my current goal. And three columnettes a month for the Indy Star.

Of course, to be effective setting goals should go hand in hand with regular progress checks to see how well you are doing at meeting those goals. Otherwise you can arrive at the end of the year and be no where near your goals.

So, my progress so far:

One of my goals this year was to get 100 publishing credits for the year -- articles, columns, poems, and short stories, paid or unpaid. I'm at 31 clips, with four more in the works for the next month or two. I need three more actually published by the end of April to keep on track for this goal, so I'm ahead of the game. I just hope I can keep it up for another nine months!

WIPs -- I still am having problems picking one wip to focus on. grr. I've written about 35000 words on a "short story" that is becoming a novel and about 8000 on Windsisters. Given that another short story was unmanageable as a short and also is going to be a novel, that brings me to six novels in progress. NOT a good plan. The problem I am having, though, is I just can't keep my mind on one set of characters. It's not that I'm not finding the stories gripping or interesting, it's that they ALL call to me at once! I think I need to just bite the bullet and pick one. If I really concentrated, I think I could finish a first draft of three of them this year, given that I have three between 1/2 and 2/3ds of the way done. Figure 40,000 words in three months, that makes 120,000 in nine more months. That would definately carry me through the end of the three most finished works.

Non-fic -- I've been pretty good about keeping up with the RNS columns and the Indy Star columnette. The cartoon controversy took a lot of my attention, so I missed a couple weeks in February. Don't see much need for change here.

Poetry -- I have a goal to write a chapbook of poems on the 99 Names of Allah. progress on this is fitful. Been concentrating on fiction and op-ed. And writing whatever poetry comes to mind rather than taking the time to focus on a theme.

Exercise -- I know, this doesn't seem to have anything to do with writing, but... I dont' feel good sitting at the computer all morning, helping kids with homework and driving them around to activities all afternoon, and then sneaking in a couple more hours after bedtime. It's just too sedentary. I feel better when my body is moving. Not to mention I'm really unhappy being overweight, and I'm currently way overweight. So one of my resolutions has been to exercise more and hopefully lose weight. I've been doing pretty good on the exercising part -- karate and the gym, but losing weight isn't happening. Too fond of sweets, need to regulate portion sizes, and eat out less. With the crazy kid schedule we have, I eat out fast food way too often. I need to start packing a salad to take with me.
 
Comments:
Just what is a chapbook? Also how does your blog writing fit in timewise with your "writing" goals? Does that time get included at all? It appears that it must be fairly time consuming to write almost daily on the large number of topics that you cover on your blog, especially those that require a certain amount of research so as not to be spreading more hearsay.
 
A chapbook is a small book of poetry, usually by a single author. It is often self-published, although there are plenty of chapbook publishers out there as well.

I consider my blog to be frosting on the cake. I don't count the time I spend on it as part of my writing time. Of course, sometimes I use it to formulate thoughts for my opinion pieces, so there can be some overlap, but even so, I consider it (and any research I do for it) as a separate activity. Otherwise, it'd be easy to just write blog stuff!
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


What I'm reading now



Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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