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.