Beginning a new year for me is always about the potential for growth. I enjoy the swell of optimism that no matter how the preceding twelve months have gone the coming 12 will be better. With that mantra I peered over the hurdle into 2017 and made some pretty ambitious plans. Now two months into the fray I wanted to circle back and check my progress.
My first three goals are more of a long term nature: Find an Agent/Publisher and submit a manuscript for publication. I am still working on edits to the novel, so this one is the well-known work in progress. I still believe 2017 will be the year I see success, so hang in with me and I will share my experience. I could start 2018 with a totally different goal.
Goal 4 was to write more. In all of 2016 I created 119 posts over all my blogs which generated 5,500 visitors. I set a target of 250 posts this year, which is an average of 21 per month. So far I have posted 61 times, above that average, so I am on pace. But warmer weather is nearing and the time I spend behind this electronic device will wane.
Goal 5 was to write every day. This is much more difficult to do. Especially when the weather is gorgeous or I am struggling through illness like the four days of strep throat war last week. My daily charting got to be burdensome as well, so I cannot really say if I actually have written every day. Sometimes it is just a good day for writing and others not so much.
Goal 6 was to develop the circle of writers I can connect with. Everyone loves support. I have delved into this a little, and found the Insecure Writer’s Support Group as well as the R.O.W. 80 (Round of words in 80 days). I need to spend more time understanding how to be a good citizen of each so that I am not taking without giving.
One happy connection to this goal is a noticeable pick-up in the amount of readers deciding to follow by blogs. I wanted to quantify this for my own curiosity as much as to share, but at the moment WordPress is just not wanting to play nice to allow it. I think a key to enabling the likelihood is to engage your readers/commenters. I just read a fantastic post from the A to Z Challenge blog called 10 Misconceptions About Blog Comments. Author of the post, J Lenni Dormer makes some great points including the one that everyone loves a comment. When you engage the reader/commenter they want to know more, read more, talk more. Writing is very unfulfilling if there is no feedback.
Goal 7 is to attend writing classes and conferences. If there is a robust organization that promotes this is my area I am unaware. I suspect I will have to lean on the shoulders of people like Kristin Lamb or Joanna Penn for this kind of help. Online course or conferences is better than none however.
Goal 8 is to enter writing contests. The challenge here is to find a contest with a deadline far enough out to craft a worthy entry. As with all things it is about scheduling and prioritization. With effort all things are possible, so when I make that effort it will come.
Goal 9 is to read more. Now that I have done. So far this year I have finished one Vince Flynn novel, as well as a couple of books from a new writer I stumbled upon when I snatched a book off the bargain cart at Books-a-Million. Yeah I know I am hurting the sales, but finding a new author can be kind of a crap shoot sometimes.
The new guy I am reading is Brad Meltzer. While new to me he has several books in print. I am in Book 2 of the Culper Ring Series. The Culper Ring was something established by George Washington as sort of a spy ring. As the book series explains the Culper ring has evolved into a protective order of the United States Presidency. Not the office holder mind you, but the ideal.
Goal 10 is to read and watch more critically. The funny thing is I already was without realizing it. I recently watched the new NBC show Taken and immediately ferreted out the Initiating Incident upon which the whole show is predicated. I compare that with the masterpiece of storytelling now this time around as 24: Legacy. With multiple characters comes multiple individual storylines. Sure, l real life is like that since everyone has their own hopes, desires and dreams, but try fitting them all in one novel and your plot can quickly become unwieldy and just ugly!
The final goal is to find a good place to beta test story ideas to determine what kind of potential they have. Not every idea deserves a lot of time and effort. Sometimes when I write a 200 word response to a weekly photo prompt I think I could make a longer story out of it. Perhaps when I get enough of these my issue identified in Goal 8 will be solved.
Progress can be measured in so many ways. But until you have a target you are doomed to fail every time. Now I have some measures to assess my writing effort. As a metrics guy that is something I can analyze and work with.
I’m a huge fan of setting and then checking up on goals like this. I tracked my word count last year for the first time, then expanded my tracking and goal-setting into other areas this year. (Bullet Journal has helped tremendously with both tracking and reflecting on efforts.)
Even if I don’t hit all the marks, I find benefit in seeing what worked and what didn’t so that I can adjust accordingly.