Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goals for The New Year

A number of years ago I belonged to a writers' group that was a wonderful source of good critiques and strong support. It was a mix of published and unpublished writers, but no matter what side of the fence any one stood on, the dedication to writing was the same.

One of the things we always did at our annual Holiday party was to write down three writing-related goals for the coming year. The goals had to be specific and significant, like finishing a work in progress, acquiring an agent, or selling a book. We would all write down our goals, then put the papers in an envelope that was sealed to be opened the following year. Then we would open the envelope from the year before.

It was always interesting and enlightening to read what we had written and report on how well we had achieved those goals. Some of us did much better than others, but I found that writing the goals down, knowing they would be shared in 12 months, made me work harder toward achieving them.

I haven't done that in a long time. Not since leaving that group almost ten years ago, and I think it is time I do a version of it again to help me stay focused on three specific goals. Maybe I will ask another writer who lives near me to do the same and exchange sealed envelopes.

What about you? Is there something you do to help stay focused and motivated?

Maryann Miller is the Managing Editor of, an online community magazine. She also does freelance book editing when not writing her own novels. Check out her books and editing services on her Web site

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  1. Haven't found it yet.

    Lately, remembering that I'm doing this because I want to and because it makes me happy helps.

    Normally deadlines just make me procrastinate more.

    I like the sealed envelope idea.

  2. Probably what motivates me the most is contact with my readers. Comments left on my blog or other social site, emails, etc. Those things keep me going more than anything else!

  3. I belong to a writer's group and when I see other writers post their work at regular intervals, it keeps me writing.


  4. Meg, I guess all the years of newspaper and magazine work helped me deal with deadlines in a positive way.
    And I agree about the feedback from readers being a great motivation. I just went into our local print shop and one of the ladies there told me she had just finished my book and loved it. That energized me for the rest of the day.

  5. Having to re-look at my previous New Year goals would most likely motivate me to try to achieve them. Often, though, my goals change over the year.

    Happy New Year, Maryann.

    Straight From Hel

  6. I have goals, but I leave room to wiggle. I am very self-disciplined and motivated so my largest life lesson has been to roll with the inevitable punches that I encounter along the way.

    I belong to a goal oriented online group and we post our goals. But life happens. Wiggle room is necessary. And revisions are always on the horizon.

    Lately, I too have been telling myself I write because it brings me joy. The rest of it: publishing, finding an agent, the industry issues are impossible to navigate and bring me down. I can only control my own end of the bargain. Writing and submitting on a regular basis. The rest is up to the Gods.

  7. You are so right about the wiggle room, Christine. Some of the folks in that writer's group were very rigid about their goals and saw it as a personal failure if they didn't achieve every one of them. My philosophy is to leave myself open to a new opportunity that may present itself after I've written those goals.

  8. I have an ongoing list on my desk each day and try to get as much done off of it as I can. I never finish it.

    At our Chicago-North RWA meetings, we have a segment called goals, in which members can take a small slip of paper and write down a goal to finish by the next drawing time, and clip a dollar bill to it.

    Then at the drawing the goals person reads out each goal and asks if that person has achieved it. The achievers are in the raffle for the kitty of dollars.

    I've won as much as $14 once, but lately haven't included myself in the goals. I'll have to start doing it again.

    Morgan Mandel

  9. Hmmm, I definitely like that one. I'll have to try that this year. See who else wants to go in with me. Maybe do an email to the group and look at it next year at this time and see. :-)

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  10. My goal this year is to have fewer goals ;-)

    My novel, updating Word4Writers, and my family - I think that will do.


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