Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

Preparing for 2003 
At Forward Motion


The New Year is coming!  Some people at Forward Motion take the time at the end of the year to look at their writing goals and prepare for the next year.  Here are a few of the answers to a recent pole on the site! 

 

I set up goals and resolutions for the new year. (If so, tell us about them)

15 votes, 45%

I don't make any writing changes at the beginning of the new year.

18 votes, 54%

 

How I end, and start, the year.
Posted by zette on Sep-29-02 at 06:00 PM

I have personal rules of writing that help me make certain I don't shove half finished stories aside just because they got a little difficult.

The first is that I have to finish anything I start within one year. This is twelve months from the start day, but I always finished everything up by midnight December 31st, just to be nice and tidy for the New Year. I love having a blank sheet on January 1. It's very liberating.

I also set my goals for the next year. These are strictly writing related. I will never set a 'I will sell something' type of goal because I have no control over that part, except to submit material. That's all in the hands of the editors, and I can't guess what they will want. I can, however, set writing, rewriting, and submitting goals that will make certain I keep a good amount of material out there.

For the last few years my writing goal has been 1000 words a day. I do well over this, but 1000 is a good base number, and I'll keep it. I will, of course, also keep the rule that I have to finish everything I start.

Rewriting has fluctuated, and depends a lot on what I sell. I'm still working on a set amount of work -- or maybe a set amount of time -- to devote to this part.

I submit a minimum of two pieces a month.

Those will be my goals for next year as well. I might add in more as I get closer to the New Year, but for now they look good and have helped me out in past years.

Lazette Gifford
Assistant Site Host

 

 

End of year / beginning of year writing prep
Posted by yeep on Sep-29-02 at 10:54 PM
 

Well, the big thing is that the end of the year is when all my saved vacation time happens. This year, I'll have from Dec 14 onward off. That means, it's the time when I get to sit down and take a day or two to clean and tidy the writing room.

This year, I've been doing the FlyLady system of 15-minute cleaning and putting out "hot spots" of chaos, so there will be much less requiring cleaning and tidying, but the theory still holds.

I go through and put all research material into its appropriate box. I make sure I have only one printed copy of a manuscript, filed in its appropriate box. I update all the contact sheets for different projects, making sure I note when it was sent out, whether or not it was accepted or rejected, and if I got paid. (This will be very useful come tax time)

I take a hard look at what I did for promotion that year, and did it pay off, then make appropriate adjustments to next year's plans. (Often, the answer is, 'Well, it was lots of fun, but it wasn't at all cost effective, so lets see if we can't find something a tad bit cheaper next year, okay?')

I also take a hard look at how my various books are selling at their respective publishers. If something is not selling, is it because of something I failed to do, or is it something the publisher failed to do? If something is selling well, will other books sent to that publisher sell equally well, or is there something specific about this title that makes it such a high earner? Double check the expiration dates on all grants of rights, and for all contracts expiring in the next year, start making plans for reselling books that should switch publishers.

Map out the rough schedule of what books/projects are contracted, and pencil them in to next year's calendar. Add a liberal fudge factor, as well as plenty of time for other, more interesting projects that are bound to come up, and non-writing life intrusions.

Make the annual list of publishers, editors and agents to whom I really really want to sell work. Get their names and addresses. Put the list in a prominent place, and prepare to agonize over the imminent rejections until I can't take it any more and actually send something to one of them, sometime in the middle of next year.

Then, since there are days and days and days left of vacation, and I can't possibly handle all the family togetherness this implies, retreat to my room, close the door, and lose myself in the worlds of my creation as I frantically try to meet whatever end-of-year deadline I promised I'd have something done by.

Somehow, every year, I expect that it will be different, but somehow, every year, I end up doing the exact same thing. I guess it works for me.

Jennifer

 

The spirit is generally willing...
Posted by JamesMilton on Sep-30-02 at 07:24 AM
 

For the last couple of years I've definitely set new writing goals at the New Year (and non-writing goals, come to that), and on the whole I'm just barely okay with how I've done. I have found I've crashed and burned the last month or so, and maybe some of that has come from wandering off-course from the goals.

Still, a New Year coming up again -- a nice chance to re-affirm what I want to do.

--
Cheers

James Milton
Non-Fiction Moderator

jmilton@hollylisle.com

New year's goals
Posted by mamarose1900 on Sep-30-02 at 02:02 PM
 

I quit making any kind of New Year's resolutions or goals years ago. Setting goals for the New Year never works for me.

What I do is set goals as I go throughout the year. I keep track and evaluate how it's going as I go along. I mostly keep track by writing in my daily journal how things are going and what changes I want to make. Sometimes I follow through and sometimes I don't. But when I don't, the problem just comes up again in my journal. Usually I discover that I didn't follow through because I picked the wrong solution for the problem. When I hit on the solution that will work, then whatever it is gets dealt with.

It's not a very structured system because I'm not naturally a very structured person. But it does work for me.

 

2003: Year of the Rewrites
Posted by robertsloan2 on Sep-30-02 at 02:13 PM
 

Last year's resolution: Pro in 2002

So far I've sold two stories, one pro. I'm doing an editor requested rewrite on a pro novel sale. That would do it. I'm also sending out lots more short submissions so maybe I'll make it.

Either way - 2003 is Year of the Rewrites! This is when my inventory starts to walk around the block and get some interest! Plenty of submissions. Batching novel submissions will take the heat off just like it did for short stuff.

 

 

Set goals for the New Year
Posted by kr_mercik on Sep-30-02 at 02:19 PM
 

At least, I do that now that I've joined the community.

It's hard to do with Real Life banging at my door constantly, and I'm having a hard time keeping to my goals, but at least I do the best I can do.

Plus, my goals are more of a guideline. If I don't make it, well, at least I tried. It's better than nothing.

For next year, I plan on submitting Blink to publishers, and to write the first book in the Mithdara saga. I also plan on writing a short story a month, for my Blink Timeline.

Goals to change as Real Life butts in.

 

Seeing my name, five feet long and luminous....
Posted by Jonc on Sep-30-02 at 03:21 PM
 

Heh--five points to anyone who knows where I got the subject heading from...

Lessee...2003?

SEND OUT MY NEARLY DONE WIP!!!

Yeah!  

Oh--that, and start work on the sequel, as well as another WIP I've got kicking around...

 

 

No changes
Posted by Justinvs on Sep-30-02 at 05:43 PM
 

I'm usually in the middle of something when New Years rolls around, so I just keep plugging away on it. I very seldom set writing goals beyond "write every night" and "submit what I write until it's bought or trunked."

Justin

 

Starting this year
Posted by atlantissong on Sep-30-02 at 07:40 PM
 

I'm going to start making goals. I have two WIP that I just started and I'm making it a goal to have at least one of them done and ready to send out by this time next year. Kind of a freaky thing since I've never finished a novel before but I'm determined to do it this time.

 

New Year
Posted by davidstone on Oct-01-02 at 04:01 AM
 

I usually set writing goals for the new year, normally involving getting more done.
This year, I think I actually achieved something.

I've learned this year that I am primarily a novel writer, rather than short stories, and that setting hefty word count goals (hefty for me, and my available writing time) is a good way of getting myself going.

For this coming new year, I will be thinking along the lines of completing a novel, from creation to submission, within nine months. Thus, I should get one and a third novels done in the coming year.
This, of course, will depend on where I'm starting from: I'm hoping to have a completed first draft by the end of this year.

David.

       

The secret of writing is to put words on paper, whatever those words may be: A page of bad writing can be improved, but a blank page is just a blank page.

 

New Year...
Posted by emily_horner on Oct-01-02 at 08:22 AM
 

I think that last New Year's I swore I'd have the WIP finished and out the door.
It took me two months to write--but I didn't count on how hard and long revisions would be. I think the second draft will be finished in November or December, and I'll need a third draft to make it presentable.
*This* year I will whack both the novels into shape and send them out.
I always make resolutions, but I rarely end up keeping them...

 

Inherent trap of resolutions
Posted by yeep on Oct-01-02 at 01:46 PM
 

I was listening to a self-help tape (I listen to a lot of those from Nightengale-Conant ... they're extremely good about giving you 30 days to listen to them and decide if they're worth paying for or not) on psychocybernetics, and they had an interesting point about the inherent trap of making resolutions that require willpower.

Resolutions like "I will learn how to ..." are fine, because that's basically just scheduling something on your mental calendar. But resolutions like "I will write 1000 words a day" have an inherent trap to them. That's why so many people set and break resolutions (especially regarding diet/exercise) and get sick of the whole process.

If you're currently comfortable writing 500 words a day, you can force yourself to write 1000 words a day for a period of time. But every day that you look at the calendar and think to yourself, "Wow! I wrote 1000 words today, which is more than I would have if I hadn't had this resolution to drive me forward." you're undercutting the ground you're standing on, because you're suggesting that you were forced to write this extra 500 words. Like a giant rubberband stretched too far, or a cosmic set of scales, something in the back of your brain is adding up all those 500 word increments that have been "stolen", that you were forced to write, and sooner or later, when your willpower wavers, it will demand payback. You'll find days or weeks when you can't write at all, until the pressure equalizes. And somehow, you've averaged your comfortable 500 words.

That's not to say resolutions are bad. Far from it. But it's important to frame them in terms of growth and opportunity, like "I'm maturing into an experienced writer capable of producing 1000 words average per day" rather than framing it as something you're forcing upon yourself. The difference between the 500 words you were comfortable with this year and the 1000 words you will be comfortable with next year are not forced, not stolen, not imposed ... they're a natural result of being a different kind of writer. There's nothing for your back brain to rebel against. No willpower necessary.

Jennifer

 

 

Chocolate
Posted by Nodigio on Oct-01-02 at 05:27 PM
 

I usually set goals on how much chocolate I will allow myself determined by how much I write. In the past, that was because what I wrote was such a drudge (well paying, but still a drudge), and I needed a tangible reward to do this.

Did I tell you that along with my goal to change genres from fact to fiction that I changed jobs? I quit the manual mill and got a day job I really like - working at a boarding school for gifted and talented high school students. I now have more hours in the day to devote to writing my own words.

That changes any possible New Year's Resolutions for me. I haven't given it truly deep thought, but pacing is certainly a top option here.

Fiction is different from fact in many ways, and the jet speed I'm accustomed to from the manual mill isn't necessary here. I can take longer, and still be highly productive. I can tinker and play.

So I think, this year, I'll reward myself with chocolate not for quantity, but for personal writing satisfaction. If I write a story or a scene I like, I will have something chocolate.

So, should I start on a more stringent exercise plan now, or wait until weight gain is obvious?

 

 

Goals
Posted by p_machine on Oct-16-02 at 03:56 PM

 
Maybe just one more thing (unless I overlooked it): I look back upon my life in the last year, and what I could have done better or worse, and I plan on looking back to see the progress I made in writing. I mean, quantity is needed, but the quality of for instance the way I write dialogue has to have changed in a year's time, I think.

And based on that assessment of myself, my intentions and my actions over the last year I then put together my goals for the next year.

 

No Changes, But...
Posted by baka_kit on Oct-15-02 at 10:41 PM
 

In general, I'm pretty good at the day-to-day writing, when it's new material. I think I'll keep my production goals the same.

That being said, I'll be trying new things. One in particular being Holly's method for one-pass revising, rather then my previous, more incremental method. If it works, I'm going to try and clear out a significant portion of my backlog of 1st and 2nd drafts. Ideally, I'd like to pitch 3 or 4 "out the door," but if I get 1 or 2, besides the one I'm going to send out in early November, I'll be satisfied.

I haven't had much luck with New Year's Resolutions, but lately I've been setting realistic short-term project-based goals, and doing pretty well at sticking to those.

 

Nothing drastic
Posted by MattScudder on Oct-16-02 at 00:33 AM
 

I don't usually pay much attention to the new year. It's just another day, and I see no point in waiting until January 1st to make resolutions if there's something in my life that needs changing. On that note, I would like to better organize my writing schedule to include revision time and submission time. I've got the regular writing schedule down pat, but I need to start working the business side of the writing machine. Though I'm going to start trying to implement these changes this week, so I guess it doesn't count as a New Year goal or resolution.

 

Doesn't work for me...
Posted by Jaslia on Oct-16-02 at 05:45 AM
 

I've stopped setting New Year resolutions a long time ago. Mostly because every time I told myself 'You are going to quit smoking next year' and it never ever worked.  

I do better when I take everything one step at the time, otherwise I only feel overwhelmed. So I've started to set myself tiny, short-term goals and it works just fine.

I don't work well under pressure, especially pressure I create myself.
I guess it's not only me.  

Jessica Taylor

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

 

I did, this year.....
Posted by strigidae on Oct-18-02 at 08:04 PM
 

I did make some writing resolutions, this year, for the first time.

I think that it may have helped that I kept them very Zen and took my own personal peculiarities into account while designing them.

First time
Posted by ksej on Oct-02-02 at 05:12 PM

I joined the community in February, and before that I was a bit of a patchy writer. So looks like this is going to be my first year for writing resolutions.

I've been making lifestyle resolutions at the beginning of calendar years, academic years and on my birthday for a few years now. Some I stuck to. Some I just shifted to the next year.

I don't think I'll make any "write x words" or "complete work x" resolutions, because I write the words reasonably and finish the work on its own merits. My big resolution for next year (please don't quote me on it next December) is to get Dice on its way. Because writing comes easy to me. Much easier than sending things out into the harsh cruel world, where people might reject them... if you've reached this stage you know the fears as well as I do. Anyway, I need my hand held through the whole synopsis-query-submission process. And now I'll stop before I think of any more excuses  

 

No new years goals for me
Posted by zbaxter on Oct-01-02 at 07:18 PM

I had a contract to write a computing book by July 1 this year, and I couldn't start on the thing until the deadline had passed. I have no idea why. Fortunately, the editor was very patient, but he kept setting deadlines, and I kept missing them. It wasn't until he said "just let me know when its ready" that I could really just knuckle down and do it. Once I began, I burned through that thing in under a month, and I was thumping myself for not having just done it when I got the original contract, cause I would have finished in plenty of time. AIIE!

The strangest thing is that I meet my deadlines for the magazine I write for, no problems.

So, rather than setting myself goals to meet (and miss!) I've changed the way I work. I'm trying to develop good habits that get me writing every day. Improve my processes, and not worry so much about the goals.

Once I've developed the confidence that I can comfortably and ably write each and every day, and that my processes and habits are in place, I might start setting myself some goals, but I'm a bit scared that I'll derail the progress I'm making. I want to build on the successes, first.

I've taken some writing dares, because they are very much about process, and because I want to focus on process, I've chosen dares that let me work on things I've already begun, so there's no "finish this story" goal looming.


Changing the way I work has helped me to finish my first short story in a year, and since I finished one, the rest have come like snowballs, and I'm really proud of the progress I'm making.

Phew. That was long.

 

New Year Goals
Posted by jillb on Oct-02-02 at 08:55 AM

I don't usually set any goals at the start of the New Year, but I think I'm going to have to do *something* just to get a bit more structure to what I do. If I have something to aim for it's better for me (personally) than an airy fairy "I'll do this today/tomorrow/next week" - the problem is setting realistic goals without making them either too high or, too low. I think my biggest goal will be to ensure I set aside undisturbed time to write (although a few extra hours in the day would help  

Jill

 

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a terrible warning." - Catherine Aird

 

Resolutions/Goals
Posted by Resasaurus on Oct-02-02 at 01:58 PM

This year I had baby step goals- finish revising the novel I wrote last year, submit fiction.

Next year, I'll stretch a little higher. Haven't decided yet what my goals shall be!

I like positive goals that don't feel like deprivations. Such as, I'll write before I goof off online, instead of resolving that I'll stop goofing off online.

Resa