by Francine Puckly
My fellow 24 Carrot Writing bloggers and I just returned once again from the SCBWI New England spring conference. At Kelly’s suggestion a few years ago, we sit down together to list our top takeaways once we return from workshops and conferences. It’s a powerful practice!
I attended many informative workshops this year, but the key takeaway for me was from Ekua Holmes’ keynote address—and specifically the wise words of her mother. Her mother encouraged her not to become overwhelmed by the future and all of the tasks in front of her, but rather just “do the next thing.” This advice has centered me more than I could have imagined, and it fits with Kelly’s idea of the “do-it-today takeaways”—using the conference energy to take quick actions that will give you a boost toward your goals.
I have three big and messy projects in front of me this year, and I’ve been slow to make progress on them. But instead of racing too far ahead on my to-do lists or getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of my projects, this idea of doing the next small action item is simple yet profound.
My three “do the next thing” conference takeaways:
Have you recently attended a conference, a long workshop, or a webinar geared toward your writing and illustrating life? If so, reread your notes. Think about how you can incorporate your newly acquired knowledge by doing the next thing in each of your goal areas.
Don’t wait to take small actions that will propel you toward your goals. As we approach the midpoint of the calendar year, what’s your next thing?
Guest Post by Author Monica Tesler
The new year is upon us, and my social media feeds are overflowing with motivational posts about goals. Personally, I don’t typically buy into the new year hype. I figure if there’s something I want to accomplish, why wait for January 1 to get started? This time around, though, I’m on board.
I’m just about to send my draft of the fifth and final book in the Bounders series to my editor, and it feels like a really big deal. Bounders was the book that got me a literary agent and then a publisher. So without a Bounders deadline on the horizon, it feels like starting from scratch in a way.
In other words, it’s a great time for some new goals!
There are all kinds of approaches to goal accomplishment. I developed my approach in an entirely different setting. Before jumping into the writing business, I worked as an attorney. In fact, for many years I did both. I’ll share what’s worked for me goal-wise stretching all the way back to the Monica as a young lawyer days. Give my approach a try, if you’d like, but you’ll probably need to tinker around a bit to find the exact right fit for you. The most important thing is that you find an approach to goal accomplishment that you use consistently and can measure your success over time.
In my view, talking about goal accomplishment is really talking about time management. Reaching a goal is nothing more than a reflection on how you’ve chosen to use your time in the days, months, or years leading up to that accomplishment. So as soon as you set your goal, you need to focus on how to spend your time to accomplish it. That’s where time management’s best friend comes in to play: task management.
It’s critical to understand the difference between goal setting and task management. Goals are big and new years-y. Examples of writing goals may be getting a literary agent, finishing a manuscript, or to take one of my own goals, completing a proposal for a new novel. If you placed any of those goals on your to-do list, though, odds are you wouldn’t get too far. Why? The goals need to be broken down and translated into manageable (read: not overwhelming) tasks.
Let’s take getting an agent for example. Do you have a completed manuscript? If not (and you’re not an established author or a nonfiction author with a platform), this may not even be a realistic goal for you in the near future. But let’s say you’ve written and revised your book, received peer feedback, and think you’re ready to send it out in the world in search of agents. Then what?
In my view, here is the first stage of that goal broken down into steps. Research agents using online tools such as query tracker, reviewing acknowledgements from published books, checking agency websites, etc. Draft a query letter and receive peer feedback, repeat, repeat, repeat. Set up a spreadsheet or other way to track queries and responses. Determine a query method (e.g., batch querying). Send out first wave of queries, making sure you’ve followed each respective agents’ instructions exactly.
Wow! See how many discrete tasks were in that paragraph alone? And that only gets you to the first wave of queries leaving your inbox. You still could be a long way from getting an agent. Personally, I’ve received well over a hundred query rejections. So odds are you’re going to need to go back to the drawing board with query revisions and agent research.
This isn’t a blog post on querying, so I’ll leave it at that. The point is that it’s great to have big goals. In fact, I’m such a fan of big goals, I post them prominently on a large bulletin board in my office. On the practical side of things, though, each goal needs to be broken down into small, incremental parts and placed on functional to-do lists. That’s how you move from goal setting to task management. I remember having “research agents who rep middle grade sci-fi” on my to-do list. When I checked it off, I felt confident that I’d moved closer to my goal of getting an agent.
That’s the key, right? Actually getting things done and feeling accomplished. So first, I break down my goals into incremental tasks. Next, I estimate how much time each task will take. Then the tasks make their way into my task management system.
Here are the basics of my task management system. I generate monthly to-do lists that are separated by category. Currently, my categories are writing, book business, kids (as in my own), and life/domestic management. Writing tasks and most of the book business tasks can be tracked back to one of the goals on my bulletin board. I further break down my to-do lists at the beginning of each week (i.e., a weekly list) and then again at the beginning of each day. My daily lists typically have no more than 4-6 entries, and I more often than not check every item off by the end of the day.
If my approach resonates with you, give this a whirl. Set 2-4 writing/book business goals, then spend some time breaking each goal into tasks. For each task, indicate approximately how long the task will take and determine a sensible task order. Assess your task lists and how they realistically match up against your other time commitments (family, domestic, other work, self-care, etc.), then determine what you think you can reasonably accomplish in one month and generate a monthly to-do list. If you’d like, you can further streamline and create weekly and daily lists like I do.
At the end of the month, make sure you take some time to assess how you fared with your to-do list. Don’t worry if everything doesn’t get done. Figuring out how long things take (not to mention assessing how you’re actually using your time) is a process. The important thing is that you’re able to track your progress.
Good luck! And happy writing!
Monica Tesler is the author of the Bounders series, a middle grade science fiction adventure series from Simon and Schuster. The most recent title in the series, The Heroes Return, released in December 2018. Monica lives outside of Boston with her family.
If you'd like to learn more about Monica and her books visit her at her website at monicatesler.com, on Twitter @monicatesler, on Instagram @monicatesler or on Facebook /monicateslerwrites .
If you would like to purchase the most recent Bounders series book, The Heroes Return, use these links: Amazon/The Heroes Return, Barnes & Noble/The Heroes Return, or IndieBound/The Heroes Return.
by Francine Puckly
It’s spring! Time to dust off the mantel, shine up the windows, replace the rotting floorboards on the deck, and apply a fresh coat of paint to our nicked-up walls. But spring spruce-up doesn’t stop with our homes. Refreshing our writing spaces and projects before the heat of the summer hits is equally important. This is not a waste of valuable work time. Rather, this is rejuvenation of mind, body, and spirit so that we can go forth with extra verve as we tackle our projects. So grab the 24 Carrot Spring Checklist and get your ideas and writing space tidied up!
Clear Away Winter Debris
Just as we strip off heavy, flannel bedding and replace it with light cotton inside our homes and remove dead leaves and stems from our gardens outside, we also need to strip away paper clutter in our offices in order to lighten up for the summer. Spring is the perfect time to clear the unwanted and unnecessary (also known as “managing your papers”). New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield once said, “Tidied all my papers. Tore up and ruthlessly destroyed much. This is always a great satisfaction.” She was right. It feels great!
Be ruthless with your papers.
* Did you forget to file your conference handouts or have multiple copies of critique comments on your most recent manuscript or portfolio review lying around? Clear those papers. (Taming Conference Handouts). Keep only what cannot be referenced online. Remember: owner’s manuals, newspaper and magazine articles, and oftentimes workshop presentations are all available at the click of your mouse. There’s no need to keep the extra paper cluttering up your space.
* Have you been super aggressive with your annual goals and are juggling multiple projects? Make sure each project has its own hanging file with manila folders labeled Research, Marketing, Synopsis and Query Details, Drafts, and any other categories that are helpful for you. Place a cover sheet inside each file that gives a brief summary of the project at the top and then a blank section where you can list what is needed for the project: Do you need to buy or request research books or mentor texts from the library? Do you need to interview someone? If so, list those items here. When you open up the file in the future, your next steps are front and center.
* Keep all of your project files in one file drawer so you can reference them and also quickly refile them so that you won’t add to the clutter in your space.
* Once you’ve gone through all of your papers, compost that “yard waste” by shredding and recycling all of your papers!
Prune Dead or Damaged Branches
Are you hanging on to ideas that are dead? Don’t be afraid to prune out ideas and projects that you no longer have passion for. It’s okay to let go of the 47 versions of the very first picture book you ever attempted. Keep the draft that’s most nostalgic and let the rest go. Did you try a first draft of a psychological thriller and then decide your voice was in quirky middle grade humor? Delete the project and recycle the drafts.
Sharpen Your Tools
Writing with a pen that’s desperately low on ink? Choosing to print in gray scale because you can’t find or haven’t bought a replacement ink cartridge for the printer? Time to restock your supplies! Take a 20-minute trip to your favorite office supply store and refresh your supply of pens, pencils, paper clips, sticky notes, ink cartridges, file folders and paper and pads for your office area.
Wipe Down the Walls
Yup. This is the Lemon Pledge portion of our checklist. Now that you’ve tidied your workspace, it really is time to pull out the cleaning supplies. Be sure to vacuum, dust the corners, check the light bulbs in your desk lamp, and shine the windows. Buy a bouquet of fresh flowers or clip some lilacs from the garden. Arrange them in a pretty vase on your desk.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Our creativity won’t grow if we don’t take time to fill our wells with joy and new ideas. Start a summer reading list of genre books or summer beach novels. Crack out the sangria and enjoy a light and happy movie that makes you laugh or possibly dance.
Spring really is the time to lighten up. Take a few hours out to spruce up your space and care for your papers and projects. You’ll go forward with renewed energy as the Summer Solstice approaches!
Guest Blog By Kate Narita
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all,
and then stands back to see if we can find them…
The often surprising results of that hunt--
that’s what I call Big Magic.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
24 Carrot Writers set one writing goal and one craft goal a month. In her January 4th post, Kelly Carey defines a craft goal as the following: “A craft goal needs to focus on the business side of writing.” People don’t often equate “the business side” of writing with magic, at least I never did. But as a result of 100 BOOK TRAILERS, that’s changed. I now realize that the journey of marketing can be as wonderful and as magical as writing.
After the euphoria of selling 100 BUGS! A COUNTING BOOK waned, reality set in. One of the things I had to do was create a marketing plan. Gulp! A marketing plan? I’m a teacher and a writer. I create lesson plans and stories, not marketing plans. I have an MFA, not an MBA. How do I create a marketing plan?
Luckily, I’d taken an event planning class with Allison Pottern Hoch at The Writer’s Loft https://loftingsblog.com/2017/10/25/how-to-pitch-your-book-event/ during which many people had shared various marketing ideas. In addition, at the NESCBWI 2017 Conference, Janet Reynolds from The Blue Bunny Bookstore http://www.bluebunnybooks.com/ presented some extremely helpful marketing tips. Finally, Suzanne Kaufman, http://suzannekaufman.com/about/ the illustrator of 100 Bugs!, shared some of her past marketing plans with me. So, I had a small knowledge base. Now, I just had to move forward.
Here’s where the business side of the Big Magic began. It sounds silly, but the number 100 makes me giddy. Maybe it’s a result of teaching elementary school for over ten years. After all, as many kindergartners will tell you, the best holiday after Christmas and your birthday, is the 100th day of school. So, I started thinking about what I could do with the number 100. That’s how I took the first step, I invited the treasure in.
Well, it turns out I had just finished filming the book trailer for 100 BUGS!, which is another Big Magic story for another time. All of the book trailers I’d watched before filming mine, were scrolling through my head. Then, the Big Magic happened—a marketing idea sparked in my mind. Why not feature 100 book trailers, a different trailer for the first 100 days of 2018 and since BUGS has 100 in the title, release your book on the 100th day of the year? So, I proposed the idea in our marketing plan, and the 100 BUGS! team loved it. Great, right?
GULP! Now, I had to do it. All the negative self-talk began. It sounded something like this: “Are you crazy? Who is going to want to be featured on your no-name blog? Do you even know 100 authors? Have 100 people even visited your site?” and so on. But over the years, I’ve learned to turn down the volume on those soul-killing thoughts, and turn up the volume on what is the next small step I can take to reach my goal. Second, I had to uncover the treasure chest.
So, I shared my idea with my friend and mentor, April Jones Prince http://www.apriljonesprince.com/ . She liked the idea, but pushed me even further. “You need to tie those trailers into the classroom.” She was right once again. Featuring trailers wasn’t enough, I needed to create a resource for teachers to have at their fingertips. Useful activities educators could download without having to find time to read a teacher’s guide or sift through ineffective resources on the internet. Third, I had to find the time to crack the code.
Time. I’m a full-time fourth grade teacher, I have two teenage sons, and my husband sometimes like to have a conversation with me that doesn’t revolve around who is picking up who at what time and who is coming home for fifteen minutes in between work and providing Uber service to walk the dog. Oh, and I try to write and exercise as many days as possible. So how in the world was I going to find the time to do this? Gratefully, Melanie Linden Chan of Epic Eighteen https://epiceighteen.weebly.com/ took some time out of her schedule to share tips about how to schedule blog posts. Eureka! I didn’t have to write a blog post every day. I could write ten blog posts on the weekend, and schedule them to be released on a daily basis. The task began to feel manageable. Fourth, I had to open the treasure chest.
What treasures are in the kid lit world? So many. I reached out through social media, word of mouth, and personal connections to find them. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all.” https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/
There had to be people who wanted to shine a light on their jewels, right? Yes! There were. Finally, it’s time to treasure the beauty of each and every jewel:
Rubies: Celebrating the tremendous talent of the authors and illustrators in the kidlit
Opals: New books that I can enjoy and share with my students.
Sapphires: Meeting people I never would have met.
Emeralds: Lessons I never would have thought of that I can share with my class.
Topaz: Rejoicing in highlighting the success of people who have supported me over the
Pearls: Providing resources to teachers, the hardest working people I know.
Diamonds: Being showered with gratitude for simply shining a light on other people’s
Looking back, I should have known marketing could be Big Magic. After all, everything in life can be magical, or it can be mundane. It’s a choice we have. Want marketing magic? Follow these steps:
So print out those 24 Carrot Writing Goal Worksheets posted on January fourth by Kelly
Carey, and don’t look at the craft goal as some mundane task you have to complete in order to color in the carrot. No, write the craft goal, invite the treasure in and Big Magic will come your way. Keep your sparkly, orange gel pen nearby because you’ll feel sparkly when you color in that craft carrot!
Author of 100 Bugs! A Counting Book!
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman coming June 12, 2018
Have you written or illustrated a book that’s easily accessed by elementary teachers and librarians through the public library system? If so, please go to www.katenarita.com and fill out her contact form so that she can feature your treasure. Please include the following information:
by Annie Cronin Romano
It’s a word that’s thrown around quite a bit, isn’t it? We are always supposed to have a plan. We need to know where we’re going. We have to visualize the finish line.
At 24 Carrot Writing, our primary focus is to keep you motivated and on track via solid goals and self-recognition and to give you the support to do this. The importance of goals and the skill of goal setting has been the thread of this month’s blogs. But what if the idea of setting writing goals makes your stomach churn? What if you are one of those folks who won’t make New Year’s resolutions for fear of breaking them? You’re probably not about to set any specific writing goals because you may not meet them. Setting writing goals can be intimidating. But it is a vital step in the writing process, because it sets the tone of accountability.
So if you were not planning to set any writing goals this year, I urge you to rethink. Don’t be afraid. We are not going to let you out of it. Strive to be realistic in your goals. As Amanda Smith wrote in her blog (“Doing the Necessary” January 12, 2018), look carefully at where you are now in your writing journey and what is a realistic next step.
And I am going suggest one additional step for those fearful of the goal setting process. Add a forgiveness clause at the end. Yes, you read that correctly. Forgiveness clause. This clause should state that if you do not completely meet any of your goals, you will not self-flagellate, wail, or grind your teeth. You will not put yourself down or state that you should give up on writing because you’d have better success selling steaks to a vegan grocery. Basically, this forgiveness clause will cut you some slack for any twists and turns that may take you off your intended path and keep you from sitting down on that pity pot.
You may not meet all your writing goals. I may not either. But if you don’t set them, you have no plan. No direction. You won’t know where the finish line is. And that can make starting the race pretty disconcerting. So give yourself the gift of a plan for your writing this year. Do your best to stay on track. But know that even if you don’t meet every writing goal you set, you are moving closer to the finish line by drawing yourself a map of how to get there. And that is a key step in your writing success.
~ by Amanda Smith
This sparkly, brand-spanking-new year is just begging for some bright, shimmery writing goals. With goals we will soar. We will fly! We will publish all our lovely books!
We will crash and burn if we neglect to take a moment to root our new goals in our current progress. For success it is paramount to build a bridge between last year’s product and this year’s dream. How do we construct this bridge?
St Francis of Assisi said, "Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Ask yourself, from where you are right now, what is necessary to move forward. Towards the end of December, I pulled out my yearly goals and checked off the tasks accomplished. I reflected on what worked, and what didn’t. I took a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the big-ticket items – a novel revised, a synopsis written, a second draft of a new novel completed. I contemplated the items that didn’t get checked off. What will these projects look like in the new year? Are they still a priority?
Asking these questions helped me determine what is necessary for me to move forward. These immediate tasks include final revisions on a YA novel; deep revisions, even possible rewrites on two picture book manuscripts after input from critique groups; and revisions on a middle grade manuscript.
Once I have finished these tasks, what will be possible? What is the practical next step? I could submit the picture books and the YA novel. So, another goal is to come up with submission plans for those manuscripts.
Then there is the dream, the challenge: What is the one thing you want to accomplish this year, but the sheer thought of it scares you to death? What is the impossible? Make that a goal. Mine is to plot and write the remaining two books in a middle grade trilogy. Yup, my boots are shaking.
Now that you have dreamed necessary, practical and are-you-kidding-me?, it’s time to fit those goals into the year. I use a goals calendar.
Don’t forget to reward yourself with proper, meaningful carrots along the way!
Yes, we will soar. We will fly! And we will do the impossible.
By Kelly Carey
It’s that magical month of January when an entire year of possibilities lies before you. The perfect time to set your writing goals and become a 24 Carrot Writer.
Remember, to become a 24 Carrot Writer, you need one writing goal and one craft goal each month.
Writing goals ask you to draft a new picture book, revise three chapters of your middle grade novel, complete a character bio on your main character, or outline a plot for your new young adult novel.
A craft goal needs to focus on the business side of writing and can include attending a SCBWI event, taking a writing workshop, reading in your genre, researching agents, or writing a query letter.
For a refresher on setting your two goals visit the 24 Carrot Writing homepage or read http://www.24carrotwriting.com/-blog/two-goals-a-month-lead-to-24-carrot-writing.
To help you stay organized and map out your 24 Carrot goals, you can use the 24 Carrot Writing Goal Sheet.
Here is a blank 24 Carrot Goal Sheet all ready for you to print off and populate with plans for each month, motivating carrots, and a whole crop of 24 carrots for you to earn. Use the link below to download the sheet to your computer.
To use the 24 Carrot Goal Sheet, first document your January goals and motivate yourself with a January carrot.
It might be tempting to go ahead and set goals for the entire year. If you do that, use pencil! Things can pop up, plans can change, and you'll want your writing goals to be flexible. You may wake up on the first day of March with a great new plot idea, and your Writing Goal for March should take advantage of that feeling. On the Craft Goal side, you may find out about a new workshop being offered in June, and that will become your Craft Goal for June.
You may also accomplish more than your two 24 Carrot Goals each month. If you do, that's great! But your 24 Carrot Writing Goals are your golden goals - the ones you do first, jettison last and strive diligently to achieve.
If you hit your monthly 24 Carrot Writing goals, color in the carrots next to that month.
In the example below, both January goals were hit and the writer colored in the carrots next to January. This writer is now a two carrot writer, and has set their February goals, and picked a motivating carrot.
If you miss a goal, just cross out the carrot and move that goal to the next month.
Don’t beat yourself up over missed goals. This industry can be tough enough and there is no need to let a missed goal derail your progress. Each month will bring the opportunity to earn two more carrots.
Keep the worksheet visible as a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish each month.
It’s still January and you have the chance to be a 24 Carrot Writer this year. If you finish the year a 14 carrot writer, or a 10 carrot writer, or a 2 carrot writer, we will be here to celebrate your accomplishment.
Use your 24 Carrot Writing Goal Sheet to keep track of your success.
Now go set those January goals!
By Francine Puckly
Happy New Year from all of us at 24 Carrot Writing! We hope your holiday celebrations were filled with laughter and joy, friends and family, and a little quiet time to reflect on all that you accomplished in 2017. We are excited to have you join us as we seek the possibilities 2018 holds for each of us!
One of my goals for 2017 was to give myself the gift of time to celebrate the holidays (sans guilt) and to muse about opportunities forthcoming in 2018. I spent many long morning walks, as well as afternoon teas, pondering this wonderful but oftentimes frustrating creative life I have chosen to lead.
I dug up two precious nuggets of truth over the many miles I wandered. The first is that I’m wildly inaccurate with my goal estimations as it pertains to the time a project will take. I mean, I’m not even close. I’m way off the mark when I guess at how quickly I can complete everything—a blog, an outline, a chapter, an entire draft. So laying out Gantt charts with detailed deadlines is no longer a practice I choose to embrace. It works for many, many people, but it results in failure for me. The second discovery is that I spend too much time alone. I need to be around people, even if we are all working independently and may never speak to each other. In order to grow contentment and joy in my life, these are my focus areas for 2018.
But what does this mean as I set my goals? It means that it is important to me that I be a writer. That I show up for work every day and take my job seriously. I have scheduled hours of work Monday through Friday. It’s my job. As long as I show up to my job, I will accomplish much. How much? It doesn’t matter this year. I’m just going to go to work everyday and see where it takes me.
And where, exactly, is my place of work? I have plotted out various writing locations that involve seeing other human beings (libraries, cafes, and bookstores). My portable office and daily packing list are ready to go (the-portable-office.html).
Keeping the 24 Carrot Writing categories of Writing Goals and Craft Goals in mind, my work falls accordingly:
2018 Writing Goals:
2018 Craft Goals:
That’s it! It’s simple, it’s thorough, and most importantly, it’s doable!
I wish each of you joy as you set your creative goals and the luxury of time to focus on all that you love!
Happy Goal Setting and Happy New Year!
By Kelly Carey (foreword by Francine Puckly)
If your life is anything like mine, the mid-year popped up out of nowhere and you’re staring at annual goals that you’re hitting, not hitting, or can’t remember setting. June is the perfect time to assess how we’re doing against our annual plans, and Kelly’s 2015 blog – Happy June Year’s Eve – is full of wise words and acts as the perfect reminder to take stock and adjust.
So grab an iced tea and pull out your plan. Make a new commitment to realistic goals for the last half of the year!
Happy June Year's Eve - Time to Revise Your Writing Goals
by Kelly Carey
In January, bubbly with champagne excitement and intoxicated by the shimmering crystal ball in Time’s Square, we all set down our writing goals for 2015. Since writers are ambitious dreamers, we probably set very lofty goals. To that I say, good for us! That drive and stamina to succeed will get our manuscripts published.
But did you over promise? Did some unforeseen event steal time and attention from your writing? Did your January va-va-voom sput-sput-sputter somewhere in March? Then I would like to be the first to wish you a Happy June Year’s Eve!
June marks the mid-year point and is an excellent time to track our progress and make sure we are well positioned for writing success. On June 1, 2015 writing goals and resolutions everywhere can be given a solid scrubbing and be reset, recharged and REVISED for success. You set New Year’s resolutions, now is the time for June Year’s resolutions.
As writers, we are not only intimately aware of the power of revision, but we are also experts at revising. It is time to apply that skill not to our manuscripts, but to our writing goals. Read through your goals, keep what is working and toss those goals that just don’t fit or make sense anymore. Maybe that middle grade novel whispered to you on a cold day in March (which frankly could have been any day in March since they were all cold) and you put aside your picture book plans. Perhaps you had a light bulb moment while attending a conference, reading a blog, or while brushing your teeth (true story, just ask Amanda!). Great! Time to make your 2015 writing goals match that reality.
Just reminding yourself of the promises you made and the plans you had will refocus your energy for the next six months. This is not a bash session. Do not beat yourself up over missed goals. You are not giving up, you are revising. What writer would forsake revision?
I’d like to clink a glass with you on New Year’s 2016 in celebration of hitting our 2015 writing goals. The best way to make this happen is with a serious mid-year goal revision.
Happy June Year’s Eve and happy goal revising!
~ by Amanda Smith
As I prepared my yearly goals for 2017, I studied my 2016 goals, asking myself which goals I met and why. More importantly I pondered which I goals eluded me, and why. In Take Control of your Goals in the New Year, Annie blogged about setting goals that are within your power. Her aggressive 2016 goals were hard to accomplish because of factors beyond her control.
Some of my goals for last year, were sunk by, wait for it... phrasing. I aimed for 50 rejections during the year. Having heard of other writers who set this goal, I figured aiming for rejections would motivate me to submit more queries. It worked for the first two months, until those rejections started pouring in. All I could think was, “Ten more months of this?!” The rejections completely stopped me in my querying tracks. For months, I sent NO queries, even though I had multiple submission-ready Picture Book manuscripts. What I thought was a cutesy, fun, roundabout goal, turned out to be a complete switch-off. Collecting rejections might spur on some writers. I am not that writer.
This year my writing goals include very specific submission goals: To send novel queries out in batches of 10 during certain months. I took into account school vacations and busy times of the year to determine which months I will send out these queries. This goal focuses on the part of the process that is my responsibility. My ultimate goal is, after all, to get yesses. Of course, there will be rejections, but my goal still highlights progress, and requires action from me.
This year, as you set your writing and submission goals consider the following:
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