Ahh, here we are again. Weren’t we here last January…staring over the cusp of a newborn year into its canyon of vast potential? (Yes, that tiny squirrel in the picture is you, and that gigantic chasm is a whole heck of a lot of potential.) It’s quite overwhelming, that sense of unknown possibilities. What does the New Year hold for me? you wonder. No, wait. Let’s rephrase that. What will I put into action to make this year spectacular? That’s better! Don’t leave it to the fates of the New Year to do something for you. Sit at the controls of your life. Push the buttons. Turn the dials. Determine your goals and see them through to the best of your ability. Will you achieve all the goals you set for yourself this year? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you do not set them, you certainly have no chance of reaching them.
One key to meeting your goals is to make them challenging yet still within your power. (Yup, I said power. You are powerful, you know.) For instance, setting a goal of landing a book deal probably isn’t the wisest objective, because you’re not the only person who controls that decision. But a goal of researching and submitting to three agents a month? Writing a chapter a week? Registering for your first writing conference? Or beginning that writing project you’ve been tossing around your brain for a few years? Those are goals you have the power to achieve. Those are challenging and doable.
Last year I set a goal for myself to write one picture book draft a month. I started the year strong, with four picture books drafted in four months. I was a rock star! I was unstoppable. (Just ask my critique group. I got pretty arrogant.) Then an unexpected life event happened, and I was thrown off track for several months. This event derailed the possibility of meeting my goal, as I hadn’t built in any time for unexpected occurrences. I also realized, as the year progressed, that I hadn’t allowed sufficient time to revise those drafts. I had several half-shaped mounds of clay which I’d submitted to my critique group but no schedule to rework them. Not the smartest plan. So this year I again have a picture book goal, but I have built in more time. I now realize that life has a habit of getting in the way, and those ideas are by no means finished once they’re drafted. So this year I plan to draft, submit to my critique group, revise, resubmit to my critique group, revise again, glaze, polish, buff—you get the idea—three to four picture books. It's a far more reasonable goal which builds in some time for unexpected twists in the road as well as the revision that produces far better writing in the end.
So, yes, here were are again at the start of a new year of unlimited potential. What goals will your set for yourself? Take a seat at the control panel, assess your current position, and start planning. Use your power! Before you know it, you’ll be pushing the buttons and turning the dials on your writing goals for 2017! Happy New Year, and Happy Writing!