If you’re like me, then you love to take time every now and then to look at where you are, where you came from and where you’re going. I’m a big goal-setter, and the end of a calendar year seems like a natural time to celebrate progress and re-adjust goals. I like to ask myself:
What writing did I accomplish this year?
I take a moment to celebrate every page written, no matter how much revision it still needs.
What writing did I hope to accomplish this year?
My goals are often more ambitious than I realize, and I don’t always get as far on a project as I want to. I try to respect the process, and give my projects the time they need to grow and develop fully.
What new goals do I want to set for next year?
I try to make new goals as realistic as possible. I’m famous for over-estimating what I can accomplish and then feeling discouraged when I don’t meet my expectations.
How can I help myself achieve these goals?
Maybe I need to plot out writing time and protect it fiercely. Maybe I need to respect the time it takes to ponder an idea, rather than pounding out a half-formed one. Maybe I need to read a book on writing craft or take a course. I try to find the ways forward that are right for me.
As writers, we’re often setting and assessing goals in isolation, so I encourage you to talk to your friends, family or writing partners about your accomplishments and goals. This week, I printed out my work-in-progress for a writing partner to critique, and I shared the moment with my family, letting them hold my impressive 299-page draft. It’s not done, but it’s on its way, and I’m grateful for that.
I had many stops and starts with writing this year, as well as much experimentation. Here’s my list to celebrate:
- a draft of a new young-adult novel written.
- a plan to revise a middle-grade novel and a quarter of it revised.
- three picture books written, which I’ve never done before.
- several new ideas that I’m nurturing.
I’ve also been reading kid lit more critically, assessing what works and why, and re-evaluating my revision process to figure out how to improve it. And I’ve critiqued many works-in-progress by other writers, helping them figure out their next steps.
For me, next year will be full of adventure, as I embark on a two-year MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I have personal writing goals as well as academic ones for 2018, and I’m ready to work and play hard.
Best wishes for you and your writing goals. I hope 2018 is a creative year for you.