Saturday, June 04, 2011

My Writing Goals

How do you know if you get off track if you don’t know where you’re going?

I’ve written about the need to have your writing goals defined so that you can both create a plan to achieve them and then set about implementing that plan. But what about my goals?

My writing goals have evolved over time from my first adolescent aspiration to become the female Stephen King – okay, stop giggling – to more recent (and sedate) dreams of publishing my stories and perhaps, one day, a novel.

These are my goals. Hold your laughter, please.

Short term goals

Most of my short term goals are simple enough: write a really good manuscript, find a literary agent willing to take a chance on my work, publish a few stories in a respected literary journal. Hopefully, within the next two or three years. That is all.

The problem is that some of these goals are more recognizable than others. For instance, I will know when a journal accepts one of my stories for publication because they will send me an acceptance of my story in writing. Later, I will have a copy of the journal in which my story appears to gloat over and show off to my friends. Similarly, an agreement for a literary agent to represent my work will be evidenced by a contract, an email, something in writing.

But how will I know when I’ve written a really good manuscript? Is it merely dependent on whether someone wants to represent or agrees to publish the book? Perhaps. I wish I believed that the best manuscripts were the ones you were really proud of but that’s not always the case. A story you think sucks hard might impress your readers and what you believe to be your best piece of writing might be panned by everyone you know and love (and who loves you). Face it, few of us are the best judges of our own work. So, in some ways, a good manuscript is evaluated based on who is willing to read, represent and publish it.

Long term goals

I dream big.  Tell me it’s impossible to achieve what I’ve set out for myself and I will look serious, nod in agreement, and go on thinking that I can do it. It’s human nature. Certainly, it’s my nature.

So what if I fall short of my Stephen King-like aspirations? I tried. Maybe I’ll go far enough that it won’t even matter. Success for me, realistically, would be to have one or two well-selling novels published. My dream is to live off of the avails of my writing. It’s a continuum, with success coming far far before my dream goal. I’m happy with success. Hey, I’m happy having tried. Too many writers give up on their dreams early and live to regret never having tried to reach them. I don’t ever want to do that.

I may never be able to live off of my writing. I’m fortunate enough to be respected, challenged and fulfilled in my day job. Plus, they pay me. That’s a big deal.

Every day I can, I work towards achieving my goals. I tweet and blog to connect to my online writing community. I attend writing courses and go to my writing group meetings. I research and read about the genre I write in, the agents who represent such writers, and publishers who might be interested in my work.

Most, and best of all, every day I write. It’s the only want to achieve my goals. And that’s what it’s all about, anyway, isn’t it? The writing. The thrill of putting pen to paper or fingers to keys and creating a new story, a new life, a new world. How many other people get to do that?

Good luck, all, and may your writing dreams come true!

Photo courtesy of pixtawan at

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