Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Writing Goals & What I Learned in 2010

I don't make resolutions. (Um... anymore.) I think they're too broad, and they don't bend to real life situations. I'm the kind of person that needs to feel like they're making progress, and I work better when I have a set of conditions to meet, so for me it's all about setting goals.

Last year I was coming off the high of finishing my very first complete draft of a novel. I set some HUGE goals that I now know were not just overwhelming, but also misguided.

2010 was a difficult year for me in many ways, and an amazing one in many others. A death in the family left me unable (both literally and emotionally) to write or revise for about two months. I entered into that long dark tunnel called "revisions". Where I learned that no matter how good you think your first draft is, there are always thousands of ways to make it better. And some of those ways take a full revision before you can see the path to them.

So where am I as I start 2011?

After an extremely busy holiday season I am FINALLY reaching the end of what turned out to be an almost complete rewrite. I have learned A LOT about story structure, plot, and character arcs. Much more than I would've thought possible in a revision.

From my revisions I've learned a lot about myself as a writer, my tics, and ways to make my next first draft a much better starting point. (Also, Scrivener changed my life when it comes to story, plot, research, and chapter organization!)

I have felt the pain of killing my darlings and the joy of having a CP fall in love with my favorite character.

I've fought the pull of shiny new ideas, found ways to stay focused (although this will be a continuing battle for me, no matter how excited I am about a project) and discovered that I CAN write on demand and turn out something I'm proud of (thanks Tangled Fiction!)

I have made some truly awesome friends who get my obsession over writing and YA.

And I have been humbled and honored by some very kind and encouraging words about my writing.

So what are my goals for this year?

Last year I wanted to bang out the really rough first drafts of two novels. This year that's not good enough for me. I want to complete one really well thought out, solid first draft.

I want to make my current ms the absolute best it can be before it goes out into the world.

I want to write more short stories and on a regular basis, which okay, is a given thanks to Tangled Fiction. But I want these to be stories I'm proud of, not stories I make excuses for like "well, if I had more than a couple days, this would've been awesome!"

As a whole, I just want to keep getting better at writing by actively pursuing ways to do so. Whether it's conferences, retreats, challenging myself to styles/genres I've never written before, whatever.

And of course, I want 2011 to be the year I sign with the perfect agent for me and my book!

What about you? Are you going full steam ahead with a list of resolutions? Setting small goals? Did 2010 turn out like you thought it would?


Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Sorry for some of the hardships you faced last year. Glad to hear their were positives too. And it looks like you've set some wonderful goals. I'm more of a "weekly goal" person myself (I find that the 'long term' goals I tend to set for myself are unrealistic and discourage me) but this year I am all about progress. I hope to get a lot more accomplished this year than I did last, and I'm hoping to get there one small step at a time. :)

Misty Waters said...

I think my goal this year is to just be more realistic. I learned so much last year about writing and querying. When I started blogging last year, it was an eyeopening experience that I hope to continue to learn from. I hope to meet more amazing writers and my only goal is to get one decent revised project ready to query, where before I was making the rookie mistake of sending out too early. Patience is my goal this year. :)

Tracey Neithercott said...

I feel like I'm you, circa 2010. A month ago I finished the first novel I've ever completed. Now I'm working on revisions. My goal is to make it as perfect as possible before querying. I'd love have queries out in 2011, but I'm letting the quality of the work guide me.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I'm a goal person, too. :)

I think we're all working on finishing books this year. I want to have two books to my editor by June.

Good luck! and Happy New Year!!!

Natalie C Parker said...

I love these goals and I'm so, so with you on them.

Demon Hunter said...

Sorry about your loss. That can be very difficult. :-/

But I am glad that you have set goals for your writing and where you'd like to be this year. :-D Keep us posted.

Ariel said...

Goodness, I'm so sorry for the loss you experienced. What a wonderful attitude toward 2011. I really do believe perception is everything, and it sounds like you see everything as half full! My goals (I don't make resolutions either!) are on my blog. Too many to post

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