Resolutions (part 1)

Here at The Spectacle, we’re starting the new year with a discussion of New Year’s Resolutions as they relate to writing.

Do you set goals yearly, more often, less often, or not at all? Do you use “New Year’s Resolutions” as a motivational tool?

I don’t generally set goals for the New Year. I do like to stop and think about what the year might have in store for my writing projects, but I don’t make any firm deadlines or pressure myself to accomplish any certain amount of work.—Parker Peevyhouse, science fiction author.

There is nothing like an event to help kick my butt into setting goals. I’m a very goal oriented person, but having something like “The New Year” really reminds me to recheck where I am and make a new plan. But why stop at the New Year. Any event like a planned conference attendance, a birthday, anniversary, or release of a new book are great reasons to check where I am and reset those goals.—P. J. Hoover, author of The Forgotten Worlds trilogy, which includes THE EMERALD TABLET, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, and THE NECROPOLIS.

I love writing goals and have been surprised by how few of my writing friends set them (or take them seriously when they do). Maybe it’s too task/goal-oriented for many creative folks? I agree with Parker that pressure is not always helpful, but because I think it’s fun, I set annual writing goals for the year and then give myself interim goals such as finishing a revision by the end of a given month. I save official resolutions more for personal improvement—eat more salads, resist the urge to honk at annoying drivers, that sort of thing. ;) —Joni Sensel, author of THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and other middle-grade and YA fantasies.

It’s probably true that strict goals are too oppressive for some creative types. Good work doesn’t always result from organization, determination, pressure. For me, when I step back from trying to control the process, the writing seems to come more easily and be of better quality. When I pressure myself, I totally freeze up. I have to let practicality and flexibility share space in my office. I have to be firm about making time to work, but I also have to tell myself, Just do what you can.—Parker Peevyhouse, who writes science fiction for young readers.

I used to set monthly goals but these days I find myself dealing with things more as they come at me. When I was struggling to get into print, my New Year’s writing resolution was always some variation of “write two books and publish one,” which I fell short of every year but at least it gave me something to shoot for. I have two books under contract with 2011 deadlines, so my New Year’s resolution this year will involve putting my butt in the chair to write.—Greg R. Fishbone, author of the upcoming GALAXY GAMES series.

I think it’s a good idea to review where you are and where you’re headed regularly, at least once a year, and the change of years is a good reminder. It can happen at other times as well, such as when I’ve finished a major project and need to figure out what I should do next. This year, the two happen to coincide—I recently sent my latest manuscript, an adult suspense novel, to my agent. I’m waiting to hear back on a couple of series proposals and a middle grade boy suspense submission. So while I play the waiting game, what’s next? This involves not just the immediate question of what project comes next, but the larger question of where that project may take me in my career.—Chris Eboch, author of the middle grade HAUNTED series about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show.

I give myself personal page goals if I’m working on a deadline. Mostly though I just strive to write at least 5 days a week. Recently I did start the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a book in a month just to see how much I would achieve. I started off great and for two weeks achieved a goal of 8 pages a day. I wrote 100 pages…but then had to stop for other obligations. Still that push to write fast proved to me that I could produce quickly when I set my mind to it. —Linda Joy Singleton, author of the DEAD GIRL and THE SEER series.

Readers, what are your thoughts?

Tomorrow:  writing-related goals for 2011

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1 Comment

Filed under Roundtable

One response to “Resolutions (part 1)

  1. Natalie Aguirre

    Since I’m squeezing writing in between working full time and taking care of a family, I haven’t really set too many New Year’s goals for my writing. But I think this year I’ll set a few non-pressure ones to finish the revisions on my manuscript, finish the query, and hopefully start a new project. Maybe it’ll help me be more productive and work quicker. We’ll see the beginning of 2012 if it’s worked.

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