This month we were encouraged to blog about our current writing goals. I'm all for goal setting, but I think one has to be realistic about this 'writing gig'. My overarching goal is to write full time. Whether this takes place sooner (as in the next year or two) or later (when I retire from teaching) depends on a lot of different factors. I've heard from some very reliable sources that it isn't easy to make a living as a writer. In fact, even some authors that have managed to gain a fair bit of notoriety and success in terms of book sales still need to continue to 'work' at something else. It doesn't mean it can't be done, but a realist isn't going to quit their day job to pursue their writing career.
Fortunately, I do have some other options. As a teacher, I can always supplement my writing income as a TOC (Teacher on call a.k.a substitute) if I ever choose to spend more time writing and less time teaching. As well, my children are grown and my husband has a good job, so in a few years time we might consider the possibility of downsizing so that I could spend more time on my writing. These are big 'what ifs' however, and only time will tell if these options become a reality.
In the mean time, I have several other writing goals that are easier to attain and that have results that can actually be monitored.At the beginning of 2011 I set a few goals for myself that I am happy to say I have reached. One was to acquire an agent. Up to that point I had been 'agentless', and although I have two books in print and one more coming out at the end of this month, there is still a certain negative stigma attached to a writer without an agent. After pursuing several leads and sending out queries, I gained the interest of agent Steve Hutson of 'Wordwise Media' and signed a contract in September for my manuscript WIND OVER MARSHDALE. Hooray!
Another goal for the year was to increase my blog following to 200 by end of the year. (I started the year with about 60.) Again, I'm pleased that I reached that goal a few months ago. Perhaps I'll try to double it again by the end of next year. Of course there have been lots of other general 'promotional' goals, like increasing my Facebook fanpage likes, and trying to utilize other social networking better, but one person can only do so much, right?
Another goal which I am rather excited about was finishing a series of paintings for an illustrated children's book that I want to get published. This is a personal project based on a song my mother used to sing. I started the paintings about three years ago, but then stalled out on finishing them. (I had about half of them done and then lost my enthusiasm for the project ...) I took up brush and paints again this summer and finished the rest. I now have seventeen 16"x20" acrylic paintings to use as the illustrations for the book, ready and waiting for whenever I get the money to complete the project. (Or find an outside publisher who is interested.)
Finally, I joined the NaNoWriMo challenge again this year, with the goal of writing a 50,000 word manuscript from scratch during the month of November. So far I'm on track. I'm about half way there and this is the halfway mark in the month, but I've got a long way to go.
I think it's a good idea to have some very specific goals (finding an agent; increase blog following to a certain number) with an actual timeline attached. These kept me on track for this year when I might have given up. On the other hand, broader goals are also necessary. They are the stuff of dreams, and as writers, I think we all have a bit of the dreamer in us ...
What are your goals and how have you attained them?