Next Year’s Goal Setting

Goals

Next year is less than 6 weeks away and I must admit that I am finding the idea a little freaky. If next year is so close, then Christmas is closer and I’m not really ready for Christmas. Yet when I stop to think about it I have my list and my shopping plan so it will come together…

The same idea works for my writing – I have my list to achieve and my writing plans so there is no reason I can’t get done what I want to.

I believe that next year’s goals flow from this year. I wouldn’t just stop what I’m doing and start a whole new set of goals. This is because next year’s goals, like this year’s, are all part of my larger overall goals or long term goals.

All I do, in terms of my writing, is moving toward my goal of writing full time.

At the beginning of this year I made the decision to work harder toward my writing goals. And I have achieved far more than I thought I could. Although I have noticed recently that I have been slipping a little and I could achieve more with some more focused effort.

There is certainly room for improvement and for some projects a clearer plan is needed. Some goals were going to be met easily and now not so well or were a struggle and are now flowing. Others are completely out of my control, such as the edit for Snow which is still with the beta group for review and I can’t action til it comes back.

Now is the time, as the year draws to a close, to review the last year and ensure plans are in place so that the last 6 weeks are not wasted. And then set goals and plan for next year.

 

Review of 2014

In terms of reviewing we need to look not only at what we achieved but what we haven’t and the reasons behind that. This helps to focus on what is important and which goals we want to continue following. If something is a constant struggle to get done it may be that we don’t really want to do that or it may be something else.

I’m not going to go over my review of every aspect of my writing life, but as an example I’ll look at one goal: publishing a short story before Christmas.

This is almost complete. I have a good story that has been through my reading group several times and I only need to make a slight tweak to ensure one aspect of a character is clear and the story is complete. It does need proofreading, a cover designed and then I can press the button to publish.

This story could have been published weeks ago but I have put off making that final change. I have pushed it down the list of priorities in favour of my drafting. The reason for this? I’m not sure, fear possibly of actually getting my writing out there or that I might not do it right…But I do want to do this and so I need to ensure my priorities are in the right place and push myself to focus on this first and my drafting later.

Once the review is done and you have a clear idea of what you have achieved this year. Use this to determine how you can continue that momentum into next year or what needs to change for next year. Planning for the rest of the year can then occur, such as mapping out time for the final edit, proofreading session, cover design, launch date work and going live.

 

Next Year’s Goals

Once you have reviewed your current position goal setting for next year is a lot easier. You have a clear idea of where you are going and what you want to achieve. Take the time to think about your long term goals to ensure what you do over the next year is still part of the greater plan.

Once you have your goals write them down somewhere you can refer to them. I like mine in my diary, you might like them on the wall above your desk but they need to be somewhere you can see them. Start thinking about deadlines for each goal as well so that you can start now to plan for them.

Then as the New Year starts you are already working on your goals and moving toward where you want to go.

My Writing Goals for 2015

  • I will continue to build website and blog for The Flow of Ink by posting more consistently
  • I will work on a greater presence on Facebook and Twitter by being more interactive with what I read.
  • Write and publish another short story by Christmas 2015
  • I will finish the final edit of Snow and investigate publishing options
  • I will finish the first draft and work on second of The Raven Crown Series
  • I will spend at least one hour every week playing with ideas for possible future stories or project ideas

 

Have you started to review how this year’s writing went and are you thinking about next year as a new world or continuation of this one?

Making a Scene

Main stage of the Palais Garnier, Paris

As I scribble away on my draft my main concern has been to get the main story points down. Over the last week I have been wondering if my rambling scenes are actually making sense as a scene. Are they achieving what they should? Am I just sharing information, or trying to show or learn a character’s motivation without that section actually progressing the plot?

What elements should be included in a scene for it to work?

Randy Ingermanson of the Snowflake Method suggests “Every scene within your story has two halves: the scene (in which characters are acting) and the sequel (in which characters are reacting).”

The scene includes:

  • Goal – what the character wants
  • Conflict – what is preventing the character reaching the goal
  • Outcome – whether the character overcomes the conflict and reaches the goal or not

The sequel then is the reaction to this scene:

  • Reaction – reacting to what has just happened
  • Dilemma – where the character considers the next move
  • Decision – making the decision that will move the character forward and sets up a new goal for the next scene.

Holly Lisle states that the essential element of every scene is change. There needs to be a clear place (setting) and timeframe for the scene to cover yet there must be a change that moves the story forward.

Susan Dennard is a YA writer with a wealth of useful information for writers of all levels…in looking at what she has described as the elements of a successful scene she listed four elements:

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Scene Goal
  • Scene Conflict – what is preventing the protagonist of the scene reaching the goal

 

Everyone has a slightly different way of looking at this but the key points were goal and conflict to move the story forward.

Each scene must have a clear goal the character needs to reach and there must be some struggle or obstacle to reaching that goal. Often the goal is not reached which will impact on the next scene goal of the characters. Or it would be boring reading.

I like Holly Lisle’s idea that there must be a change and in trying to reach a goal I think there will be. Whether a character reaches it or not that attempt should produce a change that moves the story forward, whether that is in the character or where the character is…

Some of what I am currently writing is just be for me, to learn how characters work and act and interact with others and will not make it to the next draft. Everything I write at the moment is important even if it does not work to move the story forward.

There is much to consider when writing scenes and when I edit/rework/redraft my current project there will be more to consider as I focus on ensuring each scene works. At the moment I will continue to focus on the story points yet with the ideas of scene in my mind as I write I hope that each scene contains the elements required.

Many authors have written whole books on the subject of writing scenes, so I know there is far more than just making sure these elements are included…

Is it possible to consider all the elements required to make our writing work as we draft?

What element of your writing processes is slowing down your drafting at the moment?

 

Image by Joe deSousa via Wikimedia Commons

Using the write tools to keep the words flowing

toolbox2

In an attempt to ensure the ink continues to flow I am unofficially attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time. It is actually going reasonably well and apart from one day I have easily met the daily target. This also means that I have been focused on my drafting again and so a little lax with my other writing commitments (hence the first post in ages).

The (albeit unofficial) target is certainly helping me maintain my daily writing practice. Setting targets can be a useful tool to keep the writing flowing, but I must admit that it doesn’t always work for me. There have been times (and quite recently) when I haven’t been meeting my daily writing goal resulting in guilt and stress and subsequent blocks.

To keep the writing flowing it is important to have a good understanding of your own processes and what tools to use when the writing starts to stall or stops.

During my recent dry spell I did not stop to consider the tools that usually help me move beyond a block. Part of the reason that I didn’t consider what could help is that I had slipped out of the habit of reflecting on my writing processes and thinking critically about what I am doing, how I am doing it, what works and what does not.

Simple review can be as easy as what worked and what didn’t, how I went with meeting my daily goals and if they are bringing me closer to meeting my weekly and longer term goals. If not, then why not? What was different about today or what could change to get done what I planned?

My life changed when I moved in with my parents a little over 12 months ago. My evening routine changed and this impacted on my planning, reviewing and my writing processes the following day. I am now actively trying to change that back a little closer to what it was. This is not always easy and I am hoping that within the next six months I will be in my own (brand new) home and I can rework my schedule.

I have found that the easiest way to meet my target is to have a plan before I sit down. To have an idea of the scene I want to write, or character I want to explore. I don’t need it in detail, that isn’t how I write, but an idea of a start is very useful. The clearer I am on what I am doing during a writing session the quicker I find my flow and the easier the words fill the page.

Although I am focused on my drafting, even dreaming of my characters now, I have other writing commitments too. Sometimes when it is hard to start on my current draft I can outline a few blog posts or try to refine one and then once the words are flowing and I have finished something I can go back to the drafting with a clear head.

Your writer’s toolbox might have a lot of tools in it but combining these to work together is better to keep you writing. Although setting targets are useful, I need to pair that with a clear writing goal, booked writing time and consider multiple projects to ensure I am writing.

How is NoNoWriMo going for you? What is helping you meet your daily target?