Setting goals has been part of my traditions for as long as I can remember. I do it diligently every year, and I generally stay on track. This year was no exception. I had ten writing goals and I kept up with them until July. Then everything started to change dramatically and my goals took an unexpected turn.
Below is an overview of what my goals were and what I've accomplished so far. I described each goal in details for the Dear Me contest on writing.com, where participants had to write themselves a letter about their goals for the year.
My Three Major Goals 1) Submit my MG novel (Meredith Mountain Miracle) until it gets published.
So far, I submitted it to three publishers: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (Oct 08), Front Street (Feb 09) and Henry Holt (May 09). I also spent a lot of time researching potential publishers, using a Writer's Digest book called Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market 2008, edited by Alice Pope.
2) Submit one short story per month to a magazine for children.
I submitted six short stories to Spider magazine, and I posted several of my flash fiction stories (300 words max.) on Squidoo: Flash Fiction for Everyone.
3) Write one new story per month through book-in-a-week.com.
So far, I wrote 40 stories ranging from 100 to 23,000 words. I participated in the book-in-a-week challenge every month, starting in December 2008 with a goal of ten pages and increasing my goal by two pages each month. I wrote 28 pages in September, and would have written 30 in October if I didn't decide to back out. I had a good reason to do so, which I will explain in a later post.
My Seven Minor Goals 4) Read my pocket dictionary to boost my vocabulary.
I separated a cheap pocket dictionary into small sections and carried them around, reading a few pages each day whenever I had a chance. I know it's not the best way to boost my vocabulary power, but that's the simplest way I could think of at the time. I read every single page up to the end of the letter R, checking off each word I already knew and paying more attention to the words I wasn't familiar with. I was planning to read the "S" section in October but I stopped. Some other goals became more pressing than reading pages of a dictionary.
5) Write in my blog once a week.
From the time I started my writing.com blog in December 2008 until now, I made 65 entries, which is more than one entry per week. I also started this blog in September, which is a step in the right direction, to my opinion.
6) Write a non-fiction item once a month.
Non-fiction isn't my strong point, but I managed to keep up with my goal. I wrote a movie review of "It's a Wonderful Life", two articles on setting goals (adult version and teen version), an article about O. Henry and another about his short stories. I started to learn HTML and typed my notes on a practice website. I also gave 217 reviews on writing.com from November 2008 until today, some very basic and some very detailed.
7) Take a class or a seminar, keep learning.
Being a member of writing.com, I utilized some of its many resources to learn about writing. From January to June, I took classes with the The Writer's Academy. In July, I practiced reviewing through a contest organized by The Talent Pond. In August, I learned how to give detailed reviews through a two-week class offered by the The Novel Workshop. In September, I studied HTML using Microsoft Step By Step book, by Faithe Wempen.
8) "Be out there, in the mix." (Network)
At the beginning of the year, my network consisted of my immediate family, a few friends and co-workers, two writers and a librarian. They were the only people I could ask to read my stories and give me feedback. My network has expanded dramatically since then.
I now have 26 favorite authors on writing.com, 64 Facebook friends, 164 Twitter followers, 26 Squidoo fans, and 8 Blogger followers. I know at least 20 people who can give me an honest, detailed review if I asked them. My mom is still my biggest fan, though, and I can always count on her to give me encouragements when needed.
9) Keep reading.
I read a few more classics, but I spent more time reading not-yet-published stories on writing.com and MG novels from potential publishers.
10) Get organized.
I bought a laptop! Major accomplishment. Now I don't have to share computer time with a husband and three kids. LOL! I printed a few business cards, in case I meet a publisher or an agent. Hey, you never know! I wrote a short bio and chose a profile picture. I organized my stories and writing notes into binders.
Whew, what a productive year! What happened in July to make me reconsider my goals? I'm planning to talk about it on the next post.