by Jennie Jarvis
Happy New Year to all our regular 5writers.com readers! Each year, we love to start the year by telling you our goals in the hopes that it will show you that you aren’t alone in your writing goals and to hopefully inspire you to set your own goals as well.
If you are a long time reader, you may be aware that I’m a huge believer in the idea of setting REALISTIC goals. To me, a realistic goal is one that is both possible for the average human being to do and doesn’t rely on anyone else for it to be accomplished.
For example, setting a goal of saying you are going to write two books in one year when you’ve never completed one isn’t really realistic. Just try to finish one! Or better yet, try to finish the first draft, regardless of whether or not you finish the “final” draft this year.
Another example: setting a goal of saying you will get an agent this year is also not realistic. Not because you aren’t a good writer – I’m sure you are a great writer – but it requires an agent to agree to take you on. So, it’s much better to set a goal of saying you will submit your manuscript to at least thirty agents this year. That’s realistic (if you already finished your book), and it doesn’t require anyone else to help you achieve it. Make sense?
In 2016, I have an interesting dilemma ahead of me. As you may have seen in an earlier post, I gave birth to my son on October 20th of this past year, and it’s definitely been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions as I adjust to being a mom.
Before my maternity leave started, I was convinced that some of those twelve weeks off from work would be spent writing. Boy was I wrong! My baby, as adorable as he is, does not like me spending time doing anything other than taking care of him. What with the nursing, diaper changes, spitting up and trying to keep the dog from licking the baby half to death, I barely have time to pee, let alone to write!
My husband, the sweetie that he is, offers to watch the baby at night when he gets home from work so I can go and write, but I’m usually so mentally drained from the day that I’m blocked by the time he gets home. While he could have watched the baby on the weekends, I was never really mentally ready to get out there and take advantage of that offer.
I could let my lack of productivity the last few months drive me insane. I could have used this writing lull as an excuse to beat myself up and call myself a loser. But I didn’t. I chose to give myself a break and realize that, right now, life wants me to be a mom and nothing but a mom.
So 2016 is my year to get back to writing. But what exactly does that mean?
Should I set myself a goal of finishing two manuscripts by the end of the year? In the past, this would be a very realistic goal for me. I have been able to easily write, revise, and edit two books a year for several years in a row.
But now, I have to realize that may not happen – in fact, it most likely won’t happen. But how much can I write? How much time can I set aside to get some ideas on the page? Since I’ve never been a new mom before, I have no idea.
On top of my desire to create new material, my agent has gotten some feedback on one of my novels in submission and wants me to do another rewrite on that book, so that will also set me back on my new material writing time.
So, while I am a typical Type-A Capricorn who loves to over-schedule my life, I have to learn to let go of that control this year and just do the best I can.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t set specific goals. Not being specific is a great way to set myself up for procrastination and failure. However, I’m going to make much smaller goals with the hope that I accomplish much more than these small things.
So, here are my goals for 2016:
- Complete revisions based on the notes my agent sends me for my manuscript in submission.
- Always have something to bring to my writing group (we meet about once a month), even if it’s only one page of writing.
- Continue to write my monthly post here on 5writers.com.
- Complete a first draft of my current Work in Progress, even if I don’t get it revised, edited or into submission.
- Maintain my professional Facebook page, where I share articles on the craft and business of writing.
- Do whatever I can to inspire other writers in my writing community, so I can help others create even if I’m not able to do the same.
For me, these are extremely achievable and realistic, even with a new baby, as long as I take my husband up on his offer to watch the baby on weekends.
Even if I can’t accomplish all these goals, however, I really believe that focusing on inspiring others will help me more than anything else. It will keep me in a positive mindset, which – let’s face it – is sometimes half the battle. The early days of motherhood won’t last forever, and I want to make sure that I keep the positive attitude so that, when I do find that balance again, I’ll be ready to take advantage of it.
And for now, I’m just going to enjoy this….
How will you stay positive in 2016?