It’s that time of year again. The magical turning of the calendar, which yields a new start. I know I’m in good company, cleaning up my diet, getting back to exercising more, and looking at the start of a year as a fresh slate, an opportunity to set new patterns, achieve new goals. But resolutions don’t cut it for me. Resolutions are dreams that fade away when the reality of our busy lives takes hold. They gnaw at us, guilt us into changing behavior sometimes – Don’t grab that brownie! You resolved to lose 10 pounds! Let’s call them intentions instead. Or goals. With a goal, you can set up a plan to allow yourself one piece of candy/brownie bite/tiny cookie a day. A goal is practical, realistic, concrete. It has structure.

If you really want to make things happen, you have to project manage your life and stick with the deadlines as if your stock price were on the line if a deliverable is not met.

My writing critique partner presented me with his writing resolutions for the year as a form of accountability. And he asked me for mine. My “resolution” is to have my second novel in the publishing process by the end of the year. What I sent him looked like this:

  • Feb. 11th: Finish current round of edits on Finding Lancelot. Turn manuscript over to you [my critique partner] and another friend for review. While you two are reviewing, research/organize my next round of submissions.
  • April 7th: Begin submission process to small publishers and agents. Continue until Labor Day (or until book gets picked up).
  • September 8th: Make a judgment call on self-publishing. If deciding to do so, begin process with final polish, book cover design, etc.
  • Valentine’s Day 2020: Self-publishing release date.

What do most creatives do? They say “Someday I’ll write a book” or “Someday I’ll paint more and maybe even get some items ready for an art fair.” But somedays and maybes rarely take priority over the other deadlines in our lives.

I only finished the first draft of Finding Lancelot because of the sage advice I’d been given by a writing coach, Cynthia Morris. We had a coaching session in the early winter months one year and she had asked me when I planned to complete my novel. I laughed and said, “When it’s done.” She then asked for a date, so I randomly said the end of that calendar year. Then we did the math.

  • How many words does the average novel have? (The answer is 80,000, if you’re wondering.)
  • How many weeks were left in the year?
  • How much had I already written?

My math worked out like this: I had to write about 2,000 words a week to hit my goal. Writing 2,000 words a week (about 8 pages) was much more attainable than staring at a big honkin’ goal of “Sit down and write a novel.”

Each Monday, I entered my word count in a tracker. I saw how much progress I made or whether I’d lost ground (due to cutting chapters or taking summer vacations). But the end result was that the first draft was finished in September. Mind you, it was a crappy first draft, as they are wont to be, but it was done ­– and done months ahead of schedule.

Goals matter. Small, attainable deadlines help you reach them.

Do you have a big goal for 2019?

How can you break it down into small chunks? Can you project manage it into attainability?

Vague goals breed vague results. Make this year’s intention to change behavior and start making things, instead of just talking about making things someday.

Want an accountability partner? Someone to help you create the roadmap? We could have a lot of fun making the plan to manifest your dream.

Creative Writing Retreat, May 3-5, New Buffalo, Michigan

If you’re a writer too (or have a friend/or loved one who is), I’m now booking a Creative Writing Retreat May 3-5 in the New Buffalo, Michigan area. If interested in attending this retreat or a future retreat, please complete my interest survey and I’ll follow up with more details.


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