What’s your plan?

The thing about New Years’ resolutions is, people so rarely keep them. Maybe it’s because they often have a moralizing quality: “I will write every day this year!” Then halfway through January you miss a day, and now you’re a failure and a horrible person.

So I don’t want to hear about your resolutions. I want to hear about your goals.

It’s more than just a semantic difference. I want you to tell me about something genre-related you intend to tackle this year, that’s somehow above and beyond what you’ve done before. If you’re a newbie writer, maybe your goal is to finish your first novel. But if you’ve been a novelist for fifteen years, “finish a book” isn’t anything special anymore — well, it is, but not for our purposes here — so maybe your goal is to write a short story, or a more complicated plot structure, or something in a different sub-genre than before. Or maybe you’re going to write a poem. Or take up digital art. Something that’s out of the ordinary for you.

But it should be something in your control. “Sell my first novel” is up to editors; you can only do so much. But “write my first novel” is all you.

Me, I’ve got several. The big one is that I’m going to write a YA novel. I’ve got eight books under my belt (not all published), but none for teens or younger readers, and my work so far has shown me that it’s a noticeably different ballgame. So that’s my big plan for the next two months. My longer-term goals are to fix a poem I wrote last year and start sending it out, and to collaborate with a friend on adapting a short story of mine into a comic-book script.

How about you? What mountains are you going to climb in 2008?

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  1. 1. Karen Wester Newton

    I’m going to do anything and everything my agent says will help her sell the book!

  2. 2. SMD

    Well…my goal is to get something published and to finish two novels and anything else I can get done. One novel for sure, more if possible, and many short stories. But getting myself one publication is really my top goal…

  3. 3. tycho garen

    I’m going to make a list of everything I read. In part as encouragement to read more, but also so when I’m thinking about what I’ve read recently, and draw a blank I can say “let me check” rather then “idunno, not much.”

    I blogged this here, but I think I’m pretty much on the same page as you about resolutions and goals…

  4. 4. Phil

    Finish the third draft of my novel. I’ve been working at it for a month now, and aim to be done in the next couple of weeks. And then? Agents, editors, publishing!

  5. 5. Mike Brotherton

    I blogged my resolutions today at my website. I appreciate your distinction, but think that the specific actions are more important than the goals (although both are interesting). If your goal is to lose weight or stop smoking, you must have a specific plan to accomplish the goal and that’s really the hard part for most people. So I always do both — state my goals and my specific actions I will take to reach them.

    For my genre-related goals, it is just to finish a new book. It’ll only be my third, and every book to me seems like it’s full of it’s own particular challenges. I don’t at all approach writing with goals like “learning to write a more complex plot structure.” That sounds way too much to me like, say, a computer programmer having a goal of learning a new coding language without any need for it, which strikes me as a waste of energy. I have too many needs to fritter away my time on idle goals. Every story has its own needs, and I follow the story and try to develop whatever new skills I need to tell it.

    The new book is going to stretch my skills quite a bit and I’ve already done more research for it than for anything else I’ve ever written. Anyway, here’s the resolution:

    “5. Start and finish at least a first draft of the new novel, which is tentatively titled Unification. I’ve been researching it most of the last six months. I plan to read another 2-3 books in the next two weeks and plot. Then I want to write most of the first draft this semester and will make a deal with students in my Science and Science Fiction class about that. Revisions will take the rest of the year, and probably longer into the sabbatical. In the short term I’ll have to figure out how to write substantial word count (750-1000 words a day) without drinking wine. Or much wine. I’m a bit of a stereotype when it comes to the drinking writer.”

  6. 6. Laura Reeve

    Since I’m a new author under contract with Roc (elated! excited!), I get to have real deadlines (hmm, not so excited about this). My goals include:

    — Returning changes on book #1 according to whatever schedule my editor requests (within reason, I hope)
    — Returning proofs, galleys, etc., for book #1 within (reasonable?) publisher’s schedule
    — Submitting mss. for book #2 by the end of April
    — Being well along the way to delivering mss. for book #3 in early 2009

    One of my biggest fears is appearing unreliable to my publisher, so I’m RESOLVED to meeting these goals. If I get a chance, I’d also like to start on a humorous fantasy that’s been rolling around in my head. However, this gets hobby status and doesn’t make “the list.”

  7. 7. Andrea

    By George, my goal is to write a novel this year! How did you know?

    I do both, resolutions and goal-setting, fairly relentlessly and obsessively. I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think there’s actually any law requiring resolutions to be hollow and meaningless.

    (Nice to meet you, btw)

  8. 8. Simon Haynes

    I’d like to see my books published in the UK and/or US, although there’s little I can do to influence that since it’s in the capable hands of my agent. (Australia is the third-largest English-language market, so getting published here is like a first step to world domination. Most of you get published in the biggest market first, and see sales to other markets as icing on the cake.)

    Aside from that, I’ll be writing the fifth Hal Spacejock novel, and I like to introduce a new sub-genre or two with each one. The first book was SF/humour & satire, while the second had alien tech and the third had a spy thriller/secret agent feel. The fourth (yet to be released) combines police stuff (whodunnit, investigations), romance and horror. The next … well, I’m still recovering from the last one, so we’ll see.

  9. 9. Daemon

    My genre-related goal? I’d like to get one story published. That’s it. People keep telling me I should seriously attempt to do so, and I’m thiking that maybe this will be the year I decide to actually sit down and give it a shot.

  10. 10. Martyn Drake

    Well, I’ve definitely made a start of sorts on my first proper creative project. I’m fleshing out characters, the genera plot and certain events, but not much else at the moment. The whole thing is very shlocky, but then again I love shlock. My fear is making a start on gluing everything together and then giving up because it’s too silly or the ramblings of a mad man. I tend to lose confidence very easily.

    However, at *this* moment at this time I’m very happy with things and my resolution is to try very hard NOT to give up.

Author Information

Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan is the author of more than forty short stories and seven novels, the most recent of which is the urban fantasy Lies and Prophecy. Visit site.

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