Sunday, December 26, 2010

Looking forward

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a fabulous one. If not, I hope you’re enjoying the winter. We had snow in Virginia, and I know many of my Southern Magic friends in Alabama did as well. I’m not a cold weather lover per se, but I love how beautiful everything looks covered in snow.

So now that Christmas is over, I’m looking forward to the new year and the promise that it holds. This week is when I take stock of the previous year’s goals and accomplishments and start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months, both personally and professionally.

Since I can’t directly control the outcomes I really want—land an agent, get published, lose five pounds—I focus on the things I can control. Things like how much I write/edit each day, how many agents I query, how many class proposals I submit, how many minutes a day I work out.

But having goals doesn’t mean anything if I write them down and stick them in a drawer never to be seen again. I need to break them down into smaller chunks of months, weeks, and days. Then I have to make room for them in my schedule. Otherwise, with blogs and TBR piles to get through, friends and family to spend time with, volunteer work, errands to run, and a house to keep, it’s easy to get sidetracked.

I’m a master procrastinator, but I’m also competitive, so setting goals gives me the accountability and push I need. That’s one reason I did NaNoWriMo this year. It was a stretch goal, but once I told everyone I was doing it, I couldn’t stand the idea of failing.

And when it was over, I finally cleaned the bathrooms and ate dinner with my family again.

So, are you setting specific goals for 2011 or taking a more casual approach? What strategies do you use to make sure you meet them, or at least make a good effort?

One lucky commenter will receive EAT THAT FROG by one of my favorite time management gurus: Brian Tracy. Happy holidays!


Cynthia D'Alba said...

Happy New Year, Gwen!

Goals...Not really. But your approach to goal setting is excellent. Focus on what you can control, write them down, review them regularly, etc.

Good luck in 2011 making all those goals work for you.

Callie James said...

Happy New Year, Gwen! Love the blog! I'm so ready to leave 2010 behind and go forward.

Yes, I have lots of plans for the upcoming year. I'm devoting 2011 to improving my health first and foremost, and hoping I find the time to write 2-3 books this year. That's it for me.

Happy 2011!

Kat Jones said...

I want to actually finish a WIP. Anything beyond (writing-wise) would be gravy! ;)

Happy New Year!!!

Carla Swafford said...

Hi, Arkansas Cyndi! One of my favorite people in the RWA world checking out Southern Magic's blog!

Gwen, we miss you down here in Bama. Hope you're staying warm.

For myself, in 2009, I wrote three books while working full time and nearly did myself in. So in 2010 I took my time and wrote one full and rewrote the last half of another. I plan to shoot for two brand new ones this time. Just not sure what genres.

One thing about having so many books finished, I was able to have as many as four different ones out with agents and editors. And I'm still waiting to hear from a couple.

I'll keep sending out and hoping one hits the right person at the right time. Timing is the key, right?

Unknown said...

My goal for 2011 is to establish a regular writing schedule. I know it's just one goal, but if I can accomplish it, I think it will have many benefits. And I quit the second job, so no more excuses!

Marie Campbell said...

I heartily agree with JoAnn - a regular writing schedule would be awesome. And the discipline to stick to it - even better! Have a wonderful New Year, everyone!

M.V.Freeman said...

Happy New year Gwen,
I intend to really utilize a calender, and set specific goals each week and month to obtain the larger objective. The more laid back approach does not work for me.
2011 is going to be a big jump start. I plan to complete a current project I am on. Start a huge push for an agent search and get the next book done.
I'm through with lollygagging--it hasn't helped me in the slightest.

Now, if I could just do without sleep....
Great post Gwen!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Sorry I'm slow to respond, I'm out of town. I'm just glad the blog was semi-coherent after eleven hours on the road yesterday! ;-)

Cyndi: Good luck to you too!

Callie: Happy new year to you. Those are great goals. Good luck in 2011!

Kat: I think finishing a WIP is a perfect goal. If you break it down into X words per day, it might help. Even if it's 100 wpd you'll see progress. Good luck!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Great job, Carla. One of the reasons I always review is because sometimes it turns out my goals weren't realistic, and other times I find that they weren't challenging enough. It's an ever-swinging pendulum.

Good luck with your two new books and all of your submissions! It's definitely all about the timing.

And, I'm with you on having Cyndi visit. What an honor! :-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

JoAnn and Marie: I think a regular schedule is a great goal. It can lead to so many other accomplishments. Maybe if you start small, like 30-60 minutes a day, you won't feel so overwhelmed. Good luck and have a great new year!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Sounds like a good plan Mary. Sometimes it takes a bad year to help us realize our priorities. I know if I took a casual approach, I'd probably never have finished a book.

Good luck!

Lexi said...

Goal: To finish book two, which I'm currently working on and get it in on time. (Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease!)

And to do what I can to market book one, which comes out in April. Squeeee!!!

And to get big chunk of book three written before the end of the year.

And to stop listening to my internal nag and learn to enjoy the process!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Lexi, I think 2011 will be a great year for you. I'm so excited for the new release. It's amazing what a deadline can do to help you get something done. I know you'll make it.

I know what you mean about the internal nag. That's another big reason I did NaNo. There was no time to listen to the internal editor, and I had a lot more fun writing the book.

Good luck!

Louisa Cornell said...

Happy New Year, Gwen!! I am definitely ready to leave 2010 WAY back in my rear view mirror!

I am definitely setting writing goals - daily, weekly, monthly this year. I also intend to step up the accountability. I have an 8x10 Calendar/Schedule book all set to mark each day with the number of words I wrote, rewrote, edited and the amount of time I spent on research. On the days I get nothing accomplished I am writing a big fat NO PROGRESS in red so that every time I look at the book I will hang my head in shame. I have come to realize that in many ways HARD WORK trumps talent and luck most of the time!

In order to do all of this I am going to ha to organize the rest of my time AND leave my day job AT my day job!

One thing that will help is the Ruby Slippered Sisters Winter Writing Festival which starts January 10th. Check it out!

There will be chats, advice, butt kicking when necessary and PRIZES !!Sort of a mini NaNo.

Gwen Hernandez said...

<< I have come to realize that in many ways HARD WORK trumps talent and luck most of the time!>>

I so agree Louisa. There are a lot of talented people out there who've never finished the book. You can't submit or sell what you don't finish.

Your system sounds great. Good luck with it!

Gwen Hernandez said...

MV Freeman is the winner of EAT THAT FROG by Brian Tracy. Congratulations!

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks Gwen!
I totally need that book this year!