Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Ship Without Sails

By Darvell Hunt

A writer without goals is like a ship without sails. It’s hard to gain the momentum needed or maintain the direction required to succeed in today’s publishing world without having rigorous goals—and what better time to set writing goals than the beginning of a new year?

Yes, New Year Resolutions are a bit of a cliché and you may argue that nobody keeps them. I personally committed to eight resolutions last year, but only accomplished three of them—but they were big ones and required significant work, so I consider my 2010 resolutions to be a success.

But how do you set useful, productive writing resolutions? I start with just ONE thing I want to accomplish for the year. It shouldn’t be a wish or a desire, but a real goal that you believe you can accomplish. And, even more important than the goal itself, you have to believe you can achieve it.

For me, I’m setting just one major goal: to get representation for my middle-grade science-fiction/fantasy novel. This novel is written and polished and ready to be sent out, but the hard work now is getting an agent for it. My goal is NOT to get it picked up by a publisher, because that’s the agent’s work. My goal is to land the agent. This goal is realistic, though challenging, and I believe I can do it.

So, what does this goal involve? First, polishing the query letter and the pitch, then doing the footwork—submitting and following up with queries to agents. It’s silly to have such a great novel—and I think I have such—just to let it sit because I haven’t done enough agent querying.

So, what’s YOUR writing goal? How are you going to craft your sails so that the wind will catch your ship and sail you onto publishing success? Don’t treat this lightly and don’t just wish for it—make it happen. Decide upon one success that you want to achieve and put your time and energy into it. If you reach your goal and still have time left in the year, you can create other goals, but it’s best not to cloud your point of view with too many tasks in the beginning.

Sure, you can have other non-writing resolutions—and I recommend that you do—but I suggest you focus your writing toward a single goal and work toward finishing it before setting other goals. (That doesn’t mean you can’t work on other things, though—just remember what’s most important.)

Now. I have one more suggestion—tell everybody you know about it. Tell your friends, blog about it, tell your family and the people at work. Create an expectation in others that you will succeed. This gives you somebody to report back to. If you have somebody with whom to share your success, you will be more motivated to work toward it.

And, while you’re telling others, shoot me off a quick message to let me know what you’re doing. I’ll join your cheer squad!

And, lastly, DO IT NOW. Don’t wait. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing NOW!


kbrebes said...

Very inspirational and motivating! I plan to outline and then write and polish a 60,000 word LDS novel.

Keith Fisher said...

good luck with your goals. hang in there

Maggie said...

I plan to market Growing Up Gracie. I hope to submit a novel I am in the cleaning up stages on. And I hope to complete a rough draft of a second novel involving the Fremont All-Mormerican Family. It's shaping up to be a busy year!

Michael Knudsen said...

I'm inspired, Darvell! I will sell as many copies of The Rogue Shop person-to-person as I can, and I will hunker down and get the first draft of my new book done in 2011, or bust!