Goals and How To Fail at Them

Last year, on December 31st, I made a list of writing goals I wanted to achieve in the year ahead.

Christmas 2014 056

Yeah, and written in pencil. Because I’m a dedicated person.

Last night, a bit after midnight, I opened it up…

Christmas 2014 057

… and was immediately disappointed.

For those who can’t read my handwriting (or survive my horrible photography skills), the list goes as follows:

My Writing Goals for 2014 by Quenby Olson Eisenacher

  1. Finish Out of Darkness
  2. Publish Out of Darkness in print and ebook
  3. Write and finish at least two short stories to connect Out of Darkness and Through Fire
  4. Publish those stories
  5. Finish at least the first draft of Through Fire
  6. Finish the outline of Into the Light
  7. Finish at least one Regency so it will be ready for publication at the beginning of 2015
  8. Finish new draft of The Half Killed

That’s a great list! Here’s the thing: I only accomplished one of the items on it.

Out of Darkness (and the other two books in the series) haven’t been touched since the beginning of last year. I can’t even remember why I planned on having short stories connecting Out of Darkness and its sequel. I haven’t finished any Regency-era stories (I only have about four in-progress at the moment, and none of them complete).

The one thing I did finish? The new draft of The Half Killed. Which was then beta read and edited and put back together again and will be published the very beginning of this year.

But there are several things I did that weren’t mentioned on the list. I wrote and finished a short story that has already been published in Unwrapping Love, a romance anthology now available on Amazon. I wrote several flash fictions, one of which is now on the longlist for judging in a short story contest. I wrote and finished the entire first draft of a novel, edited it, rewrote it, and so on. All in a few months. I also finished the first two-thirds of another novel, and edited the first three-quarters of Out of Darkness (mentioned above), and all sorts of other things written here and there (blog posts, random chapters to stories that aren’t finished yet, and so on) over the course of the year.

So I wrote a lot. But I didn’t write much of what I had planned. Why? Well, mostly because I can’t control my brain. It works on the stories it wants to work on when it wants to work on them. It’s an easy thing to say that I’ll tackle a certain story in a certain genre at some vague point six or seven months from now, but who knows where my mind and thoughts will be when I finally arrive there.

Does that mean I shouldn’t make goals? Not at all. I love goals. I love making them and then failing and then being disappointed in myself and then clambering back out of that hole of despondency in order to lace up my Big Girl Boots and stomp my way forward again. So I want to make goals again this year, but this time, I’m going to try and be a little bit less specific, which I hope will make them a little bit easier to achieve.

So… *deep breath*… My Writing Goals for 2015 by Quenby Olson Eisenacher

  1. Write every day. Unless I’m deathly ill or something is on fire.
  2. Finish at least four stories that are currently in-progress.
  3. Continue writing flash fiction, at least one story a month.
  4. Continue to write blog posts, at least two a month.
  5. Write two short stories. Finish them.
  6. Read. Like books are oxygen and I’m gasping for breath.

And that’s my list of writing goals for this year. Notice something different between this list and the one from last year? There are a couple things. First, I don’t name any stories. A story. Any story. As long as I’m working on stories, I’m good. Also, I’ve not made a note to publish anything. Writing is easy. It’s everything afterwards that makes one want to stab something else with a sharp and pointy object.

Oh, and did you notice that last one? That’s right: READ. I read a fair amount this year, about sixty books total. I’d like to read more this year. Why? Because reading makes me want to write. A good book inspires me to create wonderful worlds and characters of my own. A bad book inspires me to do better.

So a year from now, I will try to remember to come back to this post and see how I’ve done. Will I do better than last year? Here’s hoping. And one more thing? Here’s to a brand new year.

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