Yearly Goal Post

I’m so sorry. Puns are my mortal enemies but I couldn’t resist this one. So … this is not only my yearly post on goals but also where I set out my writing goal posts for the New Year. Setting yearly goals is particularly important for writers. Writing is an activity that relies solely on self motivation and perseverance. Goals give us something clear and tangible to work towards – they keep us focussed through the ups and downs.

But unrealistic goals do exactly the opposite. It’s all about setting the RIGHT goals. As writers, so many things are out of our control, so it’s vital to make our goals only those things we can control. Our goals should be the things that are within our power to achieve by the end of the year. No pie in the sky stuff – no goals for nabbing a superstar agent, or signing a six figure book contract, or for your debut to hit the New York Times best seller list. Those things are mainly within someone else’s control, or the universe’s (or whatever you believe).

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with wanting those things, but I like to think of them as my ‘dream goals’. My current dream goals are for my first picture book, Squish Rabbit, to get great reviews and be a super seller. That’s a lovely daydream to entertain for a moment. But my real goals, the ones I write down and talk about, are more tangible. They look something like this:

  • Goals about specific projects: writing the first draft of a new novel, redrafting a certain project, finishing the final illustrations for a picture book
  • Goals about submissions: in 2007 I chose to submit just to my critique group, in 2008 I chose to target competitions and magazines, and in 2009 I chose to target agents
  • Goals about networking / branding: getting to more book launches or writing functions, developing a website, visiting schools, promoting yourself as a speaker, or my 2009 goal – starting a writing blog *grin*
  • Goals about craft: focussing on the areas of your writing you know you need to develop by reading books on craft or attending workshops / conferences

I have goals in all of these areas. I think I probably always will. How about you?

PS. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night (I’m signing off for the year, but will be back in the New Year, fresh and chirpy and ready to post)

11 Responses to “Yearly Goal Post”

  1. 1 Angela December 21, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Hi Kath,
    I am the first one to comment as I should be in bed, but like you I have been blogging. I follow the same philosophy re. goal setting. Each goal must be achievable and at the right level for your development as a writer. Sometimes great things happen out of the blue, which may not have been in your list of goals. Bonus!
    This year has been a successful one and now I am happily making new goals for 2010.
    I hope that all of yours come true next year.
    Merry Christmas and all the best with your move.


  2. 2 Helen-Louise Usher December 21, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Merry Christmas, Katherine! And to everyone else!

  3. 3 Sheryl Gwyther December 21, 2009 at 7:22 am

    You’re very inspiring, Katherine.
    Have a lovely Christmas and we’ll see you before you take off into the great blue yonder (blue? maybe not blue.)
    your friend

  4. 4 deescribewriting December 21, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I agree with what you’ve said Kath. Goals need to be realistic not just in content, but in number. I set myself way too many goals this year. I think I thought I was somehow going to be able to extract 36 hours from a 24 hour day. lol

    Look forward to catching your blog in 2010 and finding out all the exciting things that 2010 brings for you. Have a wonderful Christmas, and hope all goes well with the move to your new home.


  5. 5 Joanna Gaudry December 21, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Great post, Katherine — as always! I love your blog. My writing aim for next year is to redraft ‘Dirt’ in ‘Year of the Edit’ with Kim Wilkins. That’s enough for now.
    Hey, I’m going to print your advice from this post out, as I did with you last post. Wonderful.
    Joanna :))

  6. 6 Katherine Battersby December 21, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Angela – I’ve had a bit of a bonus year, too. I’ve even had a few dream goals come true, which is just wonderful, but I’m back on the ground and looking at realistic goals again for the new year. Let’s toast to another good one!

    Thanks Helen-Louise! Hope you have a great New Year, too.

    Sheryl – we’ll have a January get together and send off. Adelaide is sort of like the great green yonder – there are so many parks and trees!

    Dee – I can imagine you being over ambitious with your goal setting :) But at the same time, I know 2009 has been an incredibly successful and exciting year for you.

    Joanna – attending YoE is the perfect place to set goals, because you even have your own cheer squad in Kim helping you move forwards. I can’t wait to hear all about it – I’d like to do it one year. Glad you’re finding the posts helpful!

  7. 7 kathleen noud December 21, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Nice post Katherine.

    I have a habit of making insanely ambitious goals (and even mini-goals) but I’m trying to be more realistic (and more sane) for 2010.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

  8. 8 Katherine Battersby December 23, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Thanks Kathleen. Nothing wrong with ambition – I think all writers are big dreamers (we need daydreams to get through the years of work it takes to get published!)

    But I’ll raise a glass to a New Year of realistic goals :)

  9. 9 Sheryl Gwyther January 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Kath, thought this would tie in with goal setting and getting one’s work ‘out there’.

    Your readers may be interested in this excellent writing competition. It’s from US literary agent, Mary Kole’s site. Click on the appropriate section on the side bar if you can’t find it.

    The competition just requires the first 500 words of a complete YA or Middle Grade manuscript + a few little other bits and pieces. All free too. The prizes are usually some form of critique from Mary (who, might I add, has a very good reputation). :)

  10. 10 Teresa Ralton February 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I just had a quick look at this blog. I love your illustrations, especially that wabbit. Why do writers always feel they have to apologize for the use of puns?

  11. 11 Katherine Battersby February 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks Teresa! Never been a big fan of puns myself, but sometimes they present themselves and can’t be ignored. I suppose I’ve always considered puns the territory of dad jokes :)

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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