Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011: No Resolutions - Just Goals

I don't make resolutions. (Um... anymore.) I think they're too broad, they don't bend to real life situations. I'm the kind of person that needs to feel like they're making progress, and I work better when I have a set of conditions to meet, so for me it's all about setting goals.

Last year I was coming off the high of finishing my very first complete draft of a novel. I set some HUGE goals that I now know were not just overwhelming, but also misguided.

2010 was a difficult year for me in many ways, and an amazing one in many others. A death in the family left me unable (both literally and emotionally) to write or revise for about two months. I entered into that long dark tunnel called "revisions". Where I learned that no matter how good you think your first draft is, there are always thousands of ways to make it better. And some of those ways take a full revision before you can see the path to them.

So where am I as I start 2011?

After an extremely busy holiday season I am FINALLY reaching the end of what turned out to be an almost complete rewrite. I have learned A LOT about story structure, plot, and character arcs. Much more than I would've thought possible in a revision.

From my revisions I've learned a lot about myself as a writer, my tics, and ways to make my next first draft a much better starting point. (Also, Scrivener changed my life when it comes to story, plot, research, and chapter organization!)

I have felt the pain of killing my darlings and the joy of having a CP fall in love with my favorite character.

I've fought the pull of shiny new ideas, found ways to stay focused (although this will be a continuing battle for me, no matter how excited I am about a project) and discovered that I CAN write on demand and turn out something I'm proud of (thanks Tangled Fiction!)

I have made some truly awesome friends who get my obsession over writing and YA.

And I have been humbled and honored by some very kind and encouraging words about my writing.

So what are my goals for this year?

Last year I wanted to bang out the really rough first drafts of two novels. This year that's not good enough for me. I want to complete one really well thought out, solid first draft.

I want to make my current ms the absolute best it can be before it goes out into the world.

I want to write more short stories and on a regular basis, which okay, is a given thanks to Tangled Fiction. But I want these to be stories I'm proud of, not stories I make excuses for like "well, if I had more than a couple days, this would've been awesome!"

As a whole, I just want to keep getting better at writing by actively pursuing ways to do so. Whether it's conferences, retreats, challenging myself to styles/genres I've never written before, whatever.

And of course, I want 2011 to be the year I sign with the perfect agent for me and my book!

What about you? Are you going full steam ahead with a list of resolutions? Setting small goals? Did 2010 turn out like you thought it would?


  1. I like the idea of goals not resolutions too. Resolutions you either keep or fail at--they are too absolute. Goals are kept just by striving for them, and as long as a person tries, you can feel some success even if you don't quite reach said goal.

    I think 2010 was a great year for me in some respects, and disappointing in others, but not really due to anything I did or didn't do, so I don't feel bad about it. All I can do is forge ahead with goals that are within my reach and try my best. Read more. Keep learning and challenging myself. Be more productive and try to make healthier choices...and lose some of the writer's blubber I've accumulated, lol.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  2. I know you'll reach your goals, Valerie. I think the only thing we can do is just keep moving in the general direction of our goals, and amazing things will happen.

    Also, I really need to get Scrivener. :)

  3. i'm a big fan of singer/songwriter Christine Kane's concept of choosing a Word for the Year.

    after thinking about what your hopes, dreams, ambitions are for yourself for the coming year -- or just something you need to do for yourself -- work to find a single word that sums all of that up. then commit to the word for the entire year.

    it's much more open than the black and white of a resolution. when you choose a word it can have unexpected meanings for you throughout the year.

    my word for the year is BELIEF (

    -- Tom

  4. Love it. Great outlook Valerie.

    I used to tell myself that I don't do goals because then I just end up feeling guilty when I fail to meet them. But then last year zipped on past and I hadn't finished my re-write, not even close, so I had to re-think that bit.

  5. I am the same way about goals vs resolutions. You like Scrivener, huh...I think I need to check it out!

  6. Yay for goals! I don't do resolutions either, but I try to do something new. This year I'm wanting to write 2 books.

    p.s. I've just discovered a deep love for Scrivener also. :)

  7. Scrivner needs to make a PC edition. And don't say I just need a MAC! Lol! Valerie, I've loved reading your work this year and watching it change and grow, even though it was awesome from the start. I know 2011 will bring you great things.

  8. Sounds like great goals! Yes, it's difficult enough to do revisions w/o having difficulties in your "real" life at the same time.

    I plan to write, revise, and submit. Yep, an agent for 2011 would be super!

  9. Yeah, I just set myself goals this year too, no resolutions. I like it this way :D It doesn't feel like slacking either, as I'm still very determined to meet my goals!

  10. I also like goals. One that didn't manifest in 2010 was getting an agent. I've just spent 3 days rewriting my synopsis and proposal. I'm a better writer, I've started another wip, and my healing work is going international. If I wasn't a healer I'd write some fiction. It's going to be a good year for writers and friends :)


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