I know I’m a little late posting this. It always seems to take me a while to build goals and schedule my year properly. Part of the reason is that I’m a little unrealistic with my goals. I also over schedule as well. I’ve been at his writing gig since 2014, getting my first publishing contract in 2015. I had teenage kids so some of my day was interrupted by happenings. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. Kids need attention and sometimes it’s impromptu attention. I couldn’t always sit and write. And that sometimes meant I couldn’t reach the goals I set for myself.
In 2019, my life changed. Both of my children left the nest. One went to the west and the other to the east coast. So I went back to teaching for a while. I needed a break anyway. Writer’s burnout and block are genuine problems and I had it. But I took the life change and ran with it. When the world stopped in 2020, I felt better about the empty nest, and I felt like a creator again. But I didn’t want to push myself either. So I eased back into writing and gained a routine. By the time 2021 rolled around, I was ready to approach writing with a business mindset, something I hadn’t done up that point. So I committed to learning every aspect of my craft, including the business side of things. And I’ve improved ever sense.
One such improvement is setting realistic goals for myself.
So here are my 10 goals for 2022:
The first one is personal.
1. Take a work free anniversary trip with my wonderful husband.
It’s our 25th wedding anniversary in June. We want to do something special and romantic. So we’re planning a trip. I’m currently researching romantic destinations. Any advice where we should go is not only welcome but appreciated.
The following rest are writer, marketer, or business related. Sometimes they encompass all of those categories.
2. First, I want to be a better business owner.
Here’s what I mean by that: While I’m doing a lot of things right where running a business is concerned, there are a few things I would like to improve upon. Up to this point, I haven’t taken proper care of the accounting side of things. And as of writing this post, I’m a sole proprietorship. I would like to change to an LLC.
Changing my attitude from, “I’m just a genre fiction writer” to “I’m a businessperson who’s in the business of creating genre fiction”. It’s all about mindset.
3. Learn as much as I can about marketing, story structure, and plotting.
The marketing part of that sentence always feels like a thing, but it helps to focus on it when I add it to my list. I think I learn one or two new things every year without trying. Social media groups are great for this. I belong to one in particular in which its authors helping each other. Every once in a while there’s a little nugget I put on my marketing table.
There are 7 areas of fiction: plot, character, structure, scenes, dialogue, voice, and theme. For the first half of the year, I’m learning story structure. And in the last half, I’m learning plot. I can go into how I’m going about that in a different post.
4. I want to learn the best approaches to foreign translation and audiobook publishing and put that into practice by the end of this year, at least publishing one book in each.
5. I want to write twenty-four articles/blog posts. I’ve gotten out of the practice and want to get back into it again. I love connection with readers and other writers. Blogging feels like a good place to cultivate those connection. It breaks down to two a month, and that feels doable for me.
6. I want to try dictation. I tried once before, years ago, but found it strange so gave up, probably too early. This time around I’m going to stick with it long enough to figure out if I like it or not.
7. I want to enter at least one contest this year. There are several that are specific to the LGBTQIA writing community, for which I am a part. I not only write characters who are LGBTQIA, I’m bisexual as well. I’ll pick one or more of them and submit. I’ve already figured out when to submit to a couple of them. I just need to plan the projects accordingly.
The next three goals are writing specific.
8. I want to write 400,000 words this year.
Last year I wrote 278,885. Yeah, I know how many words I write. I keep track using a spreadsheet and I also keep a writing journal. Doing so helps me set goals for myself, hence this post. Having the data also keeps things realistic for me, which I need. As I said before, I’ve not always been kind to myself. I over-schedule. Have the data helps me not to do that.
Breaking down the math helps me see that 400,000 is an achievable goal for me. It’s 121,115 words more. 400k is just under 34k words a month. I try to write at least six days a week, taking one day off. That’s 8500 words a week, which breaks down to just over 1400 words a day. Very doable for me, considering, when I’m in the zone, I quadruplet that daily goal.
9. Finish rewriting my Pickleville series. (I’ll add more on this after I post the next goal).
10. Write four books in the Saint Lakes/Wingspan series, making it possible to finish that series by 2023.Okay, so why are these goals?
First off, a problem I have is shiny object syndrome. What does this mean? I get an idea. A lot of them come from book covers or playing the what if game (more about this game in the next paragraph). The book covers especially are a problem and not only for my pocketbook. (I’ll write more about this in another post).
Here’s the what if question. This can be someone I see in the grocery store or cafe. Anyone at all. And I do it without trying. What if that person is a drug runner? And what if they get into some sort of trouble with their boss. Now their boss is after them, but they don’t know it. They’re just shopping for fruit loops at the market like any normal day, but the boss’s henchmen come down aisle 4 looking for them and now they’re on the run.
So you can see how much of a rabbit hole I can go down just shopping in the cereal aisle. I’ve learned to carry notecards. It helps to make a little note for myself and then when I get home, I write it in my story ideas journal and make a file on my computer. Doing so solves some of the problem, but not all of it.
In the past, I’ve had more series started than I did time. I was so overwhelmed that I burned myself out and had to stop writing for a while. It’s not good for my business or my sanity. Not to mention I made it difficult for myself to market the books, too.
So I’m setting realistic goals. There’s still some ambition there. I’m always going to want to set a higher standard each time. It keeps me fresh. I’m also setting a schedule that works well for me.
Oh, and I’m already over 42k into my yearly writing goal as of the time of this post.
April Kelley is an author of LGBT Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, which was a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more.