Monday, January 18, 2016

What are your writing goals for 2016?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I read recently the results of an American survey that outlined less than 5% of people set goals, write them down and track their progress.

This surprised me somewhat so I ran my own small poll amongst some loved ones, which essentially validated those results. I typically am a goal setter and will sit down at the beginning of a year to map out a series of goals. For some reason or another I didn’t do a very good job of this last year.  Life was meant to be all about starting out again in a new city, Melbourne. This didn’t eventuate after many dreams, much effort and commuting especially by my wife.

When I spend insufficient time on documenting and tracking goals, like last year, I don’t make as much progress. And this particularly applies to my writing.

So I’ve made a conscious effort of spending quality time in these first weeks of 2016 on both reflecting back on 2015 and establishing goals for this year. We should do this with the Lord. We’re all probably familiar with Proverbs 16:3:

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (NIV)

Sometimes we can read this to believe God will establish what we want. But as my pastor said recently when referring to this verse, the Lord’s likely to mess with our plans for a while and then He’ll tell you what He wants and what He doesn’t want you to do. And then, and only then, will the Lord establish them.

But the first steps are both giving our goals to God and also listening to Him.

Dream BIG

Goals often fall out of our dreams. For example, I want to be a published author? Some people will call this a dream, others a goal. God wants to hear our dreams. The exciting thing is we can’t out dream God so it’s a great place to be in when we’re meditating with Him on what our dreams and goals can be for any given year.

Our dreams will remain forever just that, dreams, unless we engage specific activity to propel them forward. Many of us aren’t working to publisher deadlines rather self-imposed ones and because we’re all busy it’s easy for our writing to take a back seat at times. We’re all familiar with the old adage what get’s scheduled gets done so I find it important to schedule specific time each day to achieve that goal.

Three of my writing goals for this year are:

  1. Complete the edit of my work-in-progress by 31 January 2016
  2. Complete the draft of one 50-page short story by 30 June 2016
  3. Complete one writing craft e-course by 31 March 2016

I consider it important to write specific goals that are time-bound otherwise I will put them off. Yes, stuff comes up which may make it difficult to achieve but put a line in the sand now and deal with the stuff if it happens.

Holding on too Tight

God loves to interrupt us. Whether it’s in our prayer times, in asking us to do something we wouldn’t expect, or something big or small unexpectedly occurs, like the mid-year change I mentioned above. He’ll do that with our writing plans too. Susan’s post last Monday is a great example of it.

And remember these comforting and convicting words from the Lord:

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV)

Do you set writing goals and if so, what is one of your goals for 2016?



Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard won the Selah Award for Speculative Fiction in 2014. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

16 comments:

  1. Good post, Ian. I need to work on scheduling writing time this year, and measuring the output.

    You might be interested in the February course as a way of meeting goal #3:
    http://www.margielawson.com/lawson-writers-academy-courses/detail/2-writing/233-feb-2016-diving-deep-into-developmental-edits

    I'm considering it . . . there's just the minor prerequisite of having a manuscript to edit. But you'll be fine if you complete goal #1!

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    1. Thanks Iola for the reference to Margie's course. I will check it out.

      Wishing you all the very best with your writing this year.

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  2. Great post Ian. I'm totally with you. I love making goals and plans at the beginning of the year—asking God to lead me. As you mention, often things don't go quite the way we envisage. For me it proves that God is God and not I! As for Provebs 16:3, I remember Tim Keller explaining it in different terms. That as we surrender totally to God, He shows us the right plans to make. It stuck with me. I have a couple of short term writing goals for the rest of January and then need to pursue others. The possibilties are endless so I really need our Father's wisdom as I step into another exciting year of WRITING. May God bless you and lead you with your own writing dreams and bring them to reality.

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    1. Thanks, Anusha. There's a balance, I think. Sometimes we can get too fixated on goal setting and fail to hear God's quiet leading. As you say, surrendering to Him and allowing Him to be our sole guide is the best way.

      Trust the Lord will guide you to sort through those endless possibilities.

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  3. Groan.... Ian, I cannot see a year ahead. Great to see you are such a great planner. Yes, I have bookings which are set in cement, but to say I'll do such and such writing-wise by a specific date? It has never worked for me. So... I have daily goals. I can cope with that.

    However, each day "I commit to the Lord whatever I do...." And like you say, the Lord often has other plans for us other than our own. But I keep hanging in there, trusting God. You know, persevering and never giving up, because dreaming is not enough. And yes, I have seen many of those dreams come true... but never without the hard work accompanying them.

    But we'd never enjoy the outcome if everything just 'fell into our lap. would we? (I forgot, you fellows don't have laps!) And with God on our side the journey is all so worthwhile. And I've said too much.

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    1. Love this, Rita. We all have to work out with God what's the best way to do it, don't we? Yes, there are many for whom structured goal setting just doesn't work. And I get that. It's not for everyone.

      Committing each day to the Lord is a tremendous perspective to work from. I'm trying to allow myself to do more of that starting each day by asking Him how I bring Him glory during the day.

      May you keep pressing into Jesus as He guides you what He'd like you to write in 2016.

      Bless,

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  4. Thanks for the post, Ian. I'm find to-do lists great - especially if they include long & medium term goals, as well as the short-term urgent things that tend to get the most attention. Even when I don't met the original deadline, I usually get to it eventually. My writing goals for 2016 is to get one short story & the first three books of the Akrad's Legaccy series published - God willing.

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    1. Jenny, wow … 3 books. I take it you've already written them? Looks like it's going to be a big year for you. Wishing you all the very best.

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  5. I love setting goals. This year, I said I would query my middle-grade novel by the end of March. So it is yet to be seen whether or not I will succeed. As you said, life happens. But I'm trying. I love your post. Thank you.

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    1. Wishing you all the very best with querying your novel. Yes, all you can do is "ship it" and wait to see what the publishers think. Congratulations on completing a novel - a fabulous achievement in its own right, irrespective of whether a publisher picks it up.

      Wishing all of God's blessings in 2016.

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  6. Ian, great post! I sometimes think I can be too good at setting goals - life happens and I end up with a tight deadline which creates additional chaos in other areas of my life. In 2016 I have a goal of balance. I'm setting writing goals that hopefully won't create unnecessary deadline stress.

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    1. Narelle, I'm in awe of your productivity. I'm looking forward to your comment on my ACW post this Friday. You get so much done. Books written, published, work, look after hubby and the kids … amazing. I think when we set goals we have to allow ourselves some flex for "life happening" otherwise it all can get a bit too stressful. Probably one of the other benefits rarely mentioned of being an indie author. You can give yourself more flex than a publisher who needs to fill a planned schedule of releases.

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  7. Thanks for a great post Ian. I am a 'list-girl' from way back, (only way to get out of the supermarket with what you went in for).....but never thought to make a list for my writing!
    So I will give it a go in 2016....

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    1. Thanks Di for sharing. May I suggest your writing list be a lot shorter than your supermarket one, otherwise you won't have time to go to the supermarket! Start small like a goal for February, e.g., 200 words a day.

      Wishing you all the best with your writing this year.

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  8. Thank you for a wonderful post Ian. I am also a list girl, I cannot operate without one. I don't have a schedule worked out for 2016 as yet due to too many things happening around here. Probably my worst habit is to try to multi-task way too much. I take on many things and then think 'Oh my goodness!' You suggestion for writing perhaps 200 words per day is a great one. I shall need to ponder upon this more, and perhaps ditch some of the things on my 'multi-tasking' list.
    All the best for 2016 :-)

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    1. Hi Josephine-Anne, thank you for your comment. Lists are a good thing for many reasons.

      I hope you can ditch 1 or 2 things from the list so you can a few words this week.

      Bless,

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