Here is the first of the new 2018 Writer Wednesday posts. Today we welcome Debbie Mumford, a writer who has had a busy year in 2017. I have to say I’m envious, I plan to write far more than I do, and I have great respect for writers like Debbie who have the discipline to write as much as she does.
A Writer Welcomes the New Year – A Guest Post by Debbie Mumford
2017 was a good year for me. I achieved some goals and failed spectacularly at others, but all in all, when the year ended I was pleased to find that I’d failed forward!
A large part of that forward motion is due to my yearly review in late December and the goals I put in place for the coming year. Stretch goals, not easy ones. Goals I’ll have to work to achieve, but goals that will carry me forward even if I fail to meet all of them. And I’m realistic enough to know that some of them won’t be met.
An important part of this process is recognizing what is and is not a goal. I’m not talking about resolutions. Everyone makes those in early January … and most people have forgotten what they were by February or March. I’m talking about really, truly GOALS.
I like to use S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are, by definition:
- Specific: Goals need to be specific, not some loose, vague, impossible to quantify statement. “I will write better this year″ is not a specific goal. “I will write 2 pages a day” qualifies.
- Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. Again, a concrete goal is far better than an amorphous wish. You need to know whether or not you achieved it! “I will write for 45 minutes a day” is a measurable goal.
- Achievable: Goals need to be reasonable and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by shooting for the moon. “I will complete the first draft of my 90,000 word novel in 6 months″ is much more achievable than “I will write a 90,000 word novel in January.” Also, as I mentioned above, make sure your goals are within your control. “I will write the first draft of my novel” is achievable and within your control. “I will become a NY Times bestselling author” is not.
- Realistic: Goals need to be realistic. Evaluate your time and your lifestyle. Be honest with yourself. Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic for who you are and how you live.
- Time-Bound: Goals need to have a time frame. Lots of people dream of writing a novel…someday. But without a deadline, a time pressure, there’s no reason to do anything today. Put a date on your goal and then get started on it today. When you reach the specified date, you’ll know whether or not you accomplished your goal.
One of my goals for 2017 was to publish 18 new titles. I write under two names for two very different audiences: Debbie Mumford writes speculative fiction, often with romantic elements, for grown-ups, and Deb Logan writes contemporary fantasy for middle grade and teen readers, so my actual goal read something like this: “During 2017 I will publish one title a month as Debbie Mumford and one title every other month as Deb Logan.“
That qualified as a SMART goal. It was specific – one title (short story, novella, novel, collection) for Debbie every single month and one for Deb every other month; it was measurable – at the end of the month, I knew whether or not I’d accomplished the task; it was achievable – I had a backlog of published stories where the rights had reverted to me plus a selection of new work that I was ready to release into the wild; it was realistic – I knew I could create the covers and run the manuscripts through Vellum (my formatting tool of choice) in a timely fashion; and it was time-bound – everything would happen in the 2017 calendar year.
I achieved that goal, plus a little bit more. The final breakdown for 2017 was 14 short stories (9 of Debbie’s + 5 of Deb’s), 3 collections (all Debbie’s) and 1 novelette (Deb’s) published digitally, plus 3 novels, 2 novellas, and 3 collections released in print. (The print titles were already available digitally, so they didn’t count toward the actual goal, but the print release was a task that needed to be accomplished.)
I also had a goal in place to grow my newsletter lists. I didn’t put a specific number on this goal, but I did record a starting number for each list and I had a plan in place as to how I would accomplish the task: by searching out and taking advantage of promotional opportunities on Kobo, Amazon, and Instafreebie. I’m pleased to say that I accomplished this goal as well – each list more than doubled in 2017.
Where I fell down, rather spectacularly, was in my production goals. I intended to write at least three novels in 2017 and as many short stories as I could squeeze in. Since I’m still working a full-time day job, this goal probably didn’t qualify as SMART – it failed the “realistic” test. Still, I managed to write a short story a month in addition to all the publishing and promoting, so I failed in the right direction.
So what’s in store for 2018? Recognizing that life happens and the day-job must be done, publishing will take a back seat to production this year. I’ll be published in 2018, but it will be in anthologies and magazines rather than under my own imprint … at least, that’s the plan!
How about you? Have you mapped out your intended journey for 2018? I hope your destination will be grand and glorious. I’m sure I won’t end up exactly where I’m planning to go, but I’m positive the journey will be amazing!
Debbie Mumford’s Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/a2q5l8
Deb Logan’s Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/s1c9o3