Writing goals, not holes

writing goals 2014It’s that time of year again when people start making resolutions and worry about sticking to them, but as far as I’m concerned, this is not healthy. Yes, it’s great to set yourself up for the year ahead with some ambitious dreaming – after all, without goals and deadlines it would be difficult to maintain regular, quality output – but not when said goals are to the detriment of your sanity or your confidence.

New Year’s resolutions are usually broken in a very short space of time because they are typically unrealistic and add too much pressure. They’re also usually fuelled by negativity – don’t do this or stop that or reduce something or other. They encourage you to look for flaws and pick holes in the baby steps you’re making towards progress.

Whether it be your waistline, the amount of time spent in front of the TV or your writing time that’s in focus, resolutions tend to add a negative feel to whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. And who can work well under those conditions? I certainly can’t.

But that doesn’t mean we should float into 2014 with a devil-may-care attitude because that won’t get us anywhere. It’s our life, dreams, ambitions, careers – we have to care. But what we don’t need to do is set ourselves up for immediate failure. Instead, I suggest we first take a look at what we’ve achieved over the past year, identify where improvements need to be made and also pinpoint areas that are going well that need to be stretched/challenged even further.

beautiful writingMy blog has been quiet for the last few weeks and that’s because I’ve been doing just that; assessing, evaluating and planning. I’ve eased myself into the new year and taken a step back to see exactly what I did well in 2013 and what I would like to improve upon. As a result, I’m raring to go and even though I was working and writing throughout the festive season, I feel refreshed and invigorated.

So what are my writing goals this year?

Securing a publishing deal is a given. I will continue to write novels and try to get them published until it eventually happens. And then I shall continue to write novels and try to secure a deal for them. And repeat. So the following 2014 writing goals are a sideline/addition to the novel writing and submission process.

  1. To expand the reach of my short stories with publication outside of UK & Ireland (I have researched a list of eligible journals and competitions, and recorded the deadlines & start dates in my diary)
  2. To build up a short story collection (the above goal will have an immediate, positive influence)
  3. To overcome the fear of performance (we all hate the sound of our own voice & reading my work in public makes me want to gibber in a corner. So I’m working on performance to music with my singer/songwriter husband – now we just need to get it out there!)

Three achievable and measurable goals that can run alongside the novel writing without detriment. Easy to monitor with opportunity for expansion; no room for picking holes, thank you very much.

What about you? What are your writing goals for 2014? 



12 thoughts on “Writing goals, not holes

  1. Jude Brown (@joodebrown) says:

    I like your attitude to being/getting published. Apparently it works to think positive as the thinking acts to make new routes in the brain. Confidence is all! Good luck for 2014 – am going to borrow some of your bullet points!

    • ERMurray says:

      In my experience, confidence might put you in some sticky situations, but you’ll always learn something from it. But it’ll never stop you before you’ve tried. Thanks for reading, June – I’m looking forward to seeing your bullet points!

  2. Rich says:

    My immediate goals are a continuation of LY: secure more paid writing gigs! I made a decent start over the second half of 2013 (my regular employment dried up in July) and I’ve begun freelancing for a local paper and writing ads for a creative agency. Still plenty of room to expand my network with the goal of making a living solely through writing (my day jobs have been in marketing for a long time).

    Also trying to finish a nonfiction ebook project and publish it. Thought I could do that by November, but there are so many details to take care of, and the editing process keeps helping me find ways to improve the book. Shooting for publication by summer now.

    I look forward to reading more of your short fiction.

    • ERMurray says:

      Rich, that sounds great – you’re completely on track and loving what you do. Well done for turning what you enjoy into your job also. What is your non-fiction ebook about?

      • Rich says:

        It’s a travel guide to Ireland, or at least to parts of it.

        Wish I could switch off the “work” brain for a while and let the writing brain have full charge. Transitioning quickly from one project to another can be a challenge.

      • ERMurray says:

        An off-the-beaten-track/insiders guide? I know what you mean about transitioning – i do it but often end up with ‘brain fry’. Today was one such day.

      • Rich says:

        Yes, part off-the-beaten-track/local’s guide, and part a native’s perspective on the famous attractions. Firmly back in the saddle this week, and making progress again. It feels good to be working on one thing regularly.

  3. Chris Mills says:

    I agree with you about the risks of making resolutions – the result can be counter-productive. My goal is therefore to keep writing away and trying to improve and at the same time to research ways of getting paid (however modestly) for writing articles/columns/reviews. Good luck with your year.

    • ERMurray says:

      Thanks, Chris, and good luck to you too! I think writing and improving is the key to success as a writer so with that kind of attitude, you’ll definitely achieve your goals. Feels exciting, doesn’t it?

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