Many years ago, when I decided to actively explore becoming a writer, I got ready by gathering all the information I could about writing books for children. Next, I set goals on how I would go about making my dream a reality.
For me, setting goals has been the most important part of the writing process. Unstructured and disorganized by nature, I knew that if I were to accomplish the ultimate goal of getting published that I would need accountability and a timeline from which I could measure success.
I needed clear goals, and I needed pressure, but I also needed rewards! In the early days, I set goals where if I wrote a certain amount of pages, I would reward myself with additional reading time, or a trip alone to the library.
I stepped it up a bit after I discovered contests in The Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market. Contests worked for me because they came with a list of strict guidelines including specific formats, word count, and last but not least: a deadline. Not to mention, they were great practice for getting ready for future submissions. Every time I sent off an entry, I’d treat myself to a trip to the bookstore to purchase a new book, or simply give myself the rest of the day off.
After I’d accomplished some contest success, I felt comfortable enough to move to the next level—conferences. Getting ready for a conference meant preparing myself with everything from elevator pitches, to feedback from one on one critiques, to meeting complete strangers and networking. The experience and knowledge gained at a conference were invaluable rewards.
Joining a critique group was next on the list. I was terrified at the thought of face-to-face critiques with people I’d never met, but it seemed all the successful writer interviews I’d ever read recommended joining a critique group. And since my goal was to become a successful writer, I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up. Talk about deadlines and accountability--my group meets every two weeks and we push each other to not only submit material to each other, but also to contests, agents, editors, or whatever the case may be. The experience, sharing of information, and the friendships have been life-changing.
So, many years and goals later, I have met personal deadlines, graduated from the safety of anonymous contests to face to face pitches with agents and editors, endured the brutal honesty of a critique group, and as difficult as it was to let go and face the possibility of rejection, I sent my completed YA novel out to agents...
I’m overjoyed to report that seven weeks ago, I reached my goal of obtaining an agent!! My reward is huge—I’m going to the RWA Nationals in NYC and I get to meet with my agent in person!!
And after my agent approves my revisions and sends my manuscript out on submission, I plan on meeting my ultimate goal: getting published!!
…Then I’ll start all over with a whole new set of goals; )
Do you have any goal-setting tips you’d like to share?