Thursday, July 27, 2006

Discussion Week Day 4: Goals

First, our odd fact for the day: I share a dentist with Evel Knievel.

Strange, huh? But I happen to live in Evel's hometown (and no, that wasn't his birthname). Today is the beginning of the 5th annual Evel Knievel Days, in which we are the hosts to hundreds of motorcyclists and Evel fans, daring stuntriders, people who set themselves on fire and jump out of windows, and...umm...well, that's enough, isn't it? {g} Actually the big news this year is that Robbie Knievel, Evel's son, is going to do a jump in the style of his father here on Saturday. Should be interesting.

Anyway, back to Discussion Week. For non-writers this time, I'm going to ask you to imagine that you are a writer, and see what your answer would be.

Your Question: What are your goals as a writer?

Okay, I hear you out there. "Duh. Be a writer."

Not that simple. In your dreams, how far have you pictured?

--Finishing your book (a good book)?
--Getting an agent?
--Getting a contract?
--Having your book published all over the world and making a gazillion billion dollars and being a household name?
--Writing 10 (20? 30?) books, all to universal acclaim?

I bet most of us have at least imagined that far, right? But at least the last 2 aren't goals. Those are dreams. I'm not trying to be negative--it does happen occasionally--but the chances of being one of those gazillion billion authors is...not likely.

So, goals. Goals are something you have to stretch for (stretch HARD), but they are reasonable and attainable. When you sit down and look at it with an honest eye, what are your goals in writing?

My ultimate long-range goal, and I think it is attainable in the end if I S-T-R-E-T-C-H, is to make a career of writing. Not support the household on it, but be able to quit my day job and write while my husband continues to work. (supporting the household would be lovely, but that's a dream--if it happens, bonus) Fortunately, this breaks down fairly easily into a sequence of goals. Fortunately again, I only have to do one at a time.

Goal #1: Finish the first book. (CHECK)
Goal #2: Query the first book. (IN PROCESS)
Goal #3: Secure an agent.
Goal #4: Secure a contract. (agent would actually do this)
Goal #5: Write second book. (IN PROCESS)
Goal #6: First book is published; publicize.
Goal #7: Secure contract for second book. (agent again)
Goal #8: Write third book.
Goal #9: Second book is published; publicize.
Goal #10: wash, rinse, repeat until ultimate goal is achieved, however many years that is. Continue to wash, rinse, repeat to keep ultimate goal alive.

Each one of these goals is a struggle in itself; each one of them is hard. I know there will be many stumbling blocks, and times that I lose faith that it will happen. But if I don't give up, and I keep improving with each book, I think this goal is attainable.

What about you? What are your dreams, and what are your goals?

22 comments:

Cindy said...

Dear Susan:
I'm like you. A modest living would be nice, a huge bestseller would be even nicer, but I doubt I'll be one of those people whose first book tops NYT bestseller list...I just want to BE a writer, and for me, unfashionable as it seems sometimes, I need to get paid for it. So my goal is to finish my WIPS, all three. That means finding some time to write today. And finding some time to write tomorrow.

Susan Adrian said...

Cindy:

Yep, exactly. One step at a time, we can do it. I'm almost to 1000 words on Book 2, though it's slow going still...

Monica said...

Susan,
Goals, well I have my weekly goals which lead up to my long term goals. My weekly goals change, well weekly, depending on what I'm working on at the time. Which scenes I really need to concentrate on and what not. My most immediant long term goal is to finish my WIP, I'm still a long way off from that one. My most distant long term goal is to be able to support myself with my writing, which seems to be a popular goal here.

Lorraine said...

I have to say, having sold six books, my goals have changed hugely over the years, and then oddly enough, come right back around to the original goal I started with: have as much fun as I can writing the best damn book I know how. Because in the end, the writer controls so little of the process, sometimes even the writing process itself can get shanghaied by editorial committee or marketing demands or just too many cooks stirring the pot.

And the truth is, while publicizing your book is great and definitely something one should do, the author can only influence so many sales. The publisher has to do their part, too, or it just isn't going to take off. So do some publicizing, but keep an eye out to balance.

So, currently my goals are:
--Begin publicity drive for book coming out next month.
--Set up six book signings and six school visits for this fall.
--Discuss marketing plan for book coming out May 2007 with head of publcity at publishing house. Begin implementing the tools we agree on (dedicated website, giveaways, etc.)
--Begin sequel for May 07 book. Have only the barest of outlines at this point. Goal is to finish by April 2007.(Better get cracking!)
--Continue writing historical romance with goal toward finishing it by May 1.

Sara Walker Howe said...

goal #1 and always: write a damn good book

goal #2 get an agent

goal #3 get published

Julie said...

As a very new writer, my first goal is somewhat... looser than most here... I want to acutally FINISH a novel-length project. In the past, I never finish any novel length works, and I want it to be different this time.

Precie said...

I'm much farther back on the path than you, Susan.

1) Finish first novel.
2) While doing #1, work on obtaining short fiction writing credentials by (hopefully) winning writing contests, getting shorts published, etc.
3) Query agents.
4) Write second novel.

Ultimate goal: I don't even aspire to make a living as a writer. I'd just like to be a published novelist at some point.

Precie said...

Okay, I change my answer...

Goal: I want to be lorraine! :)

Tess said...

My goal for this year was to complete my latest ms, but I already know I'm going to fall short. Our cross-country move ended up being a little more complicated than I thought. But I'm still hoping to get at least the first third of the ms done this year :-) I'm still in the planning stages.

Susan Adrian said...

Monica:

Sounds like you've got it well planned out. You'll get there!

Susan Adrian said...

Lorraine:

Oh, thank you for chiming in! It's what happens AFTER publication that has prompted my thoughts on this lately. I'm seeing a good friend go through the process, and it's just not what I used to think it was like. :)

I'll look forward to hearing about your book!

Susan Adrian said...

Sara:

Sounds good to me!

Susan Adrian said...

Julie:

See my Goal#1. That's always the first and most important step.

Susan Adrian said...

Precie:

Hey, as long as you keep at it, you'll get where you want to be. And I agree with you about Lorraine. {g}

Susan Adrian said...

Tess:

Ayup, I've done one of those cross-country moves too; it rattles you for a good long time. You just need adjustment.

Good luck on your mss!

Lorraine said...

Julie, you'd be surprised, but finishing the damn book is my goal, too. Not so very different from yours. With every book, usually around the middle, I decide it stinks and there's no place for me to go, or it's too damn hard, and I want to put it aside and begin a lovely, fresh NEW project.

So yeah. Finishing the book is ALWAYS one of the goals, no matter what stage one's in.

As for making a living as a writer, I do write full time at this point, but it's because I have a VERY supportive husband. I make a comfortable PART TIME salary from my writing, more than I could make working PT in the office type workplace, but it's still only PT. No way I could support myself or a family with it.

Mrs. Mitty said...

My ultimate goal *is* to support my family with my writing (however unlikely it may be, I don't believe it's *impossible* that it could happen). So, I have my work cut out for me. ;)

Will I be crushed and give up on life if I don't get to that place? Nope. But that's the carrot I'm chasing after and I'll keep on writing for my own happiness and mental health, regardless. :D

Susan Adrian said...

Maureen:

Well, it CAN be done. The only reason I don't aim for it--and I'm known for aiming high--is that I feel the amount of money I make from writing is one thing that isn't likely to be much in my control. I try not to stress about things not under my control. {s}

It's a good carrot to chase, at any rate!

Mrs. Mitty said...

Susan,

Yes, you're right, there is really very little control in our hands with regard to the income. I think reason I can 'go there' in my goal-setting is because I don't stress too much about anything. Just not part of my makeup. [g]

Renée said...

Susan-

My original goal was to write a novel. I've never had a lot of self-discipline, so I'm proud that I've been plugging away at it for over three years now and I'm so close to finishing.

My dream is similar to many here. I'd love my job title to be "novelist". How wonderful to get paid for doing something that's so much fun!

Susan Adrian said...

Maureen:

Not...stress?

{boggling}

Susan Adrian said...

Yay, Renee! You have done very well to be almost "done". Three years and with two small kids...woo-hoo!