by Jeremy Scott
I write a letter to myself outlining my goals for the year.
We've ticked away the time of another year. They do go by faster and faster every year, don't they? This past year brought a lot of change, switching jobs and having another baby and what not, but don't worry, you've only set yourself up for success. With the year behind us, we look forward to another adventure, another year. Lets look forward to what I can expect for myself in this new year.
This year, I offer me one promise that gives me two major goals. They may seem a bit bland, but they are very important in my already full life. Here is my one promise to myself this year: adventure. Lots of it. Yes, that's right, adventure. No more will I sit on the side lines and let the adventure pass me by. TV and video games, though getting very little of my time as is, will get less this year. This year, I promise to me that I will look for adventure between the covers. Not of my bed, of course, between the covers of books. I will see worlds sprout to life around me, have characters become my best friends, and become lost in the wonder of their plights. I will learn foreign plants, lands, names, and folklore.I will dig, walk, ride, fly, transport, and run in worlds not my own. I will cry, smile, laugh, and cheer. I will feel desperation and despair, but I will know love and friends, even if it brings me to loneliness. That's right, I promise to to me that I will have have adventures this year. Not just those that I read, but those that I write. I will create new worlds and new characters. They will become part of me, ever bit as much as the real world I live in now. Now that I've made a promise to myself, lets set some goals and break them down.
I have two major goals this year, both of which will live up to my promise: I will read more and I will write more. But, lets be clear and write some distinctive goals.
You will write your first novel this year. You've already taken the first steps by joining the Novel Writing 101 group, and what a blessing that has been. As promised in the contract, you will spend at least five hours a week working on your novel and you will have it completed in 40 weeks.
You will write at least one short story a week as part of a daily short story competition. Thus far, you've really liked The Daily Slice, but you should also participate in other genres. And, don't just write crappy little stories just to get you by the prompt, write good ones. Win at least one competition a month. Yes, that does mean that if you enter that last week without a win, you will be writing a lot more in an effort to win one. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
You will write at least one short story a month as part of a monthly short story competition. There are plenty of them out there, so don't worry about not being able to find one. You have already found one for fantasy, horror, and different styles, just to name a few. You will write good stories, not cheap stories to get you by.These are a bit more competitive, less of them, and harder to win, so you should not expect to win them all. However, you should strive to get your writing out there and get awards on them. You will write one the first week of the month, giving you the opportunity to write another in the last three weeks of the month. You will strive to place in six of these contest, aspiring for two wins. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
You will keep your eyes open for other writing opportunities and jump on them as you are available, but none of your other opportunities should supersede the goals you have outlined above. When this year is over, this is a minimum of what you will have strove to a achieve:
52 short stories ~ 1,000 words
12 short stories 5,000+ words
1 Novel- length TBD
6+ hours of writing per week
12 winning short stories of ~ 1,000 words
2 winning short stories of ~5,000 words
4 placing short stories of ~5,000 words
You will read all of the remaining books in the WOT series. You are on five now, there fourteen total. If you read one per month, that should put you on pace to finish them all up pretty easy, even if that pace is somewhat demanding
You will read at least two nonfiction books about writing. They don't have to be long, but they do have to be on a specific topic if they are smaller books.
You will read at least one book of short story collections (what happened to that Stephen King book you started last year?). While reading, you will focus on writing, as in the pace, the character development, and the attention given to details.
You will read, on average, at least one story a day on WDC, with a goal of having 365 reviews by years end. Don't expect to be able to read one every day, but do expect to be able to get seven done a week.This is a double goal, allowing you read critically, and write critically, improving your overall writing ability.
You will read to your kids at night. Start with something small and understandable. Look for something that is up their ally, easily understandable, short chapters, pictures, and quirky. Look to start the "How to Train Your Dragon" series, even if it is a bit advanced. Lets remember, getting to them while they are young is important.
10- WOT books
2- Nonfiction books on writing
1- Short story book
1- Story a day (on average) on WDC, with a review
Read to your children every night
Lets not forget that you are a busy man. You often work 90 hours a week and have 3 kids. You are also a Pokemon player, organizer, and judge, as well as have a wife to spend time with. Having said all that, it will be easy for you to make excuses for you to not accomplish your goals. No one ever said writing was easy, but many have said that you must write, write, and then write some more if you want to be good at it. You were once told that you must write one million words before you can consider yourself a writer. At that pace, you will be about 1/5 of the way done after this year. And, remember, the years are going by faster and faster every year.