In the words of one of the favorite comedy idols of my youth, and now for something completely different.
I’ve been operating this blog for just over five years. It has been a long process of working from just talking about being a writer and being interested in writing to actually producing something. But I have made some progress – becoming a published writer, starting a companion blog on Substack after a year of just contemplating trying to mess around on it. I’ve certainly been writing more as time has gone on.
However, one thing that I have started to notice about myself is that the more personal writing goals and milestones I reach, the less that I am willing to just sit back and admire my work. I mean, I just wrote more words than I ever did on my own time, and the minute I realized I was going to make that goal, I immediately started to think of what I needed to do next. I started thinking of what this year’s goals were.
I decided to try to write 200,000 words again this year, but for me, that’s more like a quota than a goal for me. If I’ve managed to write more than 200,000 words twice in the past three years, I think it’s pretty safe that I can make at least that many words. Now, I’m going to try to meet my daily quota of writing (which is, once again, 500 words per day or 30 minutes of planning and revisions) at least 75 percent of the time. Considering that I’ve exceeded that percentage only once and neared it just one other time, I can safely call that a challenge goal. Since I want my writing output to be more consistent and not streaky, this seems to be a goal that also has merit.
I’ve also been trying to figure out some goals. In education, setting measurable, attainable goals is something of a mantra, especially when dealing with goals for students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). You want to set a goal that is measurable – that is, you do something that can be measured in a certain amount of time. It also has to be attainable – that is, something that you have a chance of meeting in the amount of time given.
I should have considered the possibility of applying some of my educational training to this whole business of trying to improve myself as a writer. After all, writing is essentially an academic exercise. And, from my own personal experience, I found that analyzing what I had done and what I had produced over time gave me a better insight into what is possible. Once I knew what I had limited myself to before, I could start to push those limits.
So, I wanted to take a look at some of the tentative goals that I have for this year and apply this idea of measurable and attainable targets to those goals. Shall we?
As I mentioned before, it looks like I have a book coming out this year. As an update on that project, as of right now, I am waiting for the publisher’s proof from my publishers, Biblio Publishing out in Ohio. I am confident that it will be coming out this year, but an exact date is not quite set in stone yet. Once that date is set, of course, you dear readers will be the first to hear about it.
Goals for this project are slightly difficult to quantify in some cases, however. I want to do a better job of promoting this project. I have to think that living near the Des Moines area should give me a good choice of media outlets, so I wouldn’t have to rely on one hometown newspaper, my social media sites, and a couple of public appearances to promote it. It also didn’t help that I moved halfway across the state within a year and that the whole COVID-19 situation hit a year later. I have to think things will be better this time, but I don’t want to quantify that, just like I don’t want to quantify exactly how much I want to grow my email list, for example. I do know that I want to do better on both.
One thing that I need to quantify is how quickly that I complete this next book in the series. I am shooting for a tentative length of at least 80,000 words, so I will probably have to write somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 words a week on it to complete it by this fall. That’s… doable, I think. We’ll see how it goes. Watch this space.
I also want to write more consistently on this blog and on my Substack page. My tentative plan is to try and publish weekly on WordPress and Substack. I think I can manage that, although trying to come up with decent material to write about every week can be tough at times. For the past couple of months, I’ve done pretty well with it.
This leads me to the overall purpose of this post. As I want to produce quality writing on a weekly basis on this blog, I have to start having consistent material, as I said. I’ve decided that every Saturday, I am going to post a weekly journal about what has been going on with me as a writer. This will be separate from the writing journals I have been publishing on Wednesdays where I basically go over my writing totals for the previous week. I think that these new weekly journals – which I will call A Week in the Writing Life – will cover things that I’ve written, things that I’ve read, and anything writing related in between. I might even get into a few things that are non-writing, if I’m having a slow week. And I promise, most of the time I won’t be trying to get you to buy something from me.
This leads me to one of my other goals – trying to start a paid subscription model for Substack and maybe even WordPress. When this happens – and this is not happening right away – you will always have an option to subscribe or read my work for free. However, I will plan to have some material exclusively for paid subscribers, and I will likely release that exclusive material on a monthly basis. We’ll see how that goes.
In non-goal news this week – today, I attended my first meeting of the Iowa Writer’s Collective in Des Moines as its club secretary. Since I already served at the club secretary for my former writer’s group in Muscatine, so I felt halfway confident that I would be halfway competent at it. Today I felt like a reporter for a little bit again as I was recording meetings and writing down notes all over again. I’m looking forward to the experience, and if there’s some things that the IWC present that might be of general interest to writers or anyone else, I’ll post it here, too.
I think that is about it for now. Take care of yourselves, everyone.
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