With 2010 barely in the door, many writers are setting goals for the year.
“Sell a book.”
“Finish a manuscript.”
“Find my dream agent.”
I can write a nice long blog post about setting reasonable, achievable goals, but I’m not. Maybe I’ll save that for later. Today, I’m going to talk about one of the major problems with forming goals that’s plaguing me: The “OOH, look! Shiny!!”
I know of plenty of writers who are often tempted to stray from a WIP and play with the new plot bunny that’s hopping through his or her mind. This seems to be especially tempting when I’m stuck at a difficult part of a WIP. It’s so easy to abandon it and explore a new possibility. The problem? About 8 half-finished manuscripts.
One of the biggest tests of a writer is finishing what you start. You can’t sell that book or find a dream agent if you don’t have a complete, revised manuscript to show. And in order to land that contract with an agent or a publisher, you need to show that you have the discipline to finish what you start in a reasonable amount of time. Many contracts these days are for multiple books. When you sell a book based on the proposal, you’re obligated to finish it, no matter how much you hate trudging through the difficult parts, and your editor won’t wait three of more years for your next book.
For this reason, I’m trying to be very careful about what I set as my goals in 2010. Usually, I try to keep it vague. EX: “One novel and two novellas.” I try not to commit to a title (one of the joys of being unagented and not under contract). But now that I have a series in progress with Samhain, I’m unofficially committed to continuing it, so I know the 2 novellas I plan on writing will be for that series. As for the novel, that’s where the “Ooh, shiny!” comes into play. I have about 5 different ideas for novels, and I’m having a hard time choosing where I’ll concentrate my efforts this year. Do I go with what I think is the “breakout idea”, even though I’m very enthusiastic about it? Do write the next book in the series that I’m shopping around with agents? Do I go with the one with the strongest “voice” (which would be the easiest to write), even if the idea may border on cliché?
How do you choose your goals for 2010? What are some things you’ve learned to keep you focused on the task at hand and not be distracted by the “shinies!”?