Friday, December 27, 2013

How'd You Do? Reviewing Your Year's Writing Goals--A Sure Way to Encourage Your Creative Spirit

Each month, I set goals with a writing partner who lives in another state; we used to be in the same writing group until I moved, and I value her feedback so we set up a monthly exchange by email or phone.  We look at what we've accomplished or learned in the previous month and think about what's next.

We also like to do this each December or January, reviewing our goals for the past year and thinking about how it went.  And what we want to bring into manifestation next.

Accountability is hard to come by.  It's easy to let writing slide to a back burner, rather than generating creative heat in your life.  These regular check-ins help me stay accountable. 

But they also show me--much to my own surprise--how much I actually grow as a writer!

If you don't have a class or writer's group, a writing notebook or a corner of your desktop, or an image board where you list your goals for the year, time to start one now that the new year is rolling around.  Try the exercise this week--you'll need about 30 minutes and enough quiet to review your year and explore what you'd love to have happen next.

Happy new year!  And happy writing.

This Week's Writing Exercise

1.  Brainstorm on paper, in your writing journal or in an email or post to your writing support (class members, writer's group, writing partner, Facebook friends).  List five to seven things you've accomplished, learned, or realized with your writing this year. 

Some of the categories:
*  Classes or workshops or conferences you attended and what you learned
*  Feedback you received
*  New ideas you tried
*  Where you got stuck or realized something important
*  Anything unexpected that happened with your writing
*  What you changed about your writing habit or writing space
*  What you did with that realization
*  What you ended up with, at the end of 2013

My 2013 review:
*  I finished my revision and got feedback from two readers on the entire book manuscript.
*  I researched structure possibilities for three months by reading top-level literary fiction and studying it.
*  I tried two different structure changes for the manuscript, chose the one I liked best, and reworked the entire revision based on input and what I'd learned.
*  Feeling disconnected from my story, because of contradictory input, I realized I needed to "take back" ownership of the manuscript and sit with it over the summer.  I used this time to brainstorm options for theme and character motivation.  I also worked with a River Chart to help me get clear on the best timing for more feedback.
*  In fall, I signed up for two online writing classes and got high-level input on my new structure and characters, especially the opening pages.  Again, the feedback was varied; but I was able to figure out what to do because I felt more tuned in to my own voice now.
*   I completed my final revision by early November and sent the manuscript to five new readers; receiving very positive feedback now and good ideas. 

2.  Spend 5-10 minutes imagining how you'd like your writing to grow in 2014.  What feels like a natural next step?

Some of the categories:
*  What feels stuck right now?  Do you need to abandon or reinvent any part of your project?  What might rejuvenate your interest?
*  Sometimes we get stuck because we are trying something new and we just don't have the skills yet to do it in a satisfying way.  What skill(s) do you need, to take your project to the next step?  Where might you get these skills?
*  What support would you like for your writing this year, ideally?
*  What changes do you need to make in your writing habit or writing space?
*  What's one crazy idea you'd love to try, if you had the resources (time, money, childcare, energy, skill)?

Write down five to seven goals for 2014.  These are rough ideas, what you know now, and they can be changed as you learn more.

My 2014 goals:
*  Continue to take online classes to keep myself learning.  Explore new venues and new teachers.  Or revisit favorite ones.
*  When my colleagues finish their review, input whatever feedback makes sense to me.
*  Explore how to reduce Molly's story and dialogue.
*  Revise and really hone the opening 25 pages.
*  Continue chapter exchange by email with my two regular readers.
*  Read the "Best of 2013" literary novels for inspiration and ideas.
*  While the book manuscript is with readers, pick up unfinished short stories and the workbook that's simmering on the back burner.
*  Try another video trailer!  (Get help!)
*  Continue to try to find a good reader for my audio book.

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