HOW CON: Goal-Setting for Writers

Goal-Setting for Writers
by Loren Rhoads

Here we are, at that resolution time of year again. Last year I resolved to vend at as many of my local Comic Cons as possible…you can guess how that turned out.

The goal behind that resolution was to get my books in front of as many new readers as possible. Once I lost the ability to physically place books in their hands, I had to brainstorm other ways of getting the word out. I experimented with organized blog tours, online readings, and reaching out to book bloggers. None of that was part of my original resolution, but all of it supported my goal.

As you think about what you want to accomplish in 2021, spend some time thinking about why. Why do you want to write that new novel? Are you on fire to tell that particular story? Do you have a message you want to get across?  Are you hoping to reach a new readership by including new tropes that will appeal to them? If you know why you’re telling this particular story, it will give you material for the blog tour and interviews you’ll do to promote it.

The sky’s the limit: what do you hope to achieve with this book? Make that your goal. Writing the book is the way you’ll achieve it.

Another of my resolutions for 2020 was to stretch myself and submit my work to a bunch of new venues. I thought I had that locked when I was approved for office hours at the Nebula Weekend and got a lecture accepted for a conference in Texas. Again, you know what happened with those. So instead, I took a chance and submitted a poem — my first poetry submission in (cough) years — and it got accepted. I asked to write guest posts for two of the biggest horror review sites — and those pieces got published. I wrote some new short stories for anthology calls and one of those has already found a home. I have hopes the others will land, too.

Maybe your goal isn’t to reach readers outside your orbit. Maybe you want to build better relationships with the readers you have. How can you get your readers excited about your next book? How do you plan to exceed their expectations?

Maybe your goal is to increase your income. Can you get more work out? Do you want to write “more commercial” work, whatever that means to you? Can you branch out from writing into speaking or teaching?

Maybe you want to stop wasting so much time on Facebook games so you can write more — or is that TMI?  Sorry.  In my case, I am committed to writing two hours a day. If I do more, great! I have promised not to beat myself up if two hours is all I manage. Great things can be accomplished in small amounts of time, if I focus.

Whatever you want to accomplish this year, figure out why. Decide what steps you need to take to make it a reality. Set up a way to track your progress. Post the resolution where you’ll see it. Then work to make this the best year possible.

Loren Rhoads’s new book is the Spooky Writer’s Planner, designed with Emerian Rich to support writers at all skill levels as they brainstorm, create, and submit their work. It’s available in paperback on Amazon or as a printable download on Etsy.

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