Write Annual Goals and Discover a Journey Worth Taking
Paul Alan Fahey

Why Write Annual Goals?

It’s that time of the year again for New Year’s resolutions. And if you’re also a writer, it’s a great opportunity to review your writing journey in 2009.

Let’s begin with a review of your annual goals, see what you’ve accomplished and then set new writing targets for 2010. What, you’re not in the habit of writing goals? No problem. Here’s what to do: Look through your writing clips for 2009 or back peddle in your journal and compare where you were last January with your writing and see where you are today. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at your progress, and I bet you’ll also discover many unplanned writing projects that came your way over the past twelve months.

Whether you‘re a detail person like myself, one who needs to see the trees first then the forest, or a global thinker and writer, you can learn a lot about your writing from analyzing annual goals. (A writer friend and I have done this for years, and we’re always amazed at what we’ve accomplished and at the many detours we’ve taken along the way.)

My 2009 Writing Goals

Let’s take a look at my writing goals for 2009 and see how this works. Note they’re nothing fancy or even very detailed but just a short general list.

  1. Say something new—stretch myself and don’t cover the same old territory.
  2. Take more risks in my writing.
  3. Read, read, read.
  4. Enroll in an online writing workshop.
  5. Complete the distance learning college grant.

Most of my goals focused on becoming a better writer. The first two goals were closely related: Say something new and take risks. Hmm. Well, in mid-2009, I completed my first novella, a 65 pager about of a wealthy, reclusive woman and her female lover living in 1939 Poland. Given that there were hundreds of stories set during that period, I hoped to look at that era from a different angle, specifically the dilemma of Catholic Poles who believed Pope Pius XII would come to their aid and the precarious living situation of the two women a few months before the German invasion and subsequent occupation. Only time—and the editors of small literary journals— will tell if I succeeded.

For goal #3, read, read, read, I regularly set aside an hour or so each morning for that purpose. I also incorporated reading into my daily writing sessions by keeping handy in my writing box (Click here to read Paul's article about the writing box) a writing advice text such as Elizabeth George’s Write Away, or an exercise book like What If by Pamela Painter and Anne Bernays. So I felt good about that goal.

As for the online writing course, I failed to sign up for one, and the college grant, like the house that Jack built, will no doubt continue on through the coming year. I did, however, manage to complete the statistics for the project so that’s something, and I’ve recently enrolled in an online course to improve my scene writing. Hey, I just realized something. That’s two goals for 2010. See how this works?

Unexpected Outcomes

Glancing at my book of published clips and looking through my journals, I discovered quite a few additional writing projects I’d completed in 2009. I wrote a short story for a specific market that was accepted and is now set for publication in late 2010. I entered my “risky” novella in a national contest. I continued to write and publish articles for Coffeehouse in Fiction Fix—thank you very much, editors—and I placed a few older pieces in local magazines and newspapers. Not bad for 2009. Was I happy? Am I motivated for 2010? You bet.

Gotta run. Time to write my 2010 goals. I already have two. Just a few more and I’m set. Hmmmmm.

Paul’s email for response: [email protected]

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About the Writer:

Paul Alan Fahey taught in higher education for over thirty years before he retired in 2008 from Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. From 2000 to 2008, he was the editor of the award-winning international literary journal, Mindprints, a creative forum for writers and artists with disabilities. Paul’s short stories and nonfiction pieces have appeared in Thema, Long Story Short, Kaleidoscope, Byline, The MacGuffin, A Cup of Comfort, My Mom’s My Hero, and in the Tolosa Press publications in Central California. He is a member of the Central Coast’s premiere writing organization, Nightwriters and lives in Nipomo, CA.