Strategies for 2015

I began drafting this blog post with the intention to write about my plans for 2015, but then I started thinking about how making plans doesn’t mean that they will work out at all.

Trite sayings like “best laid plans of mice and men”, “God laughs when we make plans”, etc., etc., popped into my head.  I’m not sure why I am hesitating to make plans for this year because I’ve always believed that to realize dreams, goals have to be set; and to reach goals, plans must be made.

I’ve never been an overly obsessive planner despite the fact that I am an obsessive list-maker, but to balk at the idea of making any plans at all just doesn’t make sense. I do have writing goals for this year, some of which have been carried over from last year*:

  • Polish and submit Unholy Triptych to the agent who is waiting for it*
  • Polish and submit Cold, Hard Cache to all agents who might be interested in it*
  • Finish the second story in both series
  • Submit at least six short stories for to magazines and contests
  • Get back into the fiction reading habit now that school is over

They are quite ambitious goals and I am making steady progress towards achieving them:

  • I’m editing 2-4 chapters of Unholy Triptych every day, with the goal of finishing editing by the end of January. There are three main characters in the novel and I wrote the first draft with alternating chapters for each character. While this worked well for the flow of the story and kept the action and momentum going, the characters started sounding alike (which was the main gripe of the agent) – so now I’m testing every word, every gesture, every action and reaction, and every emotion of the character to make sure they remain true to themselves. Scrivener is proving invaluable in this task because I can isolate each character arc using the Notecards feature and work on one character at a time. It’s very interesting to delve deeply into the character in this way but it is also time consuming and I’m starting to worry about the length of time between the agent’s request for a full and my response.
  • I’m swapping chapters of Cold, Hard Cache with my weekly critique group. The novel went through a couple iterations before this and a brief review by another critique group, but this weekly feedback is extremely helpful and I’m looking forward to finishing UT so that I can start editing this novel to include all the useful suggestions and comments.
  • I’ve started the first draft of the second in the Cache series and have a summary of at least three more novels in the series. I’ve also mapped out the arc of the Triptych novels, which I have plans to make a trilogy. There are differing opinions on whether or not to write a follow up before the first in a series has sold, so I’m wondering if I should put these on hold instead and focus on one of the other stories that is bumping around the edges of my subconscious.
  • I’ve started compiling a list of target markets and contests, and which short stories would be suitable for which market. I had hoped to write some new short stories this year and I may still do that, but I’m going to concentrate on getting the novels finished and out the door before I finalize any decision on short stories.
  • I’ve made a pledge on Goodreads to read 24 novels this year, I recently joined a local book club, and recommitted to my Wisconsin book club (which means at least 2 books a month).  I’m currently reading Faithful Place by Tana French – I have read a couple of her other novels and enjoy her writing tremendously.  If you have any recommendations for good book club books (or just good books), please let me know.

Although I simply see this as a list of actions being taken towards my goals, I guess this  could be termed a plan, couldn’t it?

I think my history in the corporate world with its emphasis on formal plans and the focus on business plans for my business had me tied in knots and prevented me from seeing this truth – because what are plans after all, but simply strategies for reaching goals?

What are your strategies for reaching your writing goals this year?


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