An update on my writing goals

Tomorrow, at the Arlington Writers Group meetup, I will be leading a discussion on NaNoWriMo and writing goals.  In light of that, it seems appropriate to provide an update on my own writing goals for 2010.

I set out four major goals, each of which had some objectives.  I’ve had mixed results, but I see now that my goals were incredibly aggressive and probably not entirely realistic, but I set the bar high, and with one month left in the year, I think I’m doing pretty good when everything is taken as a whole.

Goal 1: Make 5 short fiction sales (at least 3 of which should be to professional markets) and become an Active SFWA member.

Well, the fact it that so far, I’ve made only 1 short fiction sale this year, but it was to a professional market (Analog) and in doing so, it earned me my active member status in SFWA.  That’s pretty darn good, I think.  At the time of this writing, I have 3 stories out. 2 of the 3 have been out for quite some time, which could be promising.  The last is another submission to Analog, an attempt to strike while the iron is hot.

One objective of this goal was to write 20 new stories in 2010, which now seems absurd to me.  In previous years, the best I’d ever done was 2 or 3.  So far this year, I’ve written 7 complete new stories, and have two more in various stages of completion. It is possible that I will finish the year with 9 new stories, less than half of what I aimed for, but more than three times what I’ve done in any previous year.

My objective for 100 submissions was based on the fact that I could submit each of my 20 stories to 5 pro markets in the space of a year, but it wasn’t well thought-out logistically.  (For instance, it didn’t take into consideration response times.)  As of this writing, I have made 23 submissions.  I’ve received 19 rejections, made 1 sale, and have 3 stories outstanding.  It is possible that I will squeeze in 2 more submissions before the end of the year, making it an even 25, or one quarter of what I foolishly targeted.

A final objective here was to learn from my rejections and I think I have done a good job of that.  Stan Schmidt at Analog had previously sent me 2 detailed rejection notes and with encouragement from friends, I finally sold him a story this year, so I must be learning something.

Goal 2: Submit my novel through an agent to one or more publishers for consideration

When I wrote this goal, I was still thinking that I might actually finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo 2009.  However, after reading through the nearly 60,000 words I’d written, I decided that what I wrote simply wouldn’t work and no novel would come out of that effort–and therefore, I would have nothing to submit to agents for consideration.  But it was not a wasted effort.  The lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo 2009 helped enormously in NaNoWriMo 2010 and what I have so far (just over 61,000 words and counting) is much better than what I had the same time last year.  This ties into…

Goal 3: Write another novel

This is what I have been doing for the last 30 days.  I’ve successfully completed NaNoWriMo for a second straight year, and I am aiming to finish the first draft by December 15.

Goal 4: Expand my network

In this area, I have had the most success this year.  I laid out a set of objectives to expand my network and get my name out there and I think I’ve done a good job of this and it is beginning to show:

First, I had an objective of attending more cons.  In 2010 I attended Readercon in July and Capclave in October.  Because of other travel, that was all I could get away with this year, but I also attended my first SFWA Author & Editors reception in New York and that was a big deal for me.  I also had my first lunch with an editor in New York City.

Second, I had an objective to participate more in the convention machinery.  I tried to get on panels for Readercon but I was too late this year.  I will try again for next year.

Third, was to participate more online.  To this end, I think I’ve done a remarkable job.  I’m back to regular blogging and my daily visit counts are going steadily up.  My Facebook and Twitter presence are helping, too, and I am getting connected to many people in the science fiction world that I never dreamed of being connected with.  (And sometimes, they friend me.)  I’ve joined the Codex Writers group, which has been a big help.  And while it is not online, I’ve also joined the Arlington Writers Group meetup and I’ve looked forward to attending those meetups each Wednesday.

So over all, I’m doing pretty good.  At the end of the year I’ll post some metrics to show how much and how well I’ve done, and I plan to use these as a baseline for 2011.  Instead of picking arbitrarily high goals, I’ll base my goals on incremental improvements over the previous year.  Stay tuned for that post toward the end of December.


  1. I do not set goals like N submittals a year. I set things like every story will be out for submittal within N days of “completion” or receipt of rejection (unless re-edit is started). That modifier allows me to incorporate any feedback from a rejection. I try to set goals for how long a story just sits between phases so it doesn’t get stuck into a pile and ignored. Or if it is sitting around being ignored, it is a conscious decision. Take care and I look forward to your 2011 goals!

    1. Sarah, my goal of 100 submissions (clearly unrealistic) was based on my premise (also unrealistic) that I would write 20 stories. I’ve talked with some other writers and they all agrees that 20 stories is ambitious even for established pros. Next year I’ll be adjusting those numbers accordingly and focusing more on a better hit-ratios (submissions-to-sales) which implies higher quality stories to begin with.


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