Friday, January 7, 2011

Writing Goals for 2011

Well, it’s the New Year and most of us have spent a bit of time looking back on the year that was, pondering how well we succeeded with our goals, be it with writing or otherwise, with an eye aimed toward setting newer ones. Perhaps one or more of these will simply be carried over to 2011. It can definitely be a time of great personal satisfaction for having achieved much, as well as a time of disappointment for not having done as well as we might have hoped. No matter where you find yourself at this moment, I hope you are looking toward the New Year with anticipation and a renewed spirit.

Many of you faithful readers of mine may recall the year that I had. One year ago today I was sitting before my pc, wondering when my first novel was going to be released as an e-book. I had not yet received the keys, as it were, to my blog that my publisher had been good enough to design for me. I did not have one review yet, nor had I begun writing blog posts for myself or for others. I was yet to be social networking. I had yet to begin writing articles for Kings River Life Magazine, either.

Although most every writer knows that the way to be a writer is to do exactly that: write every day. Luckily for me, I had the second novel in the can and mostly ready to go, so I wasn’t all that concerned about writing. Instead, I was focusing on doing the promotion that I felt I was going to have to do in order to attempt to get my name out there. So that’s what I did. One by one, I took on new assignments, casting as wide a net as I could. I joined the local Chamber of Commerce; printed business cards; sponsored my kid’s all-star baseball team, enabling me to have a banner at the baseball field, etc., etc., etc.

Well, it’s a year later; now what? My e-book has just recently been released as a paperback, arriving Wednesday afternoon (that's it in the photo). My second novel has been sent to my publisher for the editing process, so hopefully sometime this month I should be receiving that back. Obviously that means that there is some heavy editing in my future. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, potentially by late spring I will have two novels in the marketplace in all formats.

Many of us are all in different places with regard to what we can do. I have a day job which has me for nearly eleven hours for five days a week. My iPhone keeps me in the loop with e-mail and social sites, but that leaves only a few hours each day to devote to this second career of mine. Couple that with the fact that I am pushing 42, with a wife and two teenagers at home who need some attention, one can see that I cannot at this moment promise to give the next five years and all of my time to this endeavor.

When you are setting your goals, if you have yet to do so, I think everything must be considered. For me, 2011 will mirror the past year, as I simply keep the promotional machine going. I hope it isn’t, but 2011 might end up being a make or break year for me. The third novel is currently an outline, but I really don’t feel a burning desire to begin writing it yet. If I work this New Year the way I worked the last one, with barely time to breath, and it amounts to very little, I may have to make a tough decision come 2012. The question then would be press on or take a time out. Were I 19 years old, I would most likely quit my job and dedicate myself to writing. Unfortunately 19 was a very long time ago, and I cannot do that.

I apologize if you have looked to me for guidance with regard to setting your goals. I understand that my situation isn’t necessarily the norm. Not only that, but my original goal has already been achieved. My dream was to be a writer. After twenty years of dreaming about it, I am a published author. If I end up having to walk away from this in another year or so, I can do so with a content heart. I'll have no regrets.

How about you? What are your goals for this New Year? Are they bigger and better ones, pushing the envelope even further? Are they the same as last year’s goals? If so, how are you planning on tackling them this time around? Perhaps you have some guidance for me. If so, what would that be? We would very much like this forum to be as interactive as possible. We do look at the number of followers that we have, but I don’t think it is what drives us. How is having 400 followers who we never hear from better than 75 that we get to know well and share constantly with?

I don’t think it is.


  1. *Hugs* Wishing you the best of luck, James! It's good to know you wouldn't have any regrets if you had to leave, after all, with 2 books published, you can proudly say you did it! But we would all miss you if you did. :) Go forth into 2011 with optimism! Positive thinking and good vibes works, I swear. And hey, maybe it's time for a vampire vacation?

    Just know that you are not alone. Most writers have a day job and a family. We don't become writers to get rich. We do it because we have an excess of passion and because we're crazy.

    Also ... I have good news to share. A short story I wrote is being published by MuseItHOT. I sent the contract in this morning. Yes, I DID IT! I'm a published author too! :D

  2. That's great news, J.D. I'm very happy for you.
    You cracked me up with that Vampire Vacation line! However, at nearly 42 years old, I think that might be heart attack-inducing behavior, so I'd better stay home. ;)
    It's always great to hear that there are others going through much the same things for the support factor.
    Thanks for the note and much success to you.

  3. Hey! My ears are burning! ;-) I don't think J.D. meant my book, but Jimmy, did you read it? It's not heart attack inducing behavior for a married man. It's called being happily married! I bet a little V V behavior would set you right as rain in no time... leaving you refreshed and ready to tackle ANYTHING life hands your way.

    Or maybe that's just me ;-)

    You've done an amazing amount in the time you've been doing PR and getting yourself out there. Perhaps what would work best is to examine where you reach the most readers and focus your efforts there.

    It's incredibly hard to blog all over the place and sell your self like a $2 hooker. Ask yourself this - you've been an avid reader your whole life, but did you ever read a blog before you became a blogger?

    The answer for me was a resounding NO. So I try to focus my energies in two directions - one is to reach readers, the primary goal. The second is to reach out to my peers and learn as much as I can while continuing my career in this industry.

    But if I had to choose - I'd dump everything not directly involved with readers. My peers are great and they give me support. But it is the readers I need to reach in order to get ahead.

    Try re-focusing your efforts and energy for a bit. Experiment to see what works.

    Wishing you the best this year!

  4. I think having two books out in less than 2 years rocks! And I'd be willing to bet that over 70-80% of the writers out there have a day job and family too. You have accomplished a lot, and I think your efforts to get reviewers and "spread the net" is going to pay off big time. It goes somewhat viral, at some point. And I'm not meaning something you have to take Penicillin for...

    Allison Brennan wrote a post some time in 2009 about breaking all the rules, and she is a chapter mate of mine in SF. With 4 kids and a pretty responsible job working for the Calif. legislature, she pulled off two best sellers in a row, because she was so prolific, which I see as the best path to success as a writer. In fact, all new authors who really crash onto the scene are very prolific. So, focusing on the writing part, I think is smart.

    Blogging is also writing, and you meet great people who will help you out, make suggestions and be a champion of your books. That's how I found you and the other wonderful writers here.

    You're on the right path, my friend. And you have 2 books to proove it! Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  5. My apologies for the typos. I do know better. Arghghgh!

  6. Thank you for opening up about your process and where it has taken you so far. You have truly come a long way! and should be encouraged by that to keep at it.
    I also started writing seriously in my early 40's while working full-time at a very stressful job, with two teens, a husband, house, cats, goats, dogs, etc. My efforts were spotty, mostly short stories because I could complete them in a weekend. I set aside a novel and a memoir.

    It's 30 years later and I am feebly published, ie, just a little. Am working with a great critique group on 1 completed novel and with an editor on the second. I see self-publication in 2011, have set up my blog and facebook accounts. The question comes down to how to make the most of the last two and I know you have the expertise in that.

    You are showing us that publishing can happen with a sense/plan of direction and diligent effort. Don't give up your day job, or your second career for it is really your first but it may well take longer than you'd like before you can devote yourself full time. Hopefully, you won't have to wait until retirement like so many of us.

  7. Really C.J.? A $2 hooker? I have yet to haggle a hooker down to even $10.

    Anyway, James, congrats. As for juggling family and writing, I always take a cue from Stephen King. He once said "I live to write, not write to live." He worked odd jobs to support himself and his family before his writing took off. And then, only when his income from writing was enough to support his family did he quit working.

    Besides, writing can be therapeutic. Working 11 hours a day and having teenagers might put a lot of people into a mental institution. But, sitting someplace quiet for an hour or two of writing can send that stress away for a little while.

    My advice would probably be to not let the writing become as much of a job or chore as your regular job (and this goes for my fellow writers as well -- C.J., J.D., Ana, hmm??????)

    Don't feel forced to start that third novel. You'll know when to begin because you'll have it all fleshed out in your head and will be talking to yourself (and answering). That's normal for writers.

    Isn't it?

    Oh, by the way. Don't ever model yourself on Phillip K. Dick and his family. Not unless you like horse meat.

  8. Thanks, C.J. I am half way through "Vampire Vacation". I read a chapter and take a cold shower, read a chapter and take a cold shower, etc. We're on a meter now, so it's getting fairly expensive. :) I'm kidding.
    I really appreciate your advice. Now that the paperback is available, I have entered into a new phase. Because of this, I will need to really develop a strategy to better focus my efforts with the time I have each day. I'm doing that now.

  9. Sharon, it is great hearing from you. Thank you for the pep-talk. *sigh* Perhaps my concern is a defense-mechanism. I work too many hours, have a family that deserves attention, and then (here's the kicker) am attempting to squeeze every last minute of this writing gig into not enough minutes each day. It's a lot of juggling for someone who can't juggle.
    This is why we all need one another so much...for the support.
    Thanks again,

  10. Thank you, Arletta. That was very sweet of you to say. I sometimes wonder whether people might be tired of hearing about how I am going about all of this, but it's real, isn't it? Thanks for sharing and good luck to you.
    I will look for you and follow your progress.


  11. Greg, we should hold a Wicked Writers Roast!! To hear you and C.J. go back and forth is priceless! We'd better not put her in the chair first, however. Aren't our evaluations coming up? Lol!
    Thanks for the words of wisdom. One reality is the fact that were I still real young (newly married w/o kids), I could just quit and focus everything on my writing. Yet, I wasn't really ready to be a writer then, was I? There was a ton of maturity that I needed, too. I know this.
    Have a great weekend.

  12. Hi James,

    A great set of goals, well achieved. I'm begining to feel (ever so slightly... well, perhaps a little) behind the times with my slavish refusal to admit to setting my own! I certainly wish you the very best for this 2011 round! As they say round my parts... "more power to your elbow!" :)

  13. Thank you, David. I appreciate you taking the time. Some of this is the seat of my pants, but it's working so far.