Thursday, January 14, 2016

Happy 2016 Goal-Setting

Every year I like to set my goals--not so much to make the year into a non-stop homework assignment, but more to clarify where I want to go and how I want to get there. This year I have five:

1. Keep submitting the novel (The Abyssal Plain) I finished editing last year. Which means: making serious submission lists, staying tuned-in to what's happening in the publishing world, not being defeated by rejection, and just going for it. Yes.

2. Finish the edits on my new novel, Ghazal, and have it submission-ready by the end of the year. I'm really looking forward to this particular task because I particularly love this manuscript. It's based on the theme of "Thirty Doors, Thirty Stories" and one of the things I'm planning to do as a spin-off goal is to create thirty mixed-media illustrations to go with the manuscript. (People with long memories might recall that one of my 2015 goals was to paint and draw scenes of doorways, something that fits my current WIP perfectly and still maintains my interest.)

3. Write short stories. Initially my goal was to "write one short story a week." My goodness, only one? Not . . . three? I don't know who thinks up these things, but after failing to write any short stories during the first two weeks of the year, I thought this imperative was somewhat draconian. To save my sanity and accomplish my other goals, I just plan to write short stories--when I can--rather than embark upon another novel this year. (Whew, that feels better.)

4. Go for the A-Z Blogging Challenge again. This will be my second year participating and another good reason to not fill up my calendar with "must write" short stories. The challenge involves blogging every day except for Sundays during the month of April, each blog post based on a topic starting with A and working through to Z. I enjoyed my first outing with the A-Z'ers and can't wait to see what kinds of new blogs I'll discover this year.

5. Work through my art instruction books one exercise at a time as if I were in a class. After my last bookshelf purge, I was interested to see that the majority of books I kept in any single subject were all my art instruction books. I love them, but I have to admit to not always using them. Too often I just look at the pictures and/or do only the intermediate lessons. I read the beginner's lesson and think, "Oh, that's boring. I don't need to learn about color mixing or how to make pages and pages of pencil marks for practice." This is always followed by then going to the advanced lesson and reeling when I see how complicated it is, my usual thoughts being, "I could never do that!"

This year that's all gonna change. I'm going to tackle one book at a time rather than diving into all of them at once (another bad habit), and do the exercises in order: beginner, intermediate, advanced. If I have to be bored painting circles, or do the advanced lesson on how to draw the perfect sleigh horse with shiny little bells in its mane (yes, this is a real lesson in one of my books) twenty times to get it right, so be it. I might end up having to stay with just one book for the entire year, but it's the only way I'm going to progress with my art skills and justify why I'm keeping those books.

So that's me. How about you?

Tip of the Day: Find a group of supportive listeners and goal-setters to help you brainstorm and solidify ideas for 2016. Before writing this post, I met with my writer's group specifically to discuss our goals for the year. It was a wonderful and inspiring meeting that encouraged me to a) have some goals, and, b) go gentle on myself. I was also able to pick up some fresh approaches on how to tackle the various projects, things such as adding more meditation and "quiet time" to my day, or venturing out into new selling opportunities. Best of all, I didn't feel alone in my quest to make my year something special. Thanks, group, and good luck with your own goals!

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