Friday, July 24, 2015

Writerly Goals

As writers, we usually have a career dream, that end goal that makes it worthwhile and keeps us churning out page after page, day after day. Sometimes we lose sight of that goal in the rush of everyday life, but in the end, it always resurfaces. My question for all you writers out there – where do you see yourself and your craft in ten years? What are your long-term goals?

As for myself – I hope to have a doctorate in English, enabling me to teach at a university while still devoting plenty of time to writing. Getting published is a pretty big goal too. My secret wish is to eventually support myself on my work alone – but that will probably take longer than ten years, haha.

Share your success stories, fails, and end goals – we want to hear them!

Dan: This is a great topic! I think a single or handful of goals is tough, because as you unlock each new achievement in a writer's career, your goals change. For me, at least, there's never a point where I'd say "this is good enough" and just call the rest in. When I started writing, it wasn't really for the money. If you forced me to call out a single goal, I'd say walking into a bookstore and finding a book with my name on it. That's the moment I'm really waiting for. Trouble is, once I do that, what's next?

I decided to capture several of my writing goals with a "Writing Career Bingo Card." I heard about this from some writer friends last year, and made one of my own. You basically make an Excel file that's 5 rows and 5 columns. In each of the 25 squares, you put a writing achievement. Some of mine are: get a book deal, pro short story sale, anthology sale, first 5-star review, first 1-star review. Then you fill out the squares as you accomplish each one.

My writing career bingo card is 7x7 (I'm ambitious like that) and I only have six squares filled in, so I've got a long way to go.

Lisa: Success story - Support myself with nonfiction writing - achieved.
Fails - Starting and continuing a print newspaper in a small town for at least ten years (I blame the recession). Hey, I still have the news website though.
End goal - In ten years I want to support myself with fiction writing.

Caitlin: I agree with Dan that goals are tricky, because, sometimes you actually achieve them! ;-)  My original goal was just to write a book, so, I remind myself often that I already achieved said goal and all the rest is just gravy. That said, I don't always listen to that positive take on it. When I was in the query trenches, I realized that I was too caught up in the single goal of getting an agent and I made myself think about what I really wanted from this. I wrote a "writing mission." I won't post the whole thing because 1. it's long, 2.  it's embarrassing, but the main themes were to continue finding joy in writing and to connect with other people in a positive way through what I write. Yes, these are both a bit abstract, but I like that they are things I can achieve on my own by simply writing and putting my work out there (in whatever form). There are so many writing goals that are dependent on external factors that are completely out of my control, it's nice to focus on what I can control.


  1. Now I must google "Writing Career Bingo Card." #Fascinated

  2. I think my main goal is simply to write the next book. ;)

    There's so much over which I have no control, but if I can fashion this book, and the next one and the next one... into something beautiful that touches readers' hearts... I hope that will always be enough, regardless of how many books I sell. It's a small goal, but it's entirely in my hands.

    1. That's a great goal - touching readers' hearts.