Every year, about this time, I re-evaluate my past writing progress and try to establish some goals. Unlike pesky resolutions, there are a few simple rules to ensure that the goals aren't made and broken in the first week.
Goals are the way to make your dreams a reality. However, to do this, you need a plan.
Make goals achievable. Don't state that you want to have a book published in 2011. Unless you are self-publishing, that's out of your control. Perhaps your goal could be to write a book in 2011. Still, if you've never even written a short story, a novel could be overwhelming.
Break goals up into small, achievable pieces. Write a certain number of words or pages a day, week, or month.
Also, unlike a resolution, goals should be something that you strive toward but don't beat yourself up over not achieving. More often than not, LIFE gets in the way of both resolutions and goals. Plan for that. Have goals that are both easy to achieve, so that you have a sense of success even when the rest of your goals slip out of reach.
Re-evaluate your goals as the year goes by -- perhaps once each quarter or half-way through the year. Don't just make 'em and forget 'em.
So, for 2011, my personal goals are:
Research 1 new market each month
Research 1 new advertising avenue each
Write 20,000 words per month
Finish 1 novel and 3 novellas
Submit one novella to Carina Press (the new Harlequin e-print line) -- notice I didn't say have it accepted (as that's out of my control)
Re-institute my lapsed author newsletter, send one out quarterly
Make 2011 YOUR Year!