The most boring part of writing…and goals

October 24, 2007 | Articles | 2 comments

Has to be editing. I don’t mean revising where you figure out what is wrong and how to fix it–that can be fun. No, I mean taking someone else’s comments–frequently just noting repeated words, or missed commas–and trolling through your manuscript to fix them. BOR-ING.

So, as you probably guessed, that is what I am doing today. Actually, I started off the day tweaking a synopsis I wrote for a totally different project at the request of my agent. The trolling is on Wild Hunt which is due next week. The synopsis is for something not at all like my Nocturnes. Which brings me to goals.

I am big on goals. I even keep mine posted on my office wall. When I think of doing something new I check it against my goals. It can be something small–like joining another group, or agreeing to judge a contest or something big–like accepting a contract or starting a new book. But I always check to see if this will help me toward my goals.

The two most important thing (IMO) about goals is honesty with yourself, and keeping them real. For example, a couple of years ago a big name author told a room full of writers to write down their top five writing goals and to make them big. Write down NY Times list.

I don’t agree with this.

Sure, probably most writers would be thrilled to make the NY Times, but that as a goal lacks focus. It’s too far out in the ether. You need a goal that you can check those day to day things against. Then once you hit a certain level, you can add that NY Times list, but right now (in my world at least) there is no way for you to know what path would take you there. (In case you are wondering if you can ever direct yourself that way, certain publishers are known for being bigger on doing things to help their authors make lists. So, if the NY Times is your goal, you might actually choose to take a smaller advance to go with one of those houses, instead of one that didn’t give the list as much weight. If money was your goal, then you might not.)

The honesty part is probably the piece most people miss. Sometimes being honest about your goals means having to face things about yourself that you may not like.

For example, winning contests is not going to get you a bigger contract or sell books. (Okay, maybe a few books, but not enough to get you that bigger contract.) However, maybe validation (winning contests) is something you need.

If it is, that is enough to make it a goal.

Or maybe you just want your name on a book and you don’t care if you ever sell another book or if this one is available in Walmart or whatever other people tell you you should care about. That’s fine too.

All of these things could make a definite difference in what you set as a goal.

For me, the best part of having goals is it takes away some guilt. If I decide that winning a contest is something I want, then I don’t have to feel guilty when someone tells me it won’t sell books (that isn’t the reason I entered) or that I spent $25 on it. Or when someone starts touting whatever the next “big” thing is I can hold it up to my goal and decide rationally if going for it fits with my overall plan. If it doesn’t–I move on.

Goals allow you to pass up things you might have wasted time on, taking you off the path you want. They also give you reasons to do things you might not have done because other people don’t think they are worthwhile (things that don’t fit in with that person’s goals).

Goals are personal. Decide your own for yourself. :)



  1. Marly Mathews

    Sage advice, Lori!


  2. Edie

    I’m big on goal setting, although most of mine are in my head. I do have the 5 big goals written down and those 5 are tacked onto my bulletin board. But to get there, I’m doing the smaller things. Like writing the book, lol.

    Hope you make good progress on your editing.