Jan 8, 2012


by Marsha Ward

Control may seem to be an odd topic to address, but bear with me. This is the perfect season to talk about it.

You see, a lot of us have a habit of making New Year's Resolutions. (I can still talk about New Year's, right?) Sometimes we actually get a bit of mileage out of the effort by setting goals, instead.

Now there's this thing about goals. They have to be alcanzable. Sorry, in my youth I served a mission in South America for the LDS Church, and we were always striving to make attainable goals, you know, alcanzable, from the verb alcanzar: to reach, to overtake, to obtain. . . 

Anyway, I like to achieve my goals. That's why you all get to laugh when I set a goal to write 25 words a day. Sometimes it's only 10. It depends on how I'm doing that day.

In order to achieve my goals, I have to make goals that are within my control. (See how I snuck that in?) It's so sad to see writers making goals like "Write a novel this year, submit it, and have it published."

I know. Maybe they're practicing visualization. Sorry, I don't go in for that theory at this time. I like to say I'm going to do things I have control of. As an independent author, I can make a goal to publish a book this year (and I'm planning on that, dear readers). However, a writer intent on being published through traditional means doesn't have any control over becoming a published author in any given time frame.

Therefore, a better goal for a writer is to stick to the first 2/3rds of the goal above, that is, to write a novel and to submit it. In the meantime, other goals well worth the time to make them are to study the craft of writing, to get better at writing by DOING IT, to find a good support group or a good critique group (depending on what stage the writer is in), and to start building a circle of writing friends and others in the industry, as well as potential readers. These goals are reachable, because they are things well within your control to do them.

If you haven't set any goals for the year yet, take some time and do that. If you have made goals, take a look at them and determine if you have control over their accomplishment. If not, tweak them until you do.

What goals have you set for 2012?


  1. I don't usually set resolutions, because if I get too gung-ho at the beginning of the year I'll fizz out too quickly! But I'm all for making realistic goals, anytime of the year that inspiration strikes. After finishing my first book, my writing goal was always to find an agent, then get published. It just led to frustration and heartbreak for me. I've changed that goal to submitting to publishers (in February, once the New Year's resolution submitters have started trickling out of everyone's slush pile), and if I haven't found one by the end of my list, then I'll look into self-pubbing. And my other writing goal is to finish my WIP and start on another one. I have never been happier with my writing goals!

  2. I do have a weird thing about control. I think that's why I'm afraid of flying--the pilots won't let me take over the cockpit! (silly guys) If they only knew how much better I felt being in control of my destination, surely they'd vacate their seat for me. It's the same thing with riding on a bus, or a train--a loss of control. I drive when my family goes . . . anywhere. I need that security.

    When I get a rejection letter, I'll get that rapid heartbeat--that moment of lightheadedness that accompanies a panic attack, much like if I was in an airplane. This does not make it easier to turn around and send out another query. At least it didn't use to. Over the past couple of years I've come to terms with rejection. I almost expect it. Looking at the glass as half-empty instead of half-full makes it less of a heartbreak when the answer is no.

    But, Marsha, I made a goal of querying my 3 completed LDS romances, saved in my files, by the end of this month, thanks to you. And if I don't get any nibbles, then I will need your expertise when I self-publish. You do such a wonderful job.

    These are my goals for 2012.

  3. Great insights, I totally agree about setting goals that we can "control" the outcome of!

  4. I may amend my goals, make additional goals as the year progresses.

    I agree on the idea of making goals that you can achieve and are things you can control, especially with writing. But I must confess some of my goals/objectives that are non-writing require input and cooperation and the control of other people. I don't like that but that is life, as they say.

    But I am eradicating fat, organizing home and focusing in my writing this year.

    Aiming for an average of 6,000 words a week. Finishing projects.

  5. Haven't found my achievable goal yet.

  6. Well said, Marsha, as always. My original goals were to complete a manuscript and graduate from BYU. I don't think that is reasonable though so I changed it to complete a manuscript and finish at least one more course (hopefully 2) from BYU...and graduate next April. There. I said it publicly! hugs~

  7. Man, I could go on and on about this subject. Let me just say a hearty 'amen' to the issue of making goals of which we have control over the outcome.


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