Like most of you, (I hope) I love a new year. It’s a transitional time. A time of change. A time of cleansing. A time to reflect on how life’s going for you and ponder ways to make improvements.
It’s also a time to set goals and make plans.
At the beginning of 2015, I wanted to make some goals that adequately reflected my real drive to be a professional writer.
Firstly, I was going to start a blog and try to blog weekly.
I only got 22 posts done in 2015, but in fairness, my wife and I did have a beautiful baby girl, whom we had no idea about when I set these goals. So I think I was reasonably successful.
Secondly, I was going to try and self-publish two books.
I released a self-help book in August (all about setting goals and making plans) on Amazon. That’s one down. Alas, I never got a second one done, because I was busy both working and studying full-time while my wife was home with our darling daughter.
Part One of a YA SciFi serial project that I’m working on to help raise money for my brother’s brain tumour (the protagonist is named after him) is currently on the final proofreading and cover art stage, and I’m expecting to publish it by the end of the month, and hopefully use that momentum to publish a new 10,000-word chunk each month until it’s done.
So that’s pretty exciting.
My third and final writing goal for 2015 was to enter the Writers Of The Future competition each quarter.
For those who don’t know, the Writers Of The Future competition is SciFi/Fantasy short fiction competition for up and coming writers who aren’t published. (Self-published doesn’t count. Yay!)
It’s free to enter. The competition runs quarterly, and they have three winners every quarter. What’s more, they publish an anthology of all the winning writers every year, and that anthology typically makes it straight to the bestseller list, making every winning author suddenly also a bestselling author.
If that isn’t a great motivational writing tool, I don’t know what it is.
Even though I haven’t won, (yet) I did successfully write a new short story each quarter and enter it into the competition, thereby fully achieving one of my three writing goals for 2015.
And I noticed a couple funny things.
For one, my stories got wordier. But that doesn’t mean my prose became convoluted. I actually found it easier with each new story to navigate and narrate increasingly complex plots. My stories got meatier.
For two, my stories actually got more and more science fiction. This was a completely unintended and unexpected turn of events, but my stories literally went from a medieval fantasy twist on the princess held captive by a dragon tale at the beginning of the year to present day urban fantasy aliens to dystopian future mutant humans.
(And while my last story was only SciFi of a medium hardness, I’m currently reworking it into a hard SciFi version for a university assignment. Although if I turn it into a novel, I like the YA dystopian future idea better.)
For three, my stories got easier to write. The more I would write, the more ideas I would get. The better my ideas would get. The quicker I could get it down.
And for four, (and most importantly) my stories just got plain better. The plot got better. The characters got better. The worldbuilding got better. And with each story completed, my confidence as a writer increased.
So despite my so far not having won anything, the Writers Of The Future competition has already helped transform my writing, and will undoubtedly continue to do so until such time as I win and can no longer enter into the next quarter.
So for any budding writers of science fiction and fantasy out there, I cannot recommend more to you making Writers Of The Future one of your writing goals of 2016.
As for my writing goals of 2016, they are as follows:
Firstly, I’m going to keep submitting every quarter into Writers Of The Future until I win.
Secondly, I want to self-publish two novel-length works plus another non-fiction book.
And last but not least, I want to be more consistent this year with my writing blog, to at least double the amount of posts I did last year. If I can’t blog regularly now, how am I supposed to do it when I am writing full-time and have actual legitimate publishing deadlines and things? I’m only going to make this my career by actually doing it.
And feel free to share, what’s one goal you achieved in 2015?