Writing Goals for 2021

Happy New Year! What will you accomplish in 2021?

For the past year or so, I’ve put up the same post on my Facebook page every Monday morning: What will you accomplish this week? Some weeks, there are a lot of responses by people who take the goal-setting invitation seriously. I usually also get some attempts at humor—a reasonable mechanism for coping with the bizarre year 2020 turned out to be. Others have told me in other forums that they anticipate the post each week and don’t respond, but that it does cause them to think about goals.

I find goal-setting to be a useful exercise. As noted in my year-end review of my 2020 writing goals, I didn’t achieve everything I hoped to last year. And that’s okay. I’m moving a couple of those goals into 2021 because they’re still important to me. But goals are different from resolutions which I don’t make in quite the same way. Resolutions, it seems to me, are about behavior, and I’ll keep those to myself, to the extent I make them. Goals are about measurable achievements. (I like to-do lists, also, and have a running list on my calendar; it makes me happy to cross things off that list.)

If you want to read more about goal-setting, you might find this article useful. The short version is that your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

So, here are my goals. I’ll let you know I’m doing mid-year.

  1. Finish my new novel. Considering that this has been a goal for two years now, I’m getting close. I would like to be done with a draft in January and then spend the next several months shaping and polishing. If that goes well, I’d like to query agents in late spring or early fall (the summer being a lousy time for querying agents, according to trusted advisors). I believe this is achievable. I’ve shed some non-writing responsibilities recently with a view to narrowing my focus on this project.
  2. Write a personal essay.Actually, I’d like to do more than one, but let me start small. I’ve yet to finish an essay, and that’s the first step. If I get one written that I’m happy with, I’ll submit it to a magazine.
  3. Write a short story. Or more than one. I love writing stories and I miss the feeling of finishing something and sending it out to magazines. If the opportunity arises to take a break from the novel I’m working on, I’ll work on a story or two. Certainly, if I get to the stage of sending out queries to agents for the novel, I’ll need a new, shorter project.
  4. Write poetry. Writing poetry was a new adventure for me in 2020, in part because I was on the faculty of an online arts program that involved writing prompts. Following those prompts, I produced some poems I actually liked and near the end of the year started submitting them to journals. I’ll do more of that in 2021.
  5. Write book reviews and interviews. I’ve already got one review “in the can” scheduled to be published, and an interview done also, so in a sense I’ve already achieved this goal. But there will be more, I’m sure.
  6. Update the Literary Magazine Rankings. As I do every year, in late fall when the new Pushcart Prize anthology comes out, I’ll update the Literary Magazine Rankings and will post them on my website.

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