Welcome to January, the first month of a squeaky-clean, fresh-faced and oh so innocent 2018 – a month so packed to the rafters with writing hopes, dreams and goals it’s standing room only.
“He didn’t mention resolutions,” I hear you asking. There’s a reason for that. I don’t believe in them.
What’s a resolution? I’ll tell you. A resolution is a vow that’s invariably broken by mid-January (if it’s lucky enough to last that long). Now replace ‘resolution’ with ‘goal,’ and things take on an entirely different meaning.
- Resolutions are rigid
- Resolutions are behaviors or actions that either get done or they don’t
- Goals are dynamic, flexible, and fluid
- Goals are a series of actions that lead to accomplishment
If I made a resolution saying “I want to write more,” it could mean anything. It’s a loose proclamation that’s open to interpretation. It invites failure. But, if I set the goal “I want to write at least 1,000 words every day,” it’s precise. A better goal, of course, would be to state “I want to write at least 1,000 words every day that are related to my blog or work-in-progress.”
So, with that in mind, here are my 2018 Writing Goals.
My biggest goal for the next 12 months will be to write the first draft of my novel, currently with a working title of “The Evil Within.” It’s a story of possession, exorcism, and the sacrifices a parent will make for a child in suffering. I’ve been working on the outline / plot development for a little while along with the early stages of the character profiles and I’m very excited about the project.
I think the story will differ from other possession / exorcism stories as I’ve researched a lot of true accounts to give a more ‘real-life’ feel, rather than overblown Hollywood sensationalism.
The “The Evil Within” also allows me to springboard off one of my 2017 goals and use the Scrivener software during the writing process.
Also on the writing side, I’m working on an outline for another story featuring those always smiling, fun-loving guys from the “The Circus of the Night.” This will be a little different from “The Mask That Always Smiles,” in that it will be a longer story and introduce some new characters, including a protagonist who will take Absinthe Dark and the Circus to their limits and beyond.
I’ll also be editing / revising / rewriting “Killed by Death,” as it’s been sitting forlorn and unloved in a filing cabinet for more than six months. This story may well be the sign-up incentive for my proposed website mailing list.
As I write this post, I’m still considering taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Described as “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing,” participants begin working on November 1st, with the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 pm on November 30th. I’ll make my final decision during January, but if I do take part it will be with a different project to “The Evil Within.”
Recently, I ‘ve been looking into the possibility of publishing some of my work on the WattPad platform. Like NaNoWriMo, I’m still undecided. Anyone out there reading this use WattPad? Are you a fan? I’d love to hear from you.
Throughout 2018, wherever possible, I want to attend any author talks / presentations in my local area that will benefit my writing endeavors. I also want to take part in more writing-related webinars to increase my knowledge base.
Now for the writing goals that weren’t fully achieved during 2017:
It was my intention to write at least one new blog post per week last year. The goal was to encourage interaction with readers / followers of The Haunted Pen website and my Twitter and Facebook social media accounts. On December 31, 2017, I’d made 42 posts, so I failed in my goal.
For 2018, I’m working on a blog-post schedule / calendar that allows me to write one new post every two weeks – this then gives me more free time to work on my novel and short stories. I’m already writing and researching several new posts including a series (“The Haunted Pen’s Guide To…”), and an author interview feature (“The Third Degree”). I’ll also be writing more of “Character Traits” posts, but they’re going to be retitled as “The Dread Files.”
An author platform is a term used in the publishing world to describe an author’s fan engagement, their social media and web presence, the size and dedication of their readership, and their connectedness to other authors, bloggers, critics, agents, publicists, publishers, etc.
My goal was to double my Twitter and Facebook account followers. Sadly, this never happened but I’ll be doubling my efforts this year to increase my following on both platforms. I’m also going to make sure I interact with as many people as possible.
With the announcement of my novel-writing plans, building up my author platform before the book launch should help me harness the power of those potential buyers, and my web community to increase the chances of success. Like they say (I often wondered who, exactly, they are and how they became such experts on everything), “the only thing worse than not publishing your book is to publish it and get ignored.”
Website Mailing List
I need to research the best way to set up a mailing list for The Haunted Pen’s website followers and offer a free story upon sign-up. The first task will be to decide on an e-mail / marketing package such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc. that will best fit my needs. I’ll also have to decide on how frequent I send out mailings and their content. As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, I believe a targeted and invested e-mail list of subscribers is the most important element of an author’s website if an author wants to make his or her writing and publishing a sustainable venture.
Another 2017 goal was to have stories available for purchase on Amazon. As stated previously, I’ve always maintained that this would only be achieved when I was fully ready, and this is still the case.
On A Personal Note
After reading many of the features on Colleen M. Story’s excellent Writing and Wellness website, I need to make some lifestyle changes.
Writing can be a pretty sedentary life, and when coupled with a day job where I sit at a computer for eight hours a day, I need to start exercising more. I have long-standing neck and back issues from playing Rugby in my younger (and fitter) days and the extra weight I’ve put on is doing me no favors. Like so many other people at this time of year I’m going to make living a healthier lifestyle a priority. Part of this healthier lifestyle will include less snacking and more exercise, less alcohol, and more water for better hydration. It’s time to make the changes now! I intend on making 2018 a memorable year for The Haunted Pen AND Dave Burnham.
What are your writing goals for 2018 and how do you plan to achieve them? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your plans.