By Rebecca Willman Gernon
I have become a real slug as of late. I blame it on the dog days of summer, but I think my problem is that I have no goals. A life without goals is like a ship without a rudder, a car with a flat tire or no gas. In other words, I am getting no place fast.
Today as I cleaned my office, I contemplated the handmade stuffed eggplant that my writing friend Susan Kagan gave me in the spring of 2005 to celebrate my first publication, a story about an eggplant in Delectable Magazine. (A now defunt New Orleans’ food magazine that was a casualty of Hurricane Katrina several months later.)
Her special gift reminded I used to set goals. In 2003 I joined a writers critique group, decided to become serious about my writing, and said to myself, if I can’t be published in two years, I will stop writing. My goal was achieved within 23 months when The Desperation of Beauty was published in Delectable, a freebie magazine. I was thrilled when I opened their acceptance letter and stunned when a $100 check greeted me.
I’ve been lax about setting goals the past two years, and I’ve accomplished little. I need a carrot, or my case a piece of chocolate in front of me, in other words, something to aim for. So, I have given myself a year to sell a story to the Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher. This might not be obtainable as the Chicken Soup editors take from 3-9 months or forever to select their stories, and they don’t contact you until they decide, so I’ll spend most of life the next year in limbo, la-la land, the black hole of waiting, but I have a goal and that is important.
Chicken Soup has numerous prompts, so I’ll have options. Read their submission policy here.
Do you have a goal? If not, how can you measure your progress? Set a goal today. Here are some suggestions:
- write one page a day
- send a query letter to 2 agents or publishers a month (log your contacts)
- join a critique group
- attend a writers workshop
- complete a chapter a month on your novel
- submit one article a week to a magazine
- set aside a specific time to write each day
Be sure to share your goal with a friend who will challenge you to keep plugging away.