So here are my goals for 2014.
I've been inspired by the encouraging feature in Writers' Forum, (issue #147) where Janie and Cass Jackson suggested embracing the key word 'opportunity' this January. In fact, I love the nascent possibility in it so much, that I'm adopting that as my first goal. It's hopelessly woolly, of course - you can't measure if you've achieved it; it's not specific. But perhaps that's why it suits me - that, and the fact that I can apply it across my whole life, not just to my writing. So this year, I'm going to be grasping opportunities - trying to say yes to anything I can, being brave about putting my work out there, meeting new people - and making new opportunities for myself, too.
I'd only just decided that when an email pinged into my inbox, suggesting I might like to enter a local short story competition (Belper Short Story competition if you would like to enter). I tried not to suck air over my teeth at the entry cost, which seems steep for the size of the prize, and reminded myself that it's an opportunity.
My second goal is about control. I've felt out of control last year - at the mercy of Fate or 'whatever means the good' - but just like our characters, it's time I stopped reacting to things happening to me, and got on with making thing happen. (This links beautifully with my first goal, doesn't it? Almost like I planned it to...!) This will involve things like getting myself to bed early, so I stand a chance of getting enough sleep. It involves eating healthily, and trying to tackle house maintenance/decor issues as they arise, rather than getting snowed under by them. (I'm not the sort of person who thinks well amid chaos. My thinking has definitely suffered since I became a mother.)
From a writing point of view, I'm going to set bite-sized goals to give myself control of my writing life. I think setting deadlines will be key for me, but as a first step, I'm going to work to a weekly word count to start rattling out the first draft of my next novel. I probably only write for three days a week (could I squeeze more in..?) but if I think I can write 1000 words a day, a target of 3000 words a week isn't very impressive. But if I made it 5000, would that be too aspirational? I'm going to set a target of 3000 for next week, then alter it if it isn't right. They're my goals, after all, and the purpose is not to handcuff myself in a legally binding contract, but to help to focus myself and increase my productivity and the quality of my work. They need to work for me, not me work for them...
I have high hopes for this year!