Posted by: devonellington | August 3, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2013

I have neglected the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions in 2012 because I was in such a state of flux all year.  I thought that moving to my dream location would create stability.  While it has created joy and safety in certain aspects of my life, the writing life is in transition — all positive, but not all easy.  Every time I asked myself what I really wanted, I didn’t have an answer.  I simply scrambled, trying to keep up with what was in front of me.

I want 2013 to be more focused, and therefore, I’m using the questions below to help me frame my year.  I’m going to think about them over the coming months, and, on 2013, we’ll be starting our monthly support in achieving our goals, dreams, and resolutions together.

I plan to still do the lists at the top of the month and the wrap-up at the end, but I also want to start a mid-month check-in on what’s working and what isn’t.  These are fluid — sometimes what we want and what we need are different, and we learn that the hard way.  However, if we overburden ourselves and/or set goals and then simply sit by passively, without making any effort, we sabotage ourselves.  Answering these questions and working towards tangible goals give a focus and something to aim for on the horizon.  Achievement builds momentum.  If you don’t hit a goal, make sure it’s a CHOICE, not a cop-out.

Just writing the questions was a big help.  I hope thinking about them will benefit us all.

Please note that although the focus is on writing, you can replace “writing” with whatever your passion/focus is.

Questions to think about as you plan the upcoming year:

What makes you happy?

What growth have you seen in your writing over the past twelve months?

How did your progress exceed your expectations?

Where did you fall short?

Why did the shortfalls happen, and how can you avoid them in the future?

How did your goals and expectations evolve and change over the course of the year?

What new and different direction did you try in your writing this year?  Were you happy with the outcome?

What new direction do you want to try next year?

What direction do you want to explore more deeply?

What direction do you want to leave behind, at least for the moment?

What did you decide no longer served your writing life, and how did you remove it?  Was that the right choice for now, or do you miss it?

How do you want to reframe your commitment to writing over the next year?

What new non-writing experience do you want to add to your life in the coming months?

Looking ahead, what do you want to achieve in your writing over the next year?  Remember, you cannot control when something is PUBLISHED, unless you self-publish.  You can only control what you complete and submit.  Keep it in terms of what’s in YOUR jurisdiction.
List your goals, and three steps you commit to take in order to achieve them.

List three dreams you have for your life, including your writing or separate from it.  How do they feed into your goals, and how are they different?  What steps will you take to start turning the dreams into reality?

List three resolutions that you make for yourself, regarding your life as a whole.

We’ll check back in on January 1, 2013 to compare notes!


  1. A year of change for us both! Onwards and upwards. Here’s my wrap-up for my last writing year…

    What were my GOALS for 2011/12?
    PRIORITY 1: To Get All Outstanding Long Fiction Out On Submission – achieved
    PRIORITY 2: To Publish The 5 Chapbooks Currently In Production – not achieved
    PRIORITY 3: To Market My Name As A “Brand” Worth Investing In – achieved
    PRIORITY 4: To Write A New Novel – not achieved
    PRIORITY 5: To Increase My Visibility In The Scottish Literary Scene – achieved
    PRIORITY 6: To Read 42 Novels – not achieved

    What were my DREAMS for 2011/12?
    To Have A Novel Published – achieved
    To Move House – not achieved

    What were my RESOLUTIONS for 2011/12?
    Never made either.

    Last year’s highlights

    Completed BACCARA BURNING; now ready for publication.
    Completed LIVING LEITH; now ready for publication.
    47 Edinburgh Book Festival articles written garnering a lot of publicity and networking opportunities.
    Blogged from the West Port Book Festival.
    Blogged from Portobello Book Festival.
    Kept up the Man in the East gig reviews.

    Published illustrated SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE in December.
    Published crime novel, SLICK, in January.
    Published crime novella, GREENER IS THE GRASS, in May.
    Haiku selection published in book and displayed in a gallery for the Trees for Life charity exhibition.
    Haiku published by Every Day Poets.

    Savvy Authors Course: Advanced Dialogue Workshop.
    Publishing advice forum with Allan Guthrie (Jenny Brown Associates/Blasted Heath) Francis Bickmore (Canongate).

    Re-release POOLSIDE POETRY with new front cover.
    Attended Alistair Darling book launch.
    Attended first few Edinburgh Literary Salon events.
    Apple iMac installed, setup and running fine.
    Kept Ranfurly Review running and publishing on schedule.
    Met with Allan Guthrie.
    Rebranded myself: new crime/paranormal site. [] and new poetry site under pseudonym, Chas Stramash [].
    Sales of print editions on all poetry books up 300% since the Chas Stramash relaunch.
    Advice from Elspeth Murray on working kids poetry workshop development.
    Attended Trees for Life Charity exhibition opening night at Out of the Blue Drill Hall.
    Attended Marie Curie charity night.
    Attended RSA Annual Exhibition in the National Gallery.
    Won the grand prize at Trees for Life charity raffle: signed ltd. edition print by Trevor Jones.
    Had a tree planted (along with the other artists) in a new Caledonian forest grove .
    Became Patron and visited the SKY Project in Kilmarnock for poetry evening/workshop.
    Took kids poetry workshop at the Out of School club in Loanhead
    Requested to provide feedback over Story Shop bias to Edinburgh City of Literature.
    Met, and got pissed, with Keith Armstrong, England’s top poet!
    Met (several times) and got pissed, with top non-fiction author and academic, JF Derry.
    Initial tester stock of SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE sold out at the Edinburgh Bookshop with great feedback. More stock on order.
    Was asked to sign up for a Meet the Author event at Penicuik Arts Festival in September.
    Was asked to give a kids poetry workshop at Penicuik Arts Festival in September.
    Got through 33 books, average 3/month.
    Asked to do several online interviews, one of which included a sketched portrait.

    What writing breakthrough this past year made me the happiest/proudest?

    Breaking through to decent sales and visibility through self-publishing advice received from a top literary agent/publisher in Edinburgh.

    What unexpected writing joys did I discover during the year?
    That I am unable to keep up the high output all of the time – so I’ve learned when it’s best not to write.

    Last year’s lowlights
    Never got time to complete GATECRASH
    Although I completed 3 new full works of fiction, I never made the aim to write a brand new novel
    Never got DAFFODILS out in time for competition
    Only managed 3 out of 6 of annual goals, when if it hadn’t been for the day job adjustment, I would probably have completed 5 out of 6
    1 dream and both resolutions ditched because of job situation
    Left my job

    Looking back, would I have done anything differently?

    No. Regret will get me nowhere.

    What did you find you needed to release, because, as the year progressed, it no longer worked to struggle towards it as a goal?

    Writing the new novel.

    What expectations did I find I needed to let go of?

    Don’t think I did. I do now, though.

    How has writing become more important in your life this past year?

    Writing has become more important because as my life has changed, I’ve realised how much I need it to keep a balanced perspective.

    Where am I now with my writing career overall?

    In a good position. I’ve worked hard and taken some tough advice but it’s paying off. Now I need to capitalise and build forward again. I need to re-rally the troops who think I’ve forgotten about them.

  2. Hot on the heels of this, I thought I’d post my 2012/13 GDR plan of actions. It feels weird being out of sync with this GDR website but it’s working for me this Sep to July thing.



    What are my GOALS for 2012/13?

    – To Complete and Publish GATECRASH
    – To Write and Publish A New Novel
    – To Publish two new chapbooks
    – To Market My Name As A “Brand” Worth Investing In
    – To Read 42 Novels

    What are my DREAMS for 2012/13?

    – To Get a Deal with
    – To have current I.T. contract renewed in November (non-writing and wasn’t sure if it’s a dream or not, but I added anyway. Didn’t feel right to have non-writing as a goal.)

    What are my RESOLUTIONS for 2012/13?

    – To Lose some weight
    – To Learn to drive

  3. Devon, these are excellent questions, that need pondering. I printed them out to give great thought to them. Happy Holidays to you and everyone!

  4. Good afternoon, Devon. Good questions. I, too, just copied and pasted them into my journal and will answer them there. Thanks….I have missed being in your classes….I’m glad you posted the info about this blog.
    blessings, annie…:o )

  5. I’m copying these questions because I need to get back on track with my writing and my writing goals.

  6. […] I’m working on my goals, dreams, and resolutions to post on January […]

  7. […] for the beginning of the year, and working on the new brochure. I’m working on my questions for Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions — and getting some surprising […]

  8. Like nearly everyone else, I have to think, but will post (post Dec. 31) resolutions very soon. I know that I have 3 completed novels to kickstart, so no question about that goal.

    1. Happiness: Recognition for writing, preferably by publication. Animals and birds of all kinds, including those living with me and my family.
    2. Growth in last year: Clearer and quicker plotting and quirkier characters; fewer speech tags.
    3. Expectations exceeded: Hm.
    4. Falling short: Insufficiently pro-active in researching publication venues and submitting docs.
    5. How did shortfalls happen: Always most interested in working on the incomplete projects; poor time budgeting. Rarely opened my “Poets and Writers Magazine.”
    6. Goals and expectations evolving: Looking forward to beginning three sequels to as-yet unpublished novels “The Malice of Ghosts”, “NewWorld,” and “Dead and Gone Dad”; sending out stuff; re-establishing a website.
    7. New and different direction: Practicing flash fiction in Devon’s recent online class.
    8. New and different direction for 2013: More flash fiction and greater attention to short story work. More conferences and networking.
    9. Deeper exploration of new direction: Romantic fiction.
    10. No longer useful: A writing group with limited critical input.
    11. Reframing commitment: Budgeting time more usefully (less TV and online Scrabble).
    12. Non-Writing Experience: First visit to Asia.
    13. Wanting to achieve in writing: The submission of three completed novels; the submission of at least 12 short stories; drafting the three sequels mentioned above.
    14. Steps for novels: Research publications and prior contacts in the publishing industry; prepare query letters; send out into the world. Steps for short stories: ditto. Steps for sequels: organize ideas and characters; write drafts; polish them.
    15. Three resolutions: To keep haywire emotions under better control; to play more; to stay as healthy as possible.

    I hope this is the place to post. Susan

  10. Susan, What a lovely and thoughtful list. POETS & WRITERS is the only writing magazine I read much of anymore, and I’ve even let the subscription lapse to that, although I’ll probably pick it up again in a few months. All the other magazines are geared to beginning writers — there’s really nothing geared to working writers — not the ivory tower lit fic writers, but those of us who are in the trenches every day doing the work. Basically, the same articles with the same advice cycle through every eighteen months or so.

    Time management is always the hardest — knowing how to get the work done and still leave time to play — because play is so important in the creative process.

    It’s fine to be a little out of synch, if that’s what works for you!

  11. It was a great exercise. Don’t usually make resolutions, so thanks for spurring me on. Susan

  12. Hi Eva: Things were deferred as usual, but I made a start on submissions. Three flash fictions (!!) sent to an online mag today and one query for my new barely finished novel “Dead and Gone Dad.” Also subscribed to “Daily Love” and found a prompt writing site, assuming I find time to focus on shorts in the near future. Looking forward to online classes if you’re going that way again soon.
    Feels good to get stuff out, even if the returns are not always cheering. Thanks for the spur. Best, Susan

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