Have you ever stood at the edge of a road, holding the hand of a small child, getting ready to cross the road safely? You glance up the street. You look back down the other way. You take notice of the cars and the traffic lights and when all is clear and safe and your small person is ready, you head towards your destination.
Goal setting for writers can be a bit like that. You generally know the direction you are headed; you need this or that manuscript to be researched/written/edited/revised/submitted and so forth. But pinpointing the goals into language and tasks that make them manageable and successful can be a little tricky. Sometimes the oncoming traffic of our to-do list feels overwhelming, or the rejection truck swerves closer than we would like, tipping us off balance. Occasionally we can even find ourselves standing still, lost and unsure of the direction we should be heading and why.
Because of this, it can be helpful to slow down and carefully navigate our way forwards in regards to our writing goals. Here are four directions we need to look in order to prioritise our writing goals for 2020:
Looking back is remembering our writing dreams and reflecting on the progress we’re made so far. We can celebrate our writing achievements and be kind with our disappointments. Even a rejection can indicate progress if it means we’re putting in the hard work and growing as writers! Looking back allows us to deliberately build on last year’s progress and provides powerful motivation for our new year’s writing goals.
Looking ahead as a writer means thinking strategically about what we’d like, or need, to achieve in the New Year (and beyond). It means realistically considering what might be achievable (for example: write a children’s devotional, or complete my middle grade novel), but it can also mean allowing yourself to dream. This is especially important if you’ve had a tough year writing wise.
Looking ahead allows us to create goals that move our writing forwards.
Looking down means checking what’s already on our writing desks. Literally, this may mean doing a clean-up. Clear your physical and mental space for new projects. Sort the paperwork, tidy your desk, flick through your ideas notebook and choose the fun ones you’d like to work on this year. Looking down also means checking the status of your works-in-progress. It ensures us there’s nothing in our way to trip us up as we step out to achieve our writing goals.
Looking up means reminding ourselves of God’s perspective. It’s so easy to get swept away in the try-harder mentality, or to be discouraged because our writing dreams haven’t turned out as we might have liked. But when we remember Christ and the extent of his humility and love (Philippians 2: 5-11) it reminds us that our writing is but a small thing in the scope of God’s glory. Our task is obedience. Walking humbly in step with the Spirit of God, we write as an expression of worship.
So as you step onto the curb of the New Year, don’t forget to look ahead, look back, look down and look up as you journey through goal setting for your writing in 2020.
Which direction do you find easiest to consider when setting new goals? Which one makes the most impact in your planning? Leave a comment below.
Invitation: If you’d like to spend some more time reflecting on your writing priorities and goals for the New Year, why not join the Summer Writer’s Refresh Facebook Group? It’s a January 2020 challenge for writers of any stage and genre, to celebrate, reassess and reflect on their writing. Join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/summerwritersrefresh/
Penny Reeve is the award-winning author of more than 20 books for children and older readers. She lives in Sydney, Australia and writes picture books, junior fiction, children’s Bible Studies and young adult fiction (she also writes as Penny Jaye). Penny is also a writing workshop leader, conference presenter and writing coach with a particular interest in equipping children’s book writers. For more information visit www.pennyreeve.com or follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pennyreevethepennydrops/