SWAGr – Monthly Writing Goals & Check In

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What People Are Saying About StoryADay May 2014

Welcome to the first meeting of our monthly Serious Writers Accountability Group (Acronym: SWAGr, because every insecure writer needs a little swagger, don’t you think?)

Writing is a lonely business and, as StoryADay May proves year after year, there’s nothing quite like peer pressure for helping you meet your goals.

Every month I encourage you to come here, leave a comment and tell us what your goals are for this month. Then, next month, check in, tell us how you did and what you’re going to do in the following four weeks. (It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Examples of Goals

  • “I’m going to write every morning from 6-7 AM.”
  • “I’ll write 250 words a day, minimum.”
  • “I’ll write 10,000 (fiction) words this month.”
  • “I’ll write one full story and revise another.”
  • “I’ll write four stories and submit one story to a publication.”
  • “I’ll outline that presentation I’ve been putting off working on, and create half of the slides.”
  • “I’ll track my time and see what’s getting in the way of my writing.”
  • “I’ll keep a journal to track my resistance to getting the work done.”

 So, what will you do this month? Leave your comment below:

(Next check-in, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Tell your friends. )

45 thoughts on “SWAGr – Monthly Writing Goals & Check In”

  1. Here’s a quick mid-month check-in: thanks to this challenge (and the fact that I’ll have to ‘own up’ next month!!) I’m off to a cracking start: 7K words of my 10K written. If i write between 7&800 words a day I’ll meet my goal by July 1. Woo-hoo!

  2. 1- I’m going to start to write a fic based on the story of “God Please Give Me One More Chance”.
    2- I’ll start to draw the comic I’ve been planning on drawing since a year ago.

  3. Julie,
    Many thanks for all the prompts through May, now for the difficult bit carrying it on!
    I don’t think I’ll achieve too much this month, I am just recovering from an eye operation a couple of days ago, so difficult to read or write much for a while. Still I’ll list out my objectives and see how it goes.
    1. I have a number of unfinished stories from my May output that I want to finish. One in particular I want to convert into a ‘revenge’ story for a writing group anthology, but haven’t got much time to do this one.
    2. I found a competition to enter one of my stories in; a subverted Fairy Tale, so I am trying to complete my Twisted Cinders excerpt that I wrote during our May extravaganza to submit.
    3. I have a half finished novel that I started about seven years ago, but have left for the last two or three years. I have re-written the first chapter and am looking to re-write the remainder as my writing style and proficiency has developed over this period of time. My intention is to finish the novel, but the immediate goal is to re-write the second chapter, ideally this month, but it may be next month.

    1. Thanks Malcolm!

      These sound like great goals, with tangible deadlines.

      It’s funny: every year after StoryADay May I’m moved to get back to novel writing. Doesn’t the prospect of working on the *same* story for a while seem so much more enticing after coming up with 31 different ones? 🙂

      I feel the same way about my writing style too. The more you write, the more interesting it gets!

  4. I’m trying to be realistic here.
    I’m going to revise a story I wrote for
    Story a Day and expand it from a flash fiction piece to a short story, then look for an opportunity to publish.

  5. I am needing to get rid of the day job thing and really really really get serious about the writing. I have too many things on my plate so my first goal for June is to par down my goals to manageable and realistic goals for writing.

    1. Revise and polish a PB manuscript for contest submission ( due by July 1)
    2. Write 250 words a day on ebook
    3 Actively look for freelance gigs daily.

    Stay tuned for progress.

    1. That sounds like a lot!

      One word of caution on getting rid of the day job though: I’m a stay at home mom and my kids are in school now, so theoretically I have ‘got rid of my day job’. But being less busy means there’s more time for fretting and wallowing in self-pity. And fewer deadlines. I’m not saying it’s not nice to have more time for writing, but it’s not all sunshine and roses and you should be prepared for that. I STILL get more writing done on days when I have to squeeze it in, than on other days. (Then again, if you day job is brain-taxing, I can see that getting rid of it might be the way to go!)

      That sounds like quite a lot you’ve set yourself there. Good luck!

  6. I did really bad at StADa this year, but in the last month I’ve moved away from the pressure to write and just plotted. I’m writing a mystery/thriller where the clues are crucial and I’ve realized that I’m blocked writing it because I don’t really know what happens next, which all needs to link to the grand unveiling at the end. SO – my goal is to finish the plotting. I’m scared that too much outlining will ruin it for me, so using Larry Brooks’ method I just want to get my plot points and a full understanding of the clues that need to be found. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve been trying to write this novel for 5 years! I’m really confident that if I can finalize the plot in my head, I can finish writing it. Good luck everybody!

    1. Oh, this sounds so familiar. I’ve got a novel I started in 2010 that I love, but keep putting aside because I don’t know how to ‘solve’ the mystery convincingly and there are so many other shiny things to write. Must dig out my Larry Brooks book. He makes it sound so simple 😉

      Also: I have a friend who used the first-ever StoryADay as simply an outlining exercise for children’s picture books she wanted to write. Guess what? Her first book (published by a Big Five publisher) comes out next year!

      Keep doing the work and good things can happen!

  7. I’m terrible at setting writing goals because I don’t seem to do well at meeting them. But here’s what I’d like to accomplish in the next month:

    1. To finish three short stories: I started two of these many, many months ago and I’d like to complete them. I came up with an idea for a new story (and it’s a Western, which I have been eager to finally write for a long time) and did a little writing on in this week, so I’d like to finish that too.

    2. To finish a commissioned blog and to revise another: More than a year ago, a friend asked me to write a blog related to a nonfiction baseball book I wrote. A few months ago, a new writer friend asked me to contribute to his magazine. For one of my StoryADay pieces, I wrote that latter piece and I wanted to revise it and submit it to him. For the former, I’d like to at least put together a solid draft.

    3. I have strong ideas for four new poems, with one being a German sonnet. I’d like to complete the half-finished sonnet and to compose drafts for the other three poems.

    4. I’d like to finish editing (well, proofreading really) a collection of my great-grandmother’s writings and then work on firming up the layout of the manuscript to self-publish the book for family and perhaps people who knew her when she was a teacher.

    5. I’d like to revise at least one of my StoryADay stories to the point where I feel comfortable enough submitting it to a few places for potential publication. I’ve submitted and published poetry before, but I’ve never really done this with fiction. In fact, I’ve never attempt to revise any fiction I’ve written (well, that’s not really true, but I think any efforts I have made have been weak), but I feel like I need to make this a top priority in terms of trying to learn how to do it.

    Is this too ambitious? Probably. But maybe it will get me going in a good direction. I’d certainly like to read more than I do (which is hard because I’m a professional editor and sometimes struggle to read for pleasure), but I need to do something about my focus issues. It would, though, be grand if I could gain some other things in my life that might ease all the clutter in my head.

    1. I used to be terrible at meeting goals too. Still am sometimes, but I’ve found that setting the bar low is the way to go for me. As I mentioned above, my goals is to write an average of 333 words a day all month. I log the words in a Google spreadsheet with conditional formatting so that the cells turn green if I meet my goal, red if I don’t (instant gold star!). It’s amazing how much I enjoy this game. I also enjoy the fact that half way through the month, all I have to do is a couple of big pushes to catch up and keep my goal attainable, no matter how ‘bad’ I’ve been the rest of the month.

      I would highly recommend scaling back your goals this first month. Focus on the commissioned blog piece (because that promises to provide feedback and validation and all that kind of ego-boosting stuff) and at most complete one of your fiction/poetry projects and write one other if you need the thrill of something new. Any more than that is setting yourself up for failure. Why not set yourself up for success instead? If you manage more than the three things I’ve mentioned, you’ll feel awesome because you surpassed your goal.

      I know, it’s mental trickery, but it works. There’s all kinds of literature on the psychology and physiology of rewards (dopamine FTW!). Set yourself up for small successes. You’ll probably end up doing the same amount of work, but FEELING different about it.

      Worth a try?

      1. I’m not sure why I didn’t receive a notification about your comment, Julie, but I think you were quite right. I haven’t done a thing in the last month (aside from some poetry, which really doesn’t count for me). I’m afraid I just don’t have the mental focus for writing or editing or much of anything else right now.

        1. Maybe it was the Storyaday hangover!

          It’s so easy to lose focus. I hope you’ll set yourself a modest goal next month and see if the group can motivate you to keep plugging along!

  8. Hello everyone, my name is Lori and here are my goals for the month:

    1. Finish the 2nd draft of a short story
    2. Write at least 2 poems a week
    3. Write one story a week

    Curious, is the month running from June 11 to July 10 or from June 1 to June 30? Or?

    1. I’m going to post check-ins on the second Wednesday of each month, so goals will have to have a little flex to allow for the astronomical anomalies our dating system.

  9. Ah, yeah…okay.
    Step 1. Establish a schedule – a simple schedule and stick to it. I really can’t commit to anything else until I find at least one end of the rope puzzle.
    The schedule needs to have a flexible section for the tending that other part-time job: my home and family plus at least 30 minutes a day walking the dog so I can remember there is actually a world out there to be enjoyed.
    And it needs a inflexible section that can go anywhere but must go somewhere each day for writing 500 words of ANYTHING….and 30 minutes of omnivorous reading that isn’t just before I go to bed because I know I can’t read for 5 minutes by that time of night.
    Step 2….well, if I can manage to get Step 1 roughed out, at least over the next 30 days I think Step 2 will be a few minutes of Happy Dance. And then I’ll think about Step 3…

    thanks for this, Julie. I needed a place to empty my pockets, poke through the loose change and pick out the loonies…yes, I’m a Canuck, why do you ask?


    1. Aha, I just ran across a “two-nie” (is that right?) from my last trip across the border…

      You sound like me. I need routine, but resist it. I have found that writing first (rather than trying to clear the decks) is the only way to go. It energizes me for the rest of the mundane tasks of the day.

      Also, getting out into the world is invaluable for a writer. Also the reading. I’m trying to get more exercise in, so I’m taking my headphones everywhere and using my Audible subscription to its fullest.

      Let me know what you come up with!

  10. First: Locate my fiction files (scattered amongst various PC back-ups through the last several years).
    Second: Dust off and organize fiction files on new desktop.
    Third: Open a file and see what happens.

    1. Hey, that is the first step.

      I’m constantly struggling with organization. Currently I’m using Evernote of to corral my handwritten notes (all hail the camera phone), and trying to learn Scrivener for longer and related projects.

      Maybe you can do step 3 first and then move on to 1-2?

      1. I love Evernote!

        I use it instead of bookmarks when I’m cruising the internet and I can actually find stuff again. Can’t say enough good things about it. It does everything they say it does.

        1. It took me ages to figure out how to make Evernote work *for me*. Then I followed a tutorial on how someone was using it just the way you mention. I tried that one thing, then after that started to find all kinds of other ways I wanted to use it. The more stories I write, the more confused I get… 😉

          Maybe I need to return the favor and write a tutorial on how I use Evernote these days. Maybe you should too, Michal!

      2. Thanks, Julie — Already found my files (Word) and they’re on my desktop now. Opened all of them, saw some things I liked, and worked on one story line. So, I guess I’ve managed all three 🙂 I’m one of those people who needs very small goals just out of the starting gate! My next two steps:
        Four: Dust off Dragon Speaking Naturally and use it to start new file of setting components for a YA book
        Five: Start new file of character profiles for YA book

        1. Oo, I had the full version of Dragon Naturally Speaking years and years ago. I trained it to understand my accent but found that part more fun than actually using it 🙂 I guess I’m an old-fashioned writer at heart.

          Still, there are times when I wish the stupid app version was a bit more adaptive. My accent really foxes it and there’s no point trying to put on a fake American accent and then try to express myself naturally.

          But anyway, character profiles. Fun. How much do you start with? Do you keep adding to those profiles as you ‘discover’ things while writing?

          I’m with you on the small goals. My goal is 10,000 words this month, but that works out to 333 words a day. So if I, for example miss the first 17 days of the month (not that I did, of course, oh no), I can still have a hope of making my goal without feeling overwhelmed every day.

          1. Julie, I find myself adding to character profiles as ideas pop up. Ditto for plot and setting elements. I’ve been working on my two main characters and researching setting elements.
            Have not revisited Dragon. The very latest version should allow me to use my voice to conduct research and test OneNote (since it’s part of my Office suite) and EverNote, as well as “write out loud.” This would be a very major change indeed, embedded as my brain seems to be with my keyboard. 😉 Perhaps that is what fuels my procrastination on this task — knowing it will be time-consuming.
            I’d enjoy your tutorial on EverNote. Please let me know when it’s ready for some user testing!

  11. Hi Julie & others –

    My goal is to write 500 words daily, and to finish one story draft each month.

    Enough excuses from me already.

  12. Hello! (shakes dust off, as she has been under a rock for oh…an innumerable number of months)

    Goals. That’s what I need and this is a great place to set them, yeah?

    1. I would like to say that I will write at least one flash fiction piece per week (which is dandy, since I offer prompts on one of my blogs), so let’s start there.

    2. I have a WIP that I am dedicated to and so far have been writing every day. I would like to keep that momentum so my second goal is to write at least three pages daily until finished (I do these sorts of projects with mechanical pencil in a notebook/journal–hence the page goal).

  13. I will be editing my first draft of my Misty Falls story this month… that means at least 2 hours a day working on that. It may not be all at one time, if fact it probably won’t be, but I will get the time in during each day.

    I’d also like to keep the writing prompts up, I really enjoy doing that, so every Wednesday I will post a new story on my blog. (http://chaundralyn.wordpress.com)

  14. I’m Michal
    I”m already doing a challenge- Page a Day for the month of June with Spiritual writers Network. It’s going okay. I have 9 pages in 11 days. I don’t write on Saturdays, so I’m doing fine. I”m doing memoir and I’m writing about mother, mothers, motherhood. Lots to say on the topic!

  15. Hi Everybody!

    My goals are:

    1. Write 4,000 words towards finishing my current WIP (I’m so close!).

    2. Write 1 blog post a week.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for every one!



    1. Excellent. That seems like something that will be a, doable and b, keep you coming back to your writing throughout the whole month. See you here next month!

  16. Hullo friends! I’m starting small and working my way up. My goal for the month is to complete a draft of a story. My weekly goal, however, is to write at least one hour a day from Monday through Friday. (If I’m feeling the momentum, here come the weekend!)

    Looking forward to this community and holding myself more accountable for my writing.

    1. Hi Ashley,
      That sounds like a great goal. I’m a fan of setting the bar at a reasonable level so I can work on the “consistency” part! Good luck!

  17. [Clears throat. Taps microphone…]

    Hi, I’m Julie and I’m going to commit to

    1. Writing 10,000 words of fiction in the next month. It’s going to be tough because school kicks out tomorrow and my kids will be rampaging around (or at least whining to get on the computer], but I think I can do it.
    2. Reading a short story every day. It really helps on the inspiration front.

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