Happy New Year! Where’s Your Map?

“If you don’t have a map to where you’re going how do you know if you’ve arrived at your destination?” 

I just made that up. I’m feeling philosophical today. That doesn’t happen too often, but I’m on vacation, so I’m more relaxed and have a lot more time to think. Today, I’m taking time to reflect on 2012. What did I accomplish? What did I learn? Did I reach my goals?

Did YOU? How much closer are you to being a published author?

Where was my map?

Last year at this time I was researching how to start a blog and why I needed one. I didn’t know terms like post, plugins, site stats, or hashtags. I never thought I’d learn how to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook for Businesses, Pinterest, Goodreads, Writer.li, or how to LIKE an author page. But I did. I learned all this and more.

The crazy thing is that I hadn’t written down one goal. I only knew I wanted to write and build my platform, but I hadn’t documented specific goals. It made me wonder. How much more could I have accomplished if I’d put my goals in writing?

2012 was a frustrating year because for six months I had to help with our two grandchildren. My writing time was limited. I didn’t think I’d accomplished much until I reflected on what I’d done.

What I accomplished in 2012

I started my blog and learned the ins and outs of social media. I wrote two novels, one children’s chapter book, five short stories, numerous articles and attended one writer’s conference. I pitched at least ten agents before signing with Diana Flegal with Harline, submitted a novel to the AMAZON BREAKTHROUGH NOVEL AWARD, submitted story starts to the GENESIS, FRASIER, and FIRST IMPRESSIONS contests and wrote a book proposal for my YA novel, WILLOW. In addition to all of this I joined several new writer’s groups.

Had I achieved my goals?

Some. Several of my articles and short stories were published, but none of my novels sold.

Then I found this quote:

“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”
― Yogi Berra

Had I ended up someplace else or was I where I wanted to be?

As of right now, I am where I want to be. This past year I wasn’t in a hurry to publish a novel, but that will change in 2013. But first, I have to set my goals. Harboring them in my mind isn’t good enough. In order to reach them I need to be accountable to someone besides myself. One of my goals is to publish a novel, but how will I get there? What are the specific steps I need to take to accomplish this task?

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” ― Paulo CoelhoThe Devil and Miss Prym

What if I’d made definitive goals last year?  Would that have changed my results?

No, because something else was holding me back. It still is.

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”― Robert H. Schuller

FEAR and self-doubt were holding me back from making specific goals last year. I was afraid of becoming a published author–afraid people would read my words and NOT like them. Would readers criticize my stories and laugh at them? What if I couldn’t make deadlines and be available for my family, or what if writing became more work and less fun?


Would I let it hold me back this year?
No, but in order to conquer my fears I have to cop a new attitude.  


New Attitude
Maybe admitting I’m afraid is the first step toward setting goals and reaching them. I have to accept that some people won’t like my book. Some people might laugh at the dramatic parts. And maybe there will be times when I’m not available for my family, but they’ll figure out how to get along without me. Maybe it’ll make them stronger. And if writing becomes less fun then I’ll have to set new goals.
What are your fears?
Napolean Bonaparte said, “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” I don’t want to be that person, do you? Besides, if I set goals and don’t reach them, I’m not a failure. Neither are you.


This year I’m casting fear aside and showing him my teeth. I’m taking time to set goals. I’ll write them down and share them with Robin, a critique buddy and my blog partner. What about you? Will you join me?
Here’s how: 
  1. Be specific. Make them measurable.
  2. Be realistic. If you plan on taking the summer off, or caring for grandchildren or an elderly parent, don’t stress about writing when you can’t.
  3. Be generous about making time to mentor others–or something you do to give back.
  4. Allow time for family and vacations.
  5. Share your goals with someone else who cares about you.
  6. Reward yourself.
The “BE SPECIFIC” part is a multi-faceted task. Start with the end goal and work your way back to a more narrower focus, such as month-by-month, week-by-week, until you arrive  at a daily goal. You’ll probably have multiple goals. Break each one apart to its smallest form.


Here’s one RANDOM example:


Goal: Write a 70,000 word novel in 2013.
             BREAK IT DOWN:
  • Monthly:  Write 10,000 words a month. From August – December edit 20,000 words a month.
  • Weekly:  Write 2,000 words a week. From August until December edit 4,000 words a week.
  • Daily:  Write Monday – Friday 400 words a day. From August – December edit 800 words a day.

You decide your goals. Make them personal but share them. WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? 

Remember this:  “Failures do what is tension-relieving, while winners do what is goal-achieving.”  Dennis Waitley


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  1. Great advice, Michelle. Before I go to bed tonight, I’m laying out my road map.
    May this be the year your novel is published!

  2. Thanks, Pat! Do you use a specific lay-out for your goals? A timeline of sorts? I’m always curious about what works for other writers.


  3. I think you’ve accomplished an amazing amount–and solid consistent success isn’t far away.
    Keep it up. And you’re producing a great blog!

    • Happy New Year Delores!
      I appreciate your encouragement! I hope you reach all your goals in 2013!

  4. Robin says:

    Love this post, Michelle. I’m honored to be your critique and accountability partner and hope that this year we can both accomplish more than we’ve ever dreamed.

    • Happy New Year, Robin!
      I’m confident we’ll accomplish great things this year. Lean on me and I’ll be your cheerleader. Hugs!

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