How my writing goals for the coming year might help you too
I know, I’m late to the “setting your goals for 2019” party, but I’ve been under the weather since New Year’s… Anyway: Happy New Year Y’all!
2018 has been a great year for me and my writing. Both creatively and in terms of growth.
I’ve published 12 short stories, 60+ blog posts, started working on a novel and published a paperback collection of my short stories. Consistently writing every day, even when I have a regular job, paid off.
In terms of growth, I’m happy too. I’ve reached about 80,000 people with my work via Medium and my own blog. Mind you, 90+ % stems from Medium.
December 2018 was my best month ever in terms of the number of people that came across my work (almost 25,000) and my earnings on Medium have more than doubled. And I’ve only published 7 articles in December.
I want to say something about this because I come across the advice to publish as many articles on Medium as possible to grow your audience or level of income. I respect this strategy, and I get that it can work but it’s just not for me.
I have many things to say, but I know for a fact that I’ll overwhelm myself if I strain myself to hit publish every day. Next to that, I don’t think most of the articles will really provide value. I reviewed the book ‘Perennial Seller’ before, and it’s true, if you strive to produce your best piece every time and take your time, they can become perennial.
Most of the daily views, reads and claps come from articles I’ve written months ago. I’m not sure if that means they’re read because of the content, but it would seem a logical conclusion.
Therefore, one of my goals is to keep providing quality articles every month, but I won’t increase the number of posts I put out.
Anyway, on to the goals for the year. I’m sure you thought about what you wanted to achieve with your writing this year too. I hope that by reading about my goals and the reasoning behind them, you can set yourself up to set ambitious goals for yourself too.
Goal #1: Keep Learning About Writing
I’m almost 1,5 years in writing publicly. By that I mean I’ve been sharing my work since then. One of the most important goals you can set yourself is to keep learning about your craft. I believe that one is never finished learning. Even if you’ll write New York Times bestsellers, there’s always room for improvement.
Who knows if I ever make that list. It would be great, but ever since I’ve started I’ve noticed that the learning curve keeps going up. I can honestly say that I’ve become better at crafting stories, building plot, creating characters and using the English language.
One of the things that help me is to read a lot. I’ve said it before: study the greats. You don’t have to imitate them, but you can learn a great deal from the best writers out there. And if they share their wisdom about writing, listen. I’ve dissected lessons on writing by Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Anne Lamott. These articles are some of my most read posts! And I’ll continue doing this for other writers too. I love sharing what I picked up on and offering it in actionable lessons.
If you have any requests in terms of authors I should dive into, let me know in the comments!
I won’t stop at just lessons on writing. I think lessons on creativity and art are just as meaningful. Like I did with Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity or Paulo Coelho on following your dream to create.
I believe it’s important that you invest in yourself and in your craft. You don’t have to spend money on it either. There is a ton of information accessible for free. Read medium posts on writing by following the Writing tag or following a publication like The Writing Cooperative. I kindly invite you to follow me and keep up with my own articles on writing.
Head over to Youtube and type “writing course”, thank me later. Golden tip: Brandon Sanderson’s 12-hour lectures on the craft, I mean WOW his course is powerful!
Here’s lecture 1:
I also intend on learning more about earning money as a writer. To take advice from authors like Anthony Moore, who makes it his life’s mission to help writers earn money. I’ve applied many of his tips successfully. He’s great!
Therefore I’ll invest more of my time to not only provide the best work I can possibly put out, but also to learn (and apply) more about growing my email list and social media presence.
Dream big. Invest in your craft and your own growth. If you really want it, put in the work. Do your research, read books, take courses. Not only in terms of writing, but also in terms of marketing and growth. You are the only person who can do this! Write down what you want to achieve this year.
Goal #2: Keep Producing Non-fiction Work
Like I did in 2018, I want to keep sharing what I learn about writing. Both in terms of the craft but also in terms of being a writer and finding your way to get your head above the herd in 2019.
I’ll continue sharing the lessons I’ve learned in this new world of writing. I’ll also strive to read more books and share the insights from other and combine them with my own observations. I’ve found my ‘subject’s’ so to say. Whereas a year ago I had no clue what to write about on Medium besides posting my short stories, I now have something (hopefully) interesting to share to help you on your path.
Last year I dedicated a 13-part series of posts on ‘How to Side Hustle Your Writing Career’ on many different aspects of the writing trade as I’ve perceived it.
This winter, I’d like to start a new series about how to write short stories. Or at least how I do it. I know I’ve still a lot to learn, but what I know NOW would have been great to know at the start of all of this 1,5 years ago. I hope I can help aspiring and beginning writers with my tips. And of course, I will combine my tips with advice and feedback I’ve stumbled upon from other writers too.
I’ve got a list full of ideas that will allow me to publish 8 stories every month for two full years! I’ll aim to publish 6–8 posts per month. As I said in the introduction, I don’t want to overbear and hit publish every day. At least, not for now. Never say never, right?
Goal #3: Keep Producing Fiction Work
My main goal this year is to finish my first novel. This is the heartbeat of my writing. It’s the thing I enjoy doing the most at the moment. It’s hard work and difficult at times, but sitting down every morning and see where the story leads is wonderful. I type and I type until I have a first rough draft. To hell with consistency, spelling, grammar or lousy prose. Sculpting and perfecting comes later!
I have read a lot about how successful writers structure and write their novels and I’ve been using techniques from different writers. I structurally plot the book in table form (a trick I borrowed from J.K. Rowling) and as I said I cram down 500–1,000 words on paper (almost) every day (as suggested by Stephen King).
I’ve experienced this to be a powerful goal. To write 500–1,000 words every day. Usually before work, early in the morning. The progress I’ve made is insane and I’ve done it all before I “really” begin my day. Try it 😃
If all goes to plan I want to finish the first draft by the end of June. If I’ll opt to self-publish, I’m aiming to publish it in November. There I said it. Yikes.
Then, the dream is that the book will land in the hands of as many readers as possible. That’s the real challenge.
I feel I need to do something different and daring. Amazon Kindle publishing is great, but I feel it’s too crowded. Sure, I’ll keep building relationships with more readers, but I’m aiming not for hundreds of readers, but preferably thousands (OK, if I admit it millions, it doesn’t make sense to limit my dreams 😉).
I might try to get an agent and try the traditional route and send my book to multiple publishers. I’m not sure.
I have a Kickstarter-esque idea I’d like to try out or use something like Patreon. Time will tell.
Short Story Writing
I will continue dropping one short story every month if I can. At least until the end of 2019. I just enjoy writing them so much. It’s a great way to become better at writing, explore ideas, and just play. I’ve written about the reasons why you should write short stories and I still stand by them.
Then, at the end of next year, I will publish a second collection of short stories. I already thought of a title. Check out my first one here.
Goal #4: Keep Growing My Audience
In 2018 I’ve had 80,000+ views/visits on my website and Medium blog combined. I’m really grateful for that. This is excluding the number of views on external sites who published some of my short stories or my work on Thrive Global.
This year, I’ll try to reach 250,000 people. I know ambitious, but that’s the point of this article.
In order to achieve this, I’ll continue my Medium strategy, build more relationships with other writers and readers alike. I hope to grow my social media following too. Plus I will continue to approach blogs, publishers and other writers. Because sometimes you make a connection and this may result in an extra push in growth.
Early December, Paulo Coelho posted my article on his Facebook page 😱. This resulted in almost 20% of my views of 2018! Crazy and so cool that he took notice of my article. I still can’t believe it!
My goal is to try to earn more than a ‘side hustle income’ which I’m doing now (read more about how I do that here). I’m working on a course about writing to launch in about 6 months and publishing more eBooks. Next to that, I plan to strategically grow my following and earnings on Medium. At the end of the year, I hope to successfully launch my first Kickstarter-like book launch for my first novel. Fingers crossed.
On that note, I’ve noticed that a lot of people reach my own site by searching for answers to questions like ‘how to write a short story’, ‘generating short story idea’s’, ‘how to structure a short story’, and the like.
It got me thinking, I’ve learned and documented a lot about this. I once started out with no clue how to write a short story either, until I did because I was willing to learn.
Perhaps I can make it easier for people starting out by assembling all the tips, tricks, and other information into a course! I’ve always wanted to build one.
So there you have it! These are my writing goals for the coming years. I hope you’ve found at least one nugget that might be of use to you.
Make sure to make the goals ambitious and exciting. You should be a bit scared. But if you put in the work, you might just reach them!