In August 2013, I signed up for Misha and Beth’s 5 year project. The idea was to set yourself a writing goal and then stick with it for 5 years until you achieved your aim. In my case, my goal was to get a novel finished and published.
3 years and 4 months later and I have:
Achieved the first part of my goal. Yes, my novel is written. It’s called The Reluctant Scribe and is a historical novel set in the Tang Dynasty, 7th century China. I’ve had feedback from various people, including a professor of literature, and it has all been positive.
Failed miserably (so far) in the second half of my goal, the get it published part. I’ve approached 19 agents, had 1 request for a full manuscript, and 13 rejections.
Back in 2013, I wrote an excellent blog post on the subject of SMART goals, and how they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. You can read that post here: A Five Year Writing Project.
The achievable part of being SMART involves asking yourself the question, ‘Can I achieve this myself, or is it dependent on the actions of others?’
Of course, getting an agent requires me to actually submit my manuscript to agents. In the 20 months since I finished the novel, I’ve only managed to submit to 19 agents! Yes, I could have done better.
But, getting the novel accepted by an agent depends on the actions of another person. In this case, the agent. All I can do is make my submission package as enticing as possible. And, yes, I’ve rewritten that submission letter – and those first three chapters – many times.
Maybe my novel isn’t very good? Maybe the genre and the era don’t appeal as commercial propositions? Maybe I’m too old for an agent to invest in? I don’t know.
So, for 2017, I have set myself some minor goals. Sub-goals.
- Submit to another 11 agents = 30 submissions in total, before giving up.
- If no joy after 30 submissions, I’ll buy some professional editing and self-publish.
The year 2016 hasn’t all been about trying to get The Reluctant Scribe published. I’ve been busy.
- I’ve independently published a book on Walking the English Coast.
- I’ve published a booklet of short stories, The Shed.
- I’ve had several articles commissioned and published in magazines, including a major piece in Countryfile Magazine: Find your own adventure.
- I’ve written 30 short stories during NaNoWriMo.
- I’ve had a couple of blog posts published on prestigious websites, including on Writers & Artists: Top NaNoWriMo Tips.
And… in 2016 I’ve walked 1,430 miles, including 700 miles along the coast, all written up on my coastalwalker.co.uk blog.
What will 2017 bring?
I have, as always, far too many potential projects in the pipeline. Here, in order of priority, are the writing goals I want to achieve in 2017:
- Finish and submit my new sci-fi novel, The Orbital Contract.
- Edit and submit my 30 short stories to relevant competitions.
- Finish, edit and independently publish my book on Preventing Blisters.
- Write and publish a short account of Walking Around Anglesey.
- Begin work on novel number 3 – either a second Tang novel, or a follow-up to my sci-fi one, depending on interest from agents.
How is everybody else? Did you achieve much in 2016? And what are your writing plans for 2017? I would, as always, love to hear from you in the comments section below.