I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do like goals. There is something about having a measurable outcome that I find enormously appealing, particularly when it comes to writing.

It’s what I like about Nanowrimo or Story A Day May — there’s a structure, there’s a goal, and I know if I have been successful at meeting it. Perhaps there is something in writing, itself inherently amorphous, that makes me want some very concrete target. The vague commitment ‘to write’ each day is insufficient (how long, how much, when, where, oh god why). I’ve come to a place where I am either working on short stories or working on a novel. Short stories are perfect for short term goals — reasonable word counts, the proliferation of possible looming submission deadlines. Novels spread out, they occupy all possible time and space. Last year (pretty much the whole year) was a novel writing year. (And I wrote one, I’m currently giving it a little bit of distance before I return my attention to it.) And it was satisfying. It wasn’t just a novel — it was the first book in a series. I also wrote a novella-ish length story for the series and did a lot of background on the series and characters. Which was all great, but I didn’t publish any short stories as a result, my time was elsewhere.

So, this year — at least the first few months of this year — is a short story year. I have a list of seven looming deadlines in the next three months. The first is January 16th and the story is almost done (well, with editing to come…).

To keep me focused, I printed out a copy of Karen Kavett’s Don’t Break the Chain calendar so I can x off the days once I have done a sufficient amount of writing (at least an hour). And I continue to set monthly goals and report on them on Story A Day’s monthly accountability post (which is working wonders).

Okay. Now I need to go and work on that almost-finished story.

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