Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Goal Setting

on April 22, 2014

In the last year, I’ve revised and written another draft of my memoir, KIDS IN ORANGE, as well as revised a middle grade novel, GRANDDAD’S TOYS which is now currently on submission. I’ve written and had published two sweet, contemporary romance novellas (HALLOWEEN LOVE FORTUNE and NEW YEAR HEART SONG), and I’ve written and submitted a sweet, contemporary romance short story to Musa Publishing for their upcoming new ezine, Love Notes.

Although Books To Go Now wanted more novellas in my Elmheart Series and this motivated me to keep writing on that series for a two-year period until all six were complete, I am not a writer who, at this time, is under a contract to write more books in a series or line for a publisher by a specific deadline. So, how do I remain productive in my writing output?

Goal setting!

Goals should have two elements– something to measure and an element of time. For example, by the end of the week, I will write 5,000 words on my new sweet, contemporary romance novel.  In order to get to those 5,000 words, each day I will write 1,000 words, and for me, when I am fast drafting a new story, getting to those 1,000 words takes about two hours–if I have already done the brainstorm work with a plot outline, character sketches and created the details and a map of my setting. If I have not done that brainstorming work, then each of those are one and two day goals in the week before I begin to write.


Jane Porter, in her book, WRITING THE BESTSELLER: ROMANTIC AND COMMERCIAL FICTION, says to write three goals.

1. An Immediate Goal--A goal to be accomplished in the next week or month

2. Short-Term Goal: A goal to be achieved within the next six to twelve months

3. Long-Term Goal: A goal about where you’d like to be in five years. (I often shorten this to be two to five years because of the way the publishing industry changes so much right now).


But, if I’m working on a book, what are some external things I use to motive me?

1. Contests–RWA chapters host many contests throughout the year for everything from YA romance to contemporary to paranormal. Some of the contests are open only to unpublished authors, or authors unpublished in that genre in the last five years, but others are open to both published and unpublished authors.  Some of the RWA Chapter contests are only open to RWA members, while others are open to all writers. All the contests do require a fee payment of some sort, but you also receive detailed critiques from up to three judges and since most contests ask you to submit the first thirty pages, this critique can be invaluable–even if you don’t place in the contest.

One contest currently taking submissions is:

Emerald City Opener Contest sponsored by the Seattle RWA Chapter: Polish the first seven pages of your novel and submit to this contest. This contest is only open to unpublished authors, or authors unpublished in the genre they are entering in the last five years. Both RWA members and non-RWA members may submit.


2. Monthly Writing Challenges–November is National Write a Novel in a Month (NaNoWriMo) and it often feels as if the whole world is writing a novel. Local libraries host write-ins and workshops, coffee shops provide space for write-ins and there are endless people cheering you on-line. SPEEDBO in March, sponsored by the blog, SEEKERVILLE, is another way to get motivated in a month to write a novel while having people cheer you on.

3. Conferences–In the Pacific Northwest, it seems April kicks off a six-month conference line-up. There is SCBWI Seattle’s Spring Conference, Oregon’s Spring Conference in May, The Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in July, The Willamette Writer’s Conference in August, Write on the Sound in October, The Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference in October, and Seattle RWA Conference in October.  Conferences can be great way to set yourself a deadline. Find one you want to target with editors who might be interested in your book and then set that conference date as the target date for when your book will be finished. Most conferences sell out early, so be sure to note when the conference opens for registration when you identify one you want to attend. Also, if you want to target a specific editor or agent to pitch, be sure to get your registration in early, and often, it can be better to attend a smaller, regional conference than the larger conferences.

I’d love to hear what goals you are working on and how you motivate yourself to meet those goals in the comments below!










2 responses to “Goal Setting

  1. I really like the short term goal idea but haven’t been able to hit that 1000 daily word goal. From your post, I see that I haven’t done enough of the preliminary brainstorming. Also, I don’t write fast and tend to rewrite while writing the first draft. Perfectionism peeks over my shoulder.

  2. I think the trick is to keep going in that first draft. One thing that might help set a timer for say an hour and then just write. Tell yourself in that hour, you will not go back and change anything, then see how many words you can write!

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