This year, I’ve set some pretty hefty writing goals for myself. Some of them I’ll achieve, maybe there’ll be a few that I’ll change or let fall by the wayside. The main point of it all? To be challenged. It is my firm belief that you cannot grow as a writer without obstacles and hardships. If you’re merely content to remain on the same level of accomplishment and success, you might be happy, but you won’t be growing. You won’t be striving for greater skills, additional readers, or personal fulfillment. Sure there are times when it is good and beneficial to relax and rest in your craft. But for me, 2013 is not a year of rest and rejuvenation. It is a year of groaning earth and shifting mountains.

//1// I have specific plans to publish 3 projects this year. I’d like to have the first out by the end of April. I’d like to have the second out by the end of June. I’d like to have the third out by the end of December. These deadlines will be very tough to meet. But you know what? I’m going to dig my heels in and try like mad to meet them on time! In order to help rise to this goal, I’ve started setting higher word count goals for myself and word count schedules to meet. I don’t always achieve them, but great satisfaction an be found in trying and coming very close! And progress continues to be made regardless.

//2// Another challenge I’ve set for myself is this: Plan more while working on first drafts. Now, if you’ve read my blog for any stretch of time, you’ll know that I am mostly a pantser, though I do have a bit of planner in me, too. Well, folks, I’m tired of getting to a tough point in a novel and having no idea how to worm my way out! My current novel project has been going AMAZINGLY well because I’ve been blending my planning and pantser-writing! Before I write a chapter, I’ve been sitting down and planning out that chapter. Now, while writing, I might deviate from the outline and if so, I update the outline with what I’ve written. This way, I’ve got a skeletal plan to work with, but I can still deviate and go off in new directions if I wish. This is working really well for me.

//3// Locating and securing loyal beta readers has been a goal for a while now. I’m pleased to say I have gotten my first one down! Now I need a few more. In addition to finding talented beta readers, I have been trying to involve myself more in Critters.org. It’s an online writing workshop community where you can critique other peoples’ work and also have your work critiqued. This is essential to good progress, folks. Lindsay Buroker told me about this place and it is no joke. Though there are quite a lot of “rules” and processes to be upheld, if you’re serious about growing as a writer and learning to better dissect your own work, this is a great place to plug in.

//4// Taking my editor’s notes with graciousness and a willingness to dig deep has always been a struggle for me. It’s not that I don’t want my errors pointed out. I CERTAINLY DO! I welcome constructive criticism…but there is always that tiny part of my heart that dies a bit when it sees the sheer wealth of items to be fixed after an editing run. But you know what? It’s alright. Editing takes a lot out of you, which is why it is so important to have someone else edit your work! It takes some of the strain off of you after you’ve poured over your manuscript for days and weeks trying to weed out every single possible error (which you should absolutely do before you send it off to be edited by someone else). A goal of mine this year, is to stop fretting over the inevitable “sheet of error terror” and get excited at the prospect of learning and refining and polishing my manuscript. 🙂

//5// I’d really like to read more writing craft books this year. I’ve not really read one before and there are too many great tomes out there to ignore them! Definitely at the top of my list is Stephen King’s On Writing. Others I’d like to check out are: Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn SchmidtWrite Good or Die by Scott Nicholson, and Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. As well, Victoria Mixon’s The Art and Craft of Fiction and The Art and Craft of Story have been on my list for FOREVER. I’d love to get my hands on those at some point in 2013.

//6// One thing I’ve already started work on and would love to continue doing is connecting with other writers. We can learn so much from each other and blogging has been a great way to get connected with other writers and readers! Already, I’ve been so inspired, encouraged, and edified by communicating with the likes of Lindsay Buroker, Kendra C. Highley, and Tuan Ho! We truly live in an amazing age, when writers from across the world can talk and help each other so easily.

//7// Get back into the habit of writing every day. Now, don’t throw hammers at me. For a long, long, long time, I did write every day! Then, when life got busier and my work increased, I sort of went to writing Monday through Friday. No more! Unless something major comes up (like guests from out of town, emergencies, or book signings,etc.) I’m going to try and write all 7 days of the week again. I loved having that accountability and the productivity increase with the two extra writing days. I may not keep to my weekday word counts every weekend, but just having that discipline of writing every day is something I miss. I shall have it back. 🙂

//8// I’m going to experiment with a free eBook this year. I really want readers to be able to try my writing risk-free and I know that offering at least 1 free eBook is an excellent way to do that. That’s a must on my list.

//9// I really love illustration, drawing, and painting. If you’re on DeviantART, check out my profile! I may not be great at it, but I really do like my style and am continuing to refine it. That being said, one of my goals this year is to paint more cover art. I already design my cover art using pictures, usually, but this year, I want to do more illustrated covers. In fact, my next novel (to be announced soon!) has a cover I illustrated. One of my dreams growing up was to illustrate a children’s book. I haven’t done it yet, but one day…one day (that’s a goal for another year)! For now, I’m excited to branch out and illustrate my own covers!

//10// Participating in NaNoWriMo has always intrigued me. This year? GONNA DO IT. 😉 I’m really excited about it. Not sure what I’m going to write about yet, but I’ve got plenty of months to start planning and brainstorming. I’m sure it will be a grand adventure and I can’t wait to do it! Any of y’all ever participate in NaNoWriMo? What was your experience like?

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What are some of your writing challenges for the year? Feel free to share in the comments section! I’d love to see what you’re doing to grow your writing skills!

Happy Saturday.

P.S.– I’m going to my very first book signing today!!! *Happy Dance*

10 Ways I’m Challenging Myself as a Writer This Year
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