What I’m Leaving Behind at the End of This Year


Everyone around me has been a little cranky about the end of 2015 this week. “Why do we have to wait until New Year’s to change things? I hate New Year’s resolutions!”

Well, first of all, you don’t have to wait. If you don’t like New Year’s resolutions, don’t make them. That’s why I make goals toward the end of the year and start working on them right away.

Second of all, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Some people (me – you?) just need the vibe of a brand-new year to get going again. It’s like a reset button. An automatic full recharge. You may not need that, but some people do.

2015 was a weird year for me. A very odd mix of good and awful things. I started two new jobs and had to say goodbye to one of them (my primary source of income at the time, so as you can imagine, the last half of the year has been a little hard). I started and got halfway through graduate school – I’m feeling a little burned out but hopefully in a few weeks I’ll feel ready to tackle the last half.

I finished writing one book. Started a new one. Decided I’m going to finish two in 2016 (more on that “next year”) among a few other secret writing projects (though not a secret for much longer!). I started writing for a few new websites, which has taught me a lot about modern web content and what I do and do not love about different styles of content creation, reproduction and editorial processes.

I started this blog (sort of). That’s been pretty cool. I won’t talk about that much here – I already have, on here and in my newsletter (which you should totally sign up for if you want some more awesome stuff from me). I’ve learned so much since I started posting regularly in June. For one thing, it zaps a lot of energy, writing a blog post every day, but it is so, so worth it. And I get a few extra cups of coffee out of the deal, so everybody wins.

What am I looking forward to in 2016? Well it’s much easier to say what I’m looking forward to leaving behind from 2015. All my insecurities about the things I’ve decided to do with this blog is a big one. Yeah, even I still get nervous about some posts and that podcast that only has two episodes and the super awesome writing project I’m developing as I write this.

Sometimes I know I’m writing a post not many people will like or respond to. Like this one. Hey, that’s okay. That’s not why I’m doing this. Everyone who comes here, comes here for a different reason. I have to keep that in mind while I’m developing content. Not everything is going to resonate with every reader. That’s the most important lesson I’ve learned. Some of you come here for my monthly Dear John letters. Some of you come for my rants. And I’m assuming some of you actually come for the tips and advice, which I do appreciate, believe me.

I worry too much about this blog. I wrestle with things like: do I want to bother with advertising? Not really, because Novelty just wouldn’t be the same with ads and sponsored content. Am I doing too much of something my readers don’t want? Not enough of something they do? Am I not promoting enough or doing enough activities on our Facebook page? Should I do a survey? Do I even have enough readers to get good results from a survey?

Do I want to invite additional writers to contribute to our daily content? Well, I sort of do that already. But if you didn’t know that, there’s a link up a ways to fix that.

I foresee big things for this blog this year. I wish I could tell you all of them. I do hope you continue to stick around. I do hope that, at least once a week or once a month, I post something that helps or inspires you. That is the most important thing to me: that when I hit publish, someone out there is going to feel inspired to sit down and write something.

It’s hard. I know. All of it. Work, school, words, trying to be better, setting goals, setting smaller goals. Life in general. Looking back on a year isn’t always completely reassuring. I am always here for you. That might not mean much. But you are my priority. You can make the changes you want to make, and write that story you’ve been putting off. This is a great time of year to start. A new year. A new writing schedule. New writing goals. Maybe even a new you.

I’ll see you in 2016, Noveltiers. I should probably stop calling you that.


Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to SMART-en Up Your Writing Goals This Year


In our first installment of our end-of-year, three-part mini-series, we discussed goals. More specifically, a list of “umbrella” writing goals you can, if you want to, work toward achieving in 2016.

Coming up with a list of writing goals is only the beginning, though. Now ask yourself: can you really achieve them – and how can you tell?

There are five components to a SMART goal. It must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-bound

If you look back at yesterday’s material, you’ll see that our three goals – to finish something, submit something and start something new – are not very SMART goals. They’re more like MAR goals, if even that, which don’t count.

They’re a good place to start. Let’s pick one of them – to finish something, to start off – and SMART-en it up a little.

Making it more specific

If your goal is to finish something, the specificity is completely dependent on where you stand in your own writing. Have you been working on the same book for three years, determined to finish it already so you can put it behind you? Have you just recently started something new? Are you still trying to finish your NaNoWriMo novel from last month?

Let’s say you’ve written 50,000 words of your book already, and are really struggling to get through the last 30,000 or so. That’s your specificity: I want to finish writing my NaNoWriMo novel. Don’t worry about what comes after that. For this one goal, focus on that specific endpoint.

The goal is already pretty measurable and results-focused – finishing a book is on your own judgment, but once you’re done, you know you’re done. The result is a finished first draft of a novel, regardless of how rough that draft may be.

Can you achieve the goal, though?

Or, rather, can you handle it? You might have a lot going on this year – school, work, family, vacation. If you have 30,000 words left, be honest with yourself. Is this something I can do if I spread it out throughout the next 12 months? This brings us right into probably the most important part of a SMART goal, in terms of writing: the when.

Time is everything

Sure, on the surface this one might seem easy: I want to finish my book before December 31, 2016. Okay, great. Good start. But that’s not enough. You need to ask yourself here: how am I going to get there, and when am I going to have each step completed? Your overall goal might be to write 30,000 words this year, but if you’re not careful, you could end up with 30,000 words to write on December 29, and we all know how that goes (or doesn’t).

Give yourself time. Break it up into smaller pieces. Make it a goal to write 2,500 words in January. 2,500 words in February, all the way through December. Break it up into weeks, into days, if you have to. But always give yourself the what – what am I going to do today? – and the when – what time am I going to have it finished by?

Writing is already stressful enough! Don’t give yourself a headache by unintentionally procrastinating. Take that specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused goal and give it a time stamp. And if you’re not confident you can hold yourself accountable, find someone who will.

But that, of course, is for another (tomorrow’s) post.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Achievable Writing Goals You Can Set for Yourself This Year


‘Tis the season for deciding what you want to accomplish this year, writing-wise. Setting professional goals is one way to take your writing more seriously without sucking all the fun out of it. In general, goals should be specific and timely, among other things, but just a goal – any goal – is the ideal place to start.

There are three general “umbrella” goals you can work toward this year, each of which feed into each other in a potentially endless loop. They are as follows:

  1. Finish something
  2. Submit something
  3. Start something new

Now let’s dive deeper into each of the three before we give you something to practice.

1. Finish something

This might seem like an odd place to start, but think for a minute about your most recent or current project. How close are you to, or how far away are you from, finishing it? This can mean anything from writing to revising to copy editing to formatting. Whatever stage your most prominent outstanding project is, make it a goal, this year, to get it done.

You might be very close to finishing – which might make this seem like a goal hardly worth extending through an entire year. But remember, these goals work together in a loop. Don’t shy away from the idea just yet.

2. Submit something

Professionally, your overall goal as a writer is to get something published. Now you might not quite be at that stage yet. You may have yet to pitch your ideas to an editor, or you haven’t even come up with a good idea to pitch yet. That’s okay. But before the end of the year, make it a point to submit a finished piece of writing somewhere. A magazine or journal, someone’s blog, a contest, anything you can submit to, do it. Don’t hold back. Excuses be gone. At least give it a try.

Submitting your work, it doesn’t matter where, is a huge accomplishment. This is the kind of milestone in your journey that will give you the energy and drive to move on to the third goal in our trio.

3. Start something new

Whether you don’t get to this point until the end of the year or you get here by the end of January, this is another ideal place to be as a writer. Starting a new project could mean several things. Either you have an idea you just can’t set aside, you’ve just finished a huge project and are ready to keep going, or you’re able to dedicate enough time to juggle more than one small or big project at a time.

Of course, when you start a new writing project, your ultimate goal will be to, eventually, finish it. And that, Noveltiers, is where the loop starts over again. Which means you can complete each of these goals on as small or large of a scale as you want this year, as many times over as you want.

It is, after all, completely up to you.

Want to know how to SMART-en up your writing goals this year? Come back tomorrow!

Self-motivation isn’t easy, but with multiple checkpoints to work toward as you write through the year, you just might find that, by this time next year, you’ve gotten more writing done in 12 months than you have in the last five years.

Give it a try. See if you can make writing happen in 2016.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

My 2016 Writing Goals


I’ve been thinking a lot about goals over the past few days, and was really disappointed when I went back into this blog’s archives to look for the post I thought I’d made at the end of 2014 about what I wanted to accomplish in 2015. Apparently I never wrote one, nor did I write an end-of-year response to my 2013 goals. So that’s a bit of a downer.

BUT. While I’m in a goal-setting mood, I thought I would share a few of my writing goals for the upcoming year with you this morning.

Why? Because I’ve been watching the Project for Awesome live stream for almost 48 hours and my brain can’t handle any other kind of thinking at the moment. So.

It’s a good time of year to start thinking about goals. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions – I would rather set year-long goals that I can work toward accomplishing. (I just wrote New York Resolutions and almost didn’t catch it, SMS I need a nap you guys.) Measurable goals. Something more than, “I want to eat healthier.” How do you even define that?

That’s why NY Resolutions fail. We need SMART goals. Don’t let me continue this rant. Google it if you’re confused.

Anyway. Goals.

Finish writing my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel

I really wanted to finish before the end of the year (within the month), but honestly, that’s probably not going to happen. I’m tired. Not just I’ve-been-awake-way-too-many-of-the-last-48-hours tired. This has been a good, but long and exhausting year. I’ve taken 20 credit hours of graduate classes since March, on top of everything else, which might not seem like a lot unless you’ve experienced the grad school life. I already wrote basically one entire novel this year. I need to take my time, and take some time for myself too, so I can kick some serious 2016 butt.

Write and send out a query letter (er, many query letters for one piece of novel-length writing)

For which book? I have no idea. There are a few good ones to choose from. You all can help me decide if you want, just tell me so and I’ll maybe give you a few excerpts.

Finish grad school

Meg, that’s not a writing goal! YES IT IS! My last two courses will actually be writing courses, AND, finishing my degree will allow me to do more writing because of all the free time I’ll have thereafter. Haha. Free time. Hahahahaha.

Write some novellas for a secret project I’m not telling you about yet

Wait what? Nope. That news is coming very, very soon. Keep checking back for more information on how you can get involved (Yes! YOU!)

There are a few more, but I am so, so very tired.

Do you have any writing goals for the upcoming year? Or other goals that, when accomplished, will allow you to do more writing? Share! I’m going to get some more coffee. Looking forward to your comments (preferably not about how I can’t word properly today, but you’re welcome to leave those too if you so desire).

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.