Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chris Eboch on A Year of Success

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I have some problems with the concept of “resolutions” (mainly in the way it’s almost assumed that you’ll keep them for a week or two and then fail). However, I do think it’s a good idea to check-in with yourself a couple of times a year. Are you on the path you want to be on? Do you even know the path you want to be on? Do you have a plan with achievable, specific goals along the way?

Last winter we did several SCBWI schmoozes in Albuquerque on issues in the writing life. During one meeting, we explored the idea of success. Here are some notes. Consider getting together with your critique group, other writing friends, or your family, to share these goals and figure out ways to keep each other on track.

Defining Success

If you have only vague ideas of what “success” means for your writing career, spend some time defining what success means to you. Set specific, achievable goals. Preface your resolutions or goals with a phrase such as, “I’m going to make my very best effort to _____________.” Ask yourself:

  • What is my primary writing goal?

  • What are my secondary writing goals?

  • How can these goals work together? Do they contradict each other at all? Do they interfere with other career, family, or personal goals?

  • What steps do I need to take? Do I need to work on specific craft techniques, time management, market research, or submissions?

  • Which steps come first? How can I schedule the steps to reach my goals?

It's easy to set goals and then forget all about them, so find a way to check in regularly – put a pop-up notice on your computer calendar, make goals check-in a monthly part of your critique group meeting, or have a weekly online chat with friends where you check progress.

More help (some of these posts are from last year, but the ideas are just as valuable):

Goal Setting Without Fear, from Crime Fiction Collective, by Peg Brantley: “One of my favorite sayings is ‘It doesn’t matter where you start out. What matters is where you end up.’”

Kelly Bennett on defining what you want as a writer: “I defined for myself what being a successful writer meant. Not vague “I want to be somebody,” wishes, either….”

Luke Reynolds on Redefining Success: “Redefining success allows us to continue to focus on the work at hand rather than the result.”

A Writer’s HAPPY New Year, by Kristi Holl: “I am going through my goals list again. I am adding goals geared toward renewal.” (Kristi has a great inspirational blog on issues in the writing life, such as overcoming self-doubt.)

Make Your Own Luck, by Angela Ackerman: We tend to say, “If I could ____, then it would help me succeed. Whatever your blank is, instead of thinking that it’s too hard to do, or something out of your control, Make Your Own Luck.”

Writing and Life Balance, by Susan Uhlig: on Discipline, Setting Priorities, and managing Life and Volunteer Duties.

Did you make writing resolutions this year? Did this post inspire you to start? How are you going to make sure you stay on track?

Chris Eboch’s novels for ages nine and up include The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy, The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; and the Haunted series, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. In The Ghost Miner’s Treasure, a brother and sister help a ghostly miner find his long-lost mine. Her book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog.


  1. Some great links here. My critique group began to share goals last year, and it has been helpful. (The most helpful part is that they are kind whenever my goals are not met...)

  2. You're great at this sort of thing (and a great inspiration to me in this regard). Through you I found Kristi Holl's website, which is loaded with both strategies and inspiration to keep going).

  3. Thanks, you two. Yes, Kristi is great with the inspiration. I always appreciate it when people share their personal struggles and ideas for overcoming challenges. It helps people understand that they are not alone, which sometimes is just as important as the practical advice.

    Goals are tricky, because if you don't take them seriously, with deadlines and repercussions for failure, it's easier to ignore/forget/fail to meet them. But it doesn't help to beat yourself up over failures, as that leads to negative thoughts and a desire to avoid future goals. I think that's why the "I will try" goals are good – success/failure isn't so black and white.

  4. Very inspiring post, Chris. I never make resolutions but always try to have reasonable goals. I need to mention this to my critique group. Thanks!

  5. What a good, thoughtful post.
    I have replaced resolutions with goals long ago, and replaced goals that depend on others with ones that depend on my own actions. =Success!

  6. I recently wrote my 2014 goals and found out they truly were my Lifetime Career Goals. It was great seeing them in a concise form to focus me. However, I still have to draft my 2104 goals, my monthly goals, my weekly targets, and my daily to-dos. Thank you for such an inspiring post, Chris!.... Janie Franz, author of the Bowdancer Saga and the Ruins trilogy


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!