Tuesday Tips – The Importance of Writing Goals

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.04.07 PMIn just over a week, I head to Nevada to start my mentorship with New York Times bestselling verse novelist, Ellen Hopkins. I’ll be developing my YA verse novel, Hating Ric (formerly Street Racer).

I’m attending a writing retreat at Lake Tahoe where I’ll meet all the fabulous mentors and mentees in the program, and I can’t wait.


The mentor program is by run by SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators ) Nevada, and I’ve been very lucky to receive funding from CAL to help pay for the trip.

I’m so excited to be going, but one of the things I’m most pleased about is that applying for and getting the mentorship is a writing goal that I have actually achieved:)

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.07.09 PM My very good writerly friend, Maureen (Mo) Johnson first put the seed in my head when progress on my novel had stalled.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.09.03 PMIt seemed like a really good idea, but also an impossible dream.  Nevada was so far away from Victoria Australia, and expensive to fly to, and apart from that, there was no guarantee that my mentorship application would be successful.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.11.27 PMThanks to the encouragement and support of Mo and good writer friends Alison Reynolds, Sheryl GwytherTania McCartney, Karen Collum and others, I wrote the mentorship boldly on my list of writing goals and set out in hot pursuit.

I attended every available seminar  to find out as much as I could about putting together arts’ grant applications. (And blogged about it here). Then I set about applying for every available arts grant – no matter how unobtainable or obscure it seemed. I figured it was good practice anyway.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.07.36 PMI was overwhelmed to find that not only had I received a mentorship with Ellen, but I had also secured funding – so now I could definitely go.

I’ve unsuccessfully applied for both mentorships and funding before, but this time it was different – this time I made the mentorship a serious writing goal.

Nothing comes easily in this business, but one of the many things I’ve learned from this experience is that it does pay to have writing goals – and it does pay to give them priority.


  1. Set goals that are realistic
  2. Don’t be afraid to aim high
  3. Set goals that you want to achieve, not things you think you should achieve.
  4. Don’t compare yourself or your achievements to others – your goals should be ‘yours’.
  5. Set goals that you can achieve – that you have control over (you’ll don’t have control over acceptances or publication dates)
  6. Set  a manageable number of goals
  7. Set goals that are specific but realistic achievements

I hope you achieve your writing goals. For me, they have helped me keep the dream alive.

I was also fortunate to have a book trailer made by an optimistic and very talented friend, Svetlana Bykovec.  When I watch my book trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZs78xyveTQ, I feel that this book could be/will be published.

Book trailers are not expensive to make if you do it yourself – perhaps you can use one to help you keep your dreams and hopes alive – it could be one of your writing goals. If nothing else, making a book trailer is great for helping you understand the essence of your story.

If you have any tips on goal setting, we’d love to hear them. Feel free to share them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)


My mentorship has been made possible thanks to the generous assistance of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund which provided me with Creative Industries Career Funding. http://www.copyright.com.au/cultural-fund


The end of 2010 is fast approaching so now seems like a good time to talk writing goals for next year.

When I set this year’s goals, I drew on past experience. I reminded myself that it doesn’t pay to set too many goals because it’s easy to be overwhelmed by them. So in 2010 I set myself just six:

  1. Finish rewrites/edits for Street Racer
  1. May Gibbs fellowship – first draft of first book in the series and complete series outline for The Chat Room.
  1. Apply for funding to work on The Chat Room
  1. Get The Chat Room accepted for publication
  1. Get more ‘writing coach’ work
  1. More school visits

Looking back on the year that was, I’m surprised to discover that I have achieved nearly all of them. In fact the only one I haven’t succeeded in is number 4 – and let’s face it, that goal was just not realistic.

I know from experience that starting, finishing and getting a novel finished in the same year is pretty much a pipe dream. I know it happens for some people, but I don’t think it suits the way I work. I need to write, then set my work aside for a month to get some distance from it – to have objectivity in my editing. I really need to do this for every draft.

Then after I think the novel is ready I need to send it to my beta readers and rework it based on their feedback.

So that’s my lesson for this year…don’t set goals that aren’t realistic – that aren’t attainable.

Another thing I have realised is that goals should be the things YOU WANT, not the things you think you should be achieving based on what others are doing around you. Every writer works differently, every writer has different backgrounds and financial restraints and commitments.

Writing for me, is really like golf. The only person you are playing against is yourself.

So, what do I have planned for 2011? More of the same:

  1. More school visits
  2. More editing – this time focussing on getting my two YA novels, Cutting the Ice and Head On to the ‘submission ready’ stage.
  3. Reworking my 2010 NaNoWriMo mg novel, Text Me When You Get There to completed second draft stage
  4. Get my Halogen Watts inventor series ready for submission to a publisher
  5. Helping my 12yo edit the next draft of his novel
  6. Complete the second draft of book one in The Chat Room series

Some things I do haven’t been listed as goals because these are things I have done all through 2010 and will continue to do in 2011 – for example, blogging here every week and at my Kids’ Book Capers blog.

This year I have tried to make my goals:

*    Things I want to achieve
*    Things I can definitely achieve – that I have control over (you’ll notice there’s nothing there about acceptances or publication dates)
*    A manageable number
*    Specific but realistic achievements

I hope you achieved your goals in 2010 and that you have a great writing year in 2011.

I’d love to hear your tips for goal setting. Feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)