Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Revisiting My New Year's Goals

I'm usually not real big on New Year's Resolutions. I am, however, a goal-oriented person, and in that spirit I thought that this year I would actually write down via this blog some resolutions. Consider this a mid-year check-in, despite the fact that I missed the mid-point of the year by just a bit.

Let's see how I'm doing.


1.) Finish my current WIP

More on this in a future post, but suffice to say while I stopped doing weekly writing progress updates, I have been working on my current novel-in-progress. I still have the goal of completing it this year.

2.) Start a new project—short story or novel

This is contingent on #1, of course, but I have no progress to report on this one. Fortunately, there's still time…

3.) Finish/submit a short story

See #2.


1.) Read 10 novels

I'm going to append this goal to "Read 10 novels or periodicals". To date, I have read:

  1. Heldenhammer
  2. Perdido Street Station
  3. The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl
  4. SF&F Magazine: January 2009
  5. SF&F Magazine: December 2008
  6. SF&F Magazine: November 2008
  7. SF&F Magazine: October 2008

Almost there on this one.

Book Reviews

1.) Review 3 novels

In 2008, I reviewed 12 books. I purposely lowered the bar on this one to allow for more time to write. Also, I started something new: micro(u)-book reviews, which I define as:

A micro-book review, like micro-blogging, is a review containing as few words as possible. In the spirit of Twitter, mine will be less than 140 characters.

Thus far in 2009 I have done one "normal" review and three micro-reviews:

  1. Heldenhammer (u)
  2. Perdido Street Station (u)
  3. The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl (u)
  4. Horizon

By my conservative goal, consider this one done, though I'm sure I'll fit in another review or two before the year is out.

Blogging/Social Networking

1.) Investigate way to automate Weekend Links series (potentially through Tweetlater or Delicious)

This is a non-goal as I discontinued my Weekend Links series.

2.) Be more active on other blogs

I defined this one as simply making an effort to comment more on the blogs I spend time reading day-to-day. I think I've made an effort on this one, with comments appearing on the writing blogs of JA Konrath, Tobias Buckell, and Natania Barron. Also, given my love of history (and especially Medieval History), I read and occasionally comment on the most excellent medieval-oriented blogs of Got Medieval and Steven Till.

Writing, Reading, and Other Goals for the New Year

These are my goals for 2009. This is the first time I've actually thought about this sort of thing and put it out for all to see. I plan to do checkpoints throughout the year, maybe every three months or so, just to see how I'm doing. I started reporting my writing progress a while back, and I think it's helped keep me motivated. The intent here is the same.

So, here we are: my writing, reading, and other goals for this new year.


1.) Finish my current WIP

I've been blogging about my progress on The Five Elements for some time now. My primary goal is to complete this novel and get it sent out to potential publishers and agents.

2.) Start a new project—short story or novel

This one sort of goes along with the next listed goal, but I'm keeping it separate just b/c. If my next project winds up being a novel, I'd like to be firmly entrenched in it. If a short story, look to #3.

3.) Finish/submit a short story

I've been thinking about trying out the short form again (my first short story submission was accepted for publication a long, long time ago). By it's very nature, it's a quicker process from start to finish than a novel, and one would expect more gratifying as a result. I intend to start (and finish) a short story and submit it to at least one publisher.


1.) Read 10 novels

I used to be able to do this in my sleep in probably a couple months' time. Not so anymore. I still read almost every day, but in shorter stretches. I think I can handle ten this year, though.

Book Reviews

1.) Review 3 novels

In 2008, I reviewed 12 books. I'm keeping this one extremely conservative; shouldn't be a problem knocking three reviews out, but by keeping the expectation low I make sure I don't go overboard and, most importantly, preserve more time for writing.

Blogging/Social Networking

1.) Investigate way to automate Weekend Links series (potentially through Tweetlater or Delicious)

I like doing my weekend links series, but sometimes it's a bit monotonous. Automating this process makes sense and will allow me to keep the series alive while helping me reclaim some time for writing.

2.) Be more active on other blogs

What this comes down to really is commenting more. Oftentimes I see a topic I'm interested in, but I may not join the conversation. I'd like to work on changing that.

It's a New Year, and I haven't made a single resolution

imageNew Year's or not, I haven't made any resolutions in many, many years. Given that only 12% of New Year's resolutions are actually kept, it's a wonder anyone bothers making them at all. Yet, people do.

That's not to say I don't have goals; the distinction is important. Their definitions:

goal (noun): the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it

resolution (noun): a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner

A resolution is therefore a change in behavior. A goal is a task requiring completion.

Although my wife would be quick to argue this point, I don't need any behavioral changes. What I do need are goals.

David Stoddard in his post New Year's Goals - Yes (Resolutions - Not So Much) would seem to agree. He says:

I've done the goal setting things in the past. I heard of the studies where only the successful 3% have goals written down. I had ideas of what I wanted to accomplish. But for differing reasons, I didn't always reach them as often as I would have liked. Some were just ideas which stayed ideas. Others I worked at didn't turn out as planned.

Resolutions don't work. Maybe it's because we're too stubborn, or because we believe we can't change. Or maybe we're just too set in our ways.

None of that matters.

The only thing that really matters is that we set out to do something and then go do it. This is where goals come in.

David goes on to list a number of "must's" for goals, which must be:

  1. Achievable
  2. Believable
  3. Desirable
  4. Measurable
  5. Workable
  6. Flexible

I would sum those up as "do-able". Only you can determine if a goal is do-able. Also, what might be do-able for one person may not be for another. But you have to start somewhere, and setting goals is the first step.

I'm working on my own writing and blogging goals for 2009 in another post. It should go up soon. I would encourage others to do the same. I haven't done this before, so I have no last year's post to reference to see if I achieved my 2008 goals. This time next year, though, I plan to revisit this subject and see how I did in 2009.

Milestones and Goals

468230_30211180 Every writer or blogger has goals. But on the road to achieving those goals we pass something else by: milestones.

I like to think of milestones as micro-goals. They're not bona fide goals unto themselves, but they are accomplishments of a sort.

Make no mistake: milestones are a good thing. Sometimes, trying to achieve a full-fledged goal can be overwhelming. Take writing a novel, for example. How many people never start (let alone finish) such a thing simply because of the daunting nature of it?

I'll tell you what helps: milestones.

Merriam-Webster defines a milestone as "a significant point in development". Reaching a milestone is not the end, but it's a significant step in that direction.

For me, a milestone is a chapter written. The chapter by itself is kind of meaningless—you can't sell it, and it probably doesn't tell a whole story. But rack up enough of those milestones and the next thing you know, you've got a complete manuscript.

There's something else about setting goals or working towards a milestone: they have to be realistic or attainable.

Overshooting, or setting unrealistic goals, is a recipe for failure. Not reaching your goals can be discouraging. Hit on too many disappointments, next thing you know you're out of the game before you even had a chance.

The lesson in all of this: baby steps. Keep it simple. Reach for the attainable, knowing that each smaller step is a signpost on the longer road to completion.