The Write Resolution

by Marlene Perez

Children's Writer


"“I’m not a goal setter. I hate them."—Kelli Yates


Like it or not, we usually start thinking about resolutions this time of year. Just the mention of the word can elicit groans, moans and even a few raspberries. What about writing resolutions? Can setting writing goals for the year help or hinder?

Award-winning author Jane Yolen, who writes for both adults and children, feels writing goals aren’t for her. “I don’t actually set goals because there is already so much failure involved in publishing,” she says. “That makes it the possibility of one more, and that one self-imposed. It’s like a giant paper cut.”

Romance writer Kelli Yates says bluntly, “I’m not a goal setter. I hate them. They make me feel locked in to something.”

Other writers feel differently. Gail Jenner, author of Across the Sweet Grass Hills, says that her writing group decides writing goals each December and checks them the following December. “It’s always a good laugh because most of us anticipate getting far more accomplished than we do—or perhaps it seems that way because much of what we set as goals is often out of our hands (e.g., getting a story PUBLISHED!).” Gail adds “I think writers write with a goal in mind without recognizing it. Otherwise, how could we map out a story, even minimally?”


“Goals should be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based.” —Kevin Cummings


Writer Joyce Henderson, author of Strategies for Winning Science Fair Projects, says, “I’m a goal-setter and have been for over 15 years. I set personal goals, parenting goals and writing goals.”

Although writing is primarily a creative pursuit, it is also a business. Writer Kevin “KC” Cummings borrows business techniques on goal setting from his day job. He says, “Goals should be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based.”

Time is an important factor in successful goal setting. “Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to fill the time available. Dick Clark’s corollary is that work also contracts to fill the time available,” explains writer D. Gary Grady. “Give yourself a tight deadline and stick to it, and you limit the amount of work you expend on that one project (leaving more time for others).”

Travel and health writer Judy Davidson says, “Setting goals at my monthly critique group meeting helps me to stay focused. There’s something about saying your goal out loud to others and having it written down that makes it more official. Knowing that I’m accountable to report the results at the next meeting motivates me to achieve the goal. Otherwise, I find that ideas just float around in my head and never land on paper.”


". . .remember to celebrate your writing successes."—Marlene Perez


For some writers, setting your goals down on paper helps you track your progress and allows you to take stock of your accomplishments. Whether you decide to set writing goals this year or avoid them altogether, remember to celebrate your writing successes.


About the Author

Marlene Perez is author of several emergent readers for the educational market. The books are sold to elementary schools and are available via catalogues for The Wright Group/McGraw-Hill (at ). Marlene has also contributed to the publisher's new anthology, called Lights Out!

Marlene still occasionally feels like the new kid in town. Vvisit her website, or e-mail: