By the time we finish buying all the things, eating all the things, and drinking all the things, it will be 2014. I suggest not waiting until this happens:

“Ow, dude. My head.”
“Shhh. Not so loud.”
“So, what are your new year’s resolutions?”
“Uh…”

The best time to decide what your goals will be for the new year is right now. You can mull it over a bit and really analyze what you need. And by investing a little time in your decision, you’ll likely feel more connected to it and actually commit.

Like a lot of things, you’ll want to take this seriously if you want to get something from it. Don’t just throw out nice-sounding goals, especially if they’re outlandish and out of your control, like, “I’m going to sell my new novel for six figures.” There’s nothing you can do to accomplish that. That’s reliant on forces outside of you: the agent, the publisher, the state of the market at that moment. Keep your goals to things you can influence through your own actions, and revel in the control you have over that part of your career.

There are plenty of feel-good goals like, “I’m going to get a treadmill desk,” or “I’m going to stop buying books from online retailers and only buy from local independents,” and I encourage you to pursue them. But you should also make goals that will specifically help you become a better and more successful writer. Evaluate where you are, what you need to work on, and act accordingly. Here are some examples of things you can do:

• Spend X amount of time writing every day
• Write X amount of words per day
• Complete a new story or poem every week
• Submit something new every month
• Finish writing at least one full-length manuscript
• Edit a manuscript you have written
• Outline your next full-length manuscript
• Post something new on social media every day
• Try a new form of social media
• Blog X times per week
• Connect with a new blog every week
• Spend X amount of time in a bookstore every week
• Read a book on craft every month
• Read a book in your genre every week
• Review that book and write to the author
• Form a critique group
• Join or start an organization related to your subject
• Attend a reading or local event every month
• Organize a local event
• Read or speak on your subject in public every month
• Attend a writers’ conference
• Attend a class, webinar, or workshop
• Wake up at X unholy hour every day. You have the time if you choose to make it.

These are all behaviors that will not only make you better at what you do, but they’ll show your prospective agent that you mean business. Map out how you are going to accomplish these things. Make a plan, whether it’s monthly, weekly, etc. Input these items into your calendar or to-do list, so you know they’re as important as “Take out the garbage” or “Shave Fluffy.”

Don’t forget to celebrate when you achieve your goals, and then set new ones. That will help prevent you from getting complacent. And if you need a little kick in the ass, that is readily available.

What are your goals for 2014, and how will you go about accomplishing them?