07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Is Gone and the Goals Are Getting Fat!

by M. L. Buchman

Yep! It's that time of year again when we look at our goals, map out our great plans, then slip them in a drawer until next year.

Is that the way I work? Nope! So I thought I'd talk a little bit about how I do look at my year end.

The First Thing I Do:
I look at last year. It's a great chance to say "Holy Crap! I did great!" I wrote a dozen short stories, a flock of novels, released multiple collections, and wrote a whole pile of words. In addition to that I attended conferences, taught classes, traveled, and even saw my family on occasion.

I also found a clearer image of the type of writer I want to grow up to be and have started focusing in on that with my craft.

The failure to do this step of self-congratulation is a HUGE mistake. Most people are terrible at patting themselves on the back (I'm especially bad about this), and saying "Job well done." If we skip this step, then we lose a stellar opportunity to feel good about what we achieved. Was it less than I planned? Of course! One of my philosophies is: Aim high, expect low, and shoot down the middle. The middle can be an amazing success if we just remember to acknowledge it.

Here are just a few reasons that I have to celebrate this year.
(Curiously, because of how traditional publishing works, the first three titles were actually written last year.)

BTW, Heart Strike was named "Top 10 Romance of 2016" by the prestigious Booklist, my third title to achieve this stratospheric accolade.

One of my year-end goals, actually built in mid-year because I certainly don't restrict goal-making to the New Year (another odd quirk I used to have), was to get control of my series. Damien's Christmas is the sixth and last book in my Night Stalkers White House Christmas series and Wild Fire (which just released this week and Booklist gave a starred review, calling it "Spectacularly satisfying") closes my Firehawks series. Sometimes the choices are hard. I dearly love these two series, but I felt I had told all the stories in these two series that I set out to tell and there were other series that I wanted to focus on.

Next I Look at What Is Happening Now:
I have two incredible collaboration projects going.

First, the amazing Cristin Harber invited me into her Titan World project. Ten authors + Cristin are taking one or more of Cristin's characters and creating a story. I decided to incorporate my contribution in my Night Stalkers 5E world.

Wait a sec! Didn't you just say you were ending the Night Stalkers world?

Not quite. My Night Stalkers have my 5D company launched by Emily Beale and Mark Henderson. Then the world grew to include the White House Holiday series, the Peleliu Christmas books, and the 5E. It was definitely time for another flight with the 5E and to get to play with some of Cristin's characters turned out to be so much fun! The results were amazing.

(Target of Mine is launching in mid-January and is available for pre-order now.) 

I'm also looking forward to a contemporary Montana romance collaboration with the incredible Grace Burrowes as we co-launch two new series together in April.

This sets a tone and a platform for next year, another integral part of my goal planning.

Finally I Look Ahead:
I LOVE(!) this part of my goal work. And I HATE this part of my goal work. There are just so many stories I want to write. I have on-going ideas for several running series. I'll be back into the Night Stalkers 5E and Delta Force for sure. There's the new series at Henderson's Ranch that I'm launching with Grace. There are two more worlds that I'm dying to get into and I haven't written a thriller in over a year and miss it desperately.

So what do I do when faced with this? I chose what story I just can't wait any longer to tell.

So my 2017 goal is twofold:
1) Write what I'm passionate about
2) Focus on the next story to tell in my world

I've learned that as long as my goals are focused on where my passion for story lies, it always seems to work.

So, set your goals. Write them down. Do not marry them. Treat them rather as sensible guideposts on this incredible journey we call storytelling.

All the best,

M. L. Buchman has over 50 novels and 40 short stories in print. Military romantic suspense titles from his Night Stalker, Firehawks, and Delta Force series have been named Booklist “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” His Delta Force series opener, Target Engaged, was a 2016 RITA nominee. In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, and designed and built two houses. Somewhere along the way he also bicycled solo around the world.

He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife and is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing and receive a free 4-novel starter e-library by subscribing to his newsletter at:


Judith Ashley said...

Words of wisdom, Matt. I totally agree that looking back at what went well is the best way to start looking ahead at the new year. I also add "Let Go". If there is something that is nagging or niggling at you from this year (or even further back) let it go. Not always easy but on my Judith Ashley blog, I'm posting every Monday in January about moving forward into 2017 and one of the posts is all about "Letting Go".

Jessa Slade said...

"Aim high, expect low, and shoot down the middle." Love this! Thanks for sharing and happy writing to all in 2017!

Paty Jager said...

Wonderful insight into goal setting. Thanks, Matt!

Shannon said...

Thank you so much for writing about this. So many people I know--me included--have had this weird, up and down 2016. Usually I'm the first in line with the gratitude and "wasn't that and awesome" year, (week, day, event, etc...) but this year I'm having trouble feeling it. I'm going to sit down with my calendar and go over all of the WOWs and try and find the awesome. And, if not, then I'll let it go and have a Fabulous 2017.

Maggie Lynch said...

"One of my philosophies is: Aim high, expect low, and shoot down the middle. The middle can be an amazing success if we just remember to acknowledge it."

Loved this! I do try to aim high and some times I make it. Mostly I don't. However, I forget about acknowledging the success I did achieve. I can always find places where I could have been more focused.

My #1 goal this year is to calendar time for everything in my life instead of attempting to remember and prioritize. I'm not sure if that will be helpful or not, but it's worth a try.