A couple years ago my friends and I made a list of 52 goals we wanted to accomplish, the equivalent of a bucket list for a year's worth of achievable things. Most of them were simple goals, but measurable. For instance, you couldn't just write "read more" as a goal. It had to be quantifiable, like "Read a book a month." It was fun, but also challenging, both to put the list together and to accomplish all the things I came up with. By the end of 2012 I'd done a little more than half of the things on my list.
If you look online you'll see lots of spin-offs on the 52 things concept -- 52 things you want to and can achieve in the 52 weeks of next year. I'm a firm believer that it's good to have goals, but also to hold them gently. In a list of 52 things to accomplish in a year, actually doing 18-20 of those things is pretty amazing. You can always defer the rest to the next year, after all. So if you want to create a 52 Things list this year, and you're looking to add some writing goals to your list, here are my 52 ideas:
1. Start or join a writing group.
2. Go see (in the theater or via rental) three movies based on books you love.
3. Guest post for a blog you read/admire.
4. Get your name in print, meaning you must submit! Get e-mails about opportunities from CRWROPPS, a Yahoo! listserv that culls calls for submissions.
5. Read a banned book during Banned Book Week, September 27 - October 3, 2015. For a list of banned books, visit here.
6. Submit a story to a call for submissions for an anthology.
7. Become a HuffPost blogger. (This is achievable for anyone, even if it feels elusive.)
8. Buy a book for a child or teenager in your life for no reason at all.
9. Join an online community (like SheWrites.com, or NAMW.org, or a private Facebook group dedicated to writing, or a specific genre).
10. Commit to writing a certain number of words per week, or per month.
11. Become a regular content contributor to a website you follow or admire.
12. Attend a local author reading, or two or five or ten.
13. Support your local bookstore by shopping on Independent Bookstore Day, a national celebration of local booksellers, taking place on May 2, 2015.
14. Write a book review and put it on your blog. If you don't have a blog, post it on Facebook.
15. Do one thing that truly champions another writer.
16. Read a book that falls way outside your general area of interest.
17. Post a comment on social media in support of someone you admire.
18. Go to a writers' conference.
19. Participate in online pitch conferences (like pitch fests on Twitter).
20. Participate in NaNoWriMo in November 2015.
21. Join an association, like the Independent Book Publishers Association.
22. Apply for residency retreats, like Hedgebrook.
23. Get an op-ed placed, or learn how to do it by taking an Op-Ed Project class.
24. Do a 500 Words challenge. Writers like Jeff Goins have sponsored these kinds of challenges, where you write 500 words a day for a set number of days -- a month or longer. Give it a whirl!
25. Create an audio book of a recently published book. Check out this free webinar on the subject from Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, author of Fire and Water, who put out an audio book version of her novel in 2014.
26. Map a book you love. It will teach you a lot to outline a book you've read more than once to see how another author thinks about structure, scenes, and narrative arc.
27. Read your work out loud, either at an open mic night or at a literary event like San Francisco's LitQuake.
28. Take an online class. I'll push my best-selling memoir series here. I'm teaching a four-week class on Mary Karr's The Liars' Club with Linda Joy Myers of NAMW in April. But find something in your genre that works for you.
29. Find a number of authors you love on Facebook or Twitter and follow them. Repost and retweet their stuff and see what happens.
30. Follow literary agents on Facebook and Twitter if you're interested in developing agent relationships.
31. Gift yourself a weekend away to brainstorm or write, or to just be with your own thoughts.
32. Do a literary pilgrimage to see a site where a favorite author lived or wrote about, or, if you're a memoirist, perhaps take a pilgrimage into your own past -- to your childhood home, or the setting of your memoir.
33. Visit a printing plant. Tours are open to the public at plants in Michigan, or at Lightning Source in Tennessee. It's a serious education in your own craft to see how books get made.
34. Write and publish an e-book. These can be as short as 25 or 30 pages (single stories or essays) and they can get your work on the map.
35. Enter your work into a contest. You have nothing to lose!
36. Tell your friends and family about your literary ambitions. It's okay to dream big!
37. Set up a separate bank account for your writing pursuits. Pay yourself a small sum a month for your writing, or when you get paid to publish. Start to think of your writing as a business in 2015.
38. Attend an in-person writing class. You can find these at writing hot spots like The Grotto in San Francisco, Hugo House in Seattle, and Grub Street in Boston. Google places in your area.
39. Map out a timeline for your book, or for your next book. Consider when would be a reasonable publication date for your book and write it down. Post it somewhere where you can see it to hold that date as a goal.
40. Create a book cover for your book-in-progress. Nothing brings a book to life like making it "real," even if it's just a collage or a vision that serves as the basis of what you want the book to look like some day.
41. Commit to a certain number of blog posts a month -- one, two, four -- and stick to it for the whole year.
42. If you don't already have a website, start one. If you have a website you know needs a facelift, commit to giving it one.
43. Write a fan letter to your favorite author. I field fan mail for an author I work with and these letters are amazing displays of gratitude and appreciation. It's also good karma.
44. Create a vision board for your book. This is different than a book cover concept. It's a collage of images and/or words that inspire you, and that can keep you motivated and disciplined with your writing goals.
45. Memorize a poem.
46. Get involved with local library event during National Library Week -- April 12-18, 2015 -- a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country.
47. Create a reading family night once a week.
48. Set up a book donation site at your workplace during the holidays.
49. Make a list of your top 10 favorite books in your own genre and reread two of them.
50. Get a logo made. Yes, the brand of you -- as a writer -- needs a logo.
51. Write an affirmation statement that expresses all your strengths as a writer. Remind yourself why you write and allow yourself an opportunity to truly give yourself a compliment.
52. Do something that shows your commitment to writing -- plant something or buy yourself a house (or office) plant; get a piece of "writing" jewelry; or create or purchase something that's meaningful to you that you see every day as a reminder to yourself about the meaning writing holds in your life.
Please add your own ideas and insights to this list! The more the better. What have you done in the past? What are you planning to do in 2015?