When we submit a grant with the GOAL of the funder giving us MONEY.... They ask for things like a HYPOTHESIS, SPECIFIC AIMS (GOALS) and STRATEGIES. So lets apply those to writing.
Null Hypothesis: The null HYPOTHESIS is the idea that DOING SOMETHING will be statistically the same as DOING NOTHING.
So in writing, this would be the claim “Working my butt off to improve writing, improve queries, and sending queries to lots of agents will have the SAME effect as doing NOTHING.
Now nobody really BELIEVES the null HYPOTHESIS. If they DID, they wouldn't be doing the darned study, ne? What their HYPOTHESIS really is is that if they work their tail off they WILL find an agent and then a publisher. And REALLY you only use NULL HYPOTHESES in school (at least I only ever did)--for a grant or a manuscript we use the ACTUAL HYPOTHESIS.
So I reiterate: If I work my tail off, I will find an agent and then a publisher.
Easy Peasy, right?
Well we started to get at it up above...
Improve the writing. Improve the query. Send to the right agent. Right? THESE ARE GOALS.
But neither are these magic. (and if you thought they were, I apologize for disillusioning you. I am on day 4 of the 2011 eating plan and it is making me mean and rotten. I am also in my 3rd month of basically marathon level writing production and it is making me loopy. Cranky and Loopy make for twisted bedfellows)
But if to each GOAL you add... say 3-4 STRATEGIES, THEN you might be at a PLAN!!!! (HA! Did you hear the evil cackling?! That is my plan fiend, who I believe you've met.)
1. Write 5000 words every week
2. Find 3 critique partners willing to give me feedback
3. Read my final draft out loud before sending
GOAL: Improve my Query Letter
1. Find blogs with the RULES
2. USE a resource that gives query feedback (there are several websites if you don't have a passel of writers to ask.
3. Write a couple 3 and TEST them.
GOAL: Send queries to agents
1. Identify agents who are currently accepting your genre
2. TIER them. TOP, medium and lower among acceptable
3. Send queries about 10 at a time to a set that include all tiers.
4. Follow ALL the agency guidelines when sending.
See... the strategies are actionable and measurable.
So you end up with this:
I think (hypothesis) and to test it I am going to (goal) by (strategies).
FLEXIBILITY: This one is NOT official. It is about your ability to DO IT. Stuff comes up. I know that is news to a lot of you. Life should just fall in line, yeah? But it doesn't. Children need things. Spouses need things. Jobs need things. I have several times a year that LIFE throws a monkey wrench in my best intentions. Now if you have RIGID plans, then suddenly you've failed through no fault of your own.
COUNT ON IT. PLAN FOR IT.
Set your goals in large enough timeframes that you can absorb... a 5000 word a week writing goal is REALLY a 1000 word a DAY writing goal with padding for LIFE to happen. I TRY to do it in the first 5 days, but I have room to adjust if it doesn't happen that way.
Recognize OTHER people have lives. When I am recruiting critique partners, I generally try to recruit one or two more than I think I need. If the request is for NOW you may not need to because people generally know their immediate obligations, but with my writing group, I try to give a heads up: If I need 2 readers each for initial feedback and then a polished read then I ASK for 3 each. (because SOMEBODY will surely get a life between now and then). Try to also give them TIME. (says the person who only gave Rayna and Cruella 4 days recently *shifty* I guess the key there is TRY...
When something big comes up, be willing to just rewrite the schedule and call it good. When I was in the midst of my LEGACY edits, I got AGENT feedback that was bigger than I thought it would be... that is a DEADLINE. I HAD to drop Legacy. But that didn't mean I had to call Legacy a fail. I just had to set it back and come back to it.
So there. Goals a la Tart