Writing Goals: 2013 [Part 2] — Assessing Where You Are

December 18th, 2012 by

This series of daily posts, starting yesterday and going through next Friday (M-F), is an experiment. This is not about resolutions which we make on December 31 and break by January 30… or sooner. This is not about wish lists and ephemeral fantasies. This is about each of us — you and me — committing ourselves to ply the craft of writing day after day, to tell stories only we can tell, and to end up with a tangible product in our hand — a completed manuscript. Then start on another story…

Writing is hard. It just is. It’s a lonely occupation, far too often we get lost along the way, we have to fight off constant Inner Voices of Negativity, and the competition is stupid insane. In the face of that I guess what I’m hoping for in this effort is to enlist the entirety of the burgeoning GITS community to create a sum greater than the parts, a spirit of I Can Do That which grows and grows, and pours out into each of our little creative cups, feeding our souls and fueling our persistence.

Hence 10 posts. First and foremost, I believe the best way to identify simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely writing goals is to do a thorough job of self-examination, which is what we are doing this week, buttressed by some good, old-fashioned inspiration, which is what is on the docket for next week. But there’s also this: Each day I’m here bellowing at you is an opportunity. You may not be with us on Day 1. You may not catch up to us on Day 5. Perhaps it may take you until Day 10. But make no mistake: This is a Herald’s Call. The only way you are going to become a writer is by being a writer. And the best way to be a writer is to make goals… and meet the hell out of them.

If you missed the Day 1 post, you can catch that here.

Today: Assessing Where You Are

We started yesterday by looking back on what we accomplished in 2012. That part of the process is practical, aggregating our significant events and tangible achievements in the previous twelve months. Today we assess where we are as writers. This aspect of the process is more emotional, even spiritual.

Get curious about your Creative Self. Perhaps ask one or more of these questions:

* Is this where I want to be as a writer?

* Am I writing what I want to be writing?

* What do I want to write?

* What do I need to write?

* Is there a particular story I have surfaced about which I am particularly passionate?

* Has something important happened in my life this year which has shifted my writing perspective?

* Am I in touch with my Creative Self?

* What can I do to be a better writer?

As I noted previously, I am sharing my own part of this process with you and Friday I will make my own public proclamation of writing goals for 2013.

For background, you can read my assessment here where I was last year at this time, where I concluded my focus had been on writing and talking about Story. Blog posts, screenplay analysis, lectures, feedback, commentary, and eBooks.

I will continue on this track, but in 2013 I plan on another point of focus.

How about you? Where are you as a writer? How would you assess where your Creative Self is just now? If it’s unclear, a piece of advice: Go into a room, shut the door, turn off all electronic conveyances, and ask yourself some of those questions noted above. What is your Creative Self calling you to do as a writer?

I encourage you to share your thoughts and impressions in Comments. And I put out a special invitation to those of you who are just starting on your writing adventure. We had a lot of feedback to yesterday’s post from writers who have been doing this for awhile, noting some significant events and opportunities in their lives this year. That was great to see. However we all start somewhere. Even if you have just recently discovered screenwriting or are contemplating for the first time giving expression to your creative impulses, stake that claim here today. As a bonus, I’m giving out batches of creative juju to all responders in Comments today!

Tomorrow we switch perspectives, instead of looking back at the past, then here today at the present, we extend our view toward the future… not 2013, but beyond… by asking this simple question: Where do you want to be as a writer?

See you in Comments!

25 thoughts on “Writing Goals: 2013 [Part 2] — Assessing Where You Are

  1. ericarmaier says:

    I have been sitting on the dream of screenwriting for almost 10 years now, but in recent weeks, I have been reminded it’s my true calling. It’s what I love to do and what I know I can do well. And I have declared to waste no more time being fearful of what might happen if I actually try. I am going after it wholeheartedly and am ready to embrace whatever may come of it … Thank you Scott for all your insight. Your blog has been a staple of my daily routine, and I am beyond grateful for the resource …

    1. Scott says:

      Go for it, Eric. I do believe in Joseph Campbell’s line: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”

      Some creative juju for you on your journey:


      1. ericarmaier says:

        Thank you!!! :)

  2. jannagummo says:

    Scott, is it weird if I tell you I *heart* this post? (If it is… sorry, it’s not meant to be)
    This is EXACTLY the kind of goal setting I need to have to succeed. You know my huge accomplishment this year, and how utterly grateful to you I am.

    I have started to think big.
    “If this is what I accomplished this year. After months years of dragging my heels… what can I accomplish, knowing what I know now?”

    My possibilities are ENDLESS.

    1. Scott says:

      Your possibilities ARE endless. Now the challenge – for all of us always – to ACTUALIZE those possibilities. For a writer, thankfully, we have all that in our control: We can write. If we end up with a great story, anything is possible.

      I just interviewed one of this year’s Nicholl winners. 50+ years old. Lives in Louisiana. Lawyer by trade. But he worked on this particular script for years. Won the Nicholl. Now it’s optioned. Plus he’s been hired for another writing gig to adapt a book.

      Anything. Is. Possible.

      Some creative juju for you, Janna:


      1. jannagummo says:

        I just got this Scott. Sorry.

        You are awesome. I am going to go public… and send you my goals. Re-reading your posts and working on them right now.

        Nicholl is a huge achievement. Please send him Congrats for me. He’s showing us how it’s done!

        I am soaking in the creative jujuju. Thanks so much.

        This year is gonna be awesome!

  3. TheQuietAct says:

    When the characters come a knocking I want to sit down to write, scrape and mould them into existence, so they’re palpable, just as real and fleshy as they strut through my skull.

    If we’re dreaming small;
    I want to write something Spielberg toys with filming, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t but I just want him to consider it. In 2013 😉

    I’m going to submit for at least two pilots.

    I’m going to finish this GOYOQ. Rewrite. And rewrite until I’m happy to pass it on to other eyes.
    Then once my personal critics have added notes, I’ll rewrite until I deem it ready for eyes that might actually be in a position to make it.

    I’m going to finish production (and post!) of my first short film.

    I’m going to write the next feature script that’s tugging on my sleeve to get made.

    I’d love to write full-time and have my other careers as sidelines :-)

    And I’d like to be a writer with more manageable hair…I just feel I’d be a better writer if I woke up to more good hair days!

    Is that asking for too much? If I had to choose one? Definitely the more manageable hair.

    1. Scott says:

      Quiet, your willingness to embrace rewriting will serve you in good stead. In my view, the adage “writing is rewriting” is nowhere more true than with screenwriting, if for no other reason than so many fingers in the pie in development, pre-production, production, etc.

      We must get used to rewriting as a daily reality in our writing lives.

      And now some special creative juju for you which you can apply directly to that hair of yours:


  4. April Austin says:

    I “officially” started my writing journey over a year ago and I’m proud of how much I’ve accomplished. I know I have a long road ahead of me, but I’m so excited to see where it may take me.

    Creatively I’m proud of where I am, but I know I need to take it to the next level and I can’t wait to take that journey.

    1. Scott says:

      April, I will be posting the note you sent me via email in the next day or so. You deserve to feel good about what you have accomplished. What you have done is crossed a threshold: On one side, people who say they WANT to write a screenplay, but never do. On the other side, people who actually DO write a screenplay.

      Creative juju for you:


  5. Debbie Moon says:

    Creative Self says: I want, and need, to write movies. TV is great, but movies are where my heart is. So that’s what I’m going to do…

    1. Scott says:

      Again “follow your bliss.” Not to get theological here, but I believe we have one shot at this thing known as ‘life’. And yes, we have to be cognizant of our familial responsibilities and all that, but we also know we have a calling, each of us. We may not know exactly what it is — for instance, I certainly had NO clue that blogging would be part of what I’m supposed to be doing now — but we have to be open to our Core Essence, Authentic Self, or Whatever We Choose To Call It.

      I know you have found success writing TV. Great. And maybe that’s where you will continue to thrive. But there’s no reason why you can’t be exploring writing movies on the side. Especially if that is where your heart is.

      Creative juju for you:


  6. Charles Ryan says:

    I first began my journey as a pre-teen, writing small scripts and short stories. Then, I STOPPED. Now nearly 15 years later after trying different things, I right back here after realizing this is what I’m here to do. So I am where I want to be, I’m still green but I’m passionate as excited as I was as a youth.

    I’ve always wanted to write about EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad.

    I want to write character driven stories. As I said I love just about all genres of film, but I love a great character that you can connect with whether they’re the protag or antag.

    I NEED to write. I have to find more time to write anything and everything I can think of.

    I have a few stories that are quite personal that i’d like to share with people that could change their lives like they did mine. Or at the very least create a common ground and bridge people.

    I feel pretty in touch with myself creatively. I know what I want, my right brain can create what my left brain sees.

    I need to keep writing and putting my stuff out there even to get ripped to shreds, take in all the advice and critique I can find. And branch out and connect with people that can help me.

    Summing it up, I want to put my stories on the big screen. And stay creative.

    1. Scott says:

      Charles, thanks for sharing that. And it sounds like a great way for you to jump-start a project is find a character / characters who really WOW you, you just CAN’T keep them out of your mind, you HAVE to tell their story. In my experience, once I’m connected to my story’s characters, they provide all the energy and propulsion I need to go into the story and come out the other end.

      And so my blast of creative juju for you:


  7. KRobb_AMP says:

    I’m loving this Writing Goals: 2013 thread! In the past six months I’ve finally started getting back to my childhood dream of being a writer, which basically just means writing and rewriting and writing and then rewriting and rewriting some more, maybe forever. I think the hardest part is letting people see my work. Last week I finally bit the bullet and put something out there into the ether (check it out here if you have the inkling: https://medium.com/mediums-fiction-writing-contest/49d6465944e0). In 2013, I want to have the guts to let people see this script I’ve been working on. Then I want to get drafts down of three other stories that have been pushing on my brain. Maybe the equation is: butt in chair + bravery = writer

    1. Scott says:

      KRobb, love it: Butt In Chair + Bravery = Writer. Guts. Yes! I’m slated to do an interview with a young man who wrote an original screenplay, then put it in a drawer for months, unwilling to let anyone read. Then he found the courage to share it with some people. That led to him being represented by a major Hollywood agency AND his script just made the Black List 2012.

      So may YOU find your own courage in 2013.

      My creative juju for you:


  8. screenwrites says:

    I have been writing for as long as I can remember but rarely to show other people. My passion has always been screenplays, plays and poetry – This year I started my blog, wrote a couple of film shorts, one teleplay and half of another, an audio comedy, a short play and of course poems. My goals are clear for next year. I must rise up to the challenge write what I really want. Develop my craft, maintain infinite patience with my work and then write and finish two feature length scripts for the sake of my characters, one of which inspired countless others in so many different directions and the second who takes the wind out of all she meets. Any kind of juju welcomed

  9. everyone’s posts are so inspiring, so I thought I would share. I have always been passionate about storytelling and had been writing for a really long time mainly for the fun of it. Then as an adult, after film school, I had a huge setback period where I was disillusioned, ashamed, doubted myself and no matter how hard I tried, was unable to finish what I started – so I simply thought it was not for me and put it away.

    Then last year, I had a revelation, to put it dramatically, what would be my biggest regret if I died? And my first thought was not finishing that script I loved so much with 200+ failed drafts (225, there I said it). And from that thought I realized that my great true love IS writing, it always has been. So this last year, I spent relearning, rewriting and working hard on butt+chair and seeing this as a JOB. I am still hard on myself, but at least I am using it to finally get somewhere and it feels great. The best part: moving forwards not backwards. That script btw – has finally been through at least two ‘finished’ drafts and should be finished this year. My first proper script!

  10. rjlackie says:

    Last year for Part 2, I wrote:

    “2011 was the year where I started finding my voice, and embarking on projects that I both enjoyed and were well-received by readers. I put in the hours alongside university in order to cut through the muck and find my voice… and I think I’ve begun to find it.

    I think my Creative Self, in the coming year, is more concerned with practical goals than creative ones. Creatively, I’m in a fertile place. I need to start developing my professional skills alongside my writing, now – networking, pursuing representation, entering reputable contests, etc. I also want to find some ways to ‘create’ beyond the script, like finding an artistic partner and producing some indie graphic novels, or make some great zero-budget webseries. I also want to start stretching myself – write my first screenplay, try more comedies, maybe even tackle one of the Golden Trinity (cop/doctor/lawyer). So, essentially what I did this year… on overdrive.”

    In 2012, I did practically all of that, much to my complete surprise. I learned a LOT about networking and building relationships (and found myself a natural, I think, something I luckily inherited from my dad). I stretched myself creatively, trying experimental webseries and fanfiction projects, my first feature screenplay, and even co-writing an awards show! I also really feel as if I found my voice in 2011 and 2012 is where it started maturing, so I’m going into 2013 really secure in my faith that not only am I a hard-working writer, I might actually be pretty good!

    Despite how proud I am of my work in 2012, I really can’t wait to get back to more storytelling in 2013. Though I did plenty of new work last year, I don’t think I’ve done anything that matches up to the pilot I wrote in April 2011 and the webseries I finished in February 2012; the enthusiasm folks have had to those scripts blew me away, and I’ve yet to capture that magic again in the past 10 or so months. I want to find another script where magic happens… and I think I’m in the early stages of outlining a script that will be the one, though it’s too early to tell. I’m also continuing to stretch myself, writing a radio faux-documentary for a friend to produce for her big 4th-year audio production project over the holidays.

    Professionally, I want to write a dramatic TV spec. I’ve been intending to for 3 years now and haven’t been able to fight off my disinterest in that particular project. I need to power through! I’ve recently been inspired for a Homeland script, so that might be the beginning…

    And I need to read more scripts. I want to take a week, put all my projects on pause and just READ for seven days straight. The Oscar contenders for this year. Mad Men scripts. Breaking Bad scripts. Unproduced pilots. Everything. I dabbled last year, but when my Kindle broke so did my motivation; ideally I will replace both very soon, and dig back in.

    Largely, my Creative Self is pretty happy and fulfilled. Can’t wait for 2013!

    1. rjlackie says:

      Also, Scott, I want to thank you for the hard work and inspiration you put in, not just every G damn day but with these year-end posts in particular. I hold you personally responsible not just for my instinct to set goals at the end of the year (which I believe helped me focus immensely in 2012 and got me to where I am), but my growing affinity this past year for constantly setting new deadlines for myself. You, sir, are the peak of AWESOME.

  11. agree with Jackie, there. Forgot to mention that Scott was the first person I had showed my work to in years. His mentoring has been invaluable!

  12. DJ Holloway says:

    Love the thread – just in a tough place. Simply put, I’m content that I’m a writer and filmmaker. I’ve written twelve screenplays and made half a dozen feature length movies and many more shorts. But I’ve never been paid to do it. I’m not a ‘professional.’ Never even sought that part of it out. And it’s beyond time. I have to deliver.

  13. I’m at a pretty decent place right now, creatively. I’m lucky enough to have tried my hand at producing and directing (without leaving Wisconsin!) and doubly lucky at discovering that it’s NOT where my love is. My passion lies exactly where it started, where it’s always been, and where it always will be…the page, the word, the Final Draft documents, the coffee rings corroding my desk, the early mornings, the late nights, the copy/paste/deleting of Courier 12 text…ya’ll know the drill.

    I’m also lucky enough to have nearly 20 loglines backlogged (“backloglines”..how’s that for newspeak!) during ‘my moviemaking year’ of 2012, composed while I waited around on set for an actress to get her makeup right, the linens to be delivered, the blood f/x issues to be worked out. This particular batch of loglines reek of potential multiplex play…they look like tasty ‘big opening weekend’ treats! This is new for me. In the past, my concepts were pretty quirky and offbeat. But now I’m embracing the artistry of ‘crowd-pleasing.’

    And, frankly, I think I’m on the verge of writing the most orignal romantic comedy to come along since Harry and Sally met. Bold, ego-driven statement? Sure, why not.

    First I must complete a work-for-hire piece for a local outfit looking to pull off one o’ them-thar ‘found footage horror jaunts.’ Hard as hell to write but the challenge has been (mostly) invigorating. That will be turned in “NO LATER THAN JAN.1, 2013, MESSERMAN!!!”

    So I’m optimistic. Assuming the Mayans don’t turn our little blue and green marble into a Roland Emmerich film tomorrow, I should have a busy 2013!

  14. I’m at the point where I want to stop saying I want to write, and just be a writer. 2013 will be the point where I stop talking and dreaming and kickstart everything into action.

    1. Scott says:

      David, I tracked all your other comments. Swamped at present, can’t respond to them all, but what you say here really sums it all up. A writer writes. Commencing that journey is the hardest thing. Once you commit to it and start writing on a regular — preferably daily basis — you will almost certainly discover a self-motivating energy to propel you along.

      Here is some creative juju to kick-start your process in 2013: Whoooooosh!!!

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