My Goal for 2018: Creative Joy by Claudia Mills

How I love formulating goals for myself for each new year! I think most writers do. As self-employed persons, we need to be self-starting persons, and resolutions can be an effective way of getting ourselves started on achieving whatever it is we want to achieve.

As I formulate my plans for each year, I have evolved these guidelines:
1) Although I may have lots of small, incidental goals (e.g., in the wake of last year's kidney stone surgery: drink more water!), I want to have one big goal that is my chief focus for the year.
2) The goal should be measurable and quantifiable, so that I can know whether or not I actually achieved it.
3) The goal should be achievable: I want to set the bar high enough that I have something to strive for, but low enough that a reasonable amount of striving is going to lead to success. I myself am demoralized by failure.
4) With this last thought in mind, my preferred time frame to focus on for my annual goals is the MONTH. The DAY is too demanding, where if I miss my target on even one day out of 365, I've already failed. The YEAR is too forgiving; it makes possible a dangerous amount of procrastination and postponement. But the MONTH - ahh, the month is just right.

Last  year (2017), my goal was to submit something different every single month: it could be something big and ambitious like a book proposal, book manuscript, or well-researched scholarly article; it could be something smaller, like a revision of one of these in response to editorial or reviewer comments; it could be something very small, like a 700-word article for the SCBWI Bulletin, or a short poem. I didn't need to have a single submission accepted - that part was up to the universe. But sending stuff out into the world was up to me. I just barely managed to meet this goal, as I describe in detail here.

For this year (2018), I wanted something very different, something that would focus not on product, but on process. As my personal life is very difficult right now, I also wanted something that would focus on FUN. The best fun is the fun I get from creating something, from making something - from writing. So my focus this year is creative joy. But how to make this goal measurable and quantifiable? I decided it would be: to have ten hours each month of creative joy.

But what would count as creative joy? How could I make the goal more clear and precise? I decided that "creative joy" needed to involve some extra effort in the direction of generating happiness for myself. An hour of creative joy could be an  hour writing with a friend, or in a cozy cafe, or at an art museum, or on a bench in a park. It could be an hour writing at home IF I added something special: lighting a candle, playing inspiring music, eating an extra-tasty treat.

Ooh! I liked this goal, I did!

So far this month my hours of creative joy have included:
1) an afternoon writing at the BookBar indie bookstore/cafe on Tennyson Street in Denver with a dear friend;
2) an afternoon touring the exhibit "Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism" at the Denver Art Museum and writing poems about the artworks;
3) a morning writing with a friend in her sunroom;
4) writing at home with while eating two Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers;
5) writing at home with Cool Whip added to my usual Swiss Miss hot chocolate;
6) writing at home with a vanilla-scented candle lit on my desk.

And think of all the creative joy I'll be able to find in February - and March- and April - and May!


  1. Love your creative and joyful acts of writing. I am going to add some to my list of things to ways to make writing more fun.

  2. I chose Presence as my writing word of the year, and creative joy fits just right in with that goal. Be present. Be creative. Give yourself the gift of time. You deserve it.

    1. Ooh, I like "presence" as your word of the year. I chose "possibility" as my word for the year, not so much a writing word, but a word for my whole life, because truly anything can happen to any of us, at any time - a terrifying and liberating thought....

  3. Joy in writing is HUGE. If I remember right, the book 2K to 10K focused on joy as well. (The author argued output increased when you were having fun.)


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