• Meg Gaertner

#Writerlyresolutions Day 1

Here's Day 1 of the #writerlyresolutions challenge! The prompt: to share one goal from 2017 that I achieved and what I learned from achieving it.

Back in December 2016, I decided 2017 would be my year for getting an agent. More specifically, I planned to get an agent by the time I returned to graduate school for my June 2017 residency. I don't know what I was thinking, putting this kind of time constraint on a process I hadn't even started and knew nothing about (probably something like "I have plans, and the universe better not get in my way").

In any case, I did a bit of research into querying. I wrote a query letter. I did a final pass of editing on my novel. Then I began the process in March - the grueling, soul-sucking, demoralizing process of wading through form rejection letters (if you're lucky) and silence (if you're not), hoping for a personalized note of feedback, a pages request, and, heaven forbid, an offer. From March to June, I queried 90 agents. Yes, 90. Out of those 90, I received 5 full manuscript requests. Two of those turned into agent offers. I achieved my goal of getting an agent - in July.

So my timing was a bit off, but I was pretty ecstatic all the same. I also learned a lot. Even if I (hopefully) will never have to go through the agent querying process again, I'm much better prepared for the type of commitment and effort it takes to get anywhere as a writer. Here are some generalized tidbits I gained from achieving this goal. (For learning specifically related to the querying process, check out this podcast I did with R.R. Campbell on querying here.)

1. When our goals involve other people, timing is often out of our hands. Goal achievement is a combination of striving-striving-striving and surrendering-surrendering-surrendering. We do all of the work we can on our end, and then we have to trust that others will pull through on their end. Everything comes at the proper time.

2. Achieving big goals is made more possible when they're broken into tiny steps. Taking the next little step again and again and again can lead to big things happening. So rather than "get an agent," it's "research 10 more agents today, workshop my query letter tomorrow, send out queries the next day." It's constantly searching for the next little thing you can do to move your goal forward.

3. Action is often the solution. Feeling down about your ability to get an agent? Identify the next step in the process and do it. Feeling discouraged after receiving another rejection letter? (Remember - 90, or it doesn't count! Just kidding not really) Write. Work on your next story. Workshop your query letter or your first few pages again. There's always something more that can be done, even if it's working on a completely unrelated writing project. The action itself is progress, and it feels really good to know you're still moving forward.

4. Celebrate small wins. Receive an actual piece of agent feedback that might prompt inspiration for a round of revisions? That's a win. Receive a few "likes" on the pitch you tweeted during a Twitter contest? That's a win. Receive a pages request? That's a win. Keep the dream alive by recognizing the actions you've taken to achieve that dream.

That's it for this goal. But if you're curious about what other 2017 goals I had and whether or not I achieved them, R.R. Campbell and I discussed this and more during a podcast* to be released December 29! I'll post the link on this blog.

How about you, dear reader? What goals did achieve during the last year? What did you learn from achieving them?

*The podcast can now be heard HERE!

#writerlyresolutions #goalsetting

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