Since this is the first post of the new year, I feel compelled to offer a few words of advice in setting goals. Do I believe goal-setting is important? Absolutely. As has been oft repeated, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” If you want to grow as a writer—and since you’re reading this blog, I assume you do—goals are important.
Writing-related goals may fall into several areas. What area is most important to you at this time? Finishing a project? Marketing your work? Improving your craft? Choose the area where you wish to concentrate in 2010.
An easy-to-remember anagram advises us to set S.M.A.R.T. goals.(1): Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
Specific: Make your goal specific. Don’t say “I will write more.” Say, “I will finish Bridge to Love.” (That’s the title of my current WIP.)
Measurable: Make your specific goal measurable. “I will write 2,000 words a day” or “I will research and choose three agents to contact in the month of January.”
Achievable: Make your goal something within your control. I have no control over whether or not a publisher will buy my book or that it will become a best seller. However, I can say “I will write and submit Ohio Bound.”
Realistic: Make your goals realistic for the time you have to invest. Find your own rhythms. If pushed, I can write 1,000 words in an hour. Your average may be higher or lower. You may wish to set a time goal: I will write for 15—30 minutes a day before I go to bed. Make it realistic for your life.
Timely: Set your goals with a deadline in mind. I work back from a contract deadline to determine how much I need to do on a daily basis. That way, I rarely have last minute emergencies. Without a contract, use deadlines such as: conference attendance, contest entries, accountability partners to push you to reach your goal in a timely manner.
Set goals for the year—the month—the week—the day. Celebrate the successes. Readjust your goals in light of what didn’t work.
Come back in December ready to share your good news.
(1) Anagram not original with me—not sure where I first learned it.