It's much easier to make our dreams come true if we craft goals that can get us there.
Jan O'Hara, in her article Tormented by Toothless Writing Goals? Try These Tools, tells us how to create goals that can make our dreams a reality. (For more on this see: Writing Goals Versus Writing Dreams: How To Get From One To The Other.)
What's the secret to making one's dreams come true? Making SMART goals:
Specific: Goals not Dreams
As I wrote yesterday, we don't have direct control over our dreams (Earning a living from your craft) but we do over our goals (Write 1,000 words a day, Publish 4 books next year).
Let's use a concrete example:
Goal: Write, and complete, 2 books next year.
That's a good goal. It's specific. We'll make it even more specific and say that each book will be around 80,000 words.
A good goal is one we can use to check our progress and see how we're doing. For instance, if we're going to complete 2 books next year we'll be writing (2 * 80,000) 160,000 words.
But we won't write the entire time--we need to edit the book, go through re-writes, and so on. Let's give ourselves 3 months to write a book and 3 months to edit it.
To write 80,000 words in 3 months we will need to write 80,000/(30 * 3) = (about) 889 words per day. If you do more, great! You'll get done quicker and have more time to edit.
Measuring your progress
We could put a calendar on the wall and use Jerry Seinfeld's chain method to keep us on track by putting an "X" through each day we complete our 889 words.
Decide WHEN you are going to write as well as WHERE. Many writers find that when they have a set schedule--always writing in the morning, or always in the evening--it helps get their muse accustomed to waking up and being active during that time. (See: Vanquishing Writer's Block)
It doesn't matter what time you choose (Amanda Hocking is nocturnal!) just so long as you're consistent. (That said, flexibility is important as well. It's better that you write, even during an 'off-time' than that you don't write at all.)
Also, you know there will be times when you'd rather walk over hot coals than write. Decide now how you're going to handle that. Could you bribe yourself with a treat? Write for, say, 10 minutes then take a break?
In my example we're writing 2 books a year. That might not be realistic for you. Although there is something to be said for trying to stretch yourself it's important that these goals are realistic. If you know you'd never be able to write two books than try for one. Or perhaps two novellas, or even a few short stories.
Goals need deadlines.
For my examples I've chosen the time frame of a year but perhaps weekly or monthly goals would work better for you. For instance, perhaps you'd like to try writing one short story a month--or one a week.
Choose deadlines that work for you and then find some way to make yourself accountable.
Accountability is something I'm still working on. I check in with my local writing circle every week and we share our goals but there is no consequence if we miss them. We're all very sympathetic and understanding--which is great! But it's easy for a deadline to slide by, unnoticed. (If you have a suggestion to make, something that works for you, please do!)
Jan O'Hara mentions a couple of motivational options: habitforge.com and stickk.com. You can read about them here, at the end of her article.
That's it! If you'd like to share your writing goals for 2013, please do. :-)
Other articles you might like:- Writing Goals Versus Writing Dreams: How To Get From One To The Other
- The Structure Of Short Stories: The Elevator Pitch Version
- Where Ideas Come From And The Conspiracy Against Nothingness
Photo credit: "Zsa Zsa gets to work" by mpclemens under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.