Friday, 10 August 2012

Goals (and How To Set Them)

Summer is here!

Summer classes are over and school doesn't start again until late September. That means I now have plenty of time to write. As many of you know, however, just writing rarely cuts it. I need some goals.

Luckily, one of the classes I just finished was very specific on goals and goal-setting, and I came away with a few tips. Mainly, this:

Specific: "My novel will be finished by January" This is too vague for many reasons. What do you mean by finished - first draft or final edit? It would also be more specific to have one acceptable date and time. Try instead: "I will finish the first draft of my novel and send it out for critique by December 15th, noon."

Measurable: "I will be a better writer" Nuh-uh. Except for other people's opinions, you have no tangible way to measure this. Instead, focus more on the how: "I will read three how-to-write books" or "I will use 35% less adverbs".

Attainable: "I will start and finish my novel this week" "I will become a NYT best-seller this year" An extreme example, but we're all a little guilty of this. Make sure your goals fit your lifestyle. "I will write a chapters this week and not forget to feed my family."

Relevant: "I will become a better human being" (also, that's unmeasurable) Will becoming a better human being help your writing? Not necessarily. What about, "I will make an hour-and-a-half of free time every night?" It may seem relevant (free time means writing time) but it isn't, because free time is just that - free time. You can do what you want with it. Try instead: "I will write half an hour every evening."

Time Bound: "I will finish my novel" Yeah, said every wannabe writer since um, ever. You need to have a deadline set in stone, one that you will not move unless circumstances demand it. Try instead: "I will have two chapters written by friday."

And there's one more element, one that didn't fit in the S.M.A.R.T. acronym, but one that's vital for motivation.

Difficult: "I'll finish the first draft of my novel in two years today." Great, but you'll never get started. Then you'll forget. Maybe you'll remember before the deadline, but by that time you have two months before it hits and you'll never get it done in time, so you throw it out the window. Difficulty does vary person to person, but try something more challenging.

Since this is summer, I'm going to have some goals of my own. Are you ready?

I will write at least 500 words six days a week until my first draft is done. (That's 3000 words a week)
I will have my first draft finished by the time school starts in five and a half weeks. 
I will read at least one novel a week until then. 

How about you? Do you have any goals for the rest of summer?



Jemi Fraser said...

Love this! Our board uses SMART goals a lot. It's so importnat to narrow that focus. I've had a productive writing summer so far. My goal is to finish 50k of a new story by the time school starts Labour Day weekend. :)

Brandon Ax said...

My goals are:

1. send at least two query letters a week.

2. Finish first draft of my second book by Dec. 1st.

Great blog btw new follower.

The Golden Eagle said...

Good luck reaching your goals!

I have a couple goals which need revision, but as they stand right now they are: 1. Come up with a new idea for a novel and outline that idea. 2. Write the first draft of a story based on said outline before NaNoWriMo begins.

L E Waters said...

I love this!

1)I will write at least 500 words a day

2)I will write one blog post a week

3)I will have my first draft of my second book done by October

4)I will have my second book published in early 2013

Carol Kilgore said...

Great goal-setting post. I always need a refresher :)

Ravena Guron said...

This is great :)

My goals

1) Edit three chapters a day
2)By August 22nd (random date) have my book ready for CPs
3)I will have my WIP polished to the best of my ability by 22nd October, 12:32 am (precise.)

Talli Roland said...

Great goals! Mine are to finish my first draft and start revisions. Almost there!

Kerri Cuev said...

I needed this post! I've seen my goals come and go, but it's time to stick with it. Thanks for the inspiration :)

Leslie S. Rose said...

Perfect acronym. It brings to mind the pledges all the amazing Olympians must have made to achieve their excellence.

Paul Tobin said...

I too like your acronym. My goals are to complete a short story tied into CO2. To write a sestina that works and to play with other forms.