Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Writing Goals

Here's a question for you: Where are you at with your writing goals?

Think about this for a moment. Really think about it. Do you have any goals? Have you taken the time to sit down and map out your writing future? If you like to dabble in writing and aren't at all concerned about any of your words going out to the rest of the world, that's great (I sometimes envy you!). But if you want to be a published author, if it's your burning desire to achieve this above all else, then you need to make sure you're doing all that you can to get there.

I've blogged about this before, but it's something worth repeating. For too long, I hee-hawed around about my writing. This was especially noticeable when I was a stay-at-home mom. I figured I had plenty of time to write. But I squandered that time and worked on the same novel over and over again. I wanted to be published, but I wasn't committed enough to actually do the work and learn my craft and get the novel done. In short, I talked about writing a lot but never did any of it.

I regret those lost years. But everything happens for a reason, and now when I think about how much time I spent doing anything but write, it only makes my resolve that much firmer to not make the same mistake again.

As in everything, however, there needs to be a balance. Will I sacrifice my daughter's nightly bedtime story or my stepson's football games to write? Not a chance. These are moments I won't get back and I want to treasure them. If I have to stay up a little later or take a lunch break at work to write and make up for it, so be it. But I have to stay focused. That's the tough part. Am I always successful at carving out my writing time? Nope. But it's sort of like trying to stay on a diet or as I call it, a "lifestyle change." If you slip up, no big deal. Just get re-focused and go on with life. Don't beat yourself up over it.

Here's your challenge for the day (or week).

Think about what you want from your writing. If it's for personal satisfaction, great. If you want something more, figure out how you will achieve it. Then write it down somewhere.

Here's a trick I do. I write down all my writing goals for the year in the back of my calendar (I have general goals - like finish the novel, send it to an agent by this date, or research the next novel, etc. - it's a lot easier for me to reach these goals than the specific "write 1000 words a day" goals - I never reach those!)) Then I go through each month and on the 15th of every month, I put, "Look at goals." This helps me to remember to look at my list and then evaluate where I'm currently at.

I usually do this at the beginning of the year, but you can modify this to fit your needs. Want monthy goals? Then pick a day every week (maybe Wednesdays) and write, "Look at goals" to help you remember.

This may not work for everyone, but it's something I do that works fairly well.

Now it's your turn. What do you want from your writing? Have you set goals? Is there something stopping you from achieving those goals?


  1. Have I ever given you the GDR list we work on every year? A list of specific questions to help define your goals for the year?

  2. Devon - No, I don't think so. But feel free to send it!

  3. I should probably do that, but goals sometimes cloud my vision. If I think too much about my writing "career" I get tweaked and lose my creativity. Is it marketable? Can my agent sell it? I'm confident in my writing voice and style, but if I think too much about the saleability of it, I tighten up.

  4. Rene - I know what you mean. I think focusing solely on my goals can take away the joy of writing. I think it's just one of those things to keep in the back of your mind. :)

  5. I set annual goals every December for the upcoming year. Granted they usually get a bit of adjusting as the year goes on, but it gives me a solid base of what I want to accomplish. Then my chapter has a goals group of about 15 people and we set weekly goals that help keep us all on track.

  6. This is a really good post -- I think success as a writer requires both singular focus on finishing a novel and an over all recognition of where you want to be in 5 -- 10 -- or even 20 years.
    These are the kind of conversations my agent and I are having now- What comes next after LOTTERY?

  7. I do a similar thing on my birthday, where I evaluate what I've done in the past year and make some goals for the next year. I prefer to do it then, rather than New Years. So far, it's been working :)

  8. This is an excellent post! I have to admit that I have let too much procrastinating occur during my editing process. If only I could stop I would be done by now. Here's to achieving my writing goals!

  9. This is really great. Although I have some nebulous goals, I really haven't committed them to concrete activities and deadlines. Thanks for this inspiration!


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