I get the impression that most folks feel a bit cynical towards New Years resolutions. We’ve all made ’em. We’ve all broken them. They’re just another opportunity to feel like a failure.
But I’m an ever-bigger advocate of trying & failing as a means of growth, and particularly when it comes to writing. Besides, we all need goals to know where we’re driving so we don’t end up wondering aimlessly, getting lost & giving up.
So why not take the opportunity at the start of a brand new, fresh, unspoilt year to set down some goals & projects for yourself as a writer?
**Just to be clear, goals are the destination you’re heading for. Projects are the steps you take to get there, so the goals you set should determine the projects you prioritise (try saying that five times fast!!).
How to set smart goals… for writing or for life
- Write them down! seriously. Don’t skip this step. Get yourself a writing journal (a sort of catch-all for your thoughts, plans, sketches), a diary or a wall calendar & get those goals down in ink! You might keep the by your bedside or post them up by your desk so that you’re daily reminded of where you’re shooting.
- Think BIG PICTURE right down to daily details. Start by listing your big dreams. I’m talking lifetime goals, such as establishing a steady writing career. Then narrow it down to this year’s goals, ie. I will submit my manuscript, edit that first book I abandoned & attend a literature festival. Next, zero in on your monthly goals, and finally, make a daily to-do list at the start of each morning. Review these goals regularly to stay on track.
- Make them measurable. By measureable I mean give yourself timelines for every project & look for someone to keep you accountable if you struggle with deadlines (Bri & I can’t imagine what that’s like… ahem). Also, give yourself specific, measureble daily goals, ie. Bri plans to write 6 hours/ wk. That’s specific & attainable, which leads me on to the next tip…
- Be realistic. How often do you kick yourself at the end of a day because you only got one of the twenty items on your to-do list done? Chances are, you’re setting the bar unrealistically high, and if you continue, you’ll continue to set yourself up for failure. Be realistic about what you can attain this year, this month and in the next day. And be specific – don’t make the goal “I will be the next J.K. Rowling” but rather “I will submit my manuscript to twenty agents this month.” Make sure your goals are specific, attainable and actionable (ie. the gaol should spark a series of projects you can actually do to get you there – write a cover letter, research agents, etc.).
- But aim high! Whilst you don’t want to set the bar for Superman & Wonder Woman, you should also take care not to underestimate yourself. If you’ve got big dreams as a writer, don’t wait until Someday to start making things happen. Make this – 2017 – the year you put in the hard work and start seeing the fruits of your labour. Make this the year you look back on as the moment you embraced yourself as writer!
I’ve made sure to practice what I’m preaching today in my own writing journal (still need to buy a 2017 diary & wall calendar!).
My annual goals include:
- Hook an agent (via submitting my most recent manuscript)
- Have fully plotted books 3-5 of my ongoing series
- Write the WW2- set book idea I’ve been mulling over
That means that my monthly goals will include projects towards those ends:
- Read through the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook to pin down the best agents to approach
- Re-read my notes for the series to remember my overarching plan
- spend X amount of time in the library each week researching WW2 resources & contact a history writer who specialises my area of interest
And of course those will be broken down into bit-sized chunks each new day which makes the BIG goals less intimidating & more doable!
Bri & I have set some New Years goals for this blog which I had intended to share in this relevant post. But I’ll spare you those just now for the sake of sending you off to scribble down your own exciting goals & projects! We’d love to hear about them!!!