Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Month = New Goals

Today marks the start of a new month.  It’s September!  Fall is just around the corner.  Hard to believe, I know.  It feels like August flew by.  Though I’m a little sad to say farewell to summer, I’m looking forward to the back-to-school September sales and the crisp autumn air of October.  

When a new month emerges, it’s a great time set fresh writing goals.  But what if you’re too scared to think about them because they’re too far off, too big, or too vague?  If you can’t seem to revisit you’re goals without getting sick to your stomach, don’t despair.  Break down your big goals.  Make your goals smaller so you feel less overwhelmed.


To be effective, goals should meet three criteria: They should be measurable, meaningful, and attainable.

MEASURABLE

Yes, you want to be a “good” writer or a “better” writer, someone who produces "worthwhile" material.  But how do you define good, better, or worthwhile?  These terms can be difficult to measure, so establish concrete criteria for measuring your progress toward your goals.  When you choose a goal with measurable progress, it’s easier to see the change occur.  In other words, be specific. For example: Set the goal of writing a particular number of pages per day, or sending out a certain number of queries per week. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continue reaching your goals.

ATTAINABLE
Most of the time the gulf between where you want to be and where you’d like to be seems too great to span.  Goals can help break the journey into short, attainable steps.  Set an immediately attainable goal such as attending a writing course or taking on online class, or simply studying.  Write the outline of your novel, or finish writing a chapter.  Seek feedback by joining a critique group.  Each goal marks a step toward your long-term dream.

MEANINGFUL
It is easy to become sidetracked by goals that appear worthwhile, but that don’t lead in the direction you want to go.  For example: if you’ve set the goal of getting up every morning to write before work, that may work fine…unless you’re a night owl, in which case you’ll either hate those hours of writing, or hate yourself for being unable to achieve the goal you’ve set.  


GOALS CAN CHANGE
Remember your goals aren’t carved in stone.  They aren’t chains, meant to lock you into some sort of writer’s bondage.  My goal in August was to finish my Scottish paranormal novella.  It didn’t happen because I got too caught up in writing my Medieval WIP.  Before I knew it, my goals changed.  And I was totally okay with it because 1) I was writing and 2) I was achieving my daily word count goal.   

As the months go by, your interests and dreams may change.  Your skills most certainly will change.  As these change, so your goals can (and should) change as well.  The key is to remember that goals are not your destiny.  They are simply highly effective tools that you can use to reach that destiny.

Go write down your goals in a simple short statement.  Go on.  You’ll find a renewed sense of energy, and a whole lot of satisfaction when you can check off the goals you’ve achieved.  

I still want to get back to my novella and other works-in-progress before year’s end, but for the month of September I’ve decided to stick with my Medieval WIP.   What are some of your goals you want to achieve in September?

3 comments:

  1. Great post! My goal for this month is to attend Calgary RWA's Fall Workshop and to join the Celtic Hearts RWA and Hearts Through History RWA. Ive been meaning to join the online groups for a long time, but I really dropped the ball this summer. On the writing front, my goal is to just keep writing through the beginning of the semester. I have a few word goals, but Im not sure if I'll be able to meet them with school work piling up, etc...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Natalie. I'm a member of Celtic Hearts and Hearts through History. They're both GREAT groups. Happy writing and enjoy the Fall Workshop!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, I noticed your little buttons on the side there. Im glad to hear they're great groups. =)

    ReplyDelete