Thursday, January 14, 2010

Goal-setting isn't enough!

One thing I've learned from a career in real estate (and an "in progress" attempt at writing) is that goal setting isn't enough!
This year, I have a more refined, thought-out goal. I divided the year up by the number of manuscripts I would like to have "out" (i.e. submitted), divided the year by that number then divided said number of days by word count so that I know about how many words I need to pound out of my poor little brain daily or weekly.
Here's my example: This year I would like to have 3-4 shorts out to publishers/editors at 20k-30k words per manuscript. (This way I was easily able to break the year into quarters.) Each quarter, I need 30k words, so I divided the quarter by 8 weeks. Yes, I know a quarter is 3 months (12 weeks) but I'm trying to leave room for revisions, critiquing and the anxiety attacks. In 8 weeks, I need to get out 3750 words per week or just a smidge over 500 words per day. Suddenly, I have a goal that actually feels attainable! Now, remember the aforementioned real estate business?????
I'm sure someone wealthy, wise or martyred once said: You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you have been. Hmmm...
So how can I apply that to my writing? Well, for me, the short answer is that I want to see myself achieving my goal, so each week, I create a 'time block worksheet'. This is a graph that has the days of the week across the top and the days broken down by hours on the left side. (I start with 8 am and end with 8 pm to make it easier.) Then I color in with a highlighter my hours spent in the office, appointements, time with family/friends and yes, my writing. I know it sounds terribly "strict" but it's not. If I need to change something I do it. I don't run to my time block to ask permission, but if it impacts my writing time, I make a note. That way, at the end of the week I know I need 3750 words, and if I dont' have it, I can adjust my numbers accordingly. If I do have it, then good for me; it means more wiggle room.
The important thing is that I suddenly know where I'm going and I know that I'm on track to get there!
Personally, for me, it proves helpful to be able to see that I CAN do it, I CAN meet my goal, I CAN accomplish what at first seems like an insurmountable expectation on top of an already hectic life. However, like most of us, I want my writing to be my main source of income someday, and I'm having to teach my self to commit to it, but I can't commit if I don't see progress.
This is the first year I've tried this system so I'll let you know how it goes, but so far, second week of January and I'm ahead of schedule. (Conversely, I didn't accomplish a single writing goal last year so I think I have a pretty good start.) :)


  1. Interesting, congrats on your good start in 2010.
    I've found that what motivates people to actually do something, is either attainable goals or the feeling that they are, and that's what you're doing, or challenges ... even friendly ones.
    Wouldn't you be even more motivated to beat that writer that pretends he's better than you? support from peers is another one, but in your case, it's all relative. depends on how much you get your inspiration from your people I guess ?

  2. I'm with Emma. But I just don't have the gumption to keep up with a chart. I guess I'm lazy. Daddy always told me I was! ~Skhye