Rethinking Goals

1. Writing goals should be expressed as products to be created.

Make goals that are specific and reachable by your own efforts. You want to set goals in which you are entirely in control of the outcome.

I will write for 15 minutes is not a goal. It is part of the process of working towards a goal.

I will write two paragraphs is a goal. I will write a draft of a poem is a goal. I will outline a scene for my novel is a goal.

Also, don’t make goals that depend on other people.

A goal to publish depends on editors. When you choose a goal where the outcome is dependent on the actions of somebody else, through no fault of your own, you may not reach that goal.

For example, last summer I got stung by wasps, went to analytic shock and almost died. Writing an article about it is a terrific goal. And, in fact, I’ve written two. Selling an article about it to a magazine is dependent on the action of an editor. Luckily for me, I’ve sold one and the other one has been submitted for consideration. But my goal was to write the articles.

2. After coming up with your writing goal, break it down into the steps needed to complete it.

What do you need to do to reach your goal? Once I decided to write a magazine article about getting stung, I broke it down into the steps required to reach the goal:

come up with idea for article
research possible markets
write the article
submit it

Most days reaching my writing goal was simple. When it was time to write, I worked on my wasp sting article for 15 or 20 minutes. No hesitation. I knew what the writing plan for the day was. Other days I spent time looking at possible markets or did other research and counted that for my writing time.

So here’s a reminder: set writing goals that are specific and reachable by your own efforts, and you will be entirely in control of the outcome.

If you found this post helpful, be sure to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.