It’s New Year’s Eve…

…are your 2009 goals in place?

I’m not talking resolutions, I’m talking GOALS. What do you want to accomplish in 2009? Do you have an action plan in place to act as a road map to accomplishment? If not, today is a great day to put one in place.

First, let’s talk about S.M.A.R.T. goals. You know, the realistic kind. The ones you have control over. Writing, revising, submitting…those are all controllable goals. Being published, getting an agent, being offered a multi-book contract…those are in someone else’s court. They’re great ambitions, but they’re not goals. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym is a great goal test:

  • Specific: Goals need to be specific, not some loose, vague, impossible to quantify statement. “I will write better in 2009” is not a specific goal. “I will write 2 pages a day” qualifies.
  • Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. Again, a concrete goal is far better than an amorphous wish. You need to know whether or not you achieved it! “I will write for 45 minutes a day” is a measurable goal.
  • Achievable: Goals need to be reasonable and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by shooting for the moon. “I will complete the first draft of my 90,000 word novel in 2009” is much more achievable than “I will complete the first draft of my 90,000 word novel in January.” Also, as I mentioned above, make sure your goals are within your control. “I will write the first draft of my novel” is achievable and within your control. “I will secure the services of Dream Agent” is not.
  • Realistic: Goals need to be realistic. Evaluate your time and your lifestyle. Be honest with yourself. Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic for who you are and how you live.
  • Time-Bound: Goals need to have a time frame. Lots of people dream of writing a novel…someday. But without a deadline, a time pressure, there’s no reason to do anything today. Put a date on your goal and then get started on it today. When you reach that date, you’ll know whether or not you accomplished your goal.

Now that you’ve designed your S.M.A.R.T. goals, you need an action plan. I like to use a calendar for this part.

Pull out a 2009 calendar (mine is a Word document…I don’t write with a pen unless forced *LOL*) and think about your work and family commitments. The first thing I did was to go through and cross off major holidays and family events that require my time and attention (birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, etc.)

Next I looked at my goals, made arbitrary decisions as to anticipated page counts (YA = 180 pages, ST = 375 pages…your mileage may vary) and tried to anticipate how much time would be required for revision and polishing drafts. I haven’t had the luxury of writing full-time since I began to learn my craft, so I’m not sure what my daily output will be, but for planning purposes I chose 5 pages a day, 5 days a week. Then I simply plugged my numbers into my calendar.

I made notes in an empty cell as to how many pages I expect to write each month on each project with running totals in another cell. Leaving time for polishing the first draft, sending it out to my beta readers, and then tweaking it per their comments, I figure I can write one YA and two single titles in 2009!

Now, we all know that nothing in life goes according to plan, but it’s also true that if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you arrive. So…I’m planning to write three books in 2009. If something wonderful (like an agent and a multi-book contract!) comes along and knocks my plans askew, I’ll adjust. But for now, I have goals and an action plan in place and I’m ready to shine in 2009!

How about you?


1 Comment

Filed under goals, writing

One response to “It’s New Year’s Eve…

  1. Thanks for the handy acronym. I knew all that, just not that way. *g*

    Good luck on the full time writing, and I hope 2009 holds lots of great surprises in store for you!


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