Monday, January 7, 2013

Goals are Set. Now What?


Today marks the official last day of the first week of the new year.  Our goals should be made.  In theory, we should be moving forward on them.

Reaching our goal is like climbing a staircase.  We start at the bottom by deciding what it is we want to accomplish, then step by step, we move toward it.  That takes motivation.  The key is knowing what each step involves so we can more easily get to the top aka Our Goal.  That's where a little planning comes in.  My goals won't be the same as another's, but there are a few steps that we all can take to make the trip easier.

As it was last year, my goal this year is a specific word count.  Because of that, I have a good idea of what I can do in that amount of time.  I set last year's goal at 120,000 words.  I included both blogging and book word count and ended up nearly doubling my goal. This year I'm sticking totally with main writing word count, which I've increased to just over last year's total.  A quick look on the right will show that I haven't made any progress yet.

Why no progress?  For nearly two weeks before Christmas and after New Year's Day, there have been five grandkids, ages 3-11, here from morning until evening.  By the time they leave, I do well to know my name.  Now that they're back in school, I can relax and work some during the day.  (3-year-old will still be here during the day.)  What I realized last night is that I've been waffling, not knowing for sure what I specifically want to work on this year.  I gave it some thought yesterday and last night, and I now have a clear idea of what I'm going to do.  Of course it can change, but I can look up that long stairway and see the top.  I know how to work my goal.

Stuck with no idea of where to start?  If you're working on a specific book/manuscript or more than one, it doesn't matter whether you've set your goal to write to the finish or if you'll use page count or word count as your goal.  By now you should have broken that big goal into smaller ones.  You should also know what you want to work on.  That puts you one step up.  Forward motion!  What's left is each of the rest of the steps aka mini-goals.  It's like losing weight.  We do it day by day, pound by pound, whether dieting or exercising or both.  Writing goals work the same way.

There are a few things that can help make the journey easier.

  1. Know what kind of story you'll be writing.  Whether it's romance, suspense, paranormal, inspirational or other, have an idea of 
  2. Know your characters.  Not just their names, but who they are, what they do, and especially where they came from.  This is where GMC comes in.  This doesn't have to be done in a day, and quite often when the writing is moving along, we often discover things about characters that we didn't know when we wrote the first words or even chapters.  Or even more often, we've had these characters in our mind for some time, growing little by little.
  3. Know where your story is going.  This doesn't mean your book must be completely plotted or even a little plotting, but if you know where it needs to start, what the main turning point will be, and some kind of an idea of how it will end, you can go from point to point more quickly and smoothly, without a major panic attack.
  4. Know when your best writing time is and write on a regular schedule.  I'm guilty of not doing this as much as I should, so it's something I need to work on.  Remember, the more often you write, the easier it becomes.  You might even get lucky and make it a habit.  If you know on Monday that you're going to be writing the second scene of chapter four on Wednesday, you can be thinking about how that scene will play out.
  5. Know in your heart that if you get behind on your mini-goals, you can still make progress and quite possibly still make your goal.  You missed a day writing on your 3-page-a-day goal?  Write one extra page for each of the next 3 days, and you're back on track.  Or give up an evening of television to make some progress.  Your goal isn't over until the time is up.
If you've found some ways to keep yourself motivated through the year-long goal, share them!  We learn not only from what we do, but from others do, too.  

Let's make 2013 the year we meet and maybe even exceed our goals.  I'm willing to try.  How about you?
Everyone has inside himself a piece of good news! The good news is that you really don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is! - Anne Frank

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