30 December 2010

Here are the Goals

I promised my goals before 1st January so I could hardly do anything other than deliver.  Before I published the previous post I did think about whether I wanted to put my goals online, but I decided if I was going to get serious about keeping them, then I had to make some kind of commitment, and what better way than this.
Goals are very personal beasts.  You might look at mine and think huh what’s so difficult about that, or, you’re only going to do how many comps/articles I do more than that already.  The idea of goals is that they stretch the person who makes them.  Enough stretch to ensure growth, not so much that you are going to fail before you get started.

2011 Goals

During January and February I will work on my final draft of Ordinary Day for a minimum of four hours a day (at least five days of every seven) and send it out at the beginning of March.
I will finish the first draft of my other work in progress before the end of April, writing at least five days of every seven.
This year I will enter at least four writing competitions, and will post/email my entry at least two weeks before the deadline (rather than rushing at the last minute as I usually do!)
I will submit at least two articles to each of the magazines I currently subscribe to.
I will post on my blog twice a week (Monday and Friday).
After reading the first two, I guess one of your thoughts might be so what is she going to do from May onwards.  My days of working with corporate business plans taught me that plans/goals/objectives need to be revisited and updated often.  I think after meeting my first two goals by April (note the positive thinking!) will mean it’s time to revisit my plan.
Though I’ve gone on about SMART goals in my previous post, I do also have a few other goals that don’t quite fit into that model, which goes to show rules are made to be broken.
I’m going to work on my creative writing the way I deal with my contract work.  Just do it.  By this I mean I won’t procrastinate in the form of research, emailing about writing (and anything else), surfing online newspapers/blogs/author sites, reading how-to books.
Randy Ingermanson gave a good hint in one of his newsletters some months ago which was along the lines of (sorry if I’m remembering the timings incorrectly but I’ve found this works for me for my creative writing) setting an alarm for 55 minutes, and for that 55 minutes you write.  No looking at emails/websites, or getting a drink/something to eat etc.  When the alarm goes allow yourself 5 minutes (or again whatever works for you) to flick through emails/get a drink etc.  Then you start the process again.
When I’m working on technical writing for a client I'm very focussed, as I know I am invoicing by the hour.  I need to treat my own writing time in the same way.  I’ve found this ‘alarm’ idea works well for me, but as with all other styles of working, try it, and if it works for you great, if not try something else.
I want writing to be my career so I’m going to treat it as such.  My life is busy and there are always things that need to be done.  This means writing often comes second (or much further down the list).
If I want to be published then I need to make writing a priority rather than a hobby.  Make time for it upfront, rather than trying to slot it in after everything else has been done.
Ask yourself what you want, and what it will take to get there.
I will not feel guilty when I read books (as long as I’ve done my quota of writing!)  I’m always reading articles that say if you are a writer, you must be a reader.  I love reading, but can’t seem to get rid of the guilt that I should be doing something else (like writing) when I read.  I hope that with making this a goal, plus keeping my writing target, that I shall be able to read in guilt-free peace.
Enjoy writing.  If you don’t, what’s the point?

24 December 2010


Usually on Christmas Eve I'm rushing around like a demented ant trying to get all the jobs finished that I hadn’t managed earlier in the month.  This year the deadline for my last contract writing project was early December, and so for a change I’ve accomplished the usual shopping and Christmas preparations, and been able to stay away from the shops today.
I've put in a bit more reading time recently, and have just finished On Writing by Stephen King.  Over the years several of my writer friends have told me what a good book it is, and I agree.  It's part memoir and part writing craft, and a great read.  
I've also just read the latest newsletter from Randy Ingermanson.  In part of it he talks about business plans.  He makes a good point that if you are writing with the aim of being published, then you are in business, and if you are in business you need a plan.  Business plans are inextricably linked to goals, and this is certainly the time of year to start thinking about your goals for 2011.
I’m a great believer in setting goals, though I must admit in previous years I've usually kept them in my head. 
In business there are various quotes along the lines of ‘you can’t improve what you don’t measure’.  Having been motivated by Stephen King’s book, the newsletter, and having Driftwood published this year I’ve decided to get serious about goal-setting, and actually write them down.  The obvious positive points are that you don’t have to rely on your memory, and it's easier to keep track of how close you are to accomplishing your goals.
Goals should be SMART.
Specific – 'I’m going to write more' isn’t specific, allocate a certain period of time/word count, or whatever works for you.
Measurable – 'I’m going to improve my writing style' isn’t measurable.
Achievable – A goal of being signed up by an agent is beyond your control, but you can set a goal to query (enter your number here) agents by 31st March (or even end of January!)
Relevant – keep your big picture in mind all the time.  All that research you’re doing may be fun and interesting, but if your goal is to finish a first draft by 31st March what are your priorities.
Timebound – setting a time limit is important in measuring your goals.  Sometimes in SMART goals the R is stated as Realistic.  Your time limit for a goal should be realistic.  Long enough that it can be accomplished, but not so long that there is no sense of urgency, especially if you are someone who only seems to get motivated when a deadline is looming.
Now to get working on my goals...
I promise they'll be here before 1st January.

08 December 2010

Exciting or ...

I've just looked through a few of my earlier posts and noticed the number of times I've said something was exciting, or another new experience.  Rather like the letters I've just written to include with the Christmas cards.  A prĂ©cis of the year.  Highlights and fulfilled aspirations.
The work that goes into making the dreams come true fades into the background.  That’s not what people want to read.  But without the mundane everyday experiences I don’t think we would appreciate the highs when they appear. 
The past few months have also been filled with plenty of the routine and ordinary, hopefully the bedrock of some more exciting new experiences.