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.