Last week I outlined a ten-step plan for goal setting for writers and other creative types. This week I’m using some of my own goals to illustrate that plan and, not coincidentally, get my own goal setting going.
- Be Specific – My short term goal is to finish my current work-in-progress. In order to make this goal specific, I’m going to say, “Finish my 80,000 word YA fantasy novel, currently at 72,000 words (and just shy of the climax, plot-wise).” That means I need to write 8000 more words. But is that all? Nope.
- Identify Roadblocks – When I think about writing those 8000 words, I know it isn’t that easy. What’s been stopping me from finishing is a thorny problem plotting the climax. So I add another goal: solve plotting issue.
- Create measurable objectives – since I measure my writing in scenes rather than chapters, I break goal one down by figuring out how many scenes I need to reach 8000 words. Since I know that the average length of scenes in this book is 1760 words, that’s about 4.5 scenes (round up to 5). I’m going to say it’ll take me two days to write each scene for a total of ten days. For the plotting issue, my objective is tougher – I can schedule time to plot by myself, or plan brainstorming time with my writing group (a brilliant band who have saved my bacon on plotting problems many times). I’m going to brave it out and devote one week to wrestling this plot problem to the ground by myself. Those objectives add up to 17 days of work.
- Create a schedule – I know my real problem is understanding how to make the climax of the novel work. Until I figure that out, the writing isn’t going to matter. So I schedule the plotting session first, then start writing.
- Can I do this? – the writing isn’t the hard part, it’s the plotting. When I’m stuck, it’s hard to get unstuck. I’m hoping that devoting time to the problem will help shake my muse up. So yes, I think the goals are attainable.
- Commitment – I’ve personally committed to getting the book finished in the next month, and I think telling you all about my goals qualifies as committing to my goals publicly. I love using Twitter and tags like #amwriting to say where I am in the process on a day to day basis.
- Resistance – Some of my personal sources of resistance are playing computer games, watching TV, reading (every writer I know has that one), general procrastination, and using that thorny plot problem as an excuse. By taking down the plot problem first, I’m hoping to eliminate it as a source of resistance. As for the others…
- Rewards – I’m planning to reward myself with an episode of one of my TV shows, a chapter of a book, or a half-hour of a game every time I meet an objective, like finishing a scene. I’m hoping I can help stave off the forces of resistance by converting them into rewards instead. Haven’t decided on a big reward yet for finishing the book. Any suggestions?
- Start now – I’ve entered these goals into a cool, free website called Lifetick, that lets me enter my goals and objectives, email reminders to myself, and keep track of what I’ve accomplished. Now it’s time to start plotting!
What are your writing goals? And how do you plan to reward yourself once you’ve met them?