If you know me much, you’ll know that I am a goal-setter and a list-maker. If I don’t have a list of things to do for the day, I probably won’t really get much done. Even on my busiest days when “all” I have to do is Bible Study, Good News Club, and Prayer meeting, I still have a list so that in the hour or two I have at home between all of that, I get a couple things done. Even if it’s just a list like this:
- Supper dishes
- Write 200 words
It feels like such an accomplishment to cross things off my list. Even if there are only two things on the list. And the same goes for my writing.
Okay, so confession time here. I get kind of obsessive about my goals. Like, SERIOUSLY obsessive. As in, I have specific goals for each step in my next three novels from outlining to publication and I have publication goals for the next six books after that.
That being said, all my goals are flexible. In the goals/schedule for my novels, I put in a little cushion time in case something happens like real life things, sickness, etc. and then I can adjust accordingly.
That’s great for you, but what does this have to do with me?
I am so glad you asked. Now I have a question for you. Do you set goals for your writing? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? If not, why?
Why set goals
At a writer’s conference I went to in September, one of the sessions was on stress and time management for writers. As part of the talk, the speaker gave us 10 steps which you can read about here. One of the steps was to prioritize. Make a list of the things you need to do in the order they need done and start working on them. For a writer, whether they are full-time or part-time, part of that should be setting goals. At the very least, I think every writer should have a yearly goal.
This yearly goal (or goals) could simply be “Write X number of words in 2017,” or “Publish 2 books,” or “Finally finish the novel I started 5 years ago.” It doesn’t have to be big unless you need the extra push (like me) to get those big things done.
Once the goal is set, you can start to prioritize. Instead of putting off that project, you can start chiseling away at it a little at a time every day when you make your prioritized list. Or at least have it in your head as something you should do today.
Sticking to your goal(s)
This is probably the hardest part. As you probably know from any prior New Years Resolutions you have made. And that’s where the monthly, weekly, and daily goals come in. I have a few other tips, too, that I’ll get to shortly.
Once your yearly goal is set, you can start breaking it down a little. For example’s sake, we’ll say the yearly goal is to publish 2 books. One of the books already has the rough draft written and the other one is outlined.
January: Edit book 1 twice
February: Read book 1 out loud and read through one more time
March: Send book 1 to proofreader, get cover made, and start writing rough draft of book 2
April: Finish rough draft of book 2 and edit book 1 one last time
May: Get book 1 formatted and published, edit #1 of book 2
June: Edit book 2 twice
July: Read book 2 out loud and read through one more time
August: Send book 2 to proofreader, get cover made. Start writing another book?
September: Edit book 2 on last time
October: Get book 2 formatted and published
Obviously, this schedule wouldn’t necessarily work for everybody, but it’s just an example after all. And it leaves some wiggle room of two months left in the year for any delays that may happen. Working off of this monthly schedule, you can then set weekly goals either each month or each week and then daily goals based off the weekly goals.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Other ways to stick to your goal(s)
- Find an accountability partner. Do you have a friend who would be willing to help you or is in the same situation as you with their own goals? Ask if they would be willing to partner up with you. My friend and I have been doing this for about a year now and it has greatly improved my productivity. I send her my list of goals for the day and she does the same. As the day progresses, we update each other. Sometimes, if it is a really busy day, we do a summary update at the end of the day. If we’re having a tough day or struggling to finish something, we can encourage each other as well.
- Join Habitica. This is an interactive, role-play to-do list. You can either do it by yourself or invite friends to join you in quests. It can be as simple or involved as you want to make it.
- Create a Pacemaker plan. On Pacemaker, you can set your goal (writing, reading, editing, and more), set an end day, and have each day have a different goal if you have one day (or more) that is busier than another.
I hope this post has helped you think about goals you can set. Do you already set your goals? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If not, I’d love to hear from you, too. Just because goal setting works for me doesn’t mean it works for everybody.