Goals: Making Sure Your Writing Goals Are Smart

Wednesday, January 09, 2019
What are my 2019 goals? What…are…my…goals?

As everyone else in our accountability group (Hi Ladies!) chatted about their goals for 2019, I noodled quietly. I hadn’t come close to meeting my 2018 goals which really disappointed me. Of course, I just glanced at my stated goal and was a little surprised. I only put one out there in front of the group.

Draft my cozy. Is it drafted? Nope. It is close? Again, nope. But I also had two unstated goals. Work on finding an agent and break into a new market. My success in these areas was also woefully non-existent.

I write every day. Work-for-hire books are my bread and butter. That means that I completed a handful of books in 2018. That’s good and I get that. But I want to make a living at this and that means not having all my financial eggs in one particular work-for-hire basket. Why did I make so little progress?

Poking around here on the blog, I came across Renee’s post, “Be S.M.A.R.T. with Your Writing.” Reading Looking at Renee’s post, I have to admit that my goals were anything but S.M.A.R.T.

Here are the elements of a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

1. Specific: Is the goal specific? Draft a novel is not a specific goal. Write 4000/month toward a final draft is specific in part because it is…
2. Measurable: Does your goal contain a measurable quantity? Finished draft is not measurable. 4000 words? Measurable.
3. Achievable: Is the goal realistic? Apparently, draft a novel in a year is not as realistic as I had assumed. For me and I assume for many of you, fiction is a lot of work.
4. Relevant: Is the goal relevant to your larger ambitions? In all truth, writing a cozy may not be entirely relevant. I am a children’s nonfiction writer. But I’ve also discovered that I have to write things that I’m not certain I can sell to remain creative. The cozy fills that need.
5. Time-bound: Do you have deadlines in place? I should have known that a year was not an acceptable deadline. If someone needs X in a week and I have a year to finish that novel, I’m working on X. I need more immediate deadlines.

In light of this, my goals for 2019 have altered somewhat in that they are SMART(ish). Why –ish? The novel is still in there folks.

In 2019, my goals are:
1. To draft 2000 words/month on the novel. Even when I’m deep in a work-for-hire project, this should be do-able.
2. Take four agent related actions a month. These can include research an agent, read interviews, request books they’ve represented, and querying.
3. Take four help-me-break-into-a-new-market actions a month. This might include researching a market, outlining, researching or drafting the project, submitting or following up.

These goals aren’t huge but they are do-able. And if I do a little more on one or more of them any given month? Hats and horns for me, ladies, hats and horns for me.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins January 14th, 2019.


Margo Dill said...

I like your goals because they are do-able. I think that is a problem we all run into--we are unrealistic with how our lives actually are when we make our goals. Best of luck to you with your cozy! I can't wait to read it. Love them!

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sue, this is fantastic. In our accountability group, I also made the goal of drafting my memoir in one year. You're right, that goal is loosey-goosey, and I only pulled it off because of hats and horns during NaNo. But did I really pull it off? Not really. The draft sucks. It's only 51k when a real draft would be 85k, and the story is not even a quarter of the way written. Maybe 10% of what I wrote is useful. When I wrote that goal last year, I purposely gave myself room. I wasn't serious about it (obviously, I also said to live a creative life as a goal...lol!), but this year I am. THANK YOU for this post. I've been thinking about my blank page up there in the BK group, and your post just gave me some specific goals. I think what I'm going to do is set up a weekly word count goal for my memoir, or maybe even a daily. Then I'm going to set up a goal of how many essays I'm submitting a month. Also, how many classes a year. Thanks for this post, Sue. You rock! :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--Your post reminded me of Renee's, which I appreciated when I read it, but did I keep it in mind when I made my goal a year ago?


If it's measurable, I guess I can't pants my way into creating a goal, right?

Unlike Margo, I've never read a cozy. However, I imagine I'd enjoy a cozy written by you.

Good luck in 2019. May the force (of the BKers) be with you.

Nicole Pyles said...

Sue your goals and Renee's SMART approach inspired me! Last year, I wanted 25 short stories done with 5 submittable but in reality it was so vague. I think I'm doing better this year for my goals (sticking with the short) by giving myself a monthly goal along the way. I also love your word count goal, very doable!

Renee Roberson said...

I love this post, of course! And it came at just the right time. I've been wallowing about this week, feeling sorry for myself, because I don't know what I want to focus on for this year and am still feeling discouraged at my day job. I went back and read my post from last spring and I was clearly in a much better head space back then. Time to get back there. Now I know how to shape my writing goals for this year, so off to to do that! Thanks, Sue. Hats and horns to you!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for the kind words, Ladies. Every year a friend gives me a calendar of photos he's taken around the world. It goes up in my office. This year, I will be noting various goals met on the calendar to make it easier to keep track of each month.

Renee's post really helped me get my goals together. Thank you, Renee!


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