6 Simple Secrets to Making Goals You’ll Reach

Resolutions! Goal-setting! Accomplishments! A new year invites us to plan for our future. We writers have lofty goals. We want to write books, articles, poems, and screenplays that will entertain and inspire the world for generations to come.

But everyone knows that wanting to do a thing is very different from doing it. Setting a goal without a plan of action for reaching it is the sort of good intention that paves the way to hell.

To kick off the new year, consider these 6 simple secrets of setting a reachable goal.

1.  Be Specific.  You can’t accomplish something if you don’t what you’re striving for. Write down the One Big Thing you want to do this year.  Be clear, quantifiable, and positive.  For instance, “I want to write a novel” is too vague a goal to inspire anyone. “I will write at least 85,000 words of Nifty Novel Name and edit it before Christmas, 2011” is more like it.

2.  Include Yourself. You should feature prominently in your goal.  If you’re tempted to say your goal is: “Complete at least 5 articles for publication in magazines with a circulation of over 250,000,” reconsider, because you aren’t mentioned anywhere. It’s as if your goal exists without you.  Beginning a goal with phrases such as “I will…” or “I commit to…” keep you connected with your dream from the beginning.

3.  Be Responsible. “I will sign with an agent” and “I will sell my manuscript” are worthy aspirations but they make lousy goals. You cannot take responsibility for making them happen. Which means that you place your ability to reach your goals in the hands of someone else.

Make your goals something you alone can accomplish.  Goals such as: “I will research and query 5 agents every month until I sign with one” or “each month, I will identify and contact at least 3 acquisitions editors of publishers in my genre until I have made a sale” mean the responsibility for making them happen is entirely up to you.

4.  State Your Steps. Once you have spelled out your Grand Goal, identify the process you will follow to reach it. For instance, if your goal is to write and edit a full-length novel before the end of the year, you might break it into the following 12 monthly steps:

JAN:  Outline entire project and begin required research.
FEB:  Write the hook, complete required research, create character notes.
MARCH – JULY: Write 20,000 words / month (5,000 words / week) until project is completed (100,000 word total).
AUG:  Read and edit first 50,000 words. Solicit criticism on the edited draft.
SEPT:  Read and edit final 50,000 words. Solicit criticism on the edited draft.
OCT:  Rewrite. Incorporate necessary changes.
NOV:  Polish prose until squeaky clean.
DEC:   Edit for grammar and punctuation.

5.  Know Your Penalty. Determine a suitable act of penance if for any reason you fail to meet your goal. It should be significant enough to motivate you to pursue your dream, but not something that demoralizes or depresses you. It should also be non-negotiable.

For instance, consider donating $100 to your favorite charity every month that you miss completing a “step” or making a $1000 donation at year’s end if the goal remains unmet. That way, even if you don’t do what you’d planned, your quest still holds great meaning and you still get to be a hero.

6.  Plan for Success. Set your sights upon a worthy reward for making your goal.  A mini-vacation, a night out on the town, signing up for lessons to learn something you’ve always wanted, or a (within reason) shopping spree might be appropriate. The key is to not allow yourself to indulge until your goal is achieved. Then the taste of success is doubly sweet.

So there you have it: start with a specific goal that you have the power to make happen, then devise a step-by-step plan, a penalty for falling short, and a reward for hitting the mark. See? Simple!

Why not take a few moments to share your goals for the following year below? Here’s wishing you every success in your writing endeavors.

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How To Break Out Of a Writing Funk

Okay, so you’ve heard of writer’s block. But a writing funk? What’s that? And how is it any different from writer’s block?

Here’s my take on writer’s block vs. a writing funk and what to do if you suffer from the later. But let’s say you’re working on a project and, in general, things are going okay, then you wake up one morning to discover you’ve lost all enthusiasm for writing. Nothing sounds interesting. Nothing seems to cause you to want to write. You can’t bring yourself to get back to your writing project at hand. And you can’t bring yourself to write anything else either. Now you’re not just suffering from writer’s block, you’ve gone beyond that to falling into a full-fledged writing funk. And, if that’s the case, try the following to get back on track:First, if you’ve fallen into a writing funk, it means you just can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm to write about anything…zilch…zero…nada! A writing funk differs in that way from writer’s block because, generally, writer’s block means you’re having trouble with something specific you’re writing and the words just won’t flow. You’ve come to a standstill with that project. And no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to move ahead with it. Suddenly just about any other topic or project seems more interesting than the one you’re working on, and you start to get ideas for all kinds of new short stories, articles, books, etc. Writer’s block can occur when you’re working on an article, an essay, a writing assignment for a business client, and especially when you’re writing a book.规格, 女孩, 白, 棕色, 金发女郎, 伤心, 坦率, 眼镜, 快乐, 女性

1. First, don’t try to write ANYTHING for a few days. Just give into the funk. But only for a few days. During this time, do anything BUT write. See some movies, read some books, eat out with your friends. Don’t even TALK about writing.

2. Next, after you’ve had a few days to forget about writing, take time for a little reflection. Ask yourself if there is some aspect of your writing career that you’re fearful about. Have you recently completed an assignment or written a book and now you must face the possibility that either the client won’t like the work or you won’t find a publisher for your manuscript? This fear can be paralyzing. And you can fear success just as much (or even more, in some cases) than you fear failure, and this will cause you to fall into a deep writing funk. Try to journal about this. It will get you writing again and also get you to face your fears.

4. Make a list of all the reasons you became a writer in the first place. What attracted you to this profession (or hobby)? Simply listing all these reasons in a notebook will remind you of all the wonderful aspects of living the writer’s life and may lift you out of your writing funk at this point.3. Review your writing schedule. If you worked at a regular day job out among many other people for a large part of your life, and now you’re a full time freelance writer who works in a home office all alone all day, you may just be lonely and in need of some interaction with other people. Take a look at your workday schedule and incorporate one or two regular activities outside your home office that will get you out among the world on a regular basis. Take an exercise class several times a week or join a book group at a local bookstore, or volunteer at a local shelter or agency. Just be sure you choose something you will enjoy and look forward to, and don’t schedule too many activities like this each week or you won’t have enough time for your writing.

Finally, realize that most writers find themselves in a writing funk from time to time, and this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a writer. You’ll eventually work your way out of this writing funk and get back on track to the writing–and the writer’s life– that you love.

About Suzanne
Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, children’s author, and the Working Writer’s Coach. She helps writers everywhere stay on track with their writing through membership in The Working Writer’s Club. Find out more about this club at http://www.writemoresellmore.com.

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