By Shelley Lieber, The Wordy Woman
The only way to make continual progress with your writing is to set goals. There's no job description for writer and no standard measurement for advancement. So, it's up to you to establish a framework that defines your goals and strategies for success.
It's a good idea to set a mixture of short- and long-term goals. Ask yourself where you want to be in the next three months, six months, one year, two years, five years and ten years. Dream big dreams and don't let "reason" restrict your vision for yourself.
Use the well-known acronym, SMART, to help you create your goals. SMART stands for:
Specific: Be precise. Instead of "I will write more often," say, "I will write every morning."
Measurable: Write quantitative, rather than qualitative, goals. Make sure you can measure progress, or how will you know when you've attained your goal?
Action-Oriented: Choose goals you can control. Rather than "I will be published in a national magazine by June of this year," write "I will send a query letter each week to possible markets until I am published in a national magazine."
Risk/Realistic: Set goals that will make you stretch your capabilities, but don't set yourself up for failure. If you have a full-time job or small children at home, writing a novel in one month is an unlikely feat.
Timed: Deadlines help you pace yourself to complete your goals within a specific period of time. The publishing world rises and falls on making deadlines, so push yourself to hold firm to your commitment.
1. Put your goals in writing.
2. Post your goals where you can see them or make it a point to read them at least three times a day: when you awake in the morning, mid-day and before you go to sleep.
3. Share your goals with a supportive friend or relative. Your writers' group may be your support group. The act of sharing your intentions releases them to the Universe and also will help keep you accountable--you will want to perform to expectations.
4. Celebrate your successes! When you can cross off a goal or make a checkmark on your list, buy yourself a new journal, pen or book. See a movie or have lunch with a friend. Schedule a manicure or massage.
5. Get back to work after your celebration. Keep going.
6. Be flexible and adjust your goals when necessary. New opportunities always arise and you may find yourself attracted to magazine writing when you thought you wanted to write screenplays. Be open to possibilities that are as yet unseen.
7. Never beat yourself up or consider yourself a failure for not completing a goal in a specified time. Review your setbacks and revise your strategy. Never, never, never give up!
Former New York book editor Shelley Lieber is a publishing consultant and author of 4Ps to Publishing Success: Get Your Manuscript Off Your Desk & Into Print. Subscribe to The Wordy Woman/Publishing Success, her free weekly newsletter for writers, and get two free special reports immediately at http://www.wordywoman.com.