It's Jan 6th. Did you make resolutions to improve your craft? Or does the idea make you cringe? I admit to either not setting goals, or failing to keep them. In church last week, I heard a talk by a business manager who'd been successful in helping her employees make and keep specific plans. I've adapted some of her ideas on effective goal-setting for those of us who write. If you didn't follow through last year, here are some ideas that might explain why, as well as how to do better in 2014.
- Your resolutions are too grand. If you plan to win the Newbery this year, great. However, this is a wish. A more reasonable goal would be to plan to submit your manuscript or illustrations on a regular basis, monthly or bi-monthly, for example, or to plan publicity strategies for that already-published book.
- You forgot to build in wiggle room. Decide to write from 5-7 am, seven days a week, 365 days, and you'll feel discouraged the first time you slip. A plan to write at 5 am four days a week lets you try again tomorrow.
- Your goal is too vague. “I want to publish,” for example, is again more dream than plan. Be specific. As an alternative, “I will attend a writing conference and query 3 agents a month," is a concrete action that can move you toward your wish.
- 4. You forgot reminders to keep you accountable. Put a sticky note in your calendar or a monthly alert on your phone. Better yet, ask a friend to check on your progress. Do the same for her.
- You set too many. Your to-do list shouldn't exceed your daily word count. Joking aside, too many objectives can overwhelm as easily as goals that are too big or lack a specific plan. If keeping Resolutions is a challenge, this year, try setting just one or two. Plus one more: Use these ideas to help you keep the previous two.(A shorter version of this blog post was previously published at www.wifyr.com/blog)