I am a Cappy. We like goals. We love to come up with a game plan, put it in action and see it work. Yeah, we’re fun at parties. (and no, I am paying no attention to the changes, so there).
But, as an author, you need to have personal goals. I know, that sounds silly, but you MUST have goals. The problem I have experienced, and seen many friends do it too, is that their goals are not personalized. Remember, the reason I write is different than the reason you write. We all have different factors in our lives that effect our careers. If you are someone who does this as your job, no day job, and you actually want to MAKE money at it, then you are going to have to write more than someone who just it as a creative outlet. There’s nothing wrong with either path. It is yours and you should do what makes you happy. But, when making your goals, keep a few things in mind:
1. Set the goals, but make sure they are flexible.
With writing, you are self-employed. You must allow for things to blow up in your face. I didn’t do this and it sent me way off schedule, behind schedule and made my life hell. Always leave padding in your writing schedule for things like illness, moves, unexpected things. Schedule down days to give yourself a rest.
2. While being flexible, make sure you don’t give yourself excuses all the time.
It is really important that you hold yourself accountable. No one else will. Yeah, you may have contracted work. If you need to write X amount of words one day and you don’t make it, make sure not to blame youself. Just make up the words, even if it means you just add another 50-100 words a day.
3. Be realistic.
This is very important. I write a LOT. I mean, I can write 5-10K a day when I am in rough draft mode. I have friends who take a week to get to that point because they either don’t have the time, or they edit while they write(which I cannot do). And, not everyone is built to write like I do. Know your limits, but stick to them.
4. Share your goals.
If you have a friend, writing or otherwise, family members or a blog, share it with people. Let people in your life know you have these goals. They need to know there are times you need to work. As many of you know, I have finally learned to balance writing and family. I went the opposite way most people do. I can be a workaholic, so my family got shoved away. I finally learned to keep everything into perspective. Most people go the other way. They put their family first, which is not bad, that is actually good. But, make sure that you allow yourself the time to write. And that those you care about know that you are not choosing this above them, but that you need time for both.
5. Do not set goals that rely on other people.
You cannot say I will be published this year, or I will get an agent. You cannot control those things. What you can control is how much you write and how much you submit. You can have the perfect story and it just isn’t the time for it. Make sure those goals are the tings you can handle.
To help with your goal setting, I would suggest a spreadsheet or at least some kind of recordkeeping. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the word count you have set. But a record allows you to see how far you have come. We are only human and we must learn to focus on the positive things we have done. Those little reminders can keep you from losing your momentum. If you fall off, dust yourself off, and get back on.