Dreams are important. They’re what keep me moving forwards and reaching for more. I think the bigger they are, the better. It’s important not to limit those dreams, to keep all those possibilities open.
But I am not always in control of my dreams. What I can can control are my goals. Goals are stepping stones. To reach those dreams may likely a last little leap of faith, and a bit of luck, but setting goals allow me to make the gap as narrow as possible.
Let me turn on nutty, ambitious, Type A, Tessa for a moment.
I prefer to use SMART goals. I was introduced to the concept work, but they apply equally to other things, like eventual world domination and such… but ahem, yes, goals…
S: Specific – M: Measurable – A: Attainable – R: Realistic – T: Timely
An example of a bad goal: Sell a short story to a pro market this year.
Why’s this one bad? It’s not SMART. I can’t control if or when an editor will decide to buy any of my stories.
An example of a good goal: Submit 10 short stories by the end of 2010.
This one is better, because writing and submitting are things I can do myself. Sending out more stories increases my chances of publication. It’s also SMART:
Specific – This goal deals only with short stories.
Measurement – I want to send 10, so if I’m up to 5, then I’ve achieved 50% of my goal so far. I like measuring progress!
Attainable – I can write that many in a year.
Realistic – Yes. I know how fast I can write and I already have some in my archives that I can start sending right away.
Timely – The deadline is December 31, 2010.
So, to sort out this mess of a brain of mine, here are some of my writing related goals for the next 6 months. I’m not going to get into the detail I’ve described above, but here’s the general plan (mmm…more lists, nothing like a good bullet point to spice up a post!).
- June – July: Write 1200 words a day 5 days a week until the first novel draft is done. The approximate first draft completion date is the second week of July.
- July – August: Do additional research for the novel. I should now know what information is relevant, and what pieces I’m missing.
- July – August: Finish reworking one short story that received editorial feedback. Maybe write another if I have time.
- September: Start the editing process for the novel. Re-outline, find major plot holes, and get the first few chapters in shape for critique in October.
- October: Attend the Surrey International Writers Conference (SIWC). Learn how to put together an agent pitch, swallow my nerves, and go for it! Also prep for critique appointment.
- November – December: Continued revisions.
- 2011: Start sending out writing to alpha/beta readers.
- Author Aerobics – Keep posting exercises weekly. I’m finding they’re really helping me to stay creative, forcing me out of my comfort zone, and I can already see some improvement.
- Read 5 days a week even if it’s only for 20 minutes. I have a good sized stack of books to read through, plus a long list to visit the library for.
Maybe I’m slightly obsessive. I also write out daily to-do lists and take great pleasure crossing things off. On the other hand, I can’t stick to a novel outline as hard as I try. Is that strange?
Are you a planner or do you prefer to let things happen as they come?