the goals we set.

| Monday, March 14, 2011
Today's Tune: Falling Slowly

How do you set your writing goals? By word count? By time frame? Loosely? Ambitiously? Strictly? Lazily? Can't quit till you reach a certain point? No idea?

In the end, it doesn't really matter how you set your goals. It only matters that you aim for them and stick to them. Find what works for you. Really study yourself - your personality, your limits, your drive, your willingness - and set appropriate goals.

Here are some tips:

1.) Set achievable goals. - Don't set yourself up to fail. Sometimes you have a great day and get a TON of work done. The words fly, and before you know it, you have 5,000 words or six chapters or three new character diagrams or whatever. That's awesome. Don't make it your daily goal. Find your "sweet spot." Give yourself a realistic daily goal you know you can hit. If you exceed it, awesome. If not, at least you've met your minimum, and that's cool, too.

2.) Allow yourself a break. - I'm not advocating taking a "break" that includes putting your project off for a week, a month, three months. The more space you put between one word and the next makes it that much harder to get back into routine. But you are allowed a break once in a while. And you don't have to feel guilty about it. Take a day off. Let your creative mind rest. Veg out. Then get back to it tomorrow.

3.) On that note, don't beat yourself up. - Sometimes, even with a generously set goal, you may miss the mark. Do not allow yourself to get discouraged. Don't go into "failure mode." It happened, it sucks, and maybe you need to reevaluate your goals and make sure you do what you need to do to meet them in the future. Save the self-doubt and teeth gnashing for when you're really being lazy.

4.) Which leads us to: don't be lazy. - Okay, so you're allowed to make mistakes. You're human. This doesn't give you license to edge into procrastination or laziness. Shake yourself out of these habits as soon as you can. Which is now. Do it now.

5.) Be malleable. - You've noticed your original 2000-words-a-day writing goal is waning. It's mentally draining you and you're cranky and pissed off all the time. Maybe it's time to switch it up. Try a different approach. Time frame goal isn't working because you're spending 50% of your two-hour block staring out the window? Reassess and try something else. Perhaps that method doesn't jive with your personality. Find what works for you.

6.) Stop making excuses for not meeting your goals. - You want to be a writer? You need to do writer things. That means discipline. It means carving out time to write whenever you can. It means shutting up and doing. If you cannot shut up and do, you are doing it wrong. This is why it's important to set doable goals - so that you cannot make excuses for when you can't complete them. This is on you. If you want this to happen, you have to make it happen. No one else will do it for you. Mistakes are one thing. Excuses are another.

Writing is personal, which means what works for one writer won't work for the next. It also means that you're responsible for your own writer self. How do you set your goals? What do you do to make sure you meet them?


{ Old Kitty } at: March 14, 2011 at 8:47 AM said...

I must must must must must really and truly must stop being so lazy and procrastinating away!!! Someone please slap me and call me Barbara!!! LOL!!

Oh I need discipline!!! :-) Take care and thanks for this kick up my lazy backside!! :-) Take care

{ Andrew Leon } at: March 14, 2011 at 1:13 PM said...

The one other thing I would add to your list, which is excellent, is find someone to be accountable to. Sometimes, being accountable just to yourself isn't enough. After all, when you give yourself all your excuses as to why you didn't meet such and such a goal, yourself is inclined to agree that your excuses are legitimate. If possible, I'd say find a kid or three to be accountable to; they don't care about excuses.

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