Note: As we mentioned in our NaNoWriMo Kickoff post, Mazie will be writing with us for a while as a contributor to The Sprint Shack! Give her a warm welcome and enjoy her first non-guest post!
Mazie Bishop: Setting Manageable Goals
For any writers out there who are balancing a 9 to 5 work week, taking care of their families (or fur babies!), and juggling the other responsibilities life throws at them, goal setting can mostly become overwhelming and–lets face it–faulty. But not if you know how to set manageable goals that are suited perfectly to your lifestyle! Whether you are a full time stay at home mom, working overtime, or finishing up your BA, with the right type of goal setting, anyone can achieve what they want to.
The biggest mistake that people make when setting a goal is immediately jumping to the highest tier as a means to push themselves. I am in no way saying not to shoot high, but while telling yourself that you are going to have your book published by the end of the year is possible, for example, there is no structure to the goal. This will make it super easy to lose momentum, which is something everyone needs to achieve such a hefty feat. Here is my 5 step process for setting effective goals:
Step 1: Define your goal! Example: Write and publish a book by the end of the year or even write 1000 words every day this year!
Step 2: Break down the stages! Example: 3 months: write first draft, 9 months: edit and revise, market, publish. *Note: The publishing stage can be unpredictable, so be sure to account for unexpected road blocks along the way in your timeline.
Step 3: Take it one stage a time. Feel free to break down your goals into monthly, weekly and even daily goals, whatever is more realistic for your lifestyle. If you are working full time, it may be more effective to break your monthly goal down into daily segments–because, let’s face it, it can be very difficult to write 10,000 words a week. But say you have weekends off, and you have free time, 5000 words a day is more than possible. Its all about planning!
Step 4: Divide and Conquer. As you hit your mini goals, you’ll start gaining this beautiful thing we’ve mentioned, called momentum! You’ll feel more inclined to write because you’ve been keeping up, and you’re right on track. As soon as you clear your monthly goal, keep going, plan your next month and just write your heart out! There is no stopping you now! You’re a power house, remember!?
Step 5: Celebrate your ultimate success. At the end of the year, when your goal is close, keep pushing through until you hit it. It may involve you locking yourself in your room until you write 4000 words, denying yourself of Netflix and snacks until you hit your daily goals, but hey, in the end, you’ll have a book edited and ready for publishing–or whatever your goal might be.
Everyone will have a different goal style. For example, I write better in the morning and research better at night, but I also don’t have a fixed schedule for work every week, so a weekly break down is better suited for me because I never know what to expect. But for someone who works full time and definitely knows when their shifts start and end, daily goals would be best.
If there is any other tip that I could give to you this holiday, it would definitely be the recommendation of getting a separate planner for your writing. I know you might be saying “oh no no, I have a planner, I don’t need anything else! I can just track my writing to-dos in there with every single other thing I do with my life!” Just trust me on this one: keeping a separate planner for writing will make it so much easier to focus on hitting those goals if all you see every day is a daily or weekly target by itself, not surrounded by notes about that potluck next week or the dance recital tomorrow.
I have so many tips for organizing a planner but alas, that is for another day! I hope this helped you start thinking about your goals for 2015, and maybe gave some insight on how to plan for those goals a little bit better!
Mazie Bishop is a fiery 22 year-old writer and journalism student from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a big dreamer who hopes to be writing with the big guys some day and cannot wait for her career to start! Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.