Using goals to kick start your writing career
... and why goals are better than 'resolutions'.
This time last year, I started the Exploring Authoring blog and set myself the goal of finishing the first draft of my young adult novel before my 30th birthday. In the past, I’d started plenty of years with the vague, non-specific, resolution to ‘do more writing’ or ‘make time to write’ - but I’d never had a concrete, measurable goal.
Fast forward to January 2017 and I am not only in possession of a completed first draft, I’ve also worked my way through a quarter of my second draft rewrites, plotted out books two and three in my trilogy, written and successfully crowdfunded an illustrated children’s book, and started my own micro-publishing company.
I actually didn’t fully appreciate how much I achieved in 2016 until I sat down and started planning my new set of goals for 2017. Looking back, I’m amazed; it was far from an easy year, in many ways, and yet… that goal kept me focussed. All the other things I did (the children’s book, the crowdfunding…) were a side-effect of starting to believe in myself as a writer.
And that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t begun the year with a big, shiny, intimidating but oh-so-important goal.
So, if you’re sitting at home wishing you could write but thinking that you’ll never have time, or if you’re planning to ‘try and fit writing in around other things’ this year. I’m here to tell you that you need to set yourself a goal, or two, or three…
Just follow these three easy goal-setting steps, and 2017 will be yours for the taking!
What do you want more than anything? If time and money weren’t an issue, what would you want to achieve? (hint, for our purposes the answer should be writing-orientated)
In my case, the answer to this question was: ‘I want to write and publish a young adult novel.’
List three, achievable, realistic things you can do in your current situation to make this dream happen.
My list went like this:
Write three days a week. (This seemed realistic given my work and personal commitments, but significant enough to make a difference to my desired outcome.)
Start reading books about writing and listening to podcasts. (Podcasts were an especially achievable aim for me because I knew I’d be able to listen to them on my drive to work.)
Finish a first draft. (A novel is a BIG thing. Most people will never complete that first draft, let alone the second or third, so this seemed a sensible place to start.)
What is a realistic time-frame in which you can make this happen? Is there a milestone or event that you can aim for?
For me, my 30th birthday was the goal. It shouldn’t really have been any different from any other birthday but, for some reason, it felt significant. And once I had decided on it, it spurred me on.
Tip: I used Scrivener to work out how many words I would have to write per session, if I wrote three days a week, to reach my goal. It turned out that six months was a realistic time frame and worked really well as my birthday’s in June and I was starting out in January.
Your goals don’t have to be massive. They can be tiny. And you can have as many of them as you like.
Take a look at My Author Goals for 2017 if you’re in need of inspiration and please do share your goals with me on Twitter or Facebook. I love hearing from you, I really do!