April 19th, 2010


What writerly goals have you set for yourself this week?

Over the weekend, I did something I haven’t done in a long time – and I’m not talking about trying out a new brand of shampoo. 

I set myself some short-term goals.

I have to be careful when it comes to this kind of thing. Not because I give myself unrealistic targets (though I’ve been known to do that), but because I have a terrible habit of focusing too much on the goal setting and not enough on the goal achieving.

When it comes to goals, I often remember one of my old gran’s favorite expressions: “Shut your whining before I give you something to really cry about.” Of course, that particular pearl of wisdom has no relevance here, but whenever I remember it, some of her other sayings soon spring to mind, one of which, “Keep it simple, you pillock,” I’m sure you’ll agree is much more relevant.

Simple, bite-size goals can take you anywhere you want to go. Of course, we need a long term dream, like wanting to become a successful writer, to inspire us and keep us in the game. We also need some mid-range 'milestone' goals eg: write a novel in a year, to keep us heading in the right direction, but without those little goals, it’s much harder to accomplish the big ones.

Some folks use wordcounts to spur themselves on, but I find more specific goals like ‘Finish chapter seven’ or ‘Write an outline for a short story’ work better for me.

 I think it’s also important to allow yourself some elbow room. We all feel good when we’re on a roll and hitting our daily targets, but there’s nothing more demoralizing than the feeling you’ve fallen too far behind to catch up, and life has a way of derailing even the best-laid plans. That’s why I never schedule work on the weekends. It allows me to catch up on what I failed to do between Monday and Friday, or get ahead of schedule when things are going well.

As for my new writerly goals, gran would be pleased to hear that I kept them simple. Since I’m taking a month’s break from novels to soak up the wisdom from Jim Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Thriller, my simple goal for the week is to rewrite my science fiction short story, THE FAMILY LEGEND, and create an outline for a new 1,000-word flash.

How about you?


What writerly goals have you set for yourself this week?