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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?

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( 74 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Apr. 19th, 2010 11:56 am (UTC)
Sounds like a plan to me :)
(no subject) - paulwoodlin - Apr. 19th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 19th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
stick visiting European relatives on the first available flight back home. That might be a while, though
Apr. 19th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
I love having visitors, but they do cause havoc with the old routine.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Apr. 19th, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
It's wisdom, setting small-term goals. When I sat myself down in 2009 and said to myself: "I'm going to finish this manuscript before december" I calculated that I needed to write about 3500 words per week to make it. And that didn't seem like a very big target at the time.

I'm not sure how it worked out. I made the long-term goal: finshing in december, but I failed utterly on writing 3500 words every week. I have a history of pushing myself too hard, but ever since I kicked that habit, it's hard to focus. Discipline is an issue.

Right now I'm just trying to push myself to edit. i have set no hard goals. Just sit down and edit.
Apr. 19th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
I have the same problem with edits. I've found what works best for me is to break it them down into chapters, scenes or even pages. Otherwise I tend to sit on the MS for ages.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Apr. 19th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:10 pm (UTC)
Funny you should ask.
Like I have twice already this year,
I'm figuring on tapping out another 11,000 words or so this week.

My most important long-range goal is to happily ever after
with The Singing Blonde™
intertwined with that is success as a novelist.
Once I'm enjoying that success, I'll concentrate on winning
the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes...

I have to keep reminding people
(Especially transsexuals and lesbians)
to buy my books and post great reviews of them.
Of course, they shouldn't have to be told, but you know how it is.

Still have to arrange a couple of readings and signings.
Thanks for reminding me.

I like word counts, but more as laurels to rest on
--when I need to rest--
than as goals.

For the collection of stealth-transsexual-homicide-detective stories,
I arbitrarily decided that five stories of approx 13,000 words each
would be good, so that's what I'm aiming at.

Two are done, and the third one begun.

An outline for a 1,000 word story?
Wouldn't the outline itself be 1,000 words?
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:16 pm (UTC)
It'll be s few hundred, but that'll help me keep the end result under a thousand.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Apr. 19th, 2010 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Apr. 19th, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
My writing goals this week:

-write fifteen pages for SCRIPT FRENZY.

-work on both my query and synopsis for the PPFG.

Apr. 19th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
I hope you achieve them both :)
(no subject) - celestialgldfsh - Apr. 20th, 2010 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
My writerly goals for the next 2 weeks is to continue to write a poem a day and complete the National Poetry Writing Month Challenge.

Apr. 19th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
A poem a day? That's got to be hard work.
(no subject) - iamtheelfinpoet - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iamtheelfinpoet - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
If you've seen Apollo 13
then you might remember when the team on the ground
has to devise a way to adapt the air filters
using only what's on the spacecraft...

it's kinda like that...

you've got a pile of stuff to put together into something that works
before it's too late...

but it's alright if expressing that in word counts and delineated goals helps...
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
I never saw Apollo 13 but I do recall a similar problem on The Big Bang Theory. I wish you luck :)
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
The deadline for a workshop a friend is running is Sunday. So my goals are to get as far down my list of things to fix in this book as possible by then. To keep it from being unrealistic, there's a list of 9 things I have to do, and the rest is gravy.
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC)
Sorting out the important from the 'Would be nice if I coule get this done too' makes a big difference, don't you think?
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:42 pm (UTC)
I like your gran's choice of words.

My writerly goals for this week are going to be gentle, because it's the last week of classes. I need to put together a one-page proposal for a project. I'm also going to give myself alternatives--either more drafting on the wip or researching agents for SPIDER FINGERS.
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
Lol, she was a wise woman, with eyes in the back of her head, and a right hook that could fell a rhinoceros.

Good luck with that agent research :)
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
750 words a day (at least) until I have 100k in the draft (currently 19k) after which I will try and hang the episodes in the right place.

This being a sequel I know (more or less) where things are going (and where they will go thereafter) I do not, however, have a detailed outline. Think I am going to need one sometime soon.
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
Sounds like the outline's in your head already :)

I can't make daily wordcounts work for me. I'm too tempted to just write any old rubbish, when I know I'll never keep it.
(no subject) - martyn44 - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
My monthly goal is to get draft 2 done on that troll story. If I don't quite make it, I'll be pretty darned close.

Apr. 19th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
'If I don't quite make it, I'll be pretty darned close.'

To me, that's the beauty of short-term goals. It's not so much whether or not you achieve them all, but that you end up getting much more done than you otherwise would.

Thanks for sharing :)
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
Because I'm just starting out serious all over again, I'm not doing goals by word counts, chapters, short stories, flash or articles. I have set up a gadget I picked up at the Foxfire site that gives me daily reminders. I have myself set up for writing for 3 hours each day from 11am to 1pm. This allows a little time for potty breaks and snack breaks and still plug away for at least 2 hours without thinking about answering emails or comments from my blog (which doesn't have all that many anyway seeing that it's now at http://impressions.blogetery.com/) I'm writing at other times during the day but I have this block so that I will do it no matter what.
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a good plan.

By the way, I'm glad Mr. Jolly's dash to the ER turned out to be not as bad as feared.

We miss you here on Live Journal.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
Whatever works best for you :P
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
I decided to put creative writing more or less on hold while I'm staying with my dad; I'm afraid the mood here might negatively affect my work. But I can't make myself shut up, it seems (your gran might have a word or two to say about that). My vague goal is to do a write-up of my impressions of Richard III, which I just finished--but that's not creative writing. Still, that's my this-week's writing goal.

Once I'm back at home, my daily goal is to set aside some time each day for creative stuff.
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
'...my impressions of Richard III'

I'm curious. How do you know if you sound like him? ;)
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 19th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 19th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 19th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 19th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 19th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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