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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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Apr. 19th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
Must finish a new short story I started last week. Maybe do some edits on Cinder.
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Cinder-edits. Sounds like a character in a fairy tale. Perhaps there's a story in there somewhere ;)
Apr. 19th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
I have discovered that right now I need to plan before I write. I keep wanting to dive in, but I always get stuck.

My goal is to finish the character sheets and outline for a short story experiment. I'm using a deck of tarot cards to spark ideas for every step of the process, so the challenge is to end up with a coherent plot and real characters.
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
Sounds like fun :)
Apr. 19th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
“Keep it simple, you pillock,”
As always, your old gran is a very wise woman :) Best of luck with your goals for this week!

My goal for this week is to write the ending for my latest story... then start figuring out the beginning.
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It sounds like we have similar approaches. Divide each story into four parts and write them in the following order: Beginning; middle; end; beginning.

Apr. 19th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Okay, you just motivated me to finish my short story this week, despite the work schedule. I'm so near the end, but the end keeps changing. I just need to sit down with it and have a good talk.

Thanks, Jon! You're right about keeping to manageable goals.
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Best of luck, Trish :)
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
After a week on the beach, G-O-A-L is a four letter word! But I started off flying this week. The time off was super-awesome for my brain that was burning so that I smelled singed all the time.

That is my new goal. You know me--I don't need goals to keep me on task. What I need is breathing time--and it's my goal to take it when I need it.
Apr. 19th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
lol, welcome home, Terri :)
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Apr. 19th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Goal... guess goal this week should be to stop reading how to books and start doing something with what I learn.
I need to focus on second draft for urban (kind of) rural fantasy. But I'm stuck at the premise right now and think I should define it a bit more before diving into second draft.
Apr. 19th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
I wish you luck.

I'm reading/re-reading several 'How-to' books at the moment. I plan to test out what I've learned by writing and/or revising a few short stories over the next few weeks, then it's back to the novels for a fresher (and hopefully wiser) look :)
Apr. 19th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
The thing is, I used to have more goals, and I wrote so much it freaked my writer friends out, but after years of that pace and only selling a few short stories and articles, I backed off some, and reattached myself more to life. I even do most of my writing in cafes instead of at home, thanks in part to getting a better job. Now I just want to finish one of the novels I'm working on by the end of the semester and another of the novels by the end of the summer. Both are easily doable.
Apr. 19th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a perfectly good plan to me :)
Apr. 20th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
My goal is to write a semi-decent synopsis draft #2 for the PPFG and to do more critiques on OWW. And maybe, MAYBE make a decent synopsis draft #3.
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you're in for a busy week :)
Apr. 20th, 2010 01:06 am (UTC)
I write goals each week. I planned to finish my date scene in The Collector. Finish The Collector (I only have three chapters) left. Print out The Collector and give it to my #1 beta this weekend.

On a side note, do my posts show up on your Friend's page? Not that I've been posting a lot lately. But I was just wondering. I know Amanda was having problems with posts showing up on hers and I know sometimes my comments don't show up on some posts (or that is what people say). Just checking. I just want to make sure I am not having an LJ problem. This does not mean I think you should commenting on my post . . . .PLEASE do not read that into this question. I am honestly just making sure I'm showing up.
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
I think the last one of yours I read was about finding your voice, but I can't remember if I commented on it or not. That was a few days ago though.

Now you mention it, I do get the feeling I'm seeing less posts on my friends page than usual. I just assumed this was a quiet week.

Edited at 2010-04-20 04:10 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - tracy_d74 - Apr. 20th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 21st, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
Finish chapter five. Edit a short story well b4 April 30th deadline.

Start Chapter six.
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
Sounds doable. I wish you luck :)
Apr. 20th, 2010 06:36 am (UTC)
My goal for the week is just to get through it without worrying anyone. Anyway, after reading your post I kind of wish I had some writing goals. I know how it can be to plan something then never actually write it. Ugh, I have just enough of those to drive me crazy. Along with the ones I started and didn't finish.

I like to write flash-fiction in the sense that I have to stay very close to or exact to a word limit. It makes me think more about what I'm writing and I like that when I have the energy. In that fashion, I actually did finish something. I set a goal to reach 1000 words starting with 100 and going up 100 each time. That one or a similar word limit is somewhere in my journal.

For short stories I don't tend to outline my ideas, I just get an idea for it and go. But it would probably be a good practice to plan.
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
Different approaches work for different people. I like a structured approach, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to go, I just find it works best for me.
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
I haven't set any writing goals in several years. I've thought about doing so -- I haven't written much fiction since 2007 and I have some stories I'd like to read the end of. But my goal-setting has often run counter to my long-term happiness, so I'm not sure how I want to approach it. Or if I do.

Also, it makes me giggle that you outline flash fiction. Hee!
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 21st, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
In that case, I wish you luck :)
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( 74 comments — Leave a comment )

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