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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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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.
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
It really is a question of what works for each of us, isn't it. I find quite a thrill in approaching a novel with just the first line in my mind and starting to write (not that I approach everything that way). Equally I can see why there are many who would find that altogether too thrilling by a good long way.
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
I wrote Fur-Face, or at least the first draft of it, that way. It was the first time I ever tried my hand at writing fiction (I realize now that a novel was probably not the best thing to try my hand at).

Nevertheless, the resulting fifty-plus rewrites it took to get into shape have cured me of writing by the seat of my pants forever.

As you say, 'Too thrilling' by far :)

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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