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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 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 :)

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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