January 2, 2017

How to Make Goals (Writer Style)

Happy New Year, friends and readers! In each new year, I find myself thinking about new year's resolutions and what I want to achieve in the coming year. 2017 will be an exciting year for me since this is the year I publish my debut novel, The End of Refuge. So what are my resolutions for 2017? I plan to publish my second book this year along with a lot of other activities to help me become a successful author. Something else I want to do is get a third book ready for publication. I thought I'd use this resolution to illustrate how to make goals.

The joke in high school was that health class only taught the dangers of sex and drugs. Naturally, I got the teacher who was serious about health and taught us about lifestyle diseases, CPR, nutrition, and making goals. He wanted all of us to not only be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally, but also look after the health of others.

When he came in one day and announced that the next topic we would cover was how to make goals, I couldn't help sneak in an eye roll. There were no rules for making goals! Just say what you want and that's your goal. Simple as that, right?

Wrong.

Picking a nebulous goal like 'getting healthy' or 'become a successful writer' really sets you up for failure. There's no real benchmark for ultimate health or success, so there's no real end to reach. Plus, health and success are not quantifiable, so there's no clear way to measure progress towards your goal.

In order to reach your goals, you need to be mindful of what you pick for your goals. Here are the steps I use to make and reach my goals:



Be specific


Of course I want to be a successful writer, but when choosing a goal, it's best to be specific. What's something that I need to achieve as a successful writer? Write a novel.

Make sure it's measurable


In my post about the steps after NaNoWriMo, I outline the steps I go through to get to a finished manuscript. Getting through each step is a great way to measure how far I've gotten in writing my novel. Finishing each step gets me closer to my overall goal and lets me know I'm actually making progress towards achieving it.

Be Realistic


If you're just starting out at writing, finishing a novel may be too daunting as a goal. Goals should be a challenge, but still something you can realistically achieve.  I'll have to work hard to finish a book this year, but I know I can do it. I also know that I would never be able to finish an entire six book series in a year.


Pick a timeframe


Without a timeframe, there's no pressure to work towards your goal every day, and the way to achieve goals is to work on them every day. This is what's so great about things like NaNoWriMo: they inspire us to work on something every day.

Set up rewards


And I'm not talking about a sense of achievement for reaching your end goal. You need to reward yourself for every step of the way. This is part of why having a measurable goal is so important. If your goal is to draft a 100,000-word novel, reward yourself for each 25,000 (or some other number, it's up to you) words. Reward yourself with something you enjoy: a nice dinner out, a new book, an extra hour of your favorite video game. Also, I'm not a fan of punishing myself for not achieving a goal, but saying to myself that I need to work on my book for another hour before watching TV helps.


Make new Habits


One of the nice side effects of working towards a goal is that you make new positive habits. By drafting every day in November, I've gotten used to working on my book every day. It takes 30 days for something to become a habit, so after November, I wake up and start working on my book every day. I've also picked up some other habits which help me as an indie author like keeping on top of social media, maintaining my website, and writing a new blog every week.

I hope that's helped some of you! What are your new year's resolutions and goals for 2017?

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