Posts Tagged ‘Setting Author Goals’

Happy New Year: Setting Goals that You Will Actually Achieve!

happynewyear

Many people write goals or resolutions during the new year, and one of the most important thing I have discovered in the past decade, is how important setting clear achievable goals are for my career. So I decided to write about my process. I create my author goals by using the SMART goals system conceived by a business psychologist, George Doran.  SMART stands for

S – Specific. Set goals with specific outcomes. 

– Measurable. Set that you can track or measure. 

A – Achievable. Set realistic goals that you’re prepared to pursue. 

R – Relevant. Set goals that matter to you, that will have a positive effect in your life.

T – Time-bound. Give yourself a deadline or as I do, use an event as a deadline. I most often use a convention and work backwards.

BIGGEST MISTAKE: Don’t set goals which are out of your power to achieve. 

Don’t say: Write 5,000 word short story for [Awe-inspiring lit mag] and be published by [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by June 2016.

Why? Because [Awe Inspiring lit mag]’s Editors are not within your power. They may not need or want what you are selling.

So Step 1: Set Smart Goal

SMART GOAL:  Write, edit, and submit 5,000 word short story to [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by May 1, 2016.

Step 2: Figure out calendar. This will help you measure progress and break it down into manageable steps. For the goal above: this is how I’d do it.

Day 1: Brainstorm Short Story Ideas

Day 2: Decide upon idea

Day 3-15: First Draft Deadline (I don’t worry about my word count in my first draft, but if you do, then break it up into smaller segments.)

Day 20: Read Aloud, Make changes. Fill plot holes.

Day 21-60: Wait (Note: Work on another idea while you wait.)

Day 60-70: 1st Rewrite/Polish

Day 71ish: Send through Critique Group, Beta Readers ETC.

Day 100: Consider Critique and make changes

Day 101-120: Final Rewrite

Day 121-131: Rest manuscript. Research markets, and decide first market you are going to send it to. Write query letter. Whatever you need to do to prepare yourself)

Day 132-140: Final Grammar Edit

Day 141: Submit short story

Special Note: You may be a faster author than I am. You need to set the calendar for what you can do, not what anyone else can do. As you can see it takes me about 141 days to get a short story in marketable condition, but it takes me about a year for a novel. Why? Because the steps I need to take are nearly the same. Some people write short stories because they are fast, but they are not fast for me. So when I write a novel, this is how I create my timeline:

Day 1: Write out Big Idea, Themes, Basic Characters Bios, a few scenes and outline.

Day 2: Put each scene on a 3 x 5 cards

Day 3 – 45ish: First Draft Each day I write out the scenes from 2 or 3 cards. I go crazy fast in the beginning, because I need some words on the page to cement me to the project.

Day 46: Rest

Day 47-107ish: Second Draft I reread manuscript and go scene by scene. Rewriting. Researching. Adding details. Sometimes the characters tell me to change things here.

Day 108 – 137: Wait. Stories are like wine or cheese. They need to age. Work on another idea or consider publication options.

Day 138 – 199: 3rd Draft. Find plot holes and fill them.

Day 199 – 210: 4th Draft. First Grammar Edit and Polish

Day 211-270ish: Give manuscript to First Readers. Wait again! Work on another idea right now or begin considering publication options.

Day 271 -275: Consider Critiques. Look for common themes within suggestions.

Day 276 – 306: 5th Draft. Find more plot holes and fill them.

Day 307 – 321: 6th Draft. Second Grammar Edit and Polish

And I have a marketable novel! Woot. But I’m not done yet…

Day 325: Either send it out to markets
OR
Begin the road self publishing and I write a calendar for everything I need to do to for that.

So that’s how I do it, how do you set goals? Any goals you’d like to share?

 

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