Time to Write: Set Goals - article

Someone once wrote that if you don't set a goal and schedule, you will have no motivation to write regularly. Some people strongly disagree, but for most people, time management and goals are a huge part of the process. Many people need deadlines: they procrastinate until the deadline itself anyway, so without that due date, they'd procrastinate until the end of their lives. If you’re in this majority, what kind of goals should you set? SMART goals.

S--specific. Don't plan to have your book done by some time next year. Plan to have six chapters done by June 4. Of course, if it’s March when you set this goal, be sure to include sufficient time to accommodate it.

M--measurable. It's pretty easy to measure progress by word count or pages, but what if you've begun revising? Can you measure revision quality by pages? That's a little more difficult. Measure revision by whether or not you can still stand your writing three days later. "I plan to have this revised by June 4 so that on June 8 I still like it."

A, R--achievable and realistic. These two goals are actually a little different from each other. Achievable means you can reach your goal given your physical and mental capacities. Realistic means you will, even given all the other things you have going on in your life. It might be achievable for you to finish your book by next Christmas, but it wouldn't be realistic if your aging mother needs your help all next year while she's recovering from an illness. Take into account your job, your social needs, and even your physical health when setting a goal.

T-time based. This means don't make a Pulitzer or SF award or scholarship or certain pay grade your goal. Make your goal a number of pages or a certain amount of progress in a certain amount of time. Number of pages per week, deadlines for a first, second, and third draft, set a date for your book launch party… all of it matters.

Now, with this SMART model in mind, go forth, populate the earth with your words, be fruitful, and multiply.

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