Almost halfway through 2011, and it’s time to check in on my goals.
I can hear my writing friends groaning all the way down here in Mount Pleasant. Yes, this does mean that soon I’ll be harassing you about your goals. But first, I need to check in on my own progress. And maybe add a few new ones if I’ve crossed any off the list.
I’m a big believer in written goals. The process of writing down my goals makes me think, really think, about what I want to accomplish, and how I’m going to go about it. It makes me realize that if I want to finish a project by a certain time, I have to commit to a certain amount of time at the computer. And if I want that fabulous short story I’ve written to ever see print, I have to commit to sending it out. Now, I can tell myself that I will finish that project or get that story published, but without a concrete plan to make that happen, most likely it’s not going to happen.
Each November, I start planning for the next year’s work. I think long term (finishing that big project) and shorter term (revising a short-short that hasn’t yet found a home). The goals I end up with are “SMART” goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For example, I may have a goal to write 1000 words a day, 5 days a week. Or to send a rejected story back out within 48 hrs. Or to apply to two residencies over the course of the year. As you can see, these goals are within my control. I don’t say I will get a story published – that is out of my control. But I can increase the odds a story will be published by keeping it circulating. (Reminder – you’re not going to get published unless you send your work out. No one is going to come to your house and ask you for that fabulous story stuck in your bottom drawer.)
But, and this is a big but, just writing down your goals is not going to make them happen. You have to revisit them frequently to see how you’re doing. I pull mine out about once every 2 or 3 months. Sometimes I find I’m doing better than I realized, sometimes I find I’ve been slacking. I don’t beat myself up about it – I just use this as a reminder that I have to be more aware of what I am and am not doing in my writing life.
Now I’m going to go check up on my progress. C’Ville friends, you can expect an email from me any day now about yours.