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What Do You Want To Achieve?

by Jennifer on August 27, 2009

By Jennifer Blanchard

Now that you’re on the path to accepting personal responsibility for your procrastinating actions, you can begin to change your behaviors. It all starts with asking yourself one question:

What do I want to achieve? 

What are your writing goals? What outcome do you desire to get from writing? What are your writing dreams?

Your first step to achieving your goals is knowing what they are. Take a minute and write down the writing goals you want to achieve. Maybe you want to complete a novel. Maybe you want to enter a fiction contest. Maybe you just want to earn some income from your writing.

Whatever your goals are, write them down.

Next, you want to make sure that each goal is SMART:

  • Specific–Make sure your goals are specific. Don’t just say “I want to write a novel.” Say, “I want to write a 300-page romance novel.” Or “I want to sell an article to Women’s Health.” The more specific, the better.
  • Measurable–Having a specific goal also makes the goal measurable. Three hundred pages or writing for Women’s Health magazine are two very measurable goals.
  • Attainable–Anything is attainable if you set your mind to it and work hard, but if you’re just starting out in your writing career, you want to make sure you’re not setting the bar too high, otherwise you might burnout before you reach your goal. I suggest starting with a small goal, such as writing a novel, and work into the larger goals, such as getting published or finding an agent.
  • Realistic–Just like the goal being attainable, the goal should also be realistic. And my definition of “realistic” is something that’s believable for you. So if you don’t believe you can actually get a publisher (even though you can) then don’t make that one of your goals. You want your goals to be something you can truly believe in. Remember, believing is 90 percent of achieving.
  • Timed–Although it doesn’t have to be a short timeframe, you want to make sure your goals are timed in some way, otherwise you could end up chasing the same goal for years without reaching the finish line. Here’s a good example, when I decided to write my first novel, I gave myself a three-month deadline. Choose a deadline that works for you when setting your writing goals. Maybe finishing your novel can happen in three months, but finding a publisher might take a year.

Next comes the most important part of reaching your goals: Making writing a priority.

If writing is important to you, you need to make time for it.

It’s as simple as that. Writing has to be a priority.

If you want to achieve any of your writing goals, you need to accept the responsibility for writing being a priority.

Think of your writing career as a cute little puppy (like the one pictured above). In order for it to grow and become an adult, you need to take care of it. You have to feed it. You have to take it for walks. You have to play with it. You have to give it water. You have to train it.

For you to be a successful pet owner, your pet has to be a priority.

For you to be a successful author (or writer), you need to make writing a priority. You can’t skip it because you’re tired. Or because your favorite TV show is on. Or because you’d rather do something else.

So…what are you committed to?

Ed. Note: This is part three in a three-part series on Making Writing a Priority. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any great posts to come. And if you missed part one: What Are You Losing By Procrastinating?  or part two: Learn to Accept Responsibility for Your Choices and Actions, be sure to read them.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsey August 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I agree with you that you must nurture your writing, without the passion and the characters who refuse to leave us, we are nothing more than a narrators voice and no one wants to read a dry boring story, so take care of your muse. Never forget to take time to write, plot, jot down notes, daydream, whatever inspires your book and her characters!

2 Jason August 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Jennifer,

Excellent conclusion to a great three piece series.

Since these articles hit so close to home, I am going to throw this out to you and your readers in an attempt to restart my writing career. Please bear with me and feel free to offer any feedback/advice – it is all appreciated.

I have a BS in computer science and I am a developer/geek by trade. I have always wanted to write and so I responded to a LInkedIn opportunity in April of 2007. The position is freelance but has been a paying position since day one. I have published over 100 articles on this website, I have handled editorial duties, I have mentored junior writers, and I have a great relationship with the publisher of the site/owner of the media company.

In the last two years, a series of events has brought my writing activity (e.g. career) to a complete halt:
– A new job with more responsibility that has included a disastrous project, layoffs, etc.
– The birth of my 5th child (that’s right, I have five children – all boys)
– My father’s diagnosis with Multiple Myeloma
– My mother’s diagnosis with colon cancer and her eventual passing in late June

I know those are excuses but I think it is important to provide some context.

With my life beginning to settle down a little bit, I want to start writing again. I want to write for the sake of writing and for the extra income for my wife and I to enjoy. But I also want to pay back the publisher who gave me my first opportunity and has been incredibly supportive and patient.

My goal is simple:
– I want to write one 400 to 500 word non-fiction article (in a specific technology sector) every day

That’s it. I know it sounds simple. I have done it over 100 times and I have it broken down into the basic steps. But between being a husband, a father, a son, an employee, and a leader of volunteer organization; I am not finding the time to make this happen (e.g. starting on step 1).

I have been searching for a silver bullet or a switch to flip, but I have come up empty.

Thanks again for these articles and for taking the time to read this.

Any advice or guidance is greatly appreciated.

@jemorycampbell

3 Larry August 28, 2009 at 10:38 am

Jennifer — want to chime in with a hearty congrats on this great series, which drives toward an important mindset for writers. All of us teeter on the brink of doubt at times, and this stuff brings us back to the most fundamental of all truths — we must understand why we’re doing what we do. This high level thinking about the writing life is scarce out there (I’m trying to do my bit on that front, too), and this is a major contribution. Keep up the great work here on PW. Larry

4 jennifer blanchard August 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

@Jason How long does it take you to write a 400- to 500-word article?

@Larry Aw thanks, Larry! Coming from a writing veteran such as yourself, that’s probably one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received! 🙂

5 Jason August 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Jennifer,

From choosing an assignment, to researching the piece, to writing the first draft, revision, and publishing -> about 2 hours.

Thanks,

– jason

6 jblan August 28, 2009 at 2:37 pm

@Jason Ok, well my advice to you for getting started again is this:
–maximize your weekends and other free time…this means instead of writing one article a day, try to write several when you have blocks of time.
–maybe aim to write 2-3 a week, instead of one a day…since you’re so busy, it’s unlikely that you can find 2 hours in your day to sit down and research, write, edit and post an article. and since you’re just starting out again, i’d try not to overburden yourself right away. sometimes less really is more.
–ask for help…have a friend edit some of your articles for you, so that is one less task you have to do yourself.
–write when the kids are asleep…as soon as they go to bed at night, sit down immediately and write. work for as long as you can until you get tired/need to do something else.
–set aside “me” time…yes, this is very difficult to do, but if you don’t put yourself as a top priority, who will? set aside a couple hours a week where you are “unavailable.” and be unavailable by stepping away from your home to write, such as in a coffee shop, at the library, etc.

This is all I have right now… I hope that helps a little.

Anyone else have suggestions to help Jason get started writing again?

7 K.M. Weiland August 31, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Good advice. I think it can ll be summed up in the line “If writing is important to you, make it a priority.” If you don’t care enough about your writing to set time aside for it, no one else is going to do it for you.

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