When I first started writing, it happened very haphazardly. For years I wanted to write, wished I had time to write, took courses and even became a member of SCBWI, but the actual writing part was sporadic. Oh, I had ideas. I had characters. I had badly written first drafts. What I didn’t have was motivation and direction.
24 Carrot Writing started as four writers who wanted to write more and better. Once a month we would get together and along with catching up and tons of laughter, we would share our goals. It started with “This month I want to…”. When we first started sharing our goals, mine were not very thoughtful. I was still fumbling in the dark, without a clear course, and I kind of pulled some goals out of thin air right there at the coffee shop. But as the months progressed I saw something happening to my goal setting. It was shifting into focus, and my writing became more purposeful.
In 2015 my goals became my writing GPS. I no longer started my writing day wondering what I was going to work on, aimlessly twittering away precious minutes. I had a route and a target. And as I followed this GPS over the next twelve months, I reached destination after destination.
I finished multiple picture book manuscripts and queried more agents than ever before.
I streamlined my agent research so that it was meaningful and functional.
I submitted to magazines, something that I previously felt I had no time to figure out.
I attended multiple workshops.
I purchased Scrivener, completed the tutorial, and used it to make my revision process more efficient.
And most importantly, this year, I finished drafting the YA novel I started four years ago.
BUT, I didn’t stop there. Where in the past I would have pitched a tent at that accomplishment, I dove right into revision. Because I had set thoughtful goals, I knew what the next step was and I was excited to take it.
When Francine first shared her goal setting and reward system, I had thought that it could never work for me. I had thought I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of writer. But giving my pants some structure made them a better fit.
There are as many different ways to set goals as there are goal setters, but if you need a manageable method to organize your career, or a jumping off point, I am happy to share what I did to make 2015 my bravest and most productive writing year to date.
- Set some practical yearly goals for 2016. Make sure you include writing goals, submission goals and craft goals and give yourself deadlines. (You can see our 2015 goals here. 2016 goals will be going up soon.)
- As you set your monthly goals, consult your yearly goals to make sure you stay on track.
- At the end of each month, assess how you did throughout the month. Set new goals for the next month. I write these down on an index card and pin it next to my yearly goals on a cork board above my desk. Make sure your goals are specific and in a visible place.
- If your goal consists of multiple tasks, at the beginning of your writing time, list the tasks in your planner and check them off as you go.
- When you have accomplished a goal, check it off on your index card. It feels so good!
- Tape or stick your goal cards in your planner at the end of each month to help you keep track of your work (and as bragging rights).
- Check in on your yearly goals in June (Happy June Year's Eve) or in September (the beginning of the school year) and make necessary adjustments. It is okay to veer of course. Unforeseen opportunities come our way, or we get in the zone with a specific project. If that happens, tweak your goals, redirect your GPS, and keep going.
Sometimes the enormity of what we are trying to accomplish can paralyze us. However, breaking that enormous dream into smaller practical goals make it oh so attainable. This year, write down your goals, post them in a visible place, and let them guide your journey as you work towards your writing dreams. Goals are dreams in work boots.