Welcome to Our Write Mind. I hope you will explore the various pages. I would love to hear from you and am curious about what you would like to see discussed or what you would find helpful to you as a writer. My goal is to have new material available weekly. My best wishes to you as we explore the writing profession. Dara

Friday, February 9, 2007

Measurable Goals

Did you bring your tape measure? We’re talking about measurable goals today. Just joking about pulling out the tape unless you decide your goal is to write six yards of paper a day (that’s 6 ½ pages BTW). For goal setting, a measurable goal is one that is specific and concrete.

Many of us qualify our goals. Some examples:

  • To be a better writer.
  • To be a successful, self-supporting writer.
  • To be a good writer who produces interesting and worthwhile books.
  • To write five short essays on parenting.
  • To spend two hours a day doing something with writing.
  • To put down my parenting ideas on paper.
These are all wonderful ideas and well intentioned, but too unfocused and unspecific to be useful goals. Is your definition of better, successful, good or self-supporting the same as mine? Does the editor have the same definition of interesting and worthwhile? With terms like these so difficult to define, our goals always seem just out of reach and unfulfilled.

Our goals are useless when we can’t decide if we’ve actually met the goal. Isn’t it always possible to become a better writer as we grow in our writer’s life? We must then quantify our goals ---goals that have measurable forms of output or results.

Some examples of clear and measurable goals might be:

  • To write three pages a day for six months.
  • To compose and send out two queries per week.
  • To write five parenting articles in the next two months.
  • To spend two hours each day, four days a week, experimenting with writing fiction, non-fiction, poetry or essays.
  • To create a writer’s notebook for a minimum of six months, exploring ideas on parenting and other topics, and to use the ideas to create at least six polished pieces.
  • To be self-supporting within 18 months by earning $3000 per month.

Our writing goals should reflect our own values and decisions about our lifestyle, and not the judgments, expectations, or recommendations of others around us. Each goal must be based solely on our abilities, efforts, and desires, not the wishes of well-intentioned family and friends.

Our challenge now is to list some measurable writing goals. Remember you can also list measurable life goals.

In my write mind,

Monday, February 5, 2007

Meaningful Goals

By now, hopefully you have committed your dreams to paper. While we are talking about writing goals here, these steps can be used to define goals in all areas of our life. So how does one define a meaningful goal?

In reality, it is easy to get off track with someone else’s goals for you, or even suggestions and recommendations for each of us on how we to obtain success. Writing magazines, books, courses, and yes, even blogs all have formulas and keys to successful goal setting. Most fail to mention these suggestions and formulas will not work in every scenario or for every writer. Our job is to research and study what has significant meaning in our writing life.

For each of us to be consistent in pursuing a writing goal it must be valued and make sense to us. A meaningful goal will spur a writer to continue when the drudgery of a writing task occurs. Writers are told to write every day, keep a journal, and to schedule a time to write by getting up early or staying up late. What if you are more productive at night, but can’t schedule any time late at night due to a job schedule where you get off at 2 AM? Or if you are Susie or Sam Sunshine in the mornings, but your mornings are filled with endless tasks of getting lunches packed, breakfast cooked and all three kids carpooled to school prior to working a day job, what then? The journal and assigned writing times are not meaningful or realistic for you. You will have to re-evaluate what works for YOU and implement it into a specific goal which does work.

After defining your goal, be wary of getting sidetracked by what appears to be a worthy goal, but really does not lead you in a direction you want to go. Let’s say you want to become a children’s picture book writer, while a wonderful dream, you are also faced with feeding and clothing three children of your own. What to do? Most children’s writers cannot support their families solely with their children’s stories; so it is easy to postpone writing the picture book. After all one isn’t paid a penny of an advance until after the book is in under contract, but yet there are bound to be more lucrative jobs, which will pay the bills.

Turn these competing projects into a win/win situation. You might spend 25% of your writing time working on your picture book, and the other 75% writing articles for various paying markets and genre, and still work a "day" job. Each writer will have to ascertain what a meaningful balance is; but be care not to pass up an opportunity because it doesn’t seem immediately meaningful and fulfilling. Taking a writing course on researching may seem tedious, but it could be the best investment in reaching a long-term goal.

Our writing challenge is to honestly look at our writing life and define what is most meaningful to us. What can we change to enhance our writing goals leading to our ultimate success?

Be strong; find the meaning best for you,