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 23, 2007

Long-term and Short-term Goals

Now that we have covered the three criteria for writing a goal, we shall discuss short term and long-term goals today. The wisest writing strategy includes a mixture of short-term goals and long-term goals. Examples: I will write two hours each day, four days a week. (short-term) I will write a 300 page young adult novel in one year. (long-term)

In addition, a good way to determine long-term goals is to ask ourselves where you want to be in six months, one year, five years, and ten years. By answering this question, we define our vision for a writing career or our lives. We will become better able to determine which writing projects will contribute to or detract from our long-term goals.

Most times long-term goals build upon one another. If you are a freelance writer as I am, a long-term goal might be to collect 30 plus clips your first year. The next step once you've established a portfolio from varied sources, you might choose to devote your second year to targeting better-paying magazine or newspaper markets. You might decide to remain a generalist, or chose to specialize. It can be lucrative to establish yourself as an expert in one focused field, yet conversely, there is a definite need for writers who can give voice to more diverse topics.

Long-term goals help us decide our end destination; short-term goals help us decide the correct route to get there. If our first year goal is to collect 30 clips, our short term goals would include conducting market research, writing queries, and writing and submitting a certain number of articles per month.

Usually short-term goals are measured by output. Within control realms, these output goals are those in which we alone have sole control over results. Only we can control that, we mail five queries per week, or write ten articles or stories per month. Note… good short-term goals have specific time frames some examples would include:

  • Number of hours we spend writing per day or week
  • Number of pages we produce per day or week
  • Number of queries we submit per week or month
  • Number of projects, articles, stories, or chapters we write per month or year
Long-term goals are measured by results, not by output. The main difference is while you can control your output, most times, you cannot control the results. Even when you meet your weekly goal of mailing out five queries, you can't control the editorial decisions or marketing factors that determine which queries are accepted. Writers rarely succeed 100% of the time.

As writers, we must continually assess our goals, have we set them too high, too low? Are we on track, ahead of schedule, or falling behind in meeting our goals? It's important to take stock of our progress regularly. As we meet these goals, are we closer to our long-term goal, or are they still out of reach?

Making these regular assessments will help us if we need to change our long-term goals, or to see if our short-term plans are working to support them. If while assessing our one-year goal we find we accomplished it after three months, it's time to set a new long-term goal.

On the other hand, if after we assess our weekly goal, and find we have sent out two queries per week for the last three months and have yet to receive a positive response, it is time to reevaluate our short-term goal. Maybe we need to take a class on effective query letter writing at a conference or online course. Alternatively, perhaps we need to change genre or ideas we’re pitching, and/or target different markets. In other words, don't waste another day doing the same thing if your efforts haven't brought you closer to your long-term goal.

This is the beauty of goal setting, when we make them our own, they are not carved in stone, and we can change them. If a goal is becoming burdening to us, it needs to be re-evaluated. Many times a goal, morphs into something else before we realize it happened. A goal with special significance for us last year may have lost importance now, yet what we dared not aspire to is suddenly within reach.

Our interests change, our dreams may change, our skills will change as our writing matures; with these changes our goals should change as well. Goals are only highly effective tools, which we utilize to reach our dreams and aspirations.

We should look to our goals with a positive attitude. Each time we reach a goal, we are afforded the opportunity to look back and see our progress on our journey. We can see how far we have come, how much we have learned and achieved, and how our efforts and hard work have paid dividends. Even if we fail to meet a particular goal, we can garner lessons from mistakes. By working to reach our goals, we are putting forth serious and productive efforts in our writing journey.

Continued progress,