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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

GET SMART Goals for the NEW YEAR

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Have you made any resolutions yet? I’m not crazy about making a promise to myself that more than likely will be broken before the ice of winter has thawed. But I do like the idea of a new start. A time to get organized. Throw out the old junk and get on with the business at hand. Which, in my case, is writing. So it’s time to make some writing goals for 2008.

I love the Richard Dreyfus movie What About Bob? where Dreyfus's character writes a stellar book entitled Baby Steps that he believes will rock the world of psychotherapy. Anyone remember the movie? It's hilarious with a grain of truth. Nothing is ever accomplished without taking that first tiny step. That’s what writing goals are—incremental steps toward a BIG idea—for me, my long-term writing dream to have a novel published and do well as an author. That won’t happen overnight and certainly not without sustained effort on my part. One baby step after another toward my ultimate goal—that’s the plan.

I’ve used the acronym GET SMART to make my goal list. Maybe you will find it useful, too.

Give God first place in your writing. “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1. Prayerfully consider what goals God would have you make in the coming year.
Evaluate what you have accomplished in the last year. It may be more than you think. How many pages did you write? How many articles? How many writers’ meetings or conferences did you attend? How many books on craft did you study? How many queries or proposals did you send? All these added up bring you closer to your BIG goal. Think of areas where you can expand on what you have already accomplished in the past year. More pages? More queries? A good evaluation will also weed out the ineffective time wasters that cut into your writing time (computer games, checking your email twelve times a day, getting lost on the internet). Be honest with yourself. I’ve just told you what time wasters plague me :-))
Try something new. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to start a blog. Write a mystery. Try your hand at non-fiction. Join a critique group. Maybe you’ve always been a SOTP (Seat of the Pants) writer and want to try Outlining for your next project. Now is the time to put some of those things on your goal list.

Specific goals. “Write a book” is not specific. “Finish my cozy mystery” is specific.
Measurable goals. “Write queries that sell” cannot be measured. “Write 1000 words a day” can be measured.
Attainable goals. “Write a New York Times Bestseller” is probably not attainable for most of us. “Submit two articles a month” is. So is “Write and polish three chapters for the Genesis Contest.”
Realistic goals. “Get a $50,000 advance” may not be realistic. “Write one query per week” is.
Timely goals. "Write a novel” needs a time frame. “Finish my novel by March 10” gives you a timely goal.

With that in mind, here are my writing goals for 2008:
1. Write 2000 words a day (M – F) on my Route 66 Mystery
2. Polish the first three chapters and synopsis for contests and queries.
3. Enter the Genesis contest.
4. Enter two area contests.
5. Attend Mount Hermon in March, OWFI in May, and the ACFW conference in September.
6. Continue to market my finished manuscript (depending on result of current queries)
7. Read one GOOD book per week. Be selective so that what I’m reading makes a difference in my writing or the way I look at the world.
8. Continue blogging at least three times per week.

Whew! Eight goals for 2008. I think I need another cup of coffee before I get started. All the best to you and yours for a wildly happy and deliriously successful New Year!


Erica Vetsch said...

Whew! That's an impressive list.

You and I must've been on the same wavelength, for we've posted very similar ideas. I like the GET SMART acronym. Very helpful. You could make that an article.

I hope you'll check back from time to time to let us know how you're doing on these goals.

carla stewart said...

I did send a similar article to my local ACFW newsletter (WIN). I haven't seen it come up yet. Most of my goals are just honing what worked last year and focusing. Thanks for the comment.

Myra Johnson said...

Very ambitious goals, and very wise advice, Carla! I need to get cracking on my 2008 goals. This is always a challenging and somewhat intimidating time of year for me. Yet I know it's crucial for any hope of success. And for spiritual inspiration, Proverbs 16:9 is a favorite: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."