Query Tracker has a really good post on creating, setting, and managing goals.
As writers, goals keep us on track.
For published authors with deadlines and contracts, goals are a roadmap to meeting those obligations. This is particularly important, because other peoples’ obligations rely on yours. If you don’t meet yours, they don’t meet theirs, and no one needs that. The publishing machine moves slowly enough without slowing down further!
A non-published writer with publishing aspirations is more in need of goals than anyone. Simply vowing to “do better with my writing” this year isn’t going to cut it. Measurable goals help keep us on track and give us a visual of our progress. They also instill good work habits and increase productivity.
Taking it one step further: journaling (at which I have always been abymally bad) combined with your list of 2012 goals will give you a clear report on the progress you’re making, what needs improving, what needs to be changed, and how to fine-tune your plan. I have always been dreadful at journaling because I am not one of those people who can sit down and record my day, or think up raw and beautiful introspection, or write poetry out of nowhere. I need a reason to journal, something I can focus on. Now I have it. I look forward to thinking back over the past day or so and writing down what I have accomplished that puts me closer to where I want to be.
Since Christmas Day, I’ve taken a few minutes a day to list my goals, refine them, toss the ones my heart wasn’t into, and polish a list of doable, reachable goals. I also found a journal template on Microsoft Word, which I downloaded and customized to suit myself. I sent my list of goals to Evernote, an app that syncs it to all my mobile devices, and I will store my journal in my hard drive as well as in the cloud via Dropbox, which will allow me to access it from any mobile device or computer anywhere. Quit rolling your eyes! (You know who you are!)
My own list of 2012 goals, combined with journaling, gives me confidence. For the first time I feel like I have a plan to complete the projects that have made me crazy and overwhelmed me for so long.
Tomorrow is a big day for all of us. It is the beginning of a new year, new plans, new experiences, new ideas. Will this be the year you sell a manuscript? Write one? Write another one? Learn something new? Take up a new hobby? Hear a piece of music that takes up residence in your heart? Meet someone who will change your life? Move somewhere that makes your heart sing? All these things make us better writers, and the more prepared we are, the better.
Our experiences are our stories, and our stories are our experiences. The better prepared we are to recognize our experiences and make the most of them, the better writers we’ll become.
So, 2012: Bring it. I’m ready. This time next year, we’ll see which of us comes out on top. Fair warning: I’m all set for it to be me. Finally.