Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Importance of Goals

by Rebecca Talley

Someone once said, "A goal not written down is merely a wish." I heard this long ago and since then have tried to write down my goals. At the beginning of each year, I write all the things I'd like to accomplish through the year. Though I don't always accomplish all of those goals, it keeps me more accountable during the year. (You'd think after setting patience as a goal for the last twenty or so years I'd at least be closer on that one).

On a daily basis, I'm a list person. I write a list every day of my to-do items and check them off as I complete them. It helps me at the end of a day of cleaning when I look at my messy house because I can return to my list and verify that I actually did clean the house (amazing how kids can destroy a clean house in the blink of an eye).

With writing, it's important for me to set goals, write them down, and then revisit those goals to see if I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. Recently, I've set the goal to write 1000 words each day on my current work-in-progress. Some days I haven't quite reached that goal, but some days I've surpassed it. The most important part is that it keeps me on task and gives me the kick-in-the-bottom I need to keep working on my WIP (even when I'd like to hit the delete key for the whole thing).

The number of pages set as a goal isn't what's important, it's the setting of the goal. A novel, or short story, is written page-by-page. No one (at least no one I know) sits down and writes a 60,000 word novel all in one day. It happens bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece. Setting realistic goals each day will help us to reach the major goal.

Some of my goals have included:

Write a character sketch
Research a job for a secondary character
Create a family tree
Write the time line for the novel
Interview my main character
Ask "What if?" for a sub-plot
Write a synopsis for the whole story
Write the story goal
Come up with the story-in-a-sentence (20 second elevator pitch)
List complications for my main character
Outline the story

These are some of the things I do before I start the actual writing and then I set a daily word count. I know some writers who set a daily goal of 2000 words while others set a goal of 100 words.

Don't just wish to write a novel, make it a reality by setting goals to accomplish it. You may be surprised at what happens!


Deborah said...

Its amazing how often I have to rehear things I already knew but somehow had shelved. Yet again.