Today’s June 1st blog post is brought to you by June 4th
Reasons. That’s my excuse for a three day delay in posting this blog. You may like to think of it as “Cheryl’s on vacation”, or “There’s granddaughters to hug and grandsons to cuddle”. No excuses. <segue> Just as there can be no excuses when you make a goal and don’t achieve it. If you use S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’re five steps ahead of the game.
June. Summer. Kids out of school. Vacation. Sounds good, right? I bet your little old writer’s brain is thinking, “long, uninterrupted blocks of time when I can finally start/finish/edit my book.”
Sorry to break your literary heart. Summer is the antithesis of productivity. Vacation time? Spent running from one theme park to the next. The beach? Stop and listen to the surf. Kids out of school? Endless carpooling and answering the whine of “There’s nothing to do.”
Your best time to write, Buttercup, is when you’re busy with everyday life. Truly. No time to write forces you to write. Squeezing words into little corners of time is a surefire way to get it done. Having all the time in the world=”I’ll do it tomorrow.” Take it from one who knows.
So how do you write when your daily life intrudes?
Use S.M.A.R.T. goals to get your work done
What are S.M.A.R.T. goals? S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Specific. Is the goal clear, explicit, firm, detailed? “I’m going to write a book” is not any of those attributes. It’s too nebulous of a goal. Define it further. Write down (and it’s always best to write down your goals) what genre you’ll write. What subgenre. How long will it be?
- Measurable. Will you write 500 words this month? 50K? How many queries will you send out? How many writing-related books will you read or on-line writing courses will you take part in? Make sure you have a tracking system, whether it’s a spreadsheet, an online tool, or an old-fashioned notebook. You wouldn’t say “I’ll lose 10 pounds by the end of the month” if you never stepped on a scale, right?
- Achievable. It’s all well and good to say you’ll write 50K words or query 5 editors a week, but are you being truthful or stretching your capabilities? Which brings us to:
- Realistic. If you’re working three jobs and your mother is dying, your significant other left you, and the dog’s throwing up, you might not have time to write 5K a day. How fast can you write? Can you improve in some way? (dictation, outlining so you’re not sitting down at your computer and thinking “now what?”) Break your goals into smaller, more achievable bits.
- Time-based. Give yourself a deadline. Will they be daily, weekly, or by the end of the month? Are you looking at word count totals or time spent writing (pick word count)? Throw some milestones in there while you’re at it. If you want to write 500 words a day, and you have 2K written by June 15th, you’re probably not going to meet your goal of 30K by June 30th.
What’s stopping you from making your S.M.A.R.T. goals?
Do you fear failure? Or maybe success? Do you lack ideas? Or have too many and can’t decide on which one to pick? Does your writing normally sizzle out halfway through your book? Is finishing a book tantamount to having a root canal?
Don’t let doubts stop you. Every writer writes a crappy first draft. Every writer, at some point, wants to kill all their characters in a fiery car crash.
The keys to achieving your S.M.A.R.T. goals
- Consistency.When I participated in the AtoZChallenge, I committed to writing a 800-1200 word blog post for twenty-six days. Yes, it took time away from my “regular” writing, but I learned I could write quality pieces every day.
- Commitment. I made a promise to myself to finish the challenge. I not only finished twenty-six blogs, I turned them into an ebook.
- No vague, open-ended goals. Which will get done? “I’m going to write a book.” OR “I’m going to write 500 words a day on my epic, high fantasy novel, committing to at least an hour a day, turning off TV, the internet and all distractions, including my family.”? Having clear, specific goals will help you achieve them.
- Keep track of your progress. Make it visible to motivate you to continue.
- Check in often. Are you on track? What steps do you need to take to stay on goal? What’s keeping you from achieving your goal?
Using S.M.A.R.T. goals will clarify what you want, when you want it done, and how to go about getting it done. Don’t be like me, and let a little vacation and a couple of grandchildren delay you from writing your Thursday blog on Sunday. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T., write them down, and go forth and write!
p.s. Check out more AtoZChallenge ebooks, now FREE, at blogchatter.com.
And mine, specifically, here.