Setting Goals, Writing to Win #2
I’ve decided to syndicate my ebook Overcome Writer’s Block: 10 Writing Sparks to Jumpstart Your Creativity on my blog, Writer’s Fun Zone, over the next 10 weeks. You can read the whole book here over the next few weeks, or buy the entire ebook at Kindle, Smashwords, and other ebook vendors.
** Enjoy Spark Two! And Happy Writing!**
Spark Two: Write to Goal: Write to Win. Write and Finish that Book! : 10-5-1 Goal Setting
**You have it. Drive. Motivation. Inspiration.**
All great success comes with a plan, a structured series of action steps. It takes movement and an outpouring of energy. Action makes dreams and vision manifest. It’s a beautiful and powerful thing to see one’s dreams and visions in tangible, touch-me real form, whether you want to write plays, poems, novels, short stories, screenplays, or nonfiction.
You have it. Drive, motivation, inspiration, but just not today. Today you don’t remember why you want to write that novel, screenplay, memoir or expert nonfiction book. Because when you sit down to write, your mind goes blank, or worse yet, the story is mapped out, but there’s no juice. There’s no there there. (As an Oakland resident, I’m entitled to use this. Attributed to Gertrude Stein.)
What to do? Oh, the travails of a writer!
Never fear, goal setting is here. Now before you moan and groan that goal setting is for sissies, I mean, business types, remember that your big, unwieldy book or project is well, big, and needs planning to succeed. Like a house needs an architectural drawing, or a football team needs a game plan. Whether we like it or not, planning is a very important part of any big endeavor. So yes, that means all of us writers.
Yes, us writers. And while we’re at it, if we’re going to plan a novel or screenplay or a nonfiction book on our expertise, why wouldn’t we also plan our career or plan the whole arc of the writing project? And to clear up any confusion, you can use planning to plot, or brainstorm scenes, even if you are plot-averse, a “pantser.” (Pantser = seat-of-the-pants writer, as opposed to a “plotter,” someone who plots.)
Be in Charge of Your Writing Plan
Being in charge means finding a way to plan that works for you. I’ve found a fun planning tool that works well for me. I suggest using it once to see if you like it, then implement it every week or every month, as a way to stay in touch with your next action items. I dubbed it the 10-5-1 and learned this technique from leadership trainer and friend, Greg Norte, owner and founder of Armada Training Solutions. The 10-5-1 technique is about thinking big on the one hand, and about creating manageable structure, on the other. The end result? The 10-5-1 will help you develop a strong plan of action.
Make sure to make your goals SMART.
SMART goals applies to a common and useful business acronym and represents a goal-setting tool, explained below. Taken from a forthcoming book, The Eight Steps to Successful Entrepreneurship, by one of my clients, Fred Bauer of Abundance Business Coaching, I’ve adapted it to fit writers.
Specific – Be very specific about your goal or goals. You could say, “Write a book,” or you could be more specific and say, “I’m going to write a long comedic fantasy novel that’s a cross between Douglas Adams and Patrick O’Brien.”
Measurable – Make sure you can measure your goal so you know when you have achieved it. This could be counting your words, pages, or your time, or some combination of the three.
Achievable – State your goal in the present or past tense as if you have already achieved it, making especially sure the goal is achievable. Is it realistic for you to expect you can write your novel in three months? Maybe, if you’re an experienced fiction writer and you’ve already done that. More achievable for a first time novelist may be one year, or it may be five, as it was for me.
Results-oriented – Will the work you do lead to results that you value? Finishing a book, writing a book, outlining a book are all steps that lead to the result of having written a book.
Time – Have a specific date for when your goal will be achieved. Give your project a deadline that you can mark on the calendar and celebrate its completion, or course correct with that date is reached.
A Note on Course Correction
A nautical term, course correction refers to the need to make adjustments on the way to a destination. One angle of approach may not work so you may need to change it, all the while not letting go of the final goal.
Now to the 10-5-1 process…
The Power of Ten
Start with thinking where you want to be with your writing and writing career in ten-years. Write down the date exactly ten years from now. List everything, your wildest dreams, your just-for-you dreams. Dream big, dream outrageous and true to you. This is about what you really want, no matter how outlandish, no matter what anyone else might think. Reach for the stars and you may just hit the moon. Be glorious, rich and full in your vision. I dare you to make it bold. Take the time to answer this question in full. Your writing vision can be one thing or many things. Declare your dream in the present tense or by stating, “In ten years, by [state the date], I have …”
By declaring our dreams, we may wonder: “Will I be letting myself down? What if I don’t reach my goal?” Well, it won’t be for a lack of trying. And remember, our big dreams are not created in a vacuum; they involve many others and so are, to a certain extent, beyond our control. That’s okay. Let’s focus on what we can control. And that is the writing.
My ten-year goal: By September 14, 2017, I am a New York Times best-selling writer in fiction and nonfiction; I have produced several films; I continue to generate fun, exciting and useful creative material whether in print, online or other mediums, not yet invented.
Now it’s your turn to write down your ten-year goal or goals, pertaining to your creativity. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. No excuses. Because your dreams start today. Right now. Right here and now. Congratulations for taking the first step and writing your dreams down.
The Power of Five
Now that you know your ten-year goal, let’s look at the five-year goal. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. Where do you need to be in five years to make your ten-year goals a reality? For the purposes of this article I’ll pick one of my ten-year goals, not all. You can do this exercise for all of them if you want.
In five years, by September 14, 2012, I will have written and completed two more books in my fantasy series, found a publisher, secured an agent, and have the series published.
Now it’s your turn to write down your five-year goal or goals, pertaining to your creativity. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. Congratulations for taking the second step and writing your dreams down.
In One Year…
Let’s come closer to home, and look at our one-year goal. Where will you be in one year to help you accomplish your five-year goal? Make this goal doable, and as stated above, make this goal SMART.
One-year goal: By Sept. 14, 2008, I will have completed editing Book II in the series and will have started on Book III.
Now it’s your turn to write down your one-year goal or goals, pertaining to your creativity. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. Congratulations for taking the third step and writing your dreams down.
In Just Six Months…
Taking it even closer, let’s look at six months. Notice if you have any anxiety or excitement about setting a six-month goal for yourself. Anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin, so it’s good to notice where you are on the spectrum. And if you are bored with your goal at this point, it’s good to notice that too, and see if you picked a goal that truly you care about, or maybe you picked a ten year goal that your mind thinks you should pick, that may not be yours truly, and instead may be someone else’s. If so, take a look at whose goal it is. Or, you may have picked a ten-year goal that is really five-year goal. If that’s the case, move the ten-year goal into the five-year slot, and choose something more daring as your ten-year goal.
At the six-month mark, what do you need to do to make your one-year goal a reality?
Six months: By March 14, 2008, I have finished the first draft of Book II, and am getting ready to start the editing process.
Now it’s your turn to write down your six-month goal or goals, pertaining to your creativity. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. Congratulations for taking the fourth step and writing your dreams down.
In Only One Month!
One month: ah, now this is where you start looking at what you can accomplish short term. Don’t forget to make it SMART. What do you need to do this month to make your six-month goal a reality?
One month/Four calendar weeks: By October 12, 2007, I will have written four more chapters on my book, completing the first draft through Chapter 20.
Now it’s your turn to write down your one-month goal or goals, pertaining to your creativity. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. Congratulations for taking the fourth step and writing your dreams down.
One Week from Today
Now we get to the nitty-gritty, things that you can write in your calendar. There’s not a whole lot to explain. Just be sure that the activities you choose to accomplish in a week support your one-month goal and are SMART.
One week: By September 21, 2007, I will have written and completed Chapter 18, and will be halfway through Chapter 19.
Now it’s your turn to write down your one-week goal or goals, pertaining to your creativity. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. Congratulations for taking the fifth step and writing your dreams down.
What will you do today or tomorrow that makes your one-week goal a reality?
Today/Tomorrow: By Sept. 15, 2007, I will have completed Chapter 17, and started Chapter 18.
Now it’s your turn to write down your today/tomorrow goal or goals, pertaining to your creativity. Fill out the bonus worksheet, write in your notebook, or use your computer. Congratulations for taking the sixth step and writing your dreams down.
A Plan that Comes with Teeth
So there you have it. An action plan. So now what? Revisit your 10-5-1 every week or month. Generally, I revisit it Sundays with my husband. We both take a leisurely breakfast and sit together on the patio to plan our one week and today/tomorrow goals. When we hit the one-month mark, we revise them too. When I hit March 2008 I will set new six-month writing goals.
Let me know how it goes.
Happy goal setting!
PS. While things didn’t happen exactly as planned, I do have two books done in my fantasy series, the second one due out this fall.
An author too, she’s the author of the 2011 award-winning young adult fantasy novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, as well as of the bestselling nonfiction books for authors and aspiring authors.
Beth gives away 10 spots per month for a 60-Minute Complimentary Coaching Session. First Come First Serve! Schedule yours today! Click here now to schedule yours: Beth’s Online Scheduler
What if you have a vision, but no structure, and no support? There are three components needed for success: Vision, Structure, Support. (Thanks Productive Learning & Leisure for this rubric.) This article has provided some structure.
If you don’t have a Vision for your writing, with a capital V, take a look at the other chapters in this book, such as Spark Seven: Passion for Writing, or Spark Four: Fierceness of Intent. As for Support, you’ve read this Spark! Congratulations! Information is one form of support. So are people. For more on creating a writing community, see the Bonus report on Writing Organizations to can join for m