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Writing Goals: Don’t Just Make’em, Meet’em!

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

It seems like we blinked and the first month of 2012 passed us by in a blur of annoying political ads, above average temperatures and boxes of Christmas decorations headed back to the attic. We all needed a little time to get our bearings in the New Year, but now the adjustment period is over and it’s time to get down to business.

If you spent all of 2011 saying that you were going to write a novel, but then coming up with a long list of excuses why that plan didn’t come to fruition, get ready to leave those excuses in the dust. We’ve put together five easy steps to not only setting your 2012 goals, but making sure that you see them through to completion.

Step 1 | Choose a long term goal.

For most of you, this should be simple: Write a book. You can be a little more specific and name your plot, characters, whether you want to complete just the first manuscript or actually make it to the publishing stage, but the overall endgame is to get a completed novel in your hands before the Mayan calendar runs out and we all turn to dust.

Step 2 | Fill in the gaps with short term goals.

Once you’ve set your long term goal, you need to establish a few short term goals to get from start to finish. These checkpoints can be really specific like creating outlines, character profiles, etc. or you can focus on the numbers and go for word count or chapter goals. The key is to put dates on each short-term goal to keep you focused (and ward off that pesky pest known as procrastination!).

Step 3 | Decide how you’re going to reach your goals.

Just because you set your goals doesn’t mean that all the pieces of your novel (and the time it will take to write it) are going to fall out of the sky. It’s a goal, not a wish. After you establish your goals, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to accomplish them. Deciding on your writing schedule is key. When will you find time to write? We’ve talked about this a lot in the past (including in our How NOT to Write a Book eCourse) so you should be an expert by now. Make your schedule, plan your writing times and set those keys on fire!

Step 4 | Share your goals with someone else.

This is a crucial step; everybody needs a little accountability to stay on track. Find someone you can share your goals with who will keep you honest and push you toward reaching your objectives. One important point of clarification: Pushing and nagging are not the same thing. You don’t want someone who’s going to harass you, but someone who will give you a swift (but soft) kick in the pants when you need it. If you don’t know someone, reach out to the Duolit community. We writers stick together and I’m sure you can find someone who would be happy to help!

Step 5 | Keep track of your progress.

Whether it’s a monthly blog post or a detailed writing journal, you’ll want to keep track of where you are in the process. If you had some setbacks, that’s okay, but talk about what they were and how you can avoid them in the future. If you met your goals, celebrate it! Every accomplishment along your path to success is worth a celebration.

Follow those five easy steps and you should not only be able to set your writing goals in 2012, but meet them!

Friendly reminder: Help us with some prompts!

If you missed our post on Monday, we are working to gather some weekly blog prompts to share with you guys. Our goal is to help everyone add valuable content to their blogs and generate more traffic for their blogs with weekly prompt link-ups, which will start in February. If you have prompt ideas (they can be about anything from creative writing prompts to basic profile questions to writing experiences) leave them in the comments on Monday’s blog. We’ll announce February’s prompts on Friday so if you have some ideas, please share them!

Later days,

– Shannon