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Goals: Making Sure Your Writing Goals Are Smart

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What are my 2019 goals? What…are…my…goals?

As everyone else in our accountability group (Hi Ladies!) chatted about their goals for 2019, I noodled quietly. I hadn’t come close to meeting my 2018 goals which really disappointed me. Of course, I just glanced at my stated goal and was a little surprised. I only put one out there in front of the group.

Draft my cozy. Is it drafted? Nope. It is close? Again, nope. But I also had two unstated goals. Work on finding an agent and break into a new market. My success in these areas was also woefully non-existent.

I write every day. Work-for-hire books are my bread and butter. That means that I completed a handful of books in 2018. That’s good and I get that. But I want to make a living at this and that means not having all my financial eggs in one particular work-for-hire basket. Why did I make so little progress?

Poking around here on the blog, I came across Renee’s post, “Be S.M.A.R.T. with Your Writing.” Reading Looking at Renee’s post, I have to admit that my goals were anything but S.M.A.R.T.

Here are the elements of a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

1. Specific: Is the goal specific? Draft a novel is not a specific goal. Write 4000/month toward a final draft is specific in part because it is…
2. Measurable: Does your goal contain a measurable quantity? Finished draft is not measurable. 4000 words? Measurable.
3. Achievable: Is the goal realistic? Apparently, draft a novel in a year is not as realistic as I had assumed. For me and I assume for many of you, fiction is a lot of work.
4. Relevant: Is the goal relevant to your larger ambitions? In all truth, writing a cozy may not be entirely relevant. I am a children’s nonfiction writer. But I’ve also discovered that I have to write things that I’m not certain I can sell to remain creative. The cozy fills that need.
5. Time-bound: Do you have deadlines in place? I should have known that a year was not an acceptable deadline. If someone needs X in a week and I have a year to finish that novel, I’m working on X. I need more immediate deadlines.

In light of this, my goals for 2019 have altered somewhat in that they are SMART(ish). Why –ish? The novel is still in there folks.

In 2019, my goals are:
1. To draft 2000 words/month on the novel. Even when I’m deep in a work-for-hire project, this should be do-able.
2. Take four agent related actions a month. These can include research an agent, read interviews, request books they’ve represented, and querying.
3. Take four help-me-break-into-a-new-market actions a month. This might include researching a market, outlining, researching or drafting the project, submitting or following up.

These goals aren’t huge but they are do-able. And if I do a little more on one or more of them any given month? Hats and horns for me, ladies, hats and horns for me.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards’ writing, visit her blog, One Writer’s Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins January 14th, 2019.

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