Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Evolution

With the start of a new year, I, like everybody else, have been thinking about goals. I don't like calling them resolutions, because resolutions seem so short-term and easy to ignore. So I'm calling them goals, because I am going to achieve them.

Now I obviously have goals in other areas of my life, but I'm sure you're only interested in my writing ones. And my writing goals are the most interesting, anyway, since I realized not long ago that I've been doing them all wrong.

In the past, my writing goal has always been to publish a book. It's not so bad as far as an ambition goes, I guess, but it's a pretty lousy goal, mostly because I have little control over whether I attain it. So this year I've been trying to come up with something completely within my power to achieve. But that, as it turns out, hasn't been so easy, either.

You've probably heard of Stephen Covey's SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based goals. I'm not a huge fan of the acronym, since it's a little too cutesy for my tastes--and since achievable and realistic mean essentially the same thing--but I appreciate the sentiment. So with those ideas in mind, here's how my writing goal for the year evolved.

My biggest problem, obviously, had to do with achievability: I was trying to attain something that I didn't completely control. So I decided to set a goal this year that focused solely on the writing. My first thought was to make Bob perfect--that is, ready to query--by the end of the year, but I didn't like that idea, either, because as much as I agree that goals should be time-based, I already knew I didn't want to set an arbitrary deadline. I've done that in the past and discovered that my writing only suffers for it. I'm not the sort of person who needs outside motivation to get her work done, so I became more concerned with hitting the deadline than working toward what the deadline was supposed to be helping me achieve: slow, consistent effort that would (eventually) result in a finished, perfect manuscript. So deadlines were out.

But what about that idea of slow, consistent effort? My next thought was to set a weekly number of hours I wanted to spend writing, but I was worried that I'd have a hard time deciding what that number should be. My weeks can be so erratic (and for anyone with a two-year-old or six-month-old, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean), and I didn't want to set myself up for failure. When I voiced this concern to my husband, he suggested that I start with something low, some number that I'm already pretty certain I can do, and then increase it bit by bit until I'm stretching to reach my goal--but still mostly reaching it.

This seemed like a great idea. (Aren't spouses wonderful things?) So here it is, my writing goal for 2010: I will write for at least five hours every week, roughly one hour every weekday, no matter how, no matter what.

Now I know what you're thinking: Five hours every week? That's it? And two years ago, when my two-year-old was six months old and sleeping like a sloth, I would have thought the same thing. But I'm starting low and testing it, and then I'll have to see where it goes. It'll be a grand adventure. And somewhere along the way, I'm hoping to declare Bob complete.

So what are your writing goals for the new year, and how do you plan to achieve them? And if you have any advice for me, I'd love to hear it.

1 comment:

Myrna Foster said...

That sounds like a good goal to me. If you stick with it, Bob should be in good shape in a few months.