Sunday, January 5, 2014

Keep Your Writing Goals Front and Center

By Karen Cioffi

As a writer, you have to move forward to keep up with the onslaught of books and authors in the book publishing arena. And, you especially need to be sure you're keeping in alignment with your writing goals. This means every now and then you need to stop to evaluate what your core goals are and if you’re actually heading in that direction.

Every marketer will tell you that the beginning of each year you need to create a list of core or major goals. It's important to make your goals realistic and obtainable, and not to burden yourself with too many goals.

Three is a good number of writing goals, not too few, not too many. Then under each goal you can list a few tasks that will you will do on a daily or weekly basis to help you reach your objectives.

In addition to creating and typing your goals down in a document, they need to be printed and kept visible. It's important to put them somewhere you'll be sure to notice on a daily basis. You might put your list on your computer, inside your laptop case, on top of your daily planner, on the inside of a kitchen cabinet you open everyday.

You get the idea, your writing goals need to be visible each and every day. Not just visible though, they need to be read each and every day.

Why is it important to keep your writing goals front and center?

Here's another question to help answer that question: Did you ever hear the expression, ‘Out of sight, out of mind?’

That's your answer.

On January 1st of 'any year,' you may tell yourself, and maybe even write it down, that you will:

1. Write a minimum of five pages of your new book each week
2. Effectively market your published books
3. Submit articles to three paying magazines on a monthly basis

Okay, that's great. But, suppose it's now July and you haven't even written 10 pages of your new book, and you haven't gone past the very basics of promoting your published books.

What happened to your writing goals?

Easy. You didn’t keep your goals list front and center, so you got sidetracked.

While you may have had the best of intentions on January 1st, without keeping those writing goals visible, it’s difficult to stay on course.

Maybe you decided to add the writing of unrelated ebooks to your workload. Maybe you decided to do book reviews and started a critique group of your own. Maybe you devoted too much time to social networking and your online groups.

These additions may not necessarily be a bad thing, but before you continue on, ask yourself three questions:

1. Are these additions to your workload moving you in the direction of your major writing goals?
2. Are they actually keeping you from attaining your goals?
3. Are they providing some kind of income?

If your answers to these questions are NO, YES, NO, then you need to step back, redirect your steps, and get back on track. If you keep your writing goals front and center, you’ll be amazed at how you automatically work toward achieving them.

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  1. Thanks, Karen. I'm a goal setter. But, I'll admit last year I didn't write them down & went too far in one direction & not far enough in another. Thanks for the reminder this January that I need to write them down & keep them in front of me. Up until 2012, I wrote at the top of each calendar page my goal for that month. I think I'll do that again. BTW, I enjoy your "The Writing World" weekly tips & highly recommend others subscribing.

    1. Janet, along with setting your goals at the beginning of each year, it's a good idea to to a spot check every 3 months to make sure you're heading in the right direction.

      And, thanks so much. I'm so glad you enjoy The Writing World newsletter!

  2. My writing partner and I set out goals for the new year at our last meeting before the holidays, but we didn't think of printing them out and taping them to the computer or snack cupboard or any other likely place to become a steady reminder. Thanks for the great tips, Karen!

    1. Susanne, that's great that you have a writing partner. Having your goals visible is actually an important factor to realizing your goals.

      Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen put their goals for Chicken Soup for the Soul visible everywhere, even in the bathroom! After 144 rejections, they got a contract.