Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mixing Up My 2013 Goals Cocktail: 3 Guidelines To Contemplate Before Goal Setting

What's Your 2013 Goals Cocktail?
It's getting toward the time of year that some look at with hope and a renewed sense of purpose, and others will gawk at and hide under their's time to set your 2013 goals.

Today I want to focus on the three main guidelines I'm going to use this year.

1. What Worked 
2. What Didn't
3. Things I Know I Need To Change

At first glance these might seem like a cop-out as guidelines but there is much depth to these three points that should be explored before any smart author goes into making a new set of goals for writing and for their career. I'm going to put myself out there a little today and go through each step. At the end I won't have my list of goals yet for the year, but I will have all the information I really need to understand to set goals that are more tailored to me and my needs and abilities. I hope my examples will help you take a good look at yourself and your process. With a deep breath, let's start.

1. What Worked

  • Writing at lunchtime worked when I actually left my desk
  • Setting aside 2 hours min. a weekend worked - there was at least 2 hours one day all for me
  • Having my laptop on the couch so I could write while I spent time with hubby "watching" TV 
  • Writing at the bookstore 
  • Writer Chats - I wrote more, brainstormed more, etc - BUT need to work on time 
  • Knowing my average word count and being pleased when I made it
  • When my writing area/desk is clean I write more on the fly

2. What Didn't Work 

  • Trying to write at my desk at lunch 
  • Thinking I could write on both Saturday & Sunday - it happened but was rare
  • Writing on vacation - NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN - GIVE IT UP!
  • Trying to keep my review blog full time and write too - SO not working 
  • Set writer chats - might need to see if we can rotate days sometimes 
  • Setting outrageous word goals for myself and then getting depressed when I missed the mark
  • Spent too much time on craft books - JUST WRITE 

3. Things I Know I Need to Change  

  • Limit Book Review blog to 2-3 Days a week and forget about the other days. 
  • Limit myself to 1 craft book every 3 months 
  • Don't focus on big conferences - attend smaller regional ones this year 
  • Stop letting my office be the catch all for the house - keep it clean 
  • Stop avoiding sharing my word counts - or lack thereof 
  • SHARE MY WORK - it's time to put on the big girl panties

So that's a rough look at the start of my process. I'm going to take these 3 main areas and add to that my average word counts per week, what months I can look back on and see I NEVER write, what months I'm the most productive, what special events I have coming in 2013, etc. All of that will come together for me to really set an outline for my year and what my expectations should be. And let's not forget what my hopes will be as well - you have to hope beyond the norm.

My 2013 Goals Cocktail?  A shot of reality, a dash of hope, a spritz of inspiration and success being the oh-so-awesome olive I enjoy at the end.

Now it's your turn: Give me at least 1 example from each of the 3 guidelines just to help start you off. How do you go about evaluating how your year has gone before setting your new goals? Or do you never look back and just press on? Don't go hiding from setting goals. It's a cliche  for a reason - a goal without a plan is just a dream! 


Maureen said...

Hmmmm...What worked? Leaving behind the 'will this sell' concerns and writing for fun. Suddenly, I'm writing again.

What didn't work? Well, obviously thinking everything I write has to be geared toward whether it will sell. And what I haven't sold and whether I will ever sell again... All in all, concentrating on selling blew my creativity overboard and into deep water.

Things I know I need to Change? I need a schedule, winging it doesn't work. I need to use my earbuds at Starbucks, it helps me focus on what I'm writing. I need to let myself go whack-o with my storylines...that is pretty much self-explanatory!

As for how I evaluate what has gone on, good and bad? Well, since I'm usually constantly thinking about what I'm not doing when I should be doing it, I pretty much am checked into that idea all the time. I find small goals work for me...

Sabrina Shields said...

Chance - your post a few Fridays back helped me with my #3. I could have also labeled it "Try Something New".

I'm glad you're writing for you again! Knowing the little things like the ear buds can be a very helpful thing to acknowledge and implement. It's the small things that can add up to helping us be the most productive.

Marnee Bailey said...

Great blog, Scape. :)

What worked? Let's see. Actually forcing myself to write words. I would sit in front of my computer and stare at it, or wander off to procrastinate. When I actually made myself write a sentence, most days I wrote more than one sentence. It seems simple, but it was life-changing. LOL!!

What didn't work. Um.... I wouldn't say I've got anything like this. It's not that things didn't work, it's just that I'm honing my process. Some of this is boring, how I plot/structure/write a rough stuff. I'm a week a half from finishing a rough draft, which means I'll have written it in 3.5 months. It's short, and I've forced myself to be fine with that. If I stay on schedule, I'm going to try to revise it in 2-3 months. So, that should be fun.

Goal? I'd like to finish this one and then write another one next year. We'll see how that goes.

TerriOsburn said...

This is a really good blog. I'm trying to answer the questions but the year is such a blur that I'm struggling to remember what did and didn't work.

What worked?
Writing in total silence.
Tracking my daily word count on a calendar.
Having real deadlines.

What didn't work?
Second guessing.
Not writing down those potentially brilliant ideas when they came to me.

What do I need to change?
Must take better notes.
Must stop freaking about things to come in the future and stay in the now.
Smile more.

Since so much of what I'm going to experience in 2013 is unknown and scary right now, I'd say my number one goal will be to reach 2014 with sanity intact.

Sabrina Shields said...

Marn - I'm goign to make you stretch a little do you "Make" yourself write a sentence? How do you stop the staring and procrastination and just write?

Think about it and I feel like you will come up with a few "doesn't work" things as well as a few more concrete "WORKS"! What is it that flips that switch while you sit there?

MsHellion said...

What worked: setting weekly goals with the pirates (i.e. being accountable) and sharing "pearls" (i.e. feeling I was writing something worth reading)--I double my page count that way. *LOL*

What didn't work: being depressed, being stressed, being drained--it just made everything I read of mine seem horrible and I wanted to lie in a fetal position on the couch. Need to work on meditating a few minutes before writing to have a good session, get into the right frame of mind, not believe I have to have an all-or-nothing approach to finishing this.

What do I need to change: everything. *LOL* I need to work on getting better healthwise, so I have more balance and I feel I can devote some time to write instead of feeling it makes me "more tired" and "it's futile."; recommit to weekly goals (I've fallen off doing them for the last month or so and it shows!); and as Terri says, "Have a little faith."

Sabrina Shields said...

Ter - I love your "What Worked" section. Perfect examples of the little things that can impact our success.

I know you'll meet 2013's challenges and will sail into 2014. I can feel it. :)

Sabrina Shields said...

Hellie - it is amazing what the accountability factor does for productivity isn't it!

I love that you've identified that putting yourself in the right frame of mind before writing makes the words flow and seem better to you.

It does sound like to me you don't have to change "everything" - keep going with what works and start experimenting with some new things. Oh - and obviously make the conscious effort to drop the negativity. The blank page is your playground and there are no wrong words to put down.

P. Kirby said...

What worked?
Just fracking writing. I'm don't think I sweated the issue of marketability as much as Maureen (above). At least, not in the same way. A lot of stuff on the bestseller list doesn't fit in a neat genre. OTOH, in my desire to write the perfect story, I let the internal editor get waaaaay, way too much control, and it practically slaughtered the muse.

At the this point, the fan fiction experiment is what really worked, because it's just about having fun, playing in someone else's sandbox and engaging with fandom. In the process, I'm learning about my strengths and weakness as a writer and developing tools to deal with the latter.

What didn't work?
Anything to do with "marketing" and "social media." It's fun to engage with other writers. But...I've seen no particularly significant benefit to all the promote-y stuff: Twitter; Facebook; blog hops; etc. Massive time and creative energy wasters. So much of it depends on a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" mentality, which doesn't work because I find the practice vaguely distasteful and disingenuous. I know, mileage may vary. Doesn't work for me.

Things to change?
This coming year, I'd like to really apply "lessons learned," set up a definite writing schedule, continue blowing off social media, and FINISH A DAMN MANUSCRIPT. :)

Marnee Bailey said...

I'm goign to make you stretch a little do you "Make" yourself write a sentence? How do you stop the staring and procrastination and just write?

A lot of time, making myself write is literally like "If I don't write, like, right this second, I won't get a chance to write today." I have very little uninterrupted time. By uninterrupted, I mean, time that isn't spent with someone crawling on me, demanding something from me, or in general trying to have my undivided attention (that includes children and hubby).

In response, I've become an anal retentive time manager. In the scheme of my day, I've carved out two hours I use for writing. They're the quietest times in my house. Naptime and the time after the kids go to bed. So, during those times, I've trained myself to think, "THIS IS YOUR TIME! Stop jerking around on the internet/reading/procrastinating!!" Sort of like that feeling you get when you know the bathroom needs to be cleaned and that you risk contracting ebola every time you go in there. You know? The panicky, I really should be doing that, feeling.

So, if I don't write, I have to deal with the self-inflicted guilt trip. That part of me that says, "YOU SUCK! You could have written and instead you played on pinterest for an hour!!"

I was raised Catholic. I need more self-inflicted guilt like I need to contract bathroom borne ebola.

Marnee Bailey said...

By the way, I'd like to say I'm a machine and that I never get distracted. I'm not. I still procrastinate/hang out on pinterest/FB/twitter, etc. I'm just getting better at managing it and fending off the urges the longer I write.

And I think the more I write, the more I think to myself, "I MUST be getting close to that illusive deal." That makes me push harder. Like someone moved my carrot just a LITTLE closer to my nose.

TerriOsburn said...

You just reminded me I need to clean my bathroom. Wonder how much it would cost to hire someone to do that ever 2 weeks. Hmmmm....

TerriOsburn said...

Unless cleaning my bathroom only ever two weeks makes me sound like a terrible person. Then of course I mean weekly. *cough*

Marnee Bailey said...

Ter - shhh.... no one will ever tell....

Janga said...

What worked?
For me, not much. I've written about 200,000 words worth of articles, reviews, and essays since January and about 40,000 on two WIPs. That's discouraging. The only thing I can think of that worked is setting my goals in scenes rather than words. The days I've done that have been my most productive in terms of writing fiction. Several times I wrote 4-5K at a time. I'm just better at sprints, and scenes lend themselves to that kind of writing.

What didn't work?
Setting daily goals doesn't work for me. When I miss a day, I tell myself I'll make it up the next day and then the pressure doubles, making it even less likely that I'll meet the goal. Then the IC goes crazy, and I'm ready to give up.

What needs to change?
I need to read less. Since January 1, I've read more than four hundred books and written reviews for about a third of those. If I cut those numbers in half, I'd have a lot more time to write fiction.

Maureen said...

I'm not gonna touch the bathroom cleaning schedule. That belongs to the hubby and since he takes his glasses off when he showers...well, we really don't want to go with how bad it can get between scrubdowns.

But I totally get the how do I get myself to write, Marn. Hell, I don't have to schedule it and so I can 'legally' blow off all sorts of time on FB, etc... Even when you have time, it's hard to put ass in chair and just write. Lots of fear to deal with first.

And Pat! Oh, Gods. I so agree! I've met enough authors lately who do none of the social blather and are fine... I'm ready to say screw it. I'll do what is fun, but that is it. If I'm not having fun, I'm not gonna do it. Period.

My "Where is the Kraken?" was fun. Most blog tours, trying to connect on twitter...forcing myself to post book stuff on FB...not fun.

Marnee Bailey said...

Since January 1, I've read more than four hundred books and written reviews for about a third of those.

Wow. Thatsa lotsa books. *claps*

Maureen said...

I know, isn't that incredible? She's read more than a book a day!

Though I totally understand why you want to cut back, Janga. Read less, write more!

It's still impressive as hell.

Sabrina Shields said...

I love how all of you can find those things that haven't worked for you and can make changes based on that.

The best part are those little things that make the writing seem to flow perfectly.

TerriOsburn said...

That reminds me, another thing that works is trusting my characters. They really do know themselves and the story better than I do. If I really listen to them and let them take charge, the words pour onto the page. And usually need less work later on.

Maureen said...

Yes, listen to the voices in your head. Always.