Goal setting is goal setting, right? You just pick something you want and work towards it. Well, maybe it’s just me, but recently I found completely lost for what to do next in my writing career.
This year I’ve been throwing myself into writing. Both freelance and fiction, for both children and adults. So, you see, there were numerous road I could put my energy into. I was also lucky enough experience two incredibly creative periods in 2022, February and October/November, in which I wrote a lot of first drafts and had a lot of ideas. But where did I go from there?
Obviously, I needed to edit those stories, but which ones. I also needed to get some articles published to help my freelance portfolio, but what and where?
I needed a plan, and before I could make a plan, I needed a goal.
As I usually do when feeling lost, I did some research. I listened to a Writing Excuses episode on goal setting and stumbled upon the gem of a chapbook, Goal Setting (Literally) by Lee Murray. If you’re in the same boat as me, I’d highly recommend dipping into these resources first and then returning here to see just how I created my goal for the first half of 2023.
Have and idea of what you want
As mentioned above, I had some vague goals in mind. I wanted to revise and submit my short stories and I wanted to get articles published to boost my freelance portfolio. I suspect you have some general ideas of what you want to achieve too. Maybe it’s write a novel, or get more corporate clients. The resources above will help you hone in on what it is that’s really important to you and then you can move on to my next tip.
Narrow it down
If you have lots of different areas of interest, and ideas pouring out your ears it can be overwhelming when you try to make a plan for your future. My biggest piece of advice would be to narrow down your goals to just one (to start with
The idea of picking just one thing to focus on may feel overwhelming as well, but I believe in you. There are numerous factors that can help you determine what project is right for you, right now. Money, career progression, passion. What you choose will be dependent on your personal life circumstances.
I decided to focus on children’s writing. I did this because I see it leading to progress in multiple areas. E.g. Getting published in children’s magazines will help boost my resume when submitting children’s books to trade publishers as well as seeking freelance work with education publishers.
Keep it short term
While I had long term goals in mind, as mentioned above, I chose to limit myself to the first half of next year, so I wouldn’t become overwhelmed, confused or distracted. So instead of a goal of getting regular work from Education and Trade publishers, my goal is to be published in children’s magazines.
Let your dreams guide you but focus on what you can control
One of the key takeaways from Lee’s book, and many goal setting strategies is to set goals of which you can control the outcomes. I said above that my goal was to be published in children’s magazines. This is not strictly in my control. The publishers and editors of those magazines have the final say, so success or failure is not up to me.
But I do find it helpful to have this ‘dream goal’ in the back of my mind while creating my ‘actual goals’. Sort of like a guiding light. With this in mind, my ‘actual goal’ is to submit five stories and five articles to children’s magazines. Now this I can control.
Break it down
Once I had my ‘actual goal’ established I could break it down into the tasks I had to focus on to achieve that goal. These tasks gave me the framework for how I would spend my writing time moving forward. In order to submit any stories and articles I first had to write, research, and revise them!
I’m no longer muddled and befuddled by which path to take. I have a goal and a plan and can moved forward. I have the bigger goals still hanging out in the back of my head, so I can bend and shift as opportunities present themselves. But I’m focused and ready to go!
I’ve you want to see the action plan I wrote as a result read on.
Dream Goal: Be Published in Children’s Literary Magazines
Actual Goal: Submit five stories and five articles to these magazines
- Draft five children’s short stories
- Revise five children’s short stories
- Finish five children’s short stories
- Brainstorm seven children’s nonfiction articles
- Research five children’s nonfiction articles
- Write and revise five children’s nonfiction articles
Deadline: July 1st