Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Plan Writing Goals in Three Time Categories: Part Two in the Series

Certain songs remind me of my childhood. These songs, like Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle," recall visions of my parents when they were young (That's another story).

Listening to that song recently, I thought of this second step to Setting Successful Writing Goals: Plan Writing Goals in Three Time Categories. Croce repeats the following lyrics:

"But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them..."

H-e-l-l-o! That's exactly how I felt this past week. Deadlines fast approaching. Responsibilities at work (for those who have day jobs outside of writing, you know what I mean). Then there's the pull at home. It's summer. Each of the kids wants time with daddy. And my wife needs my attention, too. I'm glad we don't have a dog that needs walking!

Can anyone relate? If you can, keep reading. The bottom line is that all the things I listed above that we need to do must get done. But as aspiring writers, we also must make time to do the things we want to do to finish our writing projects.

We can do this by Setting Successful Writing Goals. The second step to doing just that is to Plan Writing Goals in Three Time Categories. Before I explain, let's recap from last week when we learned the first step to Setting Successful Writing Goals. That first step begins with writing specific goals which include details that force you to take action (And that means making a deadline and/or word count, or other quantifiable result, and sticking to it).

Example: I want to write a novel. (vague) OR  I want to write a novel in 30 days (specific).
Miss the first article in the series? Read how to Make Specific Writing Goals here.

OK... still reading? Good. You're serious about your writing. You can make time in your busy schedule for writing projects by planning goals in three time categories. These categories should be familiar. They are Long-term goals, Mid-term goals, and Short-term goals.

I am borrowing again from my experience teaching at the college level with the book, "From Master Student to Master Employee."

This three-pronged approach is especially useful for aspiring writers who must fit their writing into already busy schedules. Here's a breakdown of the three time categories:

Long-term - means just that. Think of these goals as ones that could take five years or longer to achieve. For example, one of these goals might include wanting to write a series of novels based on a particular character. Think Harry Potter.

Mid-term - these can fall in the one- to five-year range. It is important that mid-term goals support your long-term goals. So, if your goal is to write a series of novels based on the same character, your mid-term goal might be to write a new installment every year or every two years.

Short-term - this is where the metal meets the meat. You should see these goals as ones to accomplish in less than a year. These are the goals that require immediate action. Write 2,000 words a day. Create a character sketch for your protagonist this weekend. Create a character sketch for your antagonist next weekend.

The important thing is to plan short-, mid- and long-term goals so they support one another. If you make the effort to plan out goals in three time categories, share them with your family. Your loved ones will see that you are serious. This could get you the support you crave at home. And support means the kids might give you that hour on Sundays to work on that character sketch (especially if the character is a super hero or something cool like that).

Questions? I'm sure. Share your thoughts by e-mail or comment below. I will continue outlining the four parts to Setting Successful Writing Goals through August. The next two parts are as follows:

  • Include goals in areas of your life (outside of writing)
  • Reflect often on your goals



1 comment:

  1. Yes, it does make sense to put your goals in such categories, only on the one hand I do think it can be practical, and on the other hand planning things also can feel like 'Painting myself stuck' because it's my experience that life can be like John Lennon said:

    'Life is what happens while
    you are planning other things'

    (or at least some thing somewhat
    similar as that)

    Sometimes life can give something bad, and sometimes it can be even better than you could have ever imagined at a certain time. Nevertheless I do think that it can be helpful to at least have some goals to be able to give yourself some direction, only I do think that you also need to keep a certain flexibility.


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