Sunday, January 01, 2006

Goal Setting for Writers--Part 1--Dreams and Aspirations

What do you want as a writer? Fame? Success? Riches? The first step is to define your dream and write it down.

Most of us have a long-term goal, a dream, that one shining moment we imagine whenever the sister-in-law says, "But you aren't a REAL writer."

Write it down. Whether it's your guest spot on Oprah, your first paying job or handing that SIL a hardcover with your name in gold foil, write it down. You don't need to share this with anyone, but you do need to put it in writing and keep it in a safe place.

Now, think about how long it would reasonably take to reach this objective. Remember that most well established novelists have been working at their craft for at least a decade. (Stephen King's been writing and submitting for almost forty years.) Non-fiction writers, if they've got a marketable idea, can break out much more quickly.

Now, looking at that dream for twenty years might be a little discouraging. That's why the next step is to set objectives closer in time.

Look five years down the road. Where do you want your writing career to be? Do you want to be making a certain amount of income from your writing? Do you want to have your first book published by then? Do you want to have your first manuscript ready by then? It takes a first novelist an average of 4-5 manuscripts and 5 years to be published.

Now repeat the process for two years and one year from now. Write all these objectives down. A useful exercise is to list them together and keep the list in a sealed envelope to be opened in one year. There are software programs to guide you through this process, but part of the exercise is to write them down. Then they are truly yours.


Spend 5-15 minutes each day this week thinking about and writing down your long-term goals, dreams and aspirations. Make a list that you can post near your work area, or tuck away in the calendar to monitor your progress.

More next week!

(if you want to e-mail me or post comments with questions, I'll do my best to answer in a timely fashion)

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