Not so long ago, I was chatting away with fellow writer Terrie Leigh-Relf about our writing (there were probably other topics in there too) and the inevitable relfection on the year that's passed.
We've planned to each go away (i.e. offline) and come back with our writing goals for 2012. I know, the very mention of the 'g' word tends to make people – and writers especially – go into sleep mode. But don't go just yet...
Goals, back in corporate land, were things you could control. And to make life easier*, especially when said goals helped determine your pay or bonus at the end of the year, they needed to be SMART goals.
Sing it with me, people:
Specific define what it is.
Measurable – how you can tell when you've completed it?
Achievable – is it within your control make this happen?
Realistic – do you personally have the control and the resources to do this?
Time-bound – when will it be done by?
Here are some goals that aren't SMART, even if they do appear to be desirable:
- Get my novel placed with an agent next year.
- Get my novel placed with a publisher next year (it's okay, I'm flexible - it doesn't have to be the same novel).
And here are some SMART goals:
- Write 2000 words per day. (Or, like Rachel Aaron, exceed that five-fold.)
- Spend three hours on my synopsis.
- Do a full edit of my manuscript by the end of March 2012.
- Identify three agents and three publishers to submit to.
- Prioritise my submissions.
- Contact the agent / publisher at the top of my list.
- Submit material from my novel.
Now, I will be the first to admit that SMART goals don't sound nearly as sexy or heroic. But they are...achievable. You're not reliant on anyone else to make it happen. You hold all the cards. Which means it's no one else's reponsibility but yours, if nothing happens (2012 end of the world scenarios notwithstanding).
My mantra of the moment is that we write, we edit, we decide who to submit to and then we submit. We need to do them all well because once our submissions leave us, it's out of our hands.
What are your SMART creative goals for 2012?
* May contain traces of irony.