Novelist by Night
A novelist should write every day! An admirable goal that is often the advice given by successful and seasoned writers, including many of the authors I have been fortunate to interview. While this is a goal that we all may aspire, it is often unattainable.
As Novelists by Night, I believe that we need to be flexible, within reason, in our SMARTER writing goals and routines. Many of us have full-time jobs, along with families to whom we are responsible. Sometimes the unexpected may occur during a day, that clearly must take precedence, like when little Johnny gets a fever or just needs to be held; or when a delivery isn’t received at work and arrangements need to be made to satisfy a client, our attention must be prioritized to handle those situations. In other words, there are areas in our busy lives that are just simply unpredictable. Experiencing guilt about missing your designated writing time is unproductive and diminishes the joy we all feel when we put our pen to paper.
We are all as unique and individual as our writing, and what works for one writer may not work for another. Identifying what works for you, and fine tuning those methods and skills will take you far. All of that being said, I would like to emphasize the fact that,
Training, development, preparation, systematization and practice are all very positive, and necessary actions that writers should incorporate into their writing discipline. Training and development describes ongoing efforts that improve performance and self- fulfillment. When combined, these two actions can lead to an integral element of strategy and methodology as we commit words to paper. As writers, we are involved in and embrace a state of continual learning to improve our craft. While we may become proficient, we will never be “finished” learning. After all we, are in effect, our own small businesses; even though our talents are imaginative and artistic and our product is the compilation of our words.
Think for a moment about the work that matters most to you. Perhaps you want to write a book or short story; or maybe you’ve got a big upcoming pitch for an article you would like to write. How well you perform determines how well you will serve your readers. If you want to perform (write) at your very best, your preparation needs to be purposeful. I was reading an article in Inc. which is an online business publication, written by Jeff Hayden, Contributing editor, Inc. about the way professionals, such as Steve Jobs and Peyton Manning prepare for such matters. He says, and I am paraphrasing, that while most of us follow the advice: Focus on success, that is not what the pros do. Instead, the pros do the opposite. “They focus on the mistakes and figure out, in detail, how they will react to them. Then they visualize the positive.” He goes on to say, “You might call this a Balanced-Positive Approach: equally split between negative and positive, and ending on the positive.” As writers it might look like anticipating problems with your plot, or an unfulfilled character that needs to be solidified. Each of us needs to adapt a system; a routine that will move our careers forward. Trial and error should be expected while honing in on what will work for us; thereby constantly practicing and editing our way toward success.
Keeping all of this in mind, perhaps we should define a few personal goals. You may remember from Management 101 that a goal should be S.M.A.R.T.E.R. or Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, with constant Evaluation that leads toward Reward. This is an effective tried and true formula that many apply to each and every goal that they make. The more popular format is SMART without the added ER. The reason that I include the ER is because I believe in regularly evaluating my goals, along with the plans that I have in place to achieve them to make sure they are consistent with my overall target. R goes without saying…this is the reason that we set goals in the first place even though the process, in itself, is the true reward.
Here is a simplistic list of three of my goals:
- Take control of my creative life by devising a system for writing that works for me and assists me in moving beyond the 20k word count that has haunted me in the past.
- Complete a novel (between at least 55 to 65k words) in one year.
- Maintain http://The Writer’s Dialog as a welcoming, positive and beautiful site that encourages participation from readers and writers, and to grow this community; doubling it’s membership numbers every quarter for the first year.
Okay, now that I have a few goals written down, I can begin to make plans so that I may progress toward their completion. In the coming posts of Novelist by Night, the game plan will be the focus, rather than the goal. The purpose of the game plan is to take me to the goal, therefore, if I take care of the plans, the plans will take care of my goals.
I would love for you to contribute your thoughts on this subject. Any ideas that have worked for you, goals you have set and the plans you have put in place to make your dreams come true. Send an email and make a pitch to write your article and participate in the www.http://The Writer’s Dialog.
Do not spend all of your free time writing. Get out and breath fresh air. Stretch and touch your toes. Observe and experience your surroundings – then go in and create your own.