2 January 2013

Get SMART with your writing goals for 2013 [IWSG]

Smart is the new sexy by Darknototil

It's a brand new year, and the sun is high, and all the birds are singing that you're gonna die (wait, sorry, wrong reference). 2013 is upon us and so we're all gearing up for a more productive version of us this year, especially when it comes to writing. "This year," you tell yourself, "is the year I'll finally get out of my pajamas and write that damn book. The book that will change humankind for the better. The book that will oh look a squirrel!" Using the SMART method when setting your writing goals, you're better equipped to stay on track and know when you succeed. This method will make your goals Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.



Specific

 

Saying "I'm going to write a novel" is admirable, but it's a bit vague. Narrow is down a bit. How long do you plan on making the novel? In which genre are you writing? Something like "I'm going to research, write and edit an 80,000 word epic fantasy novel and have it suitable for submission"


Measurable

 

So you know where you need to be, but how do you get there? How do you know if you haven't hit a snag along the way, or if you've gone way off course? How will you know if you've reached your target, and how will you know you're on the right track? Making your goals measurable sorts this out. Think of them as the achievements you get on the way to completing the main quest:

"I will complete researching my novel by April 1st. I will complete the first draft of the MS by October 1st (averaging roughly 500 words per day) and have edited the novel by January 1st 2014".


Achievable

 

This is an important one. Can you actually achieve what you set out? Writing a novel in a year from scratch might sound good in your head, but with working lives, family commitments and everything else that gets thrown at you, are you able to knuckle down and do what you set out? If not, change your goal. It's better to succeed at a small goal than to fail at a big one.


Relevant

 

The answer to this one will almost always be "yes". If you're writing a novel, chances are it'll be very relevant to you because you're the one writing it. Saying that, take some time to ask yourself why you're writing. If you want to write a book purely because you want to be a famous author with all the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll that goes with it, and you have no story or itch to back it up, then your goal isn't relevant to you.


Time-bound

 

Most novels never see the light of day because they fall into the ether, never to be completed or seen again. Making your goals Time-bound gives you set deadlines by which you need to complete your goal. In this case, the entire novel will be completed and ready for submission by January 1st, 2014. The planning, writing and editing stages also have their own deadlines, and if you can break it down into smaller deadlines again, all the better.


So by making your goals SMART, you've now gone from,

"I'm going to write a novel!" (reaction: "yeah, sure you will. I'll believe that when I see it.")

to

"By January 1st 2014 I will plan, write and edit an 80,000 word epic fantasy novel that will be suitable to submission to agents. Planning will be completed by April 1st, the first draft of the manuscript will be completed by October 1st (averaging 500 words per day) and final edits will be completed by January 1st 2014" (reaction: "wow, that sounds great! I can't wait to read it!"

Whilst this w
ill all help to add structure to your writing goals, don't let it constrain you too much. If you let your rigid goals stifle your creativity, then it's not going to work out for you. Make sure you still have some freedom to write the story you want to tell, but use these SMART goals to help you on the road to publication.

What are your writing goals this year?

[image source]

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Insecure Writer's Support Group
This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly blog hop set up by the Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a place where writers and bloggers can share their anxieties and insecurities with one another, offer advice and support one another. You can find full details and a list of participants on the Insecure Writer's Support Group page, and you can also follow it on Twitter at #IWSG. I'm co-hosting this month's IWSG, so I'll be visiting some more of you today!

99 comments:

  1. I will definitely try the SMART method as soon as I find that squirrel! Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG. Julie

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    1. Thanks Julie, and good luck setting your goals this year!

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  2. "This year," you tell yourself, "is the year I'll finally get out of my pajamas and write that damn book. The book that will change humankind for the better. The book that will oh look a squirrel!"

    This sounds just like me. Except for the changing out of my pajamas part.

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    1. M.J., I also greatly appreciated that line, especially as there appears to be a squirrel living in my wall, distracting me from my writing along the lines of "Oh listen, something's clawing frantically in the wall." I also have jokingly entitled my book "The Next Great American Novel" and "The Ultimate Novel of Ultimate Destiny."

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    2. @M.J. I know how difficult it can be to get out of the pajamas, and if you can be productive with them on then more power to you :)

      @Callie. Good choices all around. My personal favourite is "The next Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter/ Song of Ice and Fire"

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  3. Ooh excellent tips, I may have to start doing that, thanks :)

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    1. Good luck, Anna. It's a useful way of sorting yourself out :)

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  4. I love this method. I Will do my absolute best to....why yes smart is the new sexy... I mean yes! I will get right on that Wow! That is shiny! I' m doomed, aren't I?

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    1. Just as doomed as me, distractions and procrastination are enemies of those who wield the ink-tipped sword.

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  5. That's right - must be specific! Like the Smart method.
    And thanks for co-hosting the IWSG today.

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    1. You're welcome, and thank for bringing me on board. I found a great new set of bloggers through it :)

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  6. Congrats on the co-hosting gig Jamie!
    I really love your SMART method!

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    1. Thanks Michelle; I hope it'll be useful :)

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  7. Not only SMART method but wise. Personally, I need to work on my "T" - I spent nearly two years editing my last manuscript. Don't want a repeat performance!

    ~VR Barkowski

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    1. You and me both, VR. I've got stories that were started when I was 15 that I never went back to. Maybe this year...

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  8. Great post! I'm planning to finish, polish, and (maybe) publish my current WIP in 2013.

    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG. Happy New Year! :D

    #137 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Melissa :) Good luck for this year!

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  9. This could be helpful. Thanks for posting!
    Heather

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  10. Thanks for co-hosting!

    I don't question the value of SMART goals, but after having it be the #1 buzzword around the office last year, I'm kind of tired of the term. :)

    My #1 goal this year is just to remain consistent and on track. I need to keep shopping around those completed pieces, and keep working in the works in progress - no excuses, and no procrastination!

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    1. Ha, I did too for a little while, until I realised I could use them in writing.

      Good luck on getting your finished works picked up, too :)

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  11. work smarter, not harder, right?
    Thanks for hosting!!

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    1. An excellent tactic, Elizabeth :) Thanks for stopping by :)

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  12. Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

    And thanks for co-hosting this month!

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  13. Thank you for co-hosting.
    I guess my goals this year are SMARM... I'm thinking I'll publish my novel "in the spring" - which isn't very specific. And the extra M is because I've been deliberately modest in my hopes: I don't want to stress myself out alongside a hoped-for day job.

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    1. SMARM - I like it :) Good thinking with the addition of modest to the list :)

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  14. Great tips! Thanks! I will have to draft out my SMART goals.

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  15. I've heard of this acronym before, but it's great to be reminded about what really matters. Lovely post, I can't wait to tackle 2013!

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  16. THe SMART method... Very clever Jamie...

    Sounds like it just might work. LOL. Wishing all the best in 2013!

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    1. The SMART method isn't my idea originally; I've just learned to adapt it for writing :)

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  17. This post made me smile from the very first line. (Can you get any geekier? I'm hoping yes.)

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  18. Good method. I am hoping to finish my book this year. Making time goals is a good idea. What are YOUR writing goals for the year, Jamie? Love the Doctor Horrible and Big Bang references ;)

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    1. My goals? Yikes. I'd like to actually write something (got a vague idea for a steampunk novel in my head).

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  19. I'll definitely be looking to S.M.A.R.T en up this year, when it comes to writing. A goal in and of itself :)

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    1. Good luck, Mark! I hope it serves you well!

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  20. Quite interesting. That achievement is one you can get multiple times, right? I hope so because that's what I've going for. Also, big props for the Dr. Horrible reference.

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    1. Definitely multiple times, and it multiplies with each successive novel :)

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  21. I can't wait to see what your fantasy novel is about. I shall definitely be reading it. I love fantasy (all kinds really).

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    1. Thanks Michael, but it'll be a long time in coming I think :)

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  22. You made me smile. I LOVE BBT and that picture just made my day bright. I think measurable goals are such a big key to feeling successful. Great advice.

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  23. I love this post!! What a great way to start the new year..smart:) Thank you so much for co-hosting this month. I look forward to following your progress this year...

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    1. Thanks, Doreen :) Best of luck to you this year too!

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  24. Oh, this was a great post. I like this method. - But do we have to get out of our pj's?

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    1. Getting out of the PJs is completely optional :)

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  25. You are very smart following the SMART method! Good luck with it:-) As for my goals, a good part of it will be marketing my debut novel, then polishing the next one for publication before the year's end. Thanks for cohosting the IWSG, and cool name!

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    1. Thanks Jamie :) Good luck with the marketing side of things, I've heard it can be a tough ride.

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  26. I'll have to apply this acronym to some of my goals for this year!

    Awesome post.

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  27. Hey! I write the damn book IN my pajamas!
    I like that smart method. :)

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    1. Writing in your PJs is a skill few writers can master :)

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  28. I set a goal of...not setting goals this year. And so far I'm doin' great, hehe. Still worth coming here for the great BBT pic, though.

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    1. Thanks Nicki. I hope your non-goal led writing does well this year :)

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  29. I use SMART goal setting in health lessons at school. I'm working on mine for this year.

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    1. Good luck, Susan! I need to use SMART goals a lot more often to organise things in my head.

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  30. I like SMART, sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, I am horrible at planning. When I do set goals and make a plan, I find the motivation to reach my goals.

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    1. Give the SMART method a try, Patricia. It might serve you well :)

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  31. Love BBT and the pic is awesome! SMART sounds like a great idea, though I'm lousy at making such specific goals.

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  32. I definitely need to be SMART with my goals this year and not leave some of them until the very end!

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    1. That's the same trouble that I have, Krista. I don't plan enough and then nothing gets done.

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  33. Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month, and stopping by my little blog!
    After not meeting last year's goals, I'd set aside the whole idea and decided just to do my best at this--but now I might take another look, focusing on Achievable and Measurable.

    Is there a place for chocolate in the SMART plan? ;)

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    1. Go for it, Kirsten! I wish you the best of luck :)

      Chocolate can be a substitute R - Reward :P

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  34. Wonderful post. And thanks for visiting my blog. You definitely have a handle on setting goals. :)

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    1. Thanks Jess - here's hoping I apply them to my own writing :)

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  35. Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG. I'm planning to triple my output this year, which means I need to have 27 works out by the end of the year, instead of just nine. Doable, but tight schedule.

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  36. The SMART Method sounds like a great way to hold ourselves accountable. I'll have to slip it in my mental files. Thanks for co-hosting IWSG today. Happy New Year!

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    1. Good luck using it, and a happy new year to you too!

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  37. Great pointers! The SMART method definitely sounds smart. Now just to...oooooo shiny....

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. For some reason there was no comment button visible, so I replied to Shannon's.

      Great tips, Jamie! Oh and thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month. I'm sure Alex appreciates it. :)

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    2. Shannon - Ha, that's the same trouble that I get :)

      Candilynn - Hmm, odd that there was no comment box (it's usually at the end of all the comments). Glad you could still stop by though :)

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  38. I like it. A bit of structure... a bit of positive planning... and by the time I've finished colour-coding my timetable with my SMART objectives, it'll be 1/1/14 :)
    Happy new writing year
    Laura x

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    1. I do love my colour-coding; you've got me pegged there :)

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  39. That's an intelligent approach. Thanks.

    Happy New Year, and thanks also for co-hosting the IWSG.

    -your newest follower

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    1. You're welcome Robyn, and thanks for the follow :)

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  40. I find the more specific about a goal I am the easier it is to focus on it. Thanks for co-hosting IWSG!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by :) I need to be a lot more specific in my goals this year so I won't get anything done!

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  41. As a special education teacher, I can see how the SMART goal writing is a good way to set goals for oneself. Thanks for reminding me that writing is in many ways, very similar to education. :D

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    1. I'm glad it's useful outside of management theory office workers :)

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  42. I like this approach! I'm going for simple goals this year, where I can be productive and have fun instead of feeling under pressure. ;)

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  43. Oh I feel like the laziest, most unorganized schlub ever reading this. I have no goals as yet, and have been writing by the seat of my pants since I basically have first gotten published. I need to get it together. Great job co-hosting the IWSG. :)

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    1. Seat of your pants writing works too :) Good luck with your goals this year, Melissa!

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  44. Hahaha 2012 was an amazing year for me, so I'm sort of leaving things open ended as to when and where I want to achieve things. EVERYTHING depends on whether or not my main WiP gets an agent, which definitely is not "SMART". :-D

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  45. Love the SMART method! And it's so much easier to take a big goal and break it up into something more manageable. Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy New Year to you to, Cherie! I think the smaller, more specific goals are the easier ones to manage.

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  46. Yes! I've done SMART before, when trying to finish my MG novel. It really works, especially if you break it all down to smaller mini-goals.
    Or maybe I just need Sheldon glaring at me.

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    1. I think a big Sheldon poster would work to get you motivated. Good idea, Deniz :)

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  47. Great post!! This is the exact kind of plan I was already implementing for writing my book over the next six months. I've been trying to break it down to a lot of smaller goals, which makes it much less daunting.

    Good job co-hosting IWSG. Sorry I'm getting over so late--busy couple of days!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tamara. Don't worry - I'm still going through my list of comments!

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  48. awesome advice! great way to keep yourself on track throughout the year!

    heres to reaching our goals in 2013!

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    1. Thanks Tara! Good luck with your goals this year!

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