Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Setting Effective Goals

There are a lot of amazing writers generously offering to share their work experience and training- for free. I'm thinking of Archetype, H.L. Dyer, and Where Romance Meets Therapy to name a few.

I started thinking about how fabulous these bloggers are for doing this. Which got me wishing I had a job cool enough to share my training and experience with all of you. Working for a bank for 10 years just does not give you the cool factor that being a therapist does. I mean, want to know about simple interest loans, credit agencies, or fraud rings and I'm your gal...but who really needs or wants to hear about that? But then I decided that I have learned a few things worthy of sharing.

So I'm going to blog about what I learned from my years of management, customer service, fraud, and collection training.



Career Development
Career development is part of the reason we want an agent. They'll coach us to move from aspiring to published authors, from mid-list to NYT Bestsellers.

In my world- Career Development is the best part of my job. Hand and hand with career development is setting goals. A lot of time goal setting sounds like this:


Goal:

Get published

Actions Needed:

Finish novel

Improve writing skills

Network with writers and agents

A solid start. But still not as powerful as you can be. What about this?

Goal:

Get published

Action Needed:

Finish novel

1. Write 80,000 word novel

2. Create interesting characters

3. Edit novel

Improve writing skills

1. Decrease use of passive voice

2. Balance dialogue, description, and narration

Network with writers and agents

1. Create and maintain blog

2. Comment on agent blogs

Even better, right? But how are you going to know when you succeed in reaching these goals?


Goal:
Get published

Action Needed:

Finish novel

1. Write 80,000 word novel

Plan: Write for 2 hours daily

Tracking: Novel completed

2. Create interesting characters

Plan: Create character sheets to keep character traits and flaws consistent

Tracking: Feedback from Beta Readers

3. Edit Novel

Plan: Send to beta readers for feedback

Tracking: Positive feedback with no recommendations for improvement.

Improve writing skills

1. Decrease use of passive voice

Plan: Search within Word shows few uses of was, is, am.

Tracking: Only conscious use of passive voice

2. Balance dialogue, description, and narration

Plan: Highlight dialogue, description, and narration with different colored
markers

Tracking: No page is marked with all of one color.

Network with writers and agents

1. Create and maintain blog

Plan: Write 3 posts every Saturday and schedule them to publish the following week.

Tracking: Number of posts actually posted per week.

2. Comment on agent blogs

Plan: Read and Comment on (Specific Agent Name) that represents my genre 4 days per week.

Tracking: Number of comments actually posted per week.

Do you see how much more manageable each goal and sub-goal is when there's a plan and a method of tracking your progress? It's no longer a matter of getting published. It's about writing on your blog, removing passive voice, and creating character sheets- all much less daunting than just stating you need to finish a novel and find an agent.

By creating a method of tracking- you keep yourself accountable. Did you meet your goals? No? Why not and by how much?

Write down your specific goals and update them regularly (I recommend bi-weekly or monthly). Doing so will help keep you focused on developing yourself into a NYT Bestselling Author.


How do you write and keep your goals? What tricks have you found that helps you
stay focused?


Next Up: Professionalism

10 comments:

T. Anne said...

I'm not as organized as you but I can see the value. Thanx for the post.

Sara Tribble said...

Oh my! I love this! That's so great! I did go through my own process, and people need to know it's okay to change your schedule to find whats best!

Awesome disection list of your goals! I plan to post a new blog on how my first day of my new schedule went!

Jody Hedlund said...

I really like how specific you get with each of your goals! I hadn't thought of that! I've mostly been generalizing which leads to trying to do too much at once (then often not doing enough!). I think tackling a few goals at a time helps to make tangible progress forward! Thanks for sharing!

Danyelle said...

Very nice break down. Just when I thought you were being specific, you went on to be even more specific, which is probably the whole key. :)

I have a certain word count and revision count that I meet every day. Somedays life gets in the way, but for the most part, I'm consistent. I've learned that I stay more writing focused if I keep the Internet off. ;-)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm a very short term goal person.

So I set little weekly goals or even daily goals. I find little hills easier to climb. :)

Cindy said...

That's a good outline for goals. The more I write and the more advice I receive from other writers, the more organized I am getting. Seems to be working so far :D

Sarah Jensen said...

I have to do things this way, or I don't accomplish anything. I want to become a NYTimes Best selling published author, don't get me wrong, but my #1 goal, is to become a better writer. That's my goal every time I sit in front of my computer.

What can I do to improve my writing? When I first started editing, I picked one thing an edit as my focus. Passiveness, voice, action...whatever it was, I worked my ms to fix that one problem.

This broke things down for me, and helped me realize WHY these things needed to be changed.

I don't have to do this that way now, because I SEE most of it the first time through. But it helped me tremendously to do it in the beginning.

Tess said...

This is right up my alley -- excellent.

Samantha Elliott said...

This is amazing, and something I never knew I needed to see written out until I did. Thanks! I'm totally stealing your format—right now. ;)

Warren Baldwin said...

Hi, I linked here from Eric's blog where he mentioned your contest. I didn't learn about it in time to participate in it, but I do like your blog and I'm sure I'll be back.

I like what you wrote about improving writing skills, esp. the part about avoiding the passive voice. Terri Tiffany is helping me edit a story I wrote to submit for (hopeful) publication and she noted I use the passive voice too much. I am a sermon/lecture writer(I'm a preacher and college prof) not a story writer, yet!

Under your list of things to do/improve you have "Plan" then "Tracking." What do you mean by "Tracking?"

Also, on my blog today is a discussion about "why we read and write." I'd like to invite you to participate in that.

One more thing ... Terri Tiffany has a good site about writing. Her image is on the first page of my "following." You might link over and take a look at her site. If you do, please leave a message that I recommended her site to you!

WB