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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please join the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Debra Eckerling Talks Goal-Setting for Writers

By Debra Eckerling

Goals are an essential component of productivity. It's important to know what you are striving for if you want to achieve it.

Setting Goals:
- Set a personal goal, as well as a professional one, especially when you are setting your annual goals. Yes, articles, short stories, pages, outlines, etc., are important. But so is self-improvement. You are more likely to achieve your writing goals if certain things in your personal life are in order. If your desk is a mess, then organizing it should be on the top of your goal-list.

- Look at your goals every day. It's easy to neglect your goals when you do not bother to look at them. Conversely, if you look at your goals frequently, they stay in your mind, and you are much more likely to accomplish them. Post your goals in a place you go to frequently: the bathroom mirror, the fridge, your computer “wallpaper.” I know one person who puts her goals as the wallpaper on her cell phone. That way, whenever she goes to make a call, she has to look at them.

- Set realistic goals. It's okay to overshoot and to even change them if your project goes in another direction. If you want to write an hour a day, but you think 30 minutes is more doable, then that’s the goal you should set. When you are under less pressure, you are more likely to sit down and write.

Accomplishing Goals:
- Join a writers support group or have a goal-buddy. Set weekly or monthly check-in times. Accountability is a key motivational element in getting your goals done. If your buddy and/or the people in your writers group make their goals, you certainly will want to. There's a huge incentive in feeling if your friends and peers can make their goals, so can you!

- Set a plan. Break down your project into doable parts, and put deadlines in your calendar. If you are writing a book, set due dates for the outline, each chapter, and rewrites. If you are trying to sell your book, novel, or screenplay, come up with a number of queries to send every week to agents and publishers – and stick to it. If you cheat on your goals, you are only cheating yourself – and prolonging your potential success.

- Make writing-time a priority. If you cancel a doctor’s appointment – or hair appointment – without notice, what happens? You get charged. If you cancel writing-time because something else comes up, you are only neglecting yourself. There are exceptions: sick child, day job, emergency. Yet, for the most part, writers tend to forgo their personal projects for other priorities. You can start penalizing yourself for missing your goals – have a money jar and pay yourself for missed writing-time. Or better yet, just sit down and write!

Celebrate Wins:
The biggest win is finishing your passion-project, whether it’s an essay to submit to a magazine, a book proposal, or full-length manuscript. But there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a fancy meal out, a new DVD, or that sweater you have been eyeing for weeks. Set goals, accomplish them, reward yourself. The biggest reward is the pride in accomplishment! Congratulations in advance!

Author Biography:
Debra Eckerling, a professional writer for more than 10 years, has expertise in feature articles, corporate communications, and writers’ workshops.

Debra is the founder and leader of Write On!, a virtual - and live -writers support group, which focuses on goal-setting, productivity, and networking. The Web site has Author Q&As twice a week, Expert Columns, and Writing Contests, as well as a monthly drawing for a FREE iScript (www.iscript.com), just for posting goals. For more information, go to www.writeononline.com or www.facebook.com/writeononline, or e-mail debra@writeononline.com.


Blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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  1. Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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  2. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Great post. Thanks!

  3. Setting goals--something so important, yet easily overlooked or ignored!
    Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Great article. I have a "pending" file where I put things I need to look at again but that I don't want to be staring at all day every day. I'd like to say I review it regularly (once a day), but I don't. And because of that there are times when I miss an opportunity to share my writing.

  5. Excellent article/post on goal setting. Thanks for this!

    Marvin D Wilson

  6. Excellent advice on goal setting. I think it's one of the most important things a writer, who wants to succeed, can do.

  7. Thanks for the great tips. I took care of my messy desk this weekend so step one is done. Now I plan to post my goals where I can't miss seeing them - maybe by using a sticky note on my laptop.

  8. Debra, you make a lot of great points. When you don't have specific deadlines and your work is solitary, it's all too easy to put things off or get distracted. I should recite your article like a mantra each day!

  9. Thanks for the tips. Here's one I'm going to implement today, "Set a plan. Break down your project into doable parts, and put deadlines in your calendar."

  10. Debra, what great reminders and advice. I usually create my goals, and actually put them up on the inside of my computer cabinet doors (both sides). If I'm on the computer (which is a lot) their on either side of me. And, I still forget to read them everyday!

    Thanks, Carolyn for a great post.

  11. Thanks for sharing some good ideas.


  12. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, everyone! Am thrilled you found these tips helpful!

    Best of luck on your projects,

  13. Wonderful post. I'm always struggling with this issue, especially because I'm always doing too many things at the same time. Setting goals down helps me to focus.

  14. Wonderful advice.

  15. Debra - it's nice to meet you and thank you for such wonderful, practical tips. I particularly like the ones about paying yourself if you miss your appointed writing time (!) and rewarding yourself when you've accomplished something you really wanted to do. I think the latter is a lovely idea!


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