If you follow the often-used structure—Goals, Motivation, and Character—for your novel,you spend a significant amount of time creating goals for your characters. Even if you don’t use that structure, in some way or form, I bet you create goals for your characters.
But do you create them for yourself?
Part of being a writer is finding time to write. And most of us are writers-slash-something else, whether that’s a job outside the home, Mom, Dad, daughter, uncle, whatever. So writing is something we have to find time to do. And many, if not most of us, feel some level of guilt for spending time on something many people would consider simple a hobby. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of whether your writing is a hobby or a career; that’s another blog post. But no matter how you view your writing, carving out the time to do it is going to require some effort.
It’s easier to make an effort if you see a goal or a reward at the end of it. How many of you set goals for your writing? Some of us do word or page count. Some do BIC (butt-in-chair) time. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to acknowledge that you are accomplishing something, making some effort toward your bigger goal. Figure out what tracking method works for you and then set a goal. On paper and where you can see it. And then, give yourself a reward for hitting it.
So hitting your word count goals will eventually lead you to complete a book. What then? Creating a book is more than just putting words on paper. It needs structure, critiques, editing. You need to decide if you’re going to publish it, and if so, traditional or indie. Then you need a marketing plan. And so on. All sorts of tasks that can be small goals which then add up to your bigger goal.
What do you want to do with your writing? Do you do it just for your own pleasure? Do you want to make a career of it? Do you want to get on a best-seller list? Each goal requires a different path and different short- and medium-term goals.
What do you have to give up?
We all have limits. There are only so many things we can do in one day. So most likely something will have to give. What are things that other people can do instead? Can you make a To NOT Do list? One helpful way to do this is to keep a time log of what you do all day. If you do this for at least a week, I bet you’ll find wasted time that you can reclaim.
A few things to remember in setting goals
- Write them down. Just doing this makes a huge increase in your chances of succeeding.
- Make them specific. Use numbers and dates, don’t be vague.
- Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure; set yourself up for success.
- Reward yourself. Something that will help you push through when you feel like giving up.
- Write down why you want to accomplish this goal and how it will make you feel when you do it. That’s true motivation.
If you’re serious about this and want to do a deep dive, Michael Hyatt has some great information on his site here and here. Also Randy Ingermanson has some great stuff on www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com here and here.
One final thought. I have a secret bone to pick with goals: they are fine in their place, but they do have a place. Goals are not the solution to your life’s problems (oh, I wish they were!). They’re important. They provide order and structure and direction. They allow us to be good stewards of our time, gifts, and resources. Yet they all must remain in their place, subservient to God’s desires for my life and what He wants to accomplish in me in this season.
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