Friday, March 18, 2011

Testing Time for New Year's Resolutions

As authors, we probably all make resolutions at the beginning of the year to increase our output, or begin a new book, or finish a work in progress. This is the testing time. Schedules are back to normal. Things we put off during the holidays are clamoring to be done, and our resolve to work daily on that manuscript doesn't seem as vital as it did when we decided to "put it off" for a bit in December. Life keeps getting in the way of writing. But March is a great time to revitalize and review those goals. (Not that you ladies need this at all, but a good reminder to pass along to budding writers.)

I've found if I make my resolutions in the form of goals, I'm able to accomplish them much more easily than just a list of resolutions that I blithely scribbled down at the start of a brand new year. The formula that works for me is simple:

1. VISUALIZE the goal or objective. Decide "what is the purpose?" of this. (To complete a manuscript for submission to XYZ publisher by December 31, 2011.)
2. PREPARE - Decide what it will take to accomplish that goal - what learning will be necessary, what classes need to be taken. (A semester of creative writing at a local college; writing classes or seminars at writer's conferences.)
3. HELP - What kind of assistance is needed? Who can help accomplish the goal? (Joining a critique group to read the work aloud and bounce ideas off is a must! I just recruited my book group to be my critique group as my 10-year old group disbanded last year. Also help from the family - "this is my writing time and it is important that I not be disturbed unless someone is bleeding!")
4. WRITE the goal down. Put it where it can be seen often as a reminder this is something important to be done. (On a sheet of paper used as place marker in your scriptures or daily journal; on a refrigerator, in a pretty frame on your nightstand or vanity, etc.)
5. ITEMIZE the goal into working increments (I will write one page per day (or 5 or 10) and review and revise yesterday's work - if that is your style of writing.)
6. SCHEDULE time daily to work on the goal. Stick to the schedule. (Even five minutes per day is better than nothing. The rest of the time, keep it in the back of your mind. Think about it while cooking, driving, walking, doing the dishes, exercising, falling asleep. Let the subconscious work on the goal for you until you get back to it tomorrow.)
7. REVIEW the goal regularly. How is it coming? (What changes do I need to make in my schedule to do this? Did I get my page written today? Did I revise that chapter that needed work?)
8. REVISE as necessary. (Another deadline this week? Can't write? Schedule Tuesday next week to write all day; friend will babysit and carpool. Pay-back the week after and give her a day off.)

Writing can be a lonely job, but all that goes with it doesn't have to be. Including others in your goal-setting process helps keep you on top of it and gives you their support and help, too. Ready, set, GOAL!

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