Posted in On Writing

Reward Yourself

I’ve written before about making writing goals but there is one-step that I left out of the goal making process; goal rewards.

As you can probably tell from the name, goal rewards are the rewards you give yourself for reaching a goal. While this may seem like a given for some people, rewards are a tool that many do not use.

Rewards can be anything from a bowl of ice cream to a cruise. I know of several writers who reward a page of writing with gummy bears. The aim of the rewards is to acknowledge the accomplishment of completing a set goal.

The one thing to keep in mind when deciding on rewards is the size of the goal. Small goals, such as a certain word count or time limit, should have smaller rewards. The smaller rewards should not distract you from the larger goals. If you know that rewarding yourself with 15 minutes of games will turn into 15 hours of gaming, choose a different reward.

Larger goals should have larger rewards. The more you have to work towards a goal, the less satisfied you will be with a reward you can get any time. If you have spent a year polishing your novel, you won’t be satisfied with a bag of popcorn when you self-publish it.

As with goals, rewards should be personalized to you. When choosing a reward, pick something that you want and that you feel is worth the work you will be putting into the goal.

Unlike goals, rewards should be separate from your writing. You may feel as if seeing your novel in print will be a reward in itself but don’t rely solely on that reward. At times, you won’t want to work on your writing, those are the times you need a different motivator. If you cannot bring yourself to sit down to write for the sake of writing, you may be able to write in order to get that trip to Hawaii.

Some of my favourite rewards are new books, eating out, dying my hair and spa days. What rewards would motivate you through writer’s block? Do you split up your rewards or do you have one major reward for completing multiple goals?

Posted in On Writing

Writing Goals

Goals are important to everyone. They are what keep us pushing through when we come across obstacles. As writers it is very important for us to have goals specifically for our writing. But knowing that we need writing goals and making good writing goals are two separate things.

It is very easy to say that our writing goal is to publish the world’s most loved novel but should that be our only writing goal? No. In fact, that goal should not be our goal at all because it doesn’t follow SMART goal writing. The table below explains SMART goals and how this goal doesn’t fit.

Specific The goal should state exactly what the goal maker is going to achieve. The goal “to publish the world’s most loved novel” is specific.
Measurable There should be a way to measure the goal and how close it is to completion. This goal is not as measurable as it could be. It can be measured by sales and positive reviews but at what point does a novel become “the world’s most loved”?
Achievable The goal maker should be able to achieve their goal. If the goal is unachievable the goal maker will become frustrated and, most likely, give up on the goal. There is no specific path to selling millions of books and there is nothing that can be done to ensure success in the world of publishing. Because of these two things, this goal is unachievable.
Relevant The goal should be relevant to the reason for making the goal. This goal is about writing and is therefore relevant.
Timely There should be a time limit on when the goal should be completed by. Depending on the goal, this limit may be set for minutes or years. “To publish the world’s most loved novel” has no time line. This goal does not say if the novel will be published in one year or one hundred years.

When making writing goals, I always ask myself if it follows the SMART goal making principles. Does the goal state exactly what I want? Can I measure my progress? Is this goal something I can realistically achieve? Is this goal relevant? Do I have a time line for when I want this goal achieved?

Once I have a writing goal, I usually start making a plan to achieve it. For instance, if my writing goal is “to publish a novel by September 1, 2015” then my plan would include smaller goals that build up to the larger goal.

Some of the smaller goals I might decide on would be:

–          Write out a basic novel idea by July 22, 2013

–          Finish the first draft by November 1, 2013

–          Edit first draft by January 1, 2014

–          Edit second draft by April 1, 2014

–          Edit third draft by November 1, 2014

–          Query agents and publishers by February 1, 2015

–          If agent or publisher is not found, begin self-publishing process by July 1, 2015

–          Publish novel by September 1, 2015

As you can see from this list, each goal leads into the next goal. The goals are like a ladder which gradually builds up until you reach your final goal. By having smaller goals leading up to a larger goal, you can make what seems to be an unachievable goal become achievable.

What is your writing goal? Do you have a plan to achieve it?