goals / writing

Writing Wednesday: Why Set Goals?

First, my weekly update. My goals march on… Three blog posts, 10-day turnaround to markets on track, and ePublication on schedule. Last week I wrote 4513(!) words of fiction, which actually pulled my weekly average for this year to the best I’ve had since I started tracking it. Most of it was because “Date Night” finally made me write its rough draft (I’m not happy with the ending, but it’s mostly there – I have until the end of the year to get it where I want and complete it to fulfill this year’s 12-story objective.) The rest of my writing was on Swordsmaster (revising and more character interviews (I’m learning more and more about the story through them; how did I not know these things before?)

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GOALS ARE A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF MY WRITING (and should be part of yours, too.)

We’re getting close to the end of year, which will be accompanied by a slew of New Year’s Resolutions. Most of us will make several of these without much planning, because it’s expected of everyone. We might even publicly announce them (probably at some party with friends – it’s instructive to observe how many people’s resolutions formed during the party, with no other planning involved) and then a few months (Or weeks. Or days.) become disappointed in ourselves and conveniently lose track of those resolutions until the next New Year’s party.

What are goals?

Goals are concrete, achievable objectives that you have control over achieving. “I’m going to write twelve short stories this year” is a simple one for me, and BARRING ACTS OF GOD, pretty achievable. I can measure whether I’m succeeding at it by seeing how many stories I finish and send out to market. This is not to be confused with milestones, which are things that might happen, but even though you can do a number of things to improve your chances, you cannot control, “I’m going to sell a story to a traditional publisher”. Milestones are something to celebrate, but nothing to plan on.

Why set goals?

When I first decided to have my Midlife Renaissance™, I spent the first seven years without any definite goals – no way of measuring or incentivizing my progress towards being able to say I AM A WRITER instead of I AM A “writer.” In that time, I managed to complete a paltry TWO stories. In 2011, tired of pretending to be a writer and generating so little, I set some modest, but concrete goals:

  • Write 3000 words per week: I’ve made this goal every so often, but I’ve never managed it over an entire year. I’ve thought about reducing it, but it gives me something definitely achievable (since I have managed it) and also something to shoot for each week – it’s important to keep up with your goals short-term so you can see when you’re falling behind.
  • Six short stories written and out to markets: That first year I had only finished one story when June began, and it was obvious that I would not make this goal unless some things changed. I rescheduled my daily writing time from evenings (where there were always interruptions) to mornings, and I also adopted a WRITE FAST approach (where I keep your internal editor OUT OF THE WAY until I have the rough draft written. From that point forward my productivity improved.

The following year upped my story goal, added a couple more goals (ePublishing every 4 weeks, 7-day turnaround on submissions.) I committed to quarterly re-examinations of my status (because waiting until the end of the year to see how you’re doing doesn’t leave much time for course correction and almost guarantees failure.) My goals have been rolling along pretty well since then, at least until I had to deal with Swordsmaster and learning the differences between what it takes to write a novel vs. a lot of short fiction.

Without my goals, I honestly believe I would not have been anywhere near as productive. Of course, this leaves out one of the most important things you can do to ensure your success: MAKE YOUR GOALS PUBLIC!

Why public goals?

Never underestimate the motivational value of the fear of PUBLIC HUMILIATION (yes, I know this may be counter-intuitive for those of you living in the modern-day, with its self-esteem emphasis and participation trophies, but I can’t say enough about the positive effect that knowing I’ll be accountable to someone beside myself. I got in the habit of posting my goals at the start of each year, and delivering status updates every quarter; knowing that I would have to account for my failures drove me to make sure I did everything possible to keep them from happening (of course, now I do that reporting weekly, which keeps me thinking about how to be successful even more often.) This is particularly important when you’re a writer, where the advantages of being your own boss can be wiped out by having no one else to be accountable to.

I make this plea to fellow writers every year – set your GOALS, make them PUBLIC, and MAKE THEM HAPPEN!

Look at that calendar – the year is winding down. Will you make a commitment, or are you just pretending?

Just saying…

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SleepWithTheSnowmenCoverNext up for ePublication is “Sleep with the Snowmen”, a slightly different kind of Christmas story:

Ask not for whom the bells jingle…

A petty criminal crosses the wrong fat man, and is offered the opportunity to change his path; or, he could just “Sleep with the Snowmen.”

The release date is December 8th, but it’s available on preorder now at various sellers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/760508

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077NVPN31

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ImperialPurrogativeCoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing – including his most recent ePublication “Imperial Purrogative” can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):  https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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