you log on to your computer this New Year, you’ll be bombarded on
Facebook and Twitter with dozens of links to “Making Goals for the New
Year!” articles that all say basically the same thing: When making
goals, be realistic and make sure that your goals fit in with your
lifestyle. Attainability is the key to making your plans a reality.
But you, my friend, are a
writer. You gave up on sensible and realistic the first time you
uttered the phrase, “I want to be a writer when I grow up.” So I would
like to offer you this handy Guide to Goal Making—The Writer’s Edition
Make Short, Stupid Goals
To achieve great
things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.
Stupid goals are the reason we
all love a good NaNoWriMo Challenge. Writing 50,000 words in thirty
days? Crazy. But sometimes a little crazy is what is required to get
things done. No, you shouldn’t create a list of long-term writing goals
that induce you to spend copious amounts of your latest advance on
Monster Energy Drinks and make you question whether showering on a
daily basis is required. But some stupid short-term goals will keep you
focused and create some fire around your writing:
• Get one hundred new “Likes” on your Facebook page in a month
(giveaways of books and Godiva may be involved)
• Write 10,000 words in a weekend (I didn’t say they had to be good
• Query thirty editors in thirty days
• Get together with two other writer friends and brainstorm fifty ideas
in a day for each of your works in process
When you’re in a writer’s rut,
do some short-term “stunt writing” to get your pulse pumping and your
Take out a calendar and plan one
short, stupid goal a month. Switch between writing and marketing so you
can spread out the crazy.
Humiliation Goes a Long Way to Getting Your Book Written
People who won’t post their
writing goals on Facebook are the same ones who scraped off the
Christian fish symbol from the back of their used minivans; they don’t
want to be caught over the speed limit or under word count.
while peer pressure is bad
in junior high school, it’s a necessary evil when writing novels aimed
at junior highers.
I say post your short, stupid
goals for the world to see. Ask others to hold you accountable, to
cheer you on as you get closer to your word count. Just the fear on
having to admit that you didn’t make goal will be enough to push most
of us to stop checking our Klout Score every ten minutes and actually
get that chapter written.
And if public floggings have no
effect on you, how about the possibility of losing some cold, hard
cash? My writing buddy Katie Vorreiter was part of an accountability
group in which not only was the potential for ridicule high, so were
the financial stakes: “We Winklings used to put money on the table—5000
words this week or pay each of the other four group member $10 each (or
however much would hurt). It was a great motivator, and the amazing
thing is no one ever had to pay.”
Be a More Productive
Writer—Watch More TV
With short, stupid goals, you
need some instant gratification as a prize. To get out of a writing
rut, reward yourself with Real Housewives of New Jersey
(or whatever bad TV motivates you) for every five hundred words
written. (Plus you'll be inspired to get back to work knowing the
dialogue you create will be more believable than anything that comes
out of the mouth of reality TV personalities.)
Writing isn’t a marathon. It’s a
series of short, breathless sprints with the reward of Starbucks and Project
Runway at the end to keep you motivated.
Kathi Lipp is a national speaker
and the author of four books published by Harvest House, including The
Husband Project and The Me Project, with
five more books coming out in the next two years. Kathi’s articles have
appeared in dozens of magazines, and she is a frequent guest on Focus
on the Family radio and TV. Find out more at http://www.kathilipp.com.
She and her husband Roger are
the owners of http://www.ThePlatformBuilder.com,
helping authors develop platforms that a publisher can’t help but love.