SMART Goals (#5 of 6 Tools to Write)

#5 in a series of 6

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1214569 by Lysanne Ooteman http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ProtectIf you don’t know where you’re going, not only will it be harder to get there, you may not know you’ve arrived.

Business folk all know about SMART goals. They know you never begin something without those SMART goals.

A simple Google search will provide endless results, including the fact that everyone has their own version. I’ll provide a brief review here using the version I like best.

Goals should be:

  • Specific: Vague goals can’t be measured or timed.
  • Measurable: You can’t know when you’re finished if there’s no way to measure the goal.
  • Attainable: It should be a stretch but not unreachable.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goal actually matters to your writing.
  • Timed: Goals have an endpoint; otherwise, they’re just dreams.

That’s all sort of high-level, conceptual, abstract. The point of this post is to help you get unstuck. Let’s talk about simple, mechanical ways you can nudge yourself forward.

  • Specific: For your next writing session, choose one thing you’ll get done. Not “make progress” but “finish the dialog between Tom and Mary” or “list the smells in the pub” or something you can apply the rest of this criteria to.
  • Measurable: How many minutes or words or paragraphs or bullet points will you write? Find a measurement for the one specific thing you intend to complete.
  • Attainable: Is your goal so simple you can’t possibly fail? If you’re stuck, small wins are valuable.
  • Relevant: It doesn’t have to be the next thing for your book. But it should be something you know will give you a sense of moving forward. Don’t get bogged down thinking about it. Choose a goal that will make you feel like you’re making progress.
  • Timed: Let’s use that five-minute timer again, shall we? If you can’t reach your goal in five minutes, is it possible to set a smaller goal? The reason you’re stuck might be because you’re biting off more than you can chew and choking on it.

For your next writing session choose one simple, measurable thing which you can finish in less than five minutes and which will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. In the spirit of pre-writing, make a note of it now. Before your writing session, write out how it meets this criteria. When the time starts, spend five minutes and reach your writing goal.

Continued tomorrow.

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