I love goals. They are the things that help me focus on what I want to accomplish. I think if we’re going to look at writing as a business, we need to have some goals. The good news is, each goal can be tailored to your specific situation.
With that in mind, here’s a list of things I’d like you to consider…
1. When we’re looking at goals to set for next year, the key is to pick things we have control over.
A goal that says, “I will make it to the Top 100 Kindle Paid List on Amazon” is not something we can control. While it would be nice, it’s something others have to do for us. So what I like to do is pick things that I have a 90% chance of making. These are things that you can do. While I might not be able to make my book sell so well it hits the Top 100 Kindle Paid List, I can write four novels in a year.
And yes, I think writing them down and keeping them in a notebook, folder, binder, or even on the wall in front of you is an excellent idea. People who write goals are more likely to keep them. Also, the more specific you are, the better. For example, “I will write 2000 words five days a week.” That equals out to 10,000 words a week. If you include, “I will write 500 words in a half hour, and I will write from 1-2 and again from 7-8 with no TV or other distractions,” you can realistically make such a goal. Or, if you don’t like the idea of writing that many words, something like, “I will sit down with no distractions for 1 hour 3 times a week and write. When I’m done, I’m done.”
2. Find ways to get your social marketing life in order.
This can be a tricky one, but I find scheduling for these things can remove a lot of stress from the whole thing. Pick a time when you’ll be answering emails, when you’ll be participating in a discussion board, when you’ll be on Facebook or Twitter, etc. Whatever time limit you impose on yourself, stick with it. You can set a timer to let you know when time is up or watch the clock. Either way, you don’t want to waste so much time doing the social marketing thing that you neglect to do your job, which is to write. (Even if you have a day job that pays the bills, I think it’s helpful to treat writing like it is another job. And it’s a job you enjoy, which makes it even better.)
So here are some ideas I gathered from other people on how to make your social marketing life easier:
- Dedicate one hour each morning to answering emails. When you’re done, don’t go back to them until tomorrow.
- Spend only 15 minutes on Facebook on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Hint: avoid browsing through pictures or playing their games. Those things are way too addicting.)
- Spend the first Saturday of the month writing four blog posts and schedule each blog post for each week in the month.
- Retweet two interesting tweets you found on Twitter on Tuesday and Thursday.
- There are other things you can do. But you get the idea.
Make a list of your social marketing goals and check them off as you finish them for each week/month.
3. Challenge Yourself
We might not be able to reach all our goals, but I think it’s important to present a challenge so we have something to aim for. For example, if you are used to writing one book a year, then maybe a good goal would be, “I’ll write two books this year.” Now, these don’t both have to be full-length novels. Maybe one is a novella and the other is a novel. By adding a little bit more as a challenge, you are opening yourself to more opportunities for growth.
4. Don’t forget goals to cover other areas of your life.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in working (aka writing) that we neglect the other areas of our lives that are also important. Our personal relationships, our health, our spirituality, and our finances are just some areas we should consider. I think when other areas of our live are thriving, our writing will be better. Some of the goals I have down are “Get at least seven hours of sleep each night,” “walk for 30-45 minutes at least three times a week,” and “eat one fruit salad and one vegetable salad a day.” These might not directly impact writing, but since I’ve been doing them, I feel much more focused and energetic when I write. You’ll notice on those goals I listed, I’m specific about them. I give a number with them, such as “seven” hours of sleep each night. The numbers make the goals more obtainable.
So think of some other areas you’d like to improve. Perhaps it’s talking to a loved one on the phone for 30 minutes one time a week or baking one new dish a week. Whatever it is, it should be something that will benefit you in your personal situation.
5. Make Good Habits Out of Your Daily Goals
I read that it takes 21 days of doing something to form a new habit. So I suggest writing down a list of daily goals. I’d keep this list short. This list should have at least one thing on it that has to do with writing or marketing. The key to the daily goals is to form good habits that can help you improve your overall life while helping your writing business.
A sample of this might be:
- From 9-10am, read and answer emails. (this is a marketing goal.)
- Eat one vegetable and one fruit salad. (taking care of your health)
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep. (taking care of your health)
- Read 1 bedtime story to my kids. (building personal relationships)
6. Make Weekly Goals
These are easier to fit the writing goals into. I know some people can write every day, but this isn’t the case with me. It’s easier to think of writing in terms of weekly goals. I think that’s the best way to avoid writer burn-out. Also, sometimes it’s necessary to take a vacation from writing to rest the mind. So the weekly goals aren’t necessarily set in stone but should be part of the routine.
Here’s a sample:
- Walk 30-45 minutes/3 days a week. (taking care of your health)
- Write 2000 words/5 days a week. (allowing for some rest time)
- Blog 2 posts a week. (marketing goal)
- Spend 15 minutes on Facebook/3 days a week (marketing goal)
- Answer friends’ blog posts/2 days a week (personal relationship goal)
7. You can also make monthly and a goal for the year, too.
The further out you go, the harder it is to be specific, but I do like monthly and a year list of goals.
Monthly goal sample:
- Start New Book on May 15 (writing goal)
- Read Book X by Author Y (could be business related or personal relaxation based on the kind of book it is)
- Take Mom out to Lunch (personal relationship goal)
- Outline Next Book (writing goal)
Yearly goal sample:
- Write and publish four full-length books. (writing goal)
- Attend at least one writer’s conference (writing/marketing goal)
- Lose 20 pounds (health goal)
- Go on vacation with the family (personal relationship goal)
The further out I go in writing goals, the more vague I get. It’s easier to be specific in the daily and weekly goals.
Of course, none of the goals are set in stone. That’s why I suggest going back and evaluating your progress every couple of months. I’ll make a post about that soon. The next post, though, is on forming a routine.