Further to my positive outcomes post, I thought I’d give a little more substance to my aspirations for the New Year. Any of you who’ve had career or personal development training will probably be familiar with the SMART acronym for goal setting: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic and Targeted. I’m not usually a lover of this type of strait jacket approach to growth or creativity, but when it comes to goal setting, it’s quite a neat and useful summary of where we should be headed. And knowing where we’re going and what we’re aiming for is quite motivational, to coin a phrase.
Specific: Rather than say, ‘I will get something published’, or ‘I will finish my novel’, say, ‘I will get an article published in Norfolk Life magazine’ or ‘I will complete the first three chapters of my novel’.
Measurable: For goals to work there have to be markers against which we can measure our progress. Don’t say, ‘I will increase my productivity’, say, ‘I will send out one story a month’.
Achievable: We’ve all fallen into the wishful thinking trap, but if you’ve only got an hour to spare between looking after the children, the house, work and your spouse, there’s no point in expecting to write a novel in six months. It just ain’t gonna happen. Better to give yourself a more attainable target such as using the twenty minutes waiting for the kids after their swimming lesson to plan your next story or makes notes on a difficult character.
Realistic: We’d all like to think we could make a living from writing, but sensibly, we’re more likely to be placed in the top three in a short story competition or win the ‘Star Letter’ slot in a favourite magazine. That’s not to say we shouldn’t try….
Targeted: Aim high, but aspire to something within your grasp, like finishing the first draft of your novel by the end of the year. Or plan to enter NaNoWriMo in November.
Everyone says it’s the things you don’t do that you regret, not the things you do, so now’s the time to plan your writing year, kick over the traces, and GET ON WITH IT.
PS, Those of you interested in punctuation, in particular the apostrophe, might like to visit Michael Rosen’s blog where you’ll find a very interesting and informative history of the much maligned and misused mark from last year when Waterstones dropped their apostrophe.