So, now that you’ve set your goals… you did set your goals, right? Back in this post, I walked you through how to set goals. Hopefully you did your homework, because I’m going to blather on about how to achieve them.
For those who are wondering how I’m qualified to talk on goal-setting and achieving, I read a lot of books. I’m a Figment; we don’t need to eat or sleep much, so I read. I also set a really daunting goal with my last book and achieved it. So… mostly qualified.
My guidance for this section about goal-setting is from Goals! by Brian Tracy. He believes there are twelve steps to set and achieve any goal. Our goal is to publish our NaNo book. Let’s walk through it:
- Desire. I know a lot of people say “I want to win at NaNo this year”, but then fail. I’ve failed. Why? Most likely it wasn’t the thing we wanted most. (Occasionally outside stuff interferes, but that still means that outside stuff is what you want most). There’s nothing wrong with wanting other things more; you just have to be aware of it so you can work around it. Priorities. If you want to publish a NaNoWriMo book, nothing is going to stop you (but it might slow you down– and that’s okay).
- Belief. If you don’t believe you’re going to publish your book, chances are pretty good you won’t. This is a hard one for Writers and other Artists because we run on self-doubt. You don’t have to beat that to believe you’ll publish. You just have to believe in the next step. Then the next. And so on.
- Write it. You should know the power of words. You’re a Writer. Writing down your goal and posting it somewhere prominent will make it more real, more concrete. Keep that goal constantly in front of you.
- Starting point. You have to figure where you are coming from. Some of those who do NaNoWriMo have been writing for decades; for some, it’s the first time they’ve really tried to write. Starting points are going to be different for everyone. If you write all the time, then you may just need a quick idea or outline. You’re set. If you haven’t written much, you might need a refresher course in writing, a critique group, extra time, and a Frequent Sipper card from your nearest overpriced coffee chain. Be honest with this step; no one is there to judge you except yourself. You can’t reach your goal if you start at the wrong place.
- Motivation. You have to know why you want this. Another thing about NaNo is that it attracts all different sorts of motivations. Some are doing it for bragging rights. Some do it as a bucket list item. Some want to improve as a Writer. Some already are Writers and this helps them crank out the next book. Why are you doing it?
- Deadline. You need to set a deadline. Actually, in this case, the deadline has been set for you (thank you, NaNo Royalty). November 30th, come Conductor or high water, you must finish. However, if you want to publish, you’ll need a second deadline. (Really, you’ll need a series of deadlines, but that might be another post.)
- Obstacles. Everyone has ’em. Mine is a crazed Conductor chasing me everywhere and messing with my Writer Mojo. Yours may be Work, Lyphe, Family… figure out your obstacles now. Then plan how to overcome them. In The Martian, Mark Watney and NASA often have contingency plans for their contingency plans. You don’t have to be that extreme, but at least have some options. If you get behind, are you going to try to extend your word count every day or catch up in one heroic marathon session? Are you going to start ahead, writing 2000 words per day, so you don’t have to stress over a bad day? Are you planning to skip National Kill Ben Franklin’s Favorite Bird Day (if you’re in the United States) just so you can write?
- Skillz. Okay, skills. Spoilsport. What skills or information do you need before you start on this noble goal? It’s getting a little late for taking a writing class before November, but maybe you can do a quick brush-up course. You can start researching publishing avenues. You can make notes on Time Management. I won’t tell the Rabbit you want his job. Maybe you just need information, like how many jurors it takes to push a train off the tracks. Figure out what you need before you start and you’ll go further without mishap.
- People. Everyone needs a support center. I have a small, clandestine Writing group in Figmentland. We’re all outlaws, so we rarely meet in public, but we know we’re there for each other. You may have an in-person Writing group or an online group. Either way, get involved. Make some personal connections and find people who will hold you accountable. Some of those people may not even be Writers.
- Plan. Now it’s time to put it all together. You have a starting point: starting a book. You have a finishing point: finishing a book (or, for some of us, publishing a book). Now, even you Pantsers, take a moment to plan. Put down the big direction changes. Writing: November 1-30. Goofing off: December 1-31. Editing and Revision: January 1-31. Beta Readers: February 1-28… to March 31. Revision 2: April 1-30. Editor: May 1-30. Formatting: June 1-30. Publication: July 1. (Really broad strokes there, but you get the idea.)
- Visualize. Remember when we wrote down our Goal? Wait. You didn’t write it down? GO WRITE IT DOWN NOW. Put that goal where you will see it all the time. Put it on your bathroom mirror. Post it next to your bed. Scrawl it on your refrigerator. In fact, put it in all three places. See your goal constantly.
- Persevere. Never give up. Ever. Ever. If you “fail” at NaNo this year, keep writing all year. Make it a habit. Next year it will be easier. If you finish NaNo, but never finish the novel, you’re one step closer. Keep taking the next step until you get there and eventually you will be there. The only way you truly fail is if you quit.
Now, go do your homework. The next time I’ll be talking about Writer Platforms. It’s not just a train station.