I do social media marketing for a small business that provides administrative help to small businesses, and at this time of year, all the talk is about goals. Financial goals, client number goals, project goals . . . and so I’ve got goals on my mind.
For me as a writer whose focus is – when I’m my most wise – on the work and not the numbers, goal-setting is hard because my goals are not measurable often. I want to write more passionately, more true, most honest. I want my words to affect people, maybe even change them in some small way as so many books have changed me. But these things are not quantifiable. I can’t slap a number on them.
So one thing I’ve considered doing is creating a “Vision Board” of sorts for these more esoteric things. (I really like this one on Pinterest.) I’m not much of one for mantras or statements about “where I want to be,” but I do take great joy from seeing images of the people I write about or the place where they lived. I find hope in quotes from writers who’ve gone before and from people who say kind things about my work. I seek respite in the images of places that give me peace and calm my spirit. So I think over the holidays, I’ll be reorganizing the bulletin board over my desk to give me a place to gaze when the words are slow to come.
While I can’t measure the way writing affects me or others, I can measure things like how many words I write per day and what projects I want to finish. So here are my 2014 goals:
- Write 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week. Any 1,000 words count – in this blog, in my journal, in my works in progress.
- Finish and edit a draft of the manuscript I started this fall. I’m about 20,000 words in, so another couple of months should get me through the draft and then another after that for the edit.
- Finish the draft of the farm mystery I started as a challenge with Jennifer Luitwieler. On a whim day, I challenged Jen to write the first in a series of mystery novels, where the murder always takes place at a marathon. I’m writing the first in a series, where the murder is solved by a woman farmer. (We draw from our own lives, of course, for the settings and characters, not the murders.)
- Complete the research on my family’s history of enslavement, both as the enslaved and the enslavers.
Those three goals should keep me busy with a day-to-day and a long-term focus. They keep me moving forward and give me a sense of accountability that’s so important. Plus, with my new writer’s board, I hope to have more focus and reminders in my day.
I have other goals, too, for my finances and number of students, for the writing community and book sales. But those don’t matter as much to me. It’s the writing that’s central. And for me, setting these goals keeps it’s there.
What about you? Do you set writing goals? Have you ever created a “writing board” to guide your thought as you write?