Each month at MRWG, we set aside part of our meeting time to talk about our writing goals for the coming four weeks, and reflect on what we’ve achieved so far.
Why do we do this? Why do we submit ourselves to the scrutiny of fellow Guild members and the potential embarrassment of admitting we’ve not achieved what we wanted to? While the chocolate rewards we get for meeting goals do help, there’s more to this process than expanding our waistlines. Setting goals and holding yourself accountable to those goals is a powerful motivational exercise. Don’t believe me? Here’s five benefits of goal setting that can positively impact your writing.
1. Work out your long term vision and save energy
Setting goals helps you to work out where you want to go in life. Whether your goal is to become the next Nora Roberts, or simply to finish your next novel, the important thing is that you know what the end picture looks like.
This has two interlinked benefits. Firstly, you’ll know where you need to concentrate your efforts and secondly you’ll be able to easily spot the distractions that are keeping you from working toward your goal (next series of Downtown Abbey, anyone?).
2. Keep yourself on track
Goals are great for keeping yourself on track. By setting a clear big-picture goal for say the next five years, you can then set smaller, more manageable goals to help you work towards it. Setting and achieving these mini goals means you’ll see progress on something that may otherwise have seemed like a long, endless grind. What’s more, meeting your goals will improve your self-confidence as you recognise and celebrate your successes.
3. Get ready for the big time
You’ve done it. You’ve secured your contract and your book is going to be published.
Once the celebrations are over and the chocolate eaten, a certain uncomfortable truth may come home to you.
Your contract has dates in it.
And what’s more, you’ve signed it, which means you now have to meet those commitments or risk being in breach of contract.
In reality, contractual dates are no more than externally imposed goals (i.e., someone else is telling you what you need to do by when). If you’ve developed the self-discipline to set, work towards and complete internally imposed goals during your pre-published years, then meeting your contractual requirements will be easier.
4. Learn when you don’t make it…
Sometimes we just don’t make it. Maybe the goals were overly optimistic, or maybe life has just thrown you one too many curve balls. We all have those weeks (months… years…). Not reaching your goals every now and then isn’t an issue as long as you learn from it. Try to work out what went wrong and come up with some ideas to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
But what if you’re regularly not meeting your goals? Then it’s time for some soul-searching – letting goals slip time and time again can indicate that you’re really not that passionate about them. So in this case, it’s time to be honest with yourself and work out whether your goals need a major rethink.
5. Celebrate the wins
The best bit by far – celebrating when you reach a goal. At MRWG, the celebrating usually involves chocolate, and December’s meeting was no exception. Only this time we were reviewing our goals and achievements from the entire year.
All thanks to our goal setting, as a group we managed to:
· write over 1.5 million words;
· start 28 books;
· finish 19 books; and, more exciting of all…
· sell 5 books!
Setting goals works – the MRWG’s results prove that. And while making the commitment of working towards a goal can seem daunting, it is precisely that commitment that will drive you towards where you want to be.
What are your goals for the coming year?