Archive for the ‘Goal setting’ Category

Every so often, a writer would do very well to ask themselves why they put themselves through the highs and lows of the writing life? Self-exploration on this point saves time and restores confidence. So – ask yourself:

  1. Do I want to write to set the record straight?
  2. Do I want to take my revenge?
  3. Do I want to make some money?
  4. Do I want to write to show others I can?
  5. Do I want to write my way to fame?
  6. Do I want to make a difference – and I think I can through writing?
  7. Do i want to keep my brain stimulated?
  8. Do I just want a writer’s lifestyle?

Apart from a Yes/No answer, you could also grade your answers on a scale of 1 – 10. And this will indicate your writer’s values.

But another way of discovering your motivation is to ‘Cos it’ back to your fundamental purpose in taking up the pen. Here’s mine taken from my journal just after Christmas 2012.

“I want to be a writer because I am a writer because I think about it all the time because I’ve been obsessed with words and stories since I learned to read because words help me describe to myself what makes people tick. I want to do this because I’m curious about life.”

You can see where ‘Cos it’ as a name for the game comes from. And if it’s of interest, it’s a trick actors use to identify the motivation for their characters.

So what’s yours? Have a go!

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When I was a little girl, during school holidays, I used to love waking up and thinking: ‘What shall I do with today?’

Some days had no deadlines. No teachers or parents telling me what to do. And I could relax. Paint a picture, read a book, write a story – whatever made me feel good. Then adult life took over, and days like that, days of infinite creative possibility, became rare.

What’s changed?

The arrival of deadlines in my life, that’s what’s happened. Deadlines set by other people. Deadlines set by me. And, now, I find, in my diary, every day has far too many deadlines flagged up. Waiting for me, before I even turn the page.

And, as soon as I do turn the page and see what’s written there, I feel the surge of adrenalin. Some times, in my youthful journalistic life, I really enjoyed that form of motivation. But now when – in my anxiety to meet the deadline – my head reels, my stomach churns and I break into a cold sweat, I think: ‘There must be another way.’

Am I alone? I don’t think so. Inside all writers is a quiet place constantly fretted by this jangle of deadlines and demands.

But – by meeting the deadlines set by others we demonstrate our professionalism. We’re also demonstrably productive. And these accolades are  worth achieving.

So how can you make deadlines work for you?

A Deadline Coping Strategy!

ü     Evaluate the success of each deadline by asking: ‘Did I produce my best work when trying to meet this deadline?’ This supplies you with insights as to your own working style and capacity for the next round of deadline negotiation.

ü     Contract for deadlines on your own behalf. You know your own obligations and responsibilities best

ü     Ensure deadlines are realistic and on a timescale you can manage – unrealistic deadlines make you ill

ü     Be assertive about your own requirements while being adaptable to the requirements of others

ü     If you have no contract – to establish your productivity schedule – set your own mini-deadlines.

And stay in control.

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Many things can cause an otherwise worthwhile writing project to founder.  Your writing coach will keep your project, your writing career and your writing ambitions safe.  Your writing coach can help you:

  1. Set clear goals and deadlines
  2. Organise your life as a writer
  3. Identify training needs in the genre of your choosing
  4. Organise your research
  5. Start writing and keep going to the end of the first draft
  6. Handle feed-back, edit and re-write
  7. Publish, broadcast or share in other ways

1. Set clear goals

Where do you hope to go with your writing project?  Following your nose can work.  But sometimes planning can help you arrive where you want to be more quickly and with better results.  So, some writers start work, bristling with diaries, ‘road maps’ and post-it notes – lending a writing project the air of a military offensive.  If you favour this style – and many do – your writing goals may benefit from the strong-minded application of management principles.  Your writing coach can guide you here.

The SMART formula is currently popular.  Adopt this and consider:

  1. Is your writing goal Specific?  (What form(s) of writing do you want to work on?  A novel?  A radio play?  An academic treatise?  The ultimate letter of complaint?)
  2. How will you Measure your success?  (Do you, for example, want to hold your published book in your hand by the second August Bank Holiday?)
  3. Are you Able to produce this piece of writing?  (Or do you need more training?)
  4. Does this piece of writing Relate well to who you are and what you want from your life?  (And does writing mesh well with your other hopes and aspirations at this time?)
  5. What is your Time-line for this goal?  (Deadlines work wonders for some.)

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