You hear lots of folks talking about turning your dreams into reality. And you wonder how to do that. Easy--set goals!
There's so many good articles about goals and goal setting that all you need do is Google, Bing, (or whatever search engine you use) and you'll be overwhelmed with great information. I don't profess to be an expert on goals or setting them. But I do love to cheer everyone on as they work toward their personal goals. That said, I'm not going to go into all the ins and outs of setting goals, but just give you a few brief thoughts and ideas.
So, what is the difference between dreams and goals? Dreams is what you yearn for--and goals are how we get there. Goals are more than just a list of resolutions like many of us make at the beginning of a new year. A good goal must be measurable and attainable. And to be a success at goals, you should combine both long term and short term goals.
The long term goal of completing a manuscript and submitting it can seem huge and perhaps impossible. However, if you break the goal down into smaller, short term goals, conquering each one will bring you one step closer. Such short term goals could include completing character studies, writing a synopsis, writing 10 pages a week, taking a class on a pertinent subject, querying editors and agents. Can you see how each one of these will bring you closer to your big goal? And can you see how each one is measurable? You'll know when you complete each step. Short term goals are often measured by output--like the number of pages per day or queries submitted. And they usually have a shorter time frame (for example, pages per week).
Now you're closer to completing your long term goal and achieving your dream. Yep, these are still two entirely different things. Your goal of completing a manuscript and submitting it are achieved. Strike up the band and have a party! A vast majority of folks never make it this far!
But publication is my goal, you say. Nope, that's still just a dream. Why? Because you have no control over what an editor thinks or what a publishing house is looking for. A long term goal usually ends in a result--such as publication.
One great thing about goals is that they are not set in stone. You're not gonna look like Marley from A Christmas Carol wrapped forever in chains of goals you don't meet. Heck, if you discover your short term goals aren't moving you toward results--change them! In fact, it's important to reevaluate your goals frequently. What you thought was important and achievable last month may not be today. Something you may not have considered part of your dream may suddenly seem attainable. So change your goals rather than dumping them into the river and watching them sink. Interests change, the market changes, dreams change, your skills change...get the idea?
Beyond finishing a manuscript and submitting it, what do I think would make a great goal for each and every one of you reading this? Easy. Long term goal: Make writing a priority in your life. Take a long, hard look at how and where you fit in writing. What can you do to improve in your craft? Cheryl St. John picks one writing related concept and works on that for a year. Measurable? Yes. Attainable? Yes. and moves her toward a long term goal of increased aptitude in the craft of writing. Be honest with yourself and make an advance plan on how you'll handle all those little things that get in the way. And there's gonna be a lot of them. Unless you live a charmed writer's life. If so... pass on the secret!