If you’re wondering how last week’s goals went: very well! I wrote a 5500 word short story, some book reviews, and worked on this blog. I exceeded my goal of fifteen minutes per day, some days writing up to an hour.
It got me thinking about types of goals. The goals I set for myself last week were output goals. In other words, I just promised myself I would produce words, not that they would be any good.
Goals around output can be short-term, measurable, and quantifiable. Examples of Output Goals:
- Write 1,000 words per day for a week/month
- Write one short story/article/blog post/chapter per week
- Write every day for fifteen minutes
- Enter one writing contest each month
- Query one agent per month
Output goals are within your control and you can easily tell whether you’ve met them or not. But the ones listed above don’t measure quality. I actually do want my work to be measurably good. I can judge my own work, to an extent, but having outside validation feels important too. So I also made some outcome goals.
Goals around outcome are not necessarily measurable in the short-term and depend on outside factors coming together as well as your own hard work. Examples of Outcome Goals:
- Win a writing contest
- Sign with an agent
- Get a book deal
- Sell x number of books by the end of the year
My output goals are to submit to four anthologies/writing contests between now and May 31. My outcome goals are to have at least half my submissions accepted/win something. Spoiler alert: I’ve already submitted one story to an anthology and had it accepted! More details to come.
I am a multi-tasker. Since I work from home, you’re likely to find me working on the computer while a load of laundry spins in the machine and dinner simmers away on the stove. I admit to writing emails while participating in Skype meetings (the non-video ones). I draw the line at texting and driving.
My quest to be Jessica Fletcher demands multi-tasking. I’m not a full-time writer. So I have to seize my moments to be creative, even if I’m technically involved in something else. If National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has taught me anything (it’s taught me a lot: see here and here), it’s that it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to make and meet a writing goal. As long as it’s a reasonable goal.
Here’s an example: Recently, I decided to enter a writing contest. I needed to produce a short story of 2000-3000 words. I calculated if I took a week to write the story, I’d have to write 480 words a day. That felt doable. (For reference, this post is 272 words.) I took my lunch break and started writing. I ended up with 2400 words, a complete story. It took about an hour and was during the time I was technically at work and/or eating lunch. (Shh, this is secret, remember?)
The lessons here?
- Set a low, achievable bar.
- Grab writing moments when you can.
- It’s better to write something than nothing.
For the next week, my goal is to write fifteen minutes per weekday on either a novel or short story in progress, or a blog post. Tune in next week to find out how I did!
Blog reboot alert! This blog is now called Secretly Aspiring to be Jessica Fletcher.
Jessica Fletcher is a fictional mystery author who solves mysteries in between writing them. She was played by Angela Lansbury on the classic eighties TV show, Murder She Wrote.
Why am I aspiring (not so secretly) to be Jessica Fletcher?
Like Jessica Fletcher, I’m a mystery writer and I also do other things. Unlike Jessica, I’m a mom of three, wife of one, and hold a full-time non-mystery-writing job. And there’s the dilemma. I love to write, but taking care of my family, earning a steady paycheck, and sleeping are priorities too. My question is: how do you fit writing into your life when you’re doing other things?