Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's your game plan?

      From my viewpoint as a spectator who knows little about soccer, the players are all over the field, haphazardly chasing a ball, trying to kick it into a net.
      But there’s more to soccer than meets the untrained eye. Pre-designed plays, defensive and offensive maneuvers, skill, and an understanding of the opponent all factor into this grueling sport, as does endurance and training—and a strategic game plan.
      Writers need a game plan, too, else we’re like the clueless soccer player, running randomly around the field, kicking at an elusive object, hoping somehow we’ll connect and make a sale.
      Perhaps the most important part of the writer’s game plan is developing writing goals—daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

What’s a Goal, Anyway?

    This seems elementary, but unless you understand exactly what a goal is, you’ll be like the clueless soccer player who’s better left on the sidelines.
    A goal is the specific end result for which you work. It is measurable and is something over which you have control.
      My overall goal as a writer is to be published. While that goal is measurable (publication), it’s also vague and not one over which I have control.
      How do you write goals that are specific, measurable, and controllable?
      Take, for example, this article. My goal is to write a well-written article of no more than 650 words on setting writing goals and submit it this week to The Christian Communicator.
It’s Specific
    Nothing fuzzy about that. It’s specific in that I’ve stated the topic, the length, the market, and a definite time I’ll submit the manuscript. Think 5 W’s:
  • Who? “I”
  • What? A 650-word article about setting writing goals
  • When? This week
  • Where? The Christian Communicator
  • How? Well-written
  • Why? To give writers an understanding of both the importance of goal-setting and how to do it

It’s Measurable
    The goal has standards that can be measured: Is the article within the suggested word count? Am I staying on topic? Am I following the editor’s guidelines? Am I on target as far as the deadline?
It’s Something I Can Control
      Although I’ll take great pains to submit my best work, I have no control over whether or not manuscript is accepted for publication. So I state the goal in terms of what I can control:
  • Quality: (“Well-written”) Submit only my best work. Have someone read and critique the manuscript before I submit it. Stay on topic and deliver what I promised, following the publication’s writers’ guidelines, including word count.
  • Punctuality: (“This week”) Send the manuscript by the deadline—before, if possible.
  • Professionalism: All of the above. Remember the skilled soccer player? He trains to become the best he can be, so he can build up endurance and persevere. Good writers plan their work and work their plan as they formulate daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, then follow through. They are also flexible, adapting and reformulating those goals to fit changing scenarios. They develop a good offense in terms of a submission plan and meet disappointment and rejection (defense) with persistence. They understand—and seek to understand better—the world of publishing as a whole, and the specific publication to which they want to submit their work. And always, always, they strive to learn technique and hone their skills.

Share Your Goals
      I send my weekly goals to my online writing critique group, as well as a brief recap of what I accomplished the previous week. It helps me not only to be accountable, but also to recognize my tendency to over-schedule.
      Like soccer, freelance writing can be grueling, with goals just as elusive as kicking that ball in the net. But having a game plan in place helps you—in training, enduring, and reaching those goals.

Examples of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals

Daily goals:
  1. Write first draft of goal-setting article
  2. Edit article for client
  3. Do bookwork; send invoices
  4. Blog 

Weekly goals:
  1. Produce radio program CD and mail
  2. Write column on Thursday
  3. Keep up with editing and mentoring
  4. Write two chapters of novel-in-progress
  5. Clean office; organize and file
  6. Blog twice

Monthly goals:
  1. Write 10 chapters of novel-in-progress
  2. Submit weekly column on time; work a week ahead
  3. Do bookwork on the first of the month
  4. Keep up with blog
Yearly goals:
  1. Complete first draft of novel
  2. Submit weekly column on time
  3. Keep up with editing and mentoring in a timely manner
  4. Do bookwork once a month
  6. Set up a work schedule and stick to it
  7. Research markets for devotionals and submit to them
  8. Submit one article/devotional a week to a paying market
  9. Put money aside monthly to attend writers’ conferences     

No comments:

Post a Comment