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Remember a goal is just a dream with a deadline -- Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics.

I like this quote. It makes goals a lot more accessible. Here's another definition from Randy Ingermanson at Advanced Fiction Writing.com:

"Successful Fiction Writing = Organizing + Creating + Marketing"

The creating part is up to the writer. The marketing part is covered expertly on many sites, so let me hit on organizing, a key step of which is goal setting. In order to know WHAT you need to organize, you need to set goals. But what goals to set? Here's a tip from Executive Coaching for Business Growth.com on goal setting techniques:

"[Training programs] often include SMART goals - making sure your objectives are meaningful by making them: Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound Some people like SMARTIE goals. That is SMART with the addition of Interesting and Exciting!! This is a very useful first step."

I saw the SMART goal tip on several websites. Here's a good example of how it works. From Ann Roth, we have her excellent Tip for January 2008, entitled "It's a New Year! Set the Course for Success:"

"Write the goal(s) on a sheet of paper. Then work backward to figure out how to get there, step by step. For example, say your goal is to write a full novel by the end of the year. Write that down: Complete a 400-page novel by December 31 of this year. Now work backward. That's 33.33 pages per month. Or 7.69 pages per week. Or, if you write every single day, that's only 1.1 pages per day. But you may not write every day. So factor out days off for holidays, playtime, etc. By breaking the goal down into small, measurable steps, you'll map out your plan for success. Then chart that goal and reward yourself for your accomplishments."

Hmm, rewards. Now there's an idea I can get behind. Chocolate? A movie? Reading a book? Sure, as soon as I get my pages done for the day. It's a new year, and, in my case, a new novel to write. I'm raring to go. So, a word of caution: Beware of burdening yourself with too much. Take this advice from Writing for Children Center.com:

"Don't load yourself down with a dozen or more goals for the year. Stick to ONLY three goals right now."

Hey, that's sounding even more doable. Advice on setting effective writing goals from Writing World.com tells us this:

"One of the greatest challenges we face as writers is the lack of 'structure' in our job... A wise writing strategy includes a mix of short-term goals ("Today I'll locate five craft markets") and long-term goals ("Someday I'll write that novel").It's important to review your progress regularly."

Once you know what you want to achieve, use the link below for a free download of the Organized Writer calendar. This is especially useful because of the notes at the bottom of each month (pages written, queries sent, etc.).

If you're really interested in goal setting, type "writing goals" or "goal setting" into your favorite search engine.

A last word from multi-published author, Michele Dunaway: "Goal setting is very key. You have to envision where you want to be and set a plan to get there. It's a lot of faith and luck, but at the same time, publishing is a business that takes a level head, a business plan, and a lot of tenacity and hard work. Nothing good comes without hard work."

Websites quoted in this article:

Other sites I liked: hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/setting_goals.html - A romance writer gives us her take on goals; and time-management-guide.com/personal-goal-setting.html. Great free advice, but watch for the things you have to buy.

copyright Megan Kelly, 2007