Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Set Your Writing Goals

Tuesday, January 4—Set Your Writing Goals

You’ve written down your writing dreams. You taped them to the refrigerator or pinned them next to your computer. Now you can just sit back and wait for them to come true. In your dreams!

No, after we know the dreams we’re chasing we need to make plans to meet those dreams. We need goals to reach our dreams . . . long-term and short-term goals. If you’ve gone to any goal-setting in-service training or read any books on the subject, you have heard of SMART goals. This concept really is pretty smart (and fairly simple).

SMART goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Specific—Don’t just write: I want to go to a conference this year. Be specific. I will attend the (name of conference) on (date) in (location). Don’t just write: Find an agent. Write out the specific goal. I will research to find the agents who represent my five favorite picture books.

Measureable—In the business world (and even in the world of education) we set goals that we can measure . . . percentage growth in sales, percentage growth in test scores in a specific subject or skill. You can and I can make our writing goals more measureable if we write: Attend critique group sessions 95% of the time. OR Critique at least two manuscripts of writing colleagues each week. OR Develop a tracking system for my submissions so I can reconnect with editors and agents three months after each submission.

Attainable—I work with elementary students to set writing goals. We will focus on writing crafts to learn and on scores to attain on writing assessments. (Let’s not get into the whole debate about assessing children’s writing. I hate it, too. But it’s the world we live in and since I want to help kids become better writers, I do what I have to do! J) It’s not uncommon for students who made a Level 3 on a piece of writing to set the goal of making a Level 6 (the top score) in a month. That’s not attainable or realistic. We make progress step-by-step. Make sure your goals are attainable. When you dream, shoot for the moon. Let your goals take you step-by-step to the moon.

Realistic—Just like some of my students wanting to jump from start to finish in one month, you may be tempted to do the same. Be realistic. Can you accomplish that goal in the period of time you’re giving yourself? Can you accomplish that goal without completing four or five other actions first?

Time-bound—To be effective, goals must light a fire under the seat of your pants. You have to know when the deadline is so you feel the urgency to keep moving. Every goal needs a deadline (or a list of many mini-deadlines). My dream to attend SCBWI-LA had to have multiple time-bound goals—register on the opening day of registration, make hotel reservations by May 15, research flights and book my reservation by June 1, and so on.

It’s Your Turn!       
1.     Look back your dreams and determine what goals you need to set to make your dreams come true.
2.     Block out time this week to write out your SMART goals.


Lisa J. Michaels said...

I really like the format of this blog Rob. This will be very helpful for anyone who reads it and follows your advice. You're making us accountable for our own actions (or lack there of), and that's really smart!

Rob Sanders said...

Thanks, Lisa. I really trying to teach myself and make myself accountable! Funny how that works, isn't it?! LOL!


Christie Wright Wild said...

Oh, your posts are very informative. The bad part is me wondering why I don't feel like writing down the stuff I know I should. Maybe 'cause it's so late at night? Thanks for your encouraging explanations of SMART.