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Succeed at S.M.A.R.T. Writing Goals
by Jeanetta Chrystie
Another January has come and gone, and with it, many New Year’s resolutions have also vanished into wishful memories. Why do so many New Year’s resolutions fail, only to be repeated year after year? Some people blame a busy lifestyle, others point their finger at a lack of “will” power. However, I believe the true reason is simpler than any rationalization or excuse. The real reason is: when people fail to plan, they plan to fail.

We want to do better, we wish to improve specific areas of our lives, we hope that this time the resolution will work. However, any change requires prior planning.

If we want a better car, we must decide daily to skip the fancy coffee and save our money. If we want a clean, organized, Better Homes and Gardens worthy home; we must tackle our clutter, buy judiciously, and plan which chores to do on which days of the week. If we want a closer relationship with God, we must choose a regular time for personal Bible reading and prayer (not only devotional books).

If we want our writing to be published, we must invest time studying writing techniques (grammar, non-fiction article styles, fiction’s character and plot tips, or poetic forms) AND set aside a regular time and place to write. While some people write “when the mood strikes” and others when a deadline looms, the surest way to become a regularly published author is to write regularly.

Whether you are able to write daily or weekly, choose a time and stick with it. My best writing time is right after my morning Bible study and quiet time when my thoughts are freshly aligned with God’s will, my creative spirit feels renewed, and the day’s interruptions and unplanned emergencies have not yet begun. Whether I’m editing a drafted piece, beginning a new writing project, or free-flow writing in a journal to jump-start the creative flow; maintaining a regular time conditions my mind to be ready to write.

During the teaching semester, daily writing time is rare for me; so I generally set aside writing time on Saturdays. Also, I plan daily writing time on many of my writing projects during summer break; drafting as many pieces as I can for the coming year, then editing them during the college semester. Just figure out what will work for your lifestyle, choose a time, and practice writing regularly.

Remember our mini-session on Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals? Sticking with a regular writing time (or exercise time, etc) depends on your goals. So begin your writing year by investing time in setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Make them:

  • Specific – “I will write 15 non-fiction articles, 5 Mother’s Day poems, a “to the editor” essay, and two Christmas devotions this year; and submit them for publication.”
  • Measurable – “I will study the devotional markets in Sally Stuart’s Christian Writer’s market Guide, complete my Christmas devotions by March 31, and submit them by April 30.” Most publications work 8-12 months ahead, so plan for that too.
  • Attainable – Do you normally read devotions? (Most people write best what they enjoy reading.) Have you studied several devotional market’s guidelines? Have you selected the specific devotional markets for which you plan to write and submit? Can you “write tight?”
  • Rewarding – WHY do you want to write? To help others? To earn money? To inform people about an issue? To see your name in print? All of the above? Whatever your reason, knowing the reasons motivating your desire to write helps you recognize and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  • Targeted – Use the correct writing methods to reach your intended audience, and follow a specific publisher’s guidelines to give your writing its best chances for publication.

Now, let’s all rethink any New Year’s resolutions – including our writing – and convert the worthy ones into S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

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