Is Your Heart in it for the Long Haul?

There you are…smack dab in the middle of a long project. The electric that was in the air during the thrilling newness of it has the spark of, well, a sock with static cling attached to a pant leg. And the finish line seems a million miles (or weeks, or words) away. Here is where you have a choice to make: do I have the heart to stick this out for the long haul, or do I move on?

This feeling is normal in many jobs but especially so in our field. Whether you are a writer, an editor, or a publisher, you are constantly challenged to stay motivated. Many of our projects take months, often up to a year or more, to complete. Couple that with the fact most of us do this work as a second job or a hobby and it can be hard to not only find time but also stay interested and motivated.

If you decide to stick with the project, here are a few things you can do to keep going.

  • Set smaller goals to meet on the way to project completion. Write them down with a firm deadline date. Then, once you’ve reached the goal, do something to celebrate.
  • Get other people involved. This field tends to get a bit solitary. Get interaction (and accountability!) through writing groups or other types of peer review.
  • Take a break. If you need to step away from a project, take some time to research, do some planning, or begin your marketing. That way, you’re still moving forward.

What other methods do you use to keep motivated over the long haul? Leave a comment!

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Setting Goals For Your Book

What would you say if someone asked what your goal was for your book?  To get it published and have people enjoy it? To sell a million copies and get rich?  To have the book featured on a daytime talk show? Everyone has a slightly different vision of what they want after the last word is typed on the page.  But getting from that last word to reaching your goal takes time, effort, and planning.

I recently spent time talking to an acquaintance who works in a corporate environment and does a lot of career coaching.  We started talking about goal setting, and although many writers don’t write in a corporate climate, the more I listened, the more I realized that the principles of goal setting are the same for most careers, including writing.  And once I realized that, I learned a few things.

The first part of goal setting must be to figure out what the true goal is.  It is wonderful to want to buy a beach house, travel the world, and be recognized when you walk down the street at “the person who wrote that book.” But really, in order to have any of those things, your goal is actually to have a great book that is successfully promoted.  Without that, it’s unlikely to earn the things which are a result of having that successful book…such as the house, the travel, the recognition. 

After you have an idea of what your true goal is, the rest of the approach is different than what most of us have been taught.  Using his approach, you write your goals on paper and keep them accessible.  The trick, he said, was to work from right to left, not left to right.  So instead of starting on the left side of the paper, writing down your current situation and trying to figure out how to reach your goal by adding to it as you go, you start on the right side of the paper and work your way backwards.  That is, you put your goal down first, then bridge the progression of necessary steps back to where you are at the moment, giving you a clearer idea of exactly what you need to do to be successful with your book.

Once the basic progression of steps has been mapped, then it is time, once again, to make each step specific and manageable. Moreover, the outcome of each step should be measurable and have a deadline.  This gives you a certain amount of accountability towards the success of your book and reaching your goals.  And yes, things happen to sidetrack us, and life doesn’t always function according to our plan.  But these bumps and delays do happen and offer us an opportunity to dig our heels in and get creative with our problem solving; more importantly, they help us learn what we need for the rest of the journey.

Until that conversation, I hadn’t thought much about the setting specific goals for books, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to have a plan for success.  And everyone’s plan probably looks different.  So what kind of goals do you set for yourself and your work?  What process works best for you to reach them?  Leave a comment!

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 10:50 am  Comments (4)  
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