WRITING TIPS 101 by Darlene Foster

Continuing on from last issue’s article about getting started writing a book, let’s talk about setting SMART goals

If you set SMART goals, the more likely you will complete a book.

S is for specific

Be specific in what you want to accomplish. Just saying I want to write a book is too general. It will never happen. You need to narrow it down to what kind of book, for what audience etc. Saying, I want to write a book for children is a good start. But the more specific you are, the better. How about, I want to write a book about a young girl who loves to travel and has adventures. Or even better, I want to write a book about a young Canadian girl who travels to the United Arab Emirates and has the adventure of a lifetime when she buys a mysterious perfume flask.

M is for measurable

It is a good idea to be able to measure your progress in order to keep you on track. So set benchmarks. I decided to write 2 hours a day for 5 days a week. Those two hours included doing research and editing. My plan was to have a chapter written a month. After 6 months I realized that although some months I managed to write a complete chapter, many months I didn’t. That was fine, I just realized it was taking longer than I initially thought and readjusted my plan, giving me more time to do research and learn the craft of writing.

A is for achievable

A goal has to be something you can actually do. The book you plan to write should be on a subject you are enthusiastic about as that will show in your writing and keep you motivated. If I had planned on writing a scientific book, that would have set me up for failure as I have no interest or ability when it comes to science. I do, however, love travel, adventures and children.

R is for realistic

When setting goals you must be realistic. If you set a goal to have a book written in one year and you have never written a book before, have a full-time job, a family and a social life, you are not being realistic. I gave myself three years for my first book as I had a very full and busy life with all of the above and more. The learning curve was steep. By being realistic, I gave myself the time I needed and at the end of three years, I had a twenty-chapter book completed.

T is for Timely

It is important to set a time limit. Most people work more efficiently and effectively when given a realistic target. Like most tasks, if you give the completion of your book a specific, doable deadline, it is more likely to get completed.

Life happens of course and sometimes you have to extend the deadline. That’s OK.  SMART goals should be flexible as well.

Writing a book is hard work, there is no denying that, but as well as working hard, you need to work SMART.

Good luck with starting and finishing your novel. Remember to join a writer’s group for support.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. “

Colin Powell

Brought up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world and meeting interesting people. Following her dreams, she’s now an award-winning author of children’s travel adventure books, short stories and travel articles. She lives on the Costa Blanca of Spain with her husband and dog, Dot. She is a member of Writers’ Ink www.darlenefoster.ca