Planning for 2018: How to Set Up Your Writers Bullet Journal to Achieve your Writing Goals

It’s almost here! A bright and shining new year! Full of possibility and promise.  

But if you’re a writer, you’re probably filled with anxiety about the new year, as well.  

Often wirters are crippled by self doubt and anxiety and that doesn’t mean other people aren’t as well, it’s just how most writers roll.  

If you are a writer and NOT filled with crippling self-doubt, can you please BOTTLE THAT SHIT AND SEND IT MY WAY?!  Appreciate it...

For everyone else, I have some tips and tricks to get you set up for your BEST YEAR EVER!  

Grab another cup of chamomile tea and your security blanket and let’s GET IT DONE, SON! 

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Step 1: Ask Yourself Where You Want to Be This Time Next Year

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Okay, stop laughing...

I'm being serious. You have to know where you want to be next year to make these goals, otherwise, it's just wishful thinking.

Where do I want to see myself this time next year?

I want to have one book signed! I really, really do!

I also want to have several more in various stages of drafting.

I also want to be posting on this blog regularly, like I have been. Other than November, we are not going to talk about that.

I'd also like to be making a nice little profit from the, blog. Gonna be honest. I need some income here. BUT...

I PROMISE THAT I WILL NEVER PROMOTE A PRODUCT THAT I DON'T BELEIVE IN!

Okay? Okay...

Personally: I'd like my son to be potty trained and I'd like to have weekly date nights with my husband. Nothing fancy, but the minimum requirement is that the kids are OUT OF THE HOUSE. I love them, but they are not conducive to adult conversation. Or eating a meal all the way through without having to leap up and prevent a death.

Step 2: Make them S.M.A.R.T. Goals

What the fuck is a S.M.A.R.T. goal? Lay off the caps-lock! It makes you look, INSANE WOMAN!

S.M.A.R.T. goals is just an acronym with an ambiguous word at the end. Luckily, the acronym makes the word less ambiguous!

  • S - Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Achievable
  • R - Relevant
  • T - Time Bound

SPECIFIC Goals

All this means is that you have to narrow down to exactly what you mean.

You can't just mean "I need to start querying" and make that a goal.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal so important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

You have to say something like "I'm going to have the first novel in my series queried by the end of the year." THAT is actionable.

Not just any book, the one that you've been working on for a while now and is finally in the last part of your revision stages.

"I'm going to read more books this year." turns into, "I'm going to read books from my GoodReads book list this year."

"I want to have my toddler potty trained." turns into "I want my toddler to be in his big boy underwear all night."

MEASURABLE Goals

Now put a SPECIFIC NUMBER to the goal. This can be hard in many cases, but if you try hard enough, this should be possible.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it's accomplished?

If you don't know the answer to these questions, then i's probably time to reassess why this is a goal.

"I'm going to have the first novel in my series queried by the end of the year." becomes "I want to query my book 200 times before the end of the year." 

"I'm going to read books from my GoodReads book list this year." becomes "I'm going to read 30 books from my GoodReads book list this year."

"I want the toddler to be in his big boy underwear all night." becomes "I want the toddler to wear only two pairs of underwear a day and dry all night by December."

ACHIEVABLE Goals

Okay. Let's face it. If your goals are actually within your reach. You can't expect to potty train the seven-month-old that's still in diapers and whining about the fact that you're not holding him. Or that you want to query your first draft manuscript. 

That shit don't work.

Questions to ask:

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is that goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?

Examples:

"I want to query my book 200 times before the end of the year." becomes "I want to query my book 200 times before the end of the year by querying 4 agents per week."

"I'm going to read 30 books from my GoodReads book list this year." becomes "I'm going to read 1.8 books per week for a total of 30 books this year from my GoodReads book list." If you don't read 1.8 books per week normally or did at your peak of reading. You probably won't achieve this goal. Reduce the number of books to a more reasonable level. Maybe only 12?

"I want the toddler to wear only two pairs of underwear a day and dry all night by December." The best way to make sure my toddler is potty trained and only going through two pairs of underwear a day is making sure that he goes potty after his nap and that he's in a pair of underwear in the morning so he gets used to being wet when he pees. Argh... this is going to be more difficult than I thought.

RELEVANT Goals

These goals have to actually MATTER to you.

I'm not going to make ANY laundry related goals. Other than "invent robot that does laundry" or "hire someone to fold my laundry".

What does matter to me?

My husband. My children. My book. My blog.

That's just the top four, please don't be mad at me... you're not actually last.

So all my goals should be in that vein. If they are not, then they probably don't matter.

Questions to ask:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  • Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?

It might not be worthwhile to pursue underwater basket weaving.

It might not be the right time to try a bell-bottom jeans fashion blog.

It might not match the other efforts or needs that you have set for the year.

You might not be the right person to pursue a career as a rodeo clown.

It might fit the socio-economic environment to hit a million dollars on your blog just as the FCC locks down on Net Neutrality.

So.

"I want to query my book 200 times before the end of the year by querying 4 agents per week." is relevant to me. It's worth my time to get published. It's time to query. I am a writer and it's part of my goal to be published. I am the only person who can write this book. And I'm a middle-class white woman. I have a higher probability to be published.

That last point is idiotic. #devpit #pocinpublishing.

"I'm going to read 1.8 books per week for a total of 30 books this year from my GoodReads book list." It's worth my time to read all year. It's time to read all the books I can. It aligns with my goals because I'm a writer and writer's must-read. I can afford to read these books because libraries.

"I want the toddler to wear only two pairs of underwear a day and dry all night by December." It's definitely worth my time to potty train my kid. It's time to potty train my kid. It aligns with my goals to potty train my kid. It makes sense for our finances to potty train my kid. Potty train my kid. Potty train my kid.  Pottytrainmykid. I fucking need to potty train my kid.

TIME-BOUND Goals

TARGET DATE! REALLY!

If you don't have a target date, then the whole goal doesn't make sense. If a goal needs to be accomplished by July, then you need to have that PART of the goal description.

Questions to ask:

  • When?
  • What can I do in quarter 3 of this year?
  • What can I do in quarter 2 of this year?
  • What can I do in quarter 1 of this year?
  • What can I do day one of quarter 1 of this year?

So then, I break down EACH  goal by quarters. What helps here is if we break down each goal by projects that we can accomplish EACH quarter. Start with the last quarter and work backward.

"I want to query my book 200 times before the end of the year by querying 4 agents per week."

Quarter 4: Total of 200 queries

  • Research another 50 agents that are interested in my book.
  • Research the submission requirements for each agent
  • Send 4 emails per week
  • Add all agents to query spreadsheet

Quarter 3: Total of 150 queries.

  • Research another 50 agents that are interested in my book.
  • Research the submission requirements for each agent
  • Send 4 emails per week
  • Add all agents to query spreadsheet

Quarter 2: Total of 100 queries.

  • Research another 50 agents that are interested in my book.
  • Research the submission requirements for each agent
  • Send 4 emails per week
  • Add all agents to query spreadsheet

Quarter 1: Total of 50 queries.

  • Research  50 agents that are interested in my book.
  • Research the submission requirements for each agent
  • Send 4 emails per week
  • Add all agents to query spreadsheet

Day 1 of Quarter 1

  • Make query spreadsheet
  • Post Quarterly Goals paper somewhere visible

So, here are my 2018 goals if we apply the S.M.A.R.T. goals.

My Writing Goals for 2018

  • 1 book signed with an agent
  • 1 book 200 times before the end of the year by querying 4 agents per week.
  • 1 book in writer's edit/beta reader phase
  • 1 book in first draft phase

I have some other goals for 2018 but you can see that in a moment.

Step 3: Write All Goals Down in Your Bullet Journal

Making sure that your goals and the projects that are attached to them are written down in your journal is essential to making sure they get done. Your brain will absorb the information and it will feel more official. Plus, we get to move on to the fun stuff.

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Step 4: Make Some Trackers

There are so many resources and trackers on Instagram that you can have your pick for repurposing. However, a couple that I would recommend:

  1. Quarterly Goals and Projects Spread
  2. Word Count Trackers
  3. Social Media Trackers
  4. Project Goal Collections
 This is just my social media tracker. But you can use it for your word count or scene count. 

This is just my social media tracker. But you can use it for your word count or scene count. 

Step 5: Move Monthly Goals into Monthly Spreads

When you are breaking down your quarterly projects, you should be assigning each project to a month and making sure that you finish each project with its tasks each month.

It's the best way you can make sure that you're making progress yo your goals!. It's the best way to make sure you are going to hit your goals at the end of the year!

 Yeah. I know it’s empty. But all my projects are in my Evernote, I swear! 

Yeah. I know it’s empty. But all my projects are in my Evernote, I swear! 

 

That's all I have for you this week! I hope that your new year brings so many good things and the end to your procrastination!

-The Ginger Wordsmith 🐙