For authors, goals can be an important part of the writing process. So can keeping track of dates on a calendar (this includes past and future events). While these can be two separate topics, and rightly should be, I’ve combined the two in my progress to complete my dream.
How combining Goals and a Calendar help me
Goals are important because they break down the process to complete our dream into smaller, more manageable steps. Each goal itself can have a multitude of smaller goals needed to accomplish it. With a broad dream of becoming a self-published author, there are several large steps, or goals, that need to be completed before the dream can come true. Writing the book is one of them, and obviously a crucial one, but there is more beyond that which needs to be done.
To keep myself from going crazy while remembering what I still needed to do and to keep on a schedule, I began using an Excel calendar. This allowed me to choose dates for when each goal was to be completed by, while giving me the opportunity to be flexible. The calendar is fluid, meaning I can change dates as I need to. It keeps me organized and on task for things that I still need to do, and since I’m rewriting book 2, it allows me the opportunity to keep track of the progress for that one as well.
Breaking down your Goals
First, you need your dream. Once you have that, you can start breaking that dream down into goals that need accomplished to make the dream come true. These goals can be as big as you need them to be. Here are some that I’d suggest as an author: First Draft, Revising/Rewriting, Marketing, Beta Reading, Odds & Ends.
Each one of these large goals that are needed can have as many smaller goals as you need to accomplish them. For the first draft of books 1 & 2 I didn’t have goals. As I said in previous posts, I was never planning to publish them so I wrote whatever came. It wasn’t until the Revising/Rewriting step that I began to make goals. That’s when the dream of publishing came alive. I’ve never broken down in a list what I needed to do to complete each of the above goals. Instead I threw them into a calendar to keep track of.
This is June’s calendar. It lists all the goals that I wanted to have completed that month, and what day I completed them. Obviously it also has some personal items, but I wanted those listed so that I could plan my other goals around them.
In May I began to plan June & July’s calendars and set dates for my small goals. For my Marketing goal, I knew I would need a website and a Facebook author page. If I wasn’t sure when I would do it, I made a note on the bottom to be sure I remembered that it still needed to be done.
The chapters listed I handle differently. I don’t project when they will be done. I did at first, and after constantly changing the dates earlier or later depending on when I finished, I gave up. Now I enter the chapter revisions the day that I finish them. This helps me to see trends that I may otherwise miss, such as that it appears I can rewrite two chapters per week. This in turn pushes me to see if I can somehow rewrite three in a week. Remarkably I just had my first three chapter week!
Even smaller Goals
There are various amounts of goals you can set for yourself. In later posts I’ll go over what works for me to break down goals and accomplish them. For now though, know that goals are there to help you and motivate you. There’s nothing better than accomplishing a goal, especially if you beat your goal deadline. If you don’t make the deadline, it’s okay. Be fluid with them. Life happens, and books take on a life of their own (more like the characters) so that what you had planned must change.
When you reach a goal, especially one of the bigger ones, celebrate! I’m horrible at this. I’ve yet to do anything special for myself when I finish one of the goals, especially the writing and rewriting of Perfect Scents.
If you’ve just made the goal to self-publish, or if it’s been your dream for forever, make your goals and then break them down into smaller goals of what you need to do to accomplish this dream. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, and still do, and so will you. Don’t let that deter you. You can do it!
*Side note: this knowledge also applies to other dreams besides becoming a self-published author*