Do you set goals for your writing? And if so, do you achieve them? I think I must be addicted to goal-setting as I can't really function unless I have specific goals for every area of my life and that includes my writing.
As well as yearly writing goals, which I usually set at the beginning of September, I also have monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals. Year goals are pretty specific and usually relate to how much actual writing I hope to produce in the coming year. (Not how much I hope to sell!) Current year goals include:
1. To finish the first draft of my life story "The Emptiness at the Edge of the World".
2. To (finally!) finish my 9-12 novel "Dear Egg" and send it out to agents.
3. To write twelve new short stories including flash fiction.
I also have some "recommendations" for the coming year based on my progress (or lack of it!) last year and they include:
1. To focus more on magazine markets and less on competitions.
2. To continue to network both in person and on-line.
3. To look at ways of bringing in more income through writing-related activities such as organising workshops, producing resources for writers etc
My monthly goals, which I set (not surprisingly) at the beginning of each month and review at the end, are also quite specific and are based on my year goals. For instance, if my year goal is to write twelve new short stories, then my monthly goal will be to write one of those twelve.
Much less specific are my weekly and daily goals. This is mainly because I find it difficult to know exactly what I am going to be able to achieve on a weekly or daily basis (especially now that I have a 'portfolio career') and as I can get pretty cheesed-off with myself if I don't achieve my goals, I tend to make them more fluid. Of course, this may explain why Sunday is always the hardest working day of the week!
The general consensus about goal-setting is that you should always have SMART goals. In other words, any goals you set should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. According to an excellent article on the art of planning in the September 2011 issue of Writing Magazine by Michael Allen (http://www.writers-online.co.uk/) which quotes the incredibly successful self-published ebook author John Locke (http://www.lethalbooks.com/), "Your goals should be low enough to hit, and high enough to matter!"
Apparently, you are also more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. This is a useful thing to do anyway, as it helps you to focus and remember what you are supposed to be aiming for. And don't forget, it is OK to rewrite your goals as you go along if circumstances change or you find yourself moving in a new direction. Finally, I always reward myself in some way for every goal I achieve, even if it's only with a big red tick or a 'Well Done' sticker. Trust me, that's the best bit.