A Goal in the Hand is Worth Two in the Trash

January 5, 2006 | It's All About Writing

It’s the New Year, 2006. Hard to believe we’re off and running with the holidays past us. So you probably drank enough champagne to make a wise man cringe and of course you made resolutions you broke just like the rest of us.

If you’re a promising writer, undoubtedly you’re positive this is the year. It sure could be but it’s all up to you. Just how were you going to make it happen? Have you thought of what you’ll do to make your dream come true? How? When, besides sometime this year?

GOALS…BUSINESS PLAN… These are the words you should be concentrating on this week. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Have you figured your goals or written a plan? It doesn’t have to be on the order of a Fortune 500 company. It has to be something that will work for you.

Is it okay if we use me as an example? Thank you.

My goals are;

1 – Edit my present book
2 – Write the second book in the series

Each of these works will be 50,000 plus words when completed. It ain’t never gonna happen if I just sit around and dream. Allow me to share how I approach this mind-numbing task.

I’m a daily to-do list and calendar freak. I like my life plotted and planned. Of course there has to be room for flexibility. By devloping an ADJUSTABLE plan I’ve got it made.

To work out a feasible system of accomplishing my two goals, I grabbed a legal pad and the calendar, which already has enough social commitments listed for year to make me weep, and parked myself in a comfortable chair.

We’ll lay out the schedule for each goal in two separate plans for easier reading.

Goal 1 – Edit my present book

This novel has twenty-four chapters and an epilogue. Each section has been printed because I work better with a hard copy. I study the chapters, one at a time, scrawling notes to myself all over the pages and any additional info in a spiral notebook. I can take a chapter with to pore over while I’m waiting for an appointment, a slow moving train, or anything else which has me sitting and doing zip.

I want this work done in a relatively short period of time, thirty days. By reading the calendar I know there are many days when editing just isn’t possible. Those days are marked in red for other writing tasks on the next book such as research, characterization, reading trade magazine, and so forth.

The doable days have listed a chapter number and a brief note as to what must be done to finish the edits. All Fridays are reserved to re-read that week’s edits and make any last changes.

So the calendar looks like the following;

Sunday January 8
No work today. Play with my granddaughters.

Monday January 9
Chapter 3
Bring in tour business somehow / change D’s business purchase to a tax audit? Would it work and simplify

Tuesday January 10
Chapter 15
T must confess credit card over extended / Move dialogue from pg 89 here

Wednesday January 11
Great sale at Carson’s!! If I finished my work I can reward myself!!!
Dentist at 2
Meet Lor for dinner at 7

Thursday January 12
Jesse here at 8 a.m. for her edits
Pick up C from school 3:15 – take along new RWR
Chapter 20
Embellish sex scene / needs more emotion – switch to hero’s POV

Friday January 13
No time to worry about superstition
Re-read three chapters and approve
Out with the friends at 7

Saturday January 14
No work today. Play with Studly.

Please note the chapters are not in sequence. To finish in the allotted time, I’ve selected the easiest chapters to final edit and saved the more involved for the end of my month. It’s a trick I do to reduce the load while I mentally work out those tough scenes that are driving me crazy.

My daily to-do list will embellish on the above such as;

This is the calendar entry;
Monday January 9
Chapter 3
Bring in tour business somehow / change D’s business purchase to a tax audit? Would it work and simplify

This is the to-do list;
1. read chap as is
2. check POV of D – is it all his?
3. embellish D’s anger through his actions
4. is C a big enough pain in the ass?
5. is the setting over described
6. check out tax audit info to be accurate
7. lunch at 1- no exceptions
8. walk around and do neck exercises in am & afternoon
9. check coma positions

It’s very important to treat your goal plan seriously. You need to work at your writing career with the same diligence as a fulltime yearly income job if you want to succeed. Let the machine pick up those calls, eat, drink plenty of fluids preferably water, take scheduled breaks. And above all, have fun.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the goals for the new book and how it’s laid out. Until then,

Happy writing,

Add A Comment

9 Responses to “A Goal in the Hand is Worth Two in the Trash”

  1. Sherrill Quinn Says:

    Great stuff here, Sloane! I’m definitely going to use it. Thanks!

  2. Sloane Says:

    You’re welcome. Glad to help out, Sherrill. Hope it works for you.

  3. Yasmine Says:

    As your critque partner and watching you work I know how disciplined you are and how your plan will work. DID YOU HAVE TO BRING UP COMMAS!! I’m not being paranoid, but I know you’re refering to me. Hug. I like your plan. I did take your advice and did the month of January thing. I’ve even added room to harass my son studying for semester finals. Don’t forget to add Jan.17th, that’s the night of our meeting. Oh, your plan begins Jan. 9th, today’s the 5th. Write on Sista!

  4. Jenna Howard Says:

    Will read when head doesn’t feel like exploding…or imploding. (a little whimper from the north)

  5. Yasmine Says:

    Jenna hope you get better soon, baby. Sloane, just remembered you forgot about scheduling house cleaning.
    I’ll say it for you – ‘Bitch!’

  6. Jan Springer Says:

    Sloane! I am so impressed with your goals and calendar and tips. Oh how I wish I could be so organized!!!

    Definitely let the machine pick up the calls!!! I’ve got so many people who think because I work at home that I’m available for babysitting or to go out with them or to run errands for them…grrrr…can you tell you hit a sensitive spot with that answering machine. LOL.

    I’m one of those fly by the seats kind of chickie…I tried a schedule and it gave me writer’s block. LOL. But I do have goals charted out for each month knowing that my goals will somehow always get broken. LOL.

    And so I just kind of go with the flow…except when a deadline looms or the edits are here…then I’m the strictist little b***ch you ever saw…

    jan, who like Jenna had an exploding head this morning…must be something to do with the north weather…hmmmmm

  7. Jenna Howard Says:

    Holy Dinah – Sloane. You’re highly organized. I’m not sure if I should hang around you *g* – chaos is my middle name. Or is that first name?

    Good luck with those tech problems.

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