By: Tammila Wright
Think back to New Year’s Day. We were optimistic. Were you setting goals with your writing in mind? I was. Armed with a new topic and one book set to launch by March, my excitement mounted, and then, COVID-19. Daily uncertainty became our new reality. Would anyone have money to buy books? Then, a new horror went to the extent of people using books as toilet paper! With the world on “fire”, how could I focus? Will there be an entertainment market left? We don’t know what is coming, but I do know that when everything calms down, I will have something, maybe a lot, to deliver.
Get Control of Your Life By Setting Goals
Goal setting is crucial to success in all areas of our lives. It is one of the few things we have control over in our new world. But first, how about dreaming by identifying what you want your life to look like in a month, and then, a year. It has been all the rage to look at a five-year plan, but for now, with so much uncertainty, lets focus on no more than a year. What do you want? Why do you want it?
Some of the best scenes created are written backward. Why not goals? Start with what you can see for yourself first in the end, a big commission check, or holding a finished book in your hand. Analyze multiple paths that lead to the result you want. Think hard, jump on the internet to research. What do the goals look? Maybe you will expose a path that would have lead to nowhere because you didn’t have the correct tools, but now you know.
Create a plan with small steps and write them down to make them real. Remember that old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. Here is a little secret. Word count goals do not work for me. Oh, spitting out 2,000 to 3,000 words is easy, but my quality suffers. As a result, I set a scene completion goal and celebrate when I’m done. I did it. Find an easily measurable goal fitting your writing style. Some writers like a “consequence” if they don’t complete a goal in a certain amount of time. For example, one author writes a check, gives it to a friend with instructions to deposit it if they don’t reach their goal. The check is written to the political party they hate.
My Goals Are Haunting Me
Create a vision board and place it somewhere you have to see it. Place a picture of a trigger object that represents your book’s subject, along with items that remind you of the result of your goal list. The vision board doesn’t have to be big but obvious. For example, place a small vision board on the bathroom mirror where you brush your teeth, morning and night. Don’t worry. Your family is used to your odd behavior because you are a writer.
Before March 2020, I would have encouraged everyone to set a time limit on your goals. But the one thing that we have learned from the pandemic is that we can’t add time to the mix. Time is the one unpredictable factor for now. Which leads to “expectations”.
Managing Expectations With Flexibility
One cannot talk about goal-setting without mentioning managing expectations. Summers filled with swimming pools of happy, splashing children, picnics filled with tons of family, fireworks on the Fourth of July, and lawn concerts. It is what we expect. My book was supposed to be released in March. But it is delayed. Most things are delayed or canceled. Of course, our goals will come with expectations that we placed on them. But, say hello to flexibility. Check your goals each day, week, or month to see what changes need to be applied. “Life” is a toddler with pudding covered hands heading your way. It’s cute but messy. Flexibility gives you a choice to get out of the way, laughing at the absurdity of it all, or stand there and get messy too.
You Are Not Alone
Even though we have to social distance, finding an accountability partner is easier than ever. Someone you can set writing goals together and motivating you to write. Pikes Peak Writers is a great source by connecting to their Facebook page and posting a request. Joining as a member of Pikes Peak Writers will give you access to an entire local writing community at your fingertips.
Time to Get Defensive
You have your list of goals, you know your path, now defend it. Here is your license to protect your path with a vengeance. Because if you don’t believe in it, who will? Respect your goals, and others will respect them too.
We are all going to make it through this new reality because writers contain a unique mental edge. Not because we are social distance masters but because we can focus on our projects, keep moving forward, and thrive during the pandemic.
Tammila K. Wright is a fifth-generation Colorado Native and self-proclaimed history geek. She writes, talks, and even acts out her love of history. She is a commissioner for the Manitou Springs Historic Preservation Commission contributing articles for the Pikes Peak Bulletin Newspaper. Tammila has been involved in projects for Pilgrim Films & TV, Greystone Productions, Taurus Productions, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, PBS and Animal Planet. Her first full novel, Mirror Memory, will be released in May 2020 and is a member of the Scriveners of Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak Writers. Learn more at Tammila’s website.