Dean Wesley Smith wrote one of the best writing advice columns I've ever read (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=6111). I won't try to duplicate it, I don't have the heft and experience he does, so seriously take a look at what he has to say. But there seems to be something in the collective unconscious, since I was just thinking about dreams.
Dreams inspire us. Goals make dreams reality. You need both to be a writer.
I used to say magic = desire + effort. I still think that's true. First you need to conceive of what you want, that's where the dreaming comes in. And it's an important part of gettign through the rough parts of this writing life. Hang on to those dreams, whether it's to be a New York Times bestseller or to get published by Pyr (that one's mine).
But while the dream needs to be there, the goals are the nitty gritty parts. That's were I fall down a lot. And that's ok. I can fail and keep failing, so long as I keep trying, I will get there.
So, we're heading up on the new year, the traditional time of goals and dreams. I'll have an 'accountability' post up around the 1st or so with my goals for the new year. But right now, let's talk about goals in general.
A good goal is:
4. As simple as possible.
Let me give you an example. My goal for this blog isn't to set the world on fire or get get thousands of readers. That would be nice (I think) but that's not a goal. My goal is to write a blog post every weekday. That's it. Simple, specific, measureable and mostly controllable by me.
Let's try another: My goal is to write for two hours a day. That doesn't count editing or emailing (or mailing, damn you Gordon Van Gelder) stories. Just me writing stuff. It's specific, 2 hours. It's measurable in time. It's controllable, I can almost always find 2 hours a day to write without losing touch with family and friends. It is simple. I'm not putting in word or page count limits, just time.
Finally, pick goals that steer you towards your dreams. If your dream is to do a triathalon, set your goals to be: run for twenty minutes bike for 20 minutes, swim for 20 minutes a day. If your dream is to be a professional writer, set your goals to be writing x minutes a day, copy editing your work x minutes a day, researching and submitting to markets x minutes a day.
Tha's my riff. My dream, well I just want to tell stories that people enjoy reading. My goals are upcoming but a good guideline is above.