Set Your 2023 Memoir Writing GoalsDec 29, 2022
I’m a goal-setter. I can’t help myself. At the end of the year, I like to take time to reflect on the year I’ve just lived. What were the high points, low points, and points in between? How far did I get in achieving my goals for the year? For my writing especially, I like to assess how much progress I made. Did I get as far as I had hoped on my memoir writing? What do I want to accomplish in my writing in the year ahead?
How about you? Did you get as far in your memoir writing as you had hoped? Do you know what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year? Even if you feel discouraged about not hitting your goal this year, you can make a fresh start! In this article, I’ll share the three steps I follow for setting goals for my writing.
Step 1: Set SMARTER Goals
In his article “How to Set Goals You’ll Actually Achieve,” productivity expert Michael Hyatt outlines seven steps of the SMARTER goal system:
- Write specific goals. The more focused your goal, the more you will find yourself motivated to accomplish it. If a goal is too vague it can be hard to know where to even start. When it comes to writing your memoir, set a specific goal. For example, last year, I set a specific goal of writing a full, ready-to-share draft of my memoir for initial readers and agents by June 30th. This goal gave me great clarity on my specific goal.
- Goals should be measurable. As you write your goal, you need to ensure that it has built-in markers for what it would mean to achieve it. You should be able to break the goal down into specific milestones along the way in order to track your progress. For your memoir, a measurable goal could be something like, "I will write 30 minutes a day," or "I will write 750 words a day." These are measurable goals.
- Make your goals actionable. Use action verbs to help ensure that your goals define what it is you are going to do. This type of goal will prompt you into action. This will help you throughout the year to stay motivated. An actionable goal for your memoir could be something like, "I will write 30 minutes, five days a week." This is measurable and actionable.
- Risky goals are better than playing it safe. Set goals that will stretch and challenge you. If you set goals that you know you can achieve, you aren’t forcing yourself to rise to the challenge. Last year I set a risky goal of telling my Write Your Own Life followers that my goal was to write a first, full draft of my manuscript by the end of Q2 2022. This was risky because I invited my followers to hold me accountable to my goal. And hitting the goal would be a stretch for me.
- SMARTER goals must be time-bound. The most successful goals are those with a sense of urgency. But how can you ensure that your goals will trigger that response in you throughout the year? You need to time-key your goals with either a deadline, frequency, or a time trigger. Creating a deadline forces you to chip away at your goal. It creates urgency and it sets a boundary for your goal, all necessary elements that help you achieve your goal.
- Create exciting goals. An exciting goal is one that connects with your internal motivation and inspires you. This is a critical step. If your goal isn’t compelling to you personally then it will be very difficult to stick with it when obstacles come up. And they will. When I set a goal to finish a first, full draft of my memoir manuscript, an exciting aspect of this goal was that I would have a manuscript I could share with prospective agents. This added dimension made my deadline exciting.
- Set relevant goals. I look at this as a necessary “gut check.” Before you commit to your goals, you must review them and ensure that they are taking into account your life circumstances as well as your values. What you hope to achieve this year must be balanced with the reality of your circumstances. Most of us lead busy lives and making time to write our memoir may be a luxury, not a must-do. If you want to start and finish your memoir in 2023, you need to take a realistic view of your schedule and determine a goal that is relevant and attainable.
Step 2: Schedule Your Goals
Of course, setting a goal isn’t enough. The next step is scheduling it. Last year, I set a goal to finish a full draft of my memoir by the end of the second quarter. By stating my goal in writing (completing my first draft), making it time-bound (by the end of Q2), and sharing it publicly, I exponentially increased the chances that I would achieve it. And I did!
To accomplish my goal, I scheduled 30 minutes of writing time, five days a week. Every Sunday, I would look at the week ahead. I like to write first thing in the morning, so I would literally block my writing time on my calendar to remind me to do that work first. My partner knew about my goal too, and he helped to keep me accountable by asking gentle questions like, “What are you doing this morning?” or, “Are you keeping your morning routine?”
Knowing he was going to ask about my writing was usually motivation enough for me to put in my time even on mornings when I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t want to have to tell him that I didn’t do my writing.
Step 3: Determine Your ‘Why’
If you know the story you want to write about your life, getting started on your memoir will be easy. But more than just knowing what story you want to tell, you need to know why you want to tell it. It’s your why that will keep you going when the writing gets tedious and hard, and you can’t remember what in the world prompted you to write your memoir in the first place. Here are four questions to help you determine your ‘why.’
7 Tips to Help You Jumpstart Your Memoir
How about you? Do you have a writing goal for the coming year? Need a little help to jumpstart your writing at the start of the year? Grab my free guide, “7 Tips to Get Started Writing Your Life Story.”
Get started writing your life stories.
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