Saturday, March 27, 2010

Setting Goals

It's time for me to get back to setting goals. I used to be a big goal setter. It started in seventh grade when my father gave me Rhinoceros Success. Rhinoceros Success is a skinny self-help book starring a rhinoceros who always charges for (and achieves) his goals. The greatest thing it taught me was to write down my goals, read them every night and morning, and to visualize achieving them. The first goal I set was to break the mile run record at Unami Junior High School.

I wrote my goals as specifically as possible (including the splits for each lap of the race) and dutifully read them every night and every morning. I visualized the race, imagining my coach calling out the splits, and how I would feel at every curve and every straight. And I imagined crossing the finish line in 4:54--breaking the school record by one second.

The first meet of the season came and I was in the best shape of my life. I couldn't wait for the mile to start. The gun went off and I soon found myself in the middle of the pack. I didn't panic, but kept on my pace, and by the end of the lap was in third place. I was also exactly on my pace. Half way through the second lap I was in first place, and one second too fast. The third lap found me well ahead and one second slow. I finished the race with a big win, but more importantly I finished in 4:54. I had hit the exact time I had visualized.

Did visualization magically cause me to run the exact time I had visualized? No, it didn't. It was a lot of hard work. So what did the written goals and visualization do for me? It established a mindset within me that I would achieve what I had set out to do. It motivated me to do what was necessary to achieve my goal.

And why did I put all of this on my writing blog? Because visualization and goal setting apply to more than just sports. While in the "writing phase" of Eternal Knight I set a goal of 5,000 words per work day. A that pace the novel quickly ballooned to 200,000 words-- I didn't have a clue what I was doing back then. I loved that phase of the writing process. Meeting those goals gave me great satisfaction. And because I knew I had a goal for upcoming working days, a part of my mind was always focused on the story, planning what I would write.

Now I am in the "final reading" phase of the process. Writing goals are harder to create for this phase. And because the goals are harder to create, I have a harder time keeping my focus. Enough! It's time to wrap things up. I'll publicly state my goals:

1) I will "final read" at least one chapter per day. "Final reading" includes some light editing.

2) I will finish my query letter and synopsis by April 2nd.

3) I will send my first query letter out by... well, I've set the date, but I'm keeping it under wraps. No need to announce to agents who my top pics were.

I'll re-write the goals (in "proper" format) later, this post is LONG.

Finally, my friend, author Mike Shultz, has added a new writing lesson to his website. Take a look, his lessons are excellent.


  1. Great goals! Thanks for sharing your experience with visualization and goals. I don't think I take mine seriously enough.

  2. Sounds like some great goals! I look forward to hearing the success report after you've completed them.