Monday, May 9, 2011


By Isabo Kelly

Goals are an important part of achieving anything in life. Without something to aim for, you won’t bother to take aim. Goals give us targets and motivation. And for the writer, that motivation gets us through the rejections and long, lonely hours of actually finishing a book. Setting those goals is a significant process and should be taken very seriously. You can’t just sit down and say “these are my goals”.

First and foremost, you’ll have to write your goals down on paper. This is a fundamental step. If they aren’t on paper, well they just aren’t real, are they? But you can’t use any old paper. You need really good paper, high-quality stuff that will take the ink. It may take some time to find the right paper. Don’t rush the process. If you use just any old paper, you’ll end up putting a cup of coffee on your goals and forgetting about them. You don’t want that! So you need the perfect paper.

Once you’ve got the perfect paper, you need a really good pen. No point in writing down these momentous targets of achievement that will keep you motivated with bad, runny ink. And you need to enjoy the writing process. To do that, a good pen is required. Again, this hunt may take some time, but don’t worry, you’ll be glad you’ve invested the added effort.

Now, you’ve got the perfect pen and the perfect paper. Next, you need a really good cup of coffee. Because how are you supposed to think about goals without a jolt of caffeine? And while you’re in the kitchen, you should probably prepare yourself a snack. You may be working on this for awhile. You don’t want to get distracted by hunger.

Next, make sure you’ve made all the phone calls you’ve been putting off. A ringing phone will only distract you. Preempt the distraction by calling everyone you know and having that long overdue chat.

At this point, you’ll need another cup of coffee. And there are probably dishes to be done after your earlier snack. It might even be time for a little more food. Give in to that need. A growling belly will only throw you off target.

Then you’ll need to check your emails and make sure you’re all caught up there. You won’t want to get side-tracked by emergency emailing while you're in the middle of working out those dream-achieving goals.

Next, you might want to get your holiday shopping for next year started. After all, once you know you’ve made a start toward reaching your dreams, you’ll think less about the stress of the holidays just looming out there at the end of the year.

And, I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to concentrate if I have a lot of laundry and a messy house crowding me. So be sure to take care of those household chores you’ve been putting off. This is no time to let the dust bunnies under your couch cause you background anxiety.

As a final step before putting pen to paper, you’ll need to search the Web and read any blogs or articles you can get your hands on about the process of setting and achieving goals. You don’t want to go into this blind! Gather as much information and research as you can to make sure you’re doing this right.

So now, you’ve got a clean house, the laundry is done, the dishes are drying, your belly is full and you’re working on a fresh cup of coffee. The emails and phone calls have all been made, you’ve done some of that early shopping that will save you time at the end of the year when you’re busy working on your goals, and you’ve read everything there is to read about the process so you’ll be sure not to make any mistakes. You’ve got your excellent paper and the perfect pen. Now’s the time to sit down and write.

But remember, these are your goals. You have to seriously think about them. They will affect how you feel about your entire year, next year, the year after even! You don’t want to write something down that might make you feel inadequate six months from now. An unachievable or ridiculous goal should be discarded too. These have to be things you can do.

The importance of setting goals can not be underestimated. Take your time in composing them. If needs be, go through several drafts. Even after you’ve got one draft done, you’ll want to take a few weeks to consider if that’s the final list. Remember rushing will only cause you more trouble later on.

Once you’ve finalized your list at last, be sure to hold it up and admire it. Pin it up over your computer where you’ll see it every day. Continue to admire the neatly written goals for as long as you like.

And finally, it’s time to start going after those targets. Good luck all you fellow procrastinators! Here’s to a productive writing future!

(This article first appeared in its original form, The Procrastinator’s Guide to New Years Resolution, in The Samhellion newsletter in 2008. This version has been adapted.)

Isabo Kelly’s newest fantasy romance, BRIGHTARROW BURNING, will be available from Samhain Publishing in Fall 2011. (One thing she managed to get done despite all the procrastinating!) To learn more about Isabo’s books, visit her website

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