Quote It! John Steinbeck

Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

– John Steinbeck, an American writer who won the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize.



Sometimes I do get frozen by the immensity of writing a novel. “400 pages? Really? How can anyone expect me to write 400 pages?”

But, sure, I can write one page today and another one tomorrow. Some days I may even be able to write more than one, but let’s not get crazy!

How do you put one word after another?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Goal Setting for the Organizationally Challenged

C’mon in. It’s safe here. Sit anywhere.

Believe me, I understand how difficult it is to submit your freewheeling creative side to the strictures of goal setting, accountability, and—shudder—planning. I fought that fight for years, and still strain against the leash.

You want to be successful and accomplish something meaningful, but setting goals is difficult and takes energy away from being creative. What to do?

S.M.A.R.T

Even the most unorganized creative has heard about the value of setting goals. Most even understand that goals work best when they are S.M.A.R.T.

On some level, we organizationally challenged understand that. But … but … oh crud, it’s drudgery.

So, how do we gain the benefits of setting goals while retaining the belief that we can sashay through life, taking it as it comes?

Broaden your horizons

Who says goals have to be set a year at a time? Just because the rest of the goal-setting world focuses on January 1 doesn’t mean you have to kowtow to tradition and set your goals then. What’s wrong with setting a goal on June 21? Or June 22?

Also, I suggest staying away from grandiose resolutions/goals such as bringing about world peace. I’d even suggest foregoing “Finally finishing this blasted novel after 22 years.”

Instead why not aim for something you know you can achieve? “I will eat chocolate at least once a day,” for instance. It is—arguably—writing related.

What’s wrong with bite-sized chunks?

Sometimes smaller is good. Is it better to proclaim your intention to finish your novel in 90 days or that you’re going to finish Chapter 13 (which is half done anyway) by the end of the month?

Is it better to vow to spend three hours a night, butt-in-chair every night for the first quarter of the year, or to choose Thursday nights (and sometimes Tuesdays if American Idol has jumped the shark ) as your writing night?

Small successes build confidence

When you see that you can write more consistently by piecing together small chunks of time, maybe you’ll decide to write on Tuesdays also—after all, Wednesday is Idol results night. And results are what matter, not how you get there, right?

Do goals inspire or stifle you? How do you work with goals? What is one goal you can set today?

Is one of your goals to improve an existing manuscript or get an entry ready for a contest? Maybe I can help. See my Editorial Services page or contact me at michael.ehret (at) inbox(dot)com.

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net