February is upon us. Christmas decorations were taken down weeks ago. Department stores are showcasing their newest swimwear collections. Visitors of Today’s Author are incrementing their word counts weekly. Oh, dear!
I must be honest: I frittered away the month of January and accomplished nothing when it comes to meeting my creative writing goals. But it’s no mystery to me why. The reason, simply, is that I currently don’t have any specific, measurable, creative writing objectives—and that’s not a good thing.
Professionally at work I’m paid handsomely for a job well done. But my organization doesn’t just throw cash my way. No, instead I’m paid on performance against specific, measurable objectives. My manager and I draft objectives in January, we review progress at mid-year and revise where necessary, and finally we review again at year-end. Without specific, measurable objectives, I’d probably focus my effort on de-scaling the office coffee pot or hunting down the person who keeps leaving an oatmeal-coated bowl soaking in the sink from 8:30am to 4:00pm. Without written objectives, I wouldn’t spend my time focused on the most value-add activities.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the writing community is aflutter with thousands of motivated authors in the months of October and November. These authors have a specific, measurable objective to write 50,000 words in thirty days, a.k.a., to participate in National Novel Writing Month. It’s both specific and measurable—50,000 words, 30 days. Many authors go one step further by announcing their participation to their friends, colleagues, and fellow supermarket patrons. This works to multiply the accountability factor because, well frankly, nobody wants to demonstrate their failure to deliver.
So, what can authors do the other ten months out of the year, you ask? Good question.
The Today’s Author site offers a handy-dandy, nifty-difty, wiz-bang feature called Comments. Just scroll a little further down and a post a comment indicating your own specific, measurable, creative writing objective that you want to accomplish during the month of February. Here’s mine:
By February 28, write, edit, and finalize a 1500 word short story.
There, it’s official. My February creative writing objective is online for the world to see. And if I fail to deliver, I will be subjected to the mockery and ridicule of an astute collection of authors using a well-rounded vocabulary.