But, as a goal, it was only a vague notion. It was only in my early twenties that I wrote and completed my first short story. I made one attempt at publishing it and despite receiving a rejection letter that, with hindsight, gave good advice, struggled to see how I could improve on what I had written.
I have always been driven to write though and in my mid twenties completed over half a dozen short stories. But, I did not have a plan for how to write in a way that would get me published.
I tried signing up with a course by The Writers Bureau and have to credit them with giving me some good insight into how to get published. Through that course I did end up being paid for several short articles. My main mistake though was choosing during that course to focus on non fiction writing which was never my original goal. I also allowed another goal to take priority and I felt that to work on that other goal I would have to give up my writing ambitions temporarily.
Several of my heroes are authors, either because their stories have been immensely enjoyable or the story of how they became published has inspired me to never give up.
One of my heroes is Orson Scott Card. His novel, Enders Game is my all time best read. When I disovered he had written a sequel and that the sequel ended with a cliff hanger, I wondered if he had written a third book and started searching on the Internet to find out. Card has his own website a fascinating section where he has answered readers questions. The article on whether a writing career must mean writing novels has contributed to my current goal: http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/1998-07-16.shtml. Quite simply, Card places a strong argument for any aspiring writer to aim to write novels.
In 2007 I resurrected one of my oldest story ideas from childhood as I had always conceived it would be a novel. I began writing and discovered that I had finally begun to understand that story telling is primarily about relationships and how characters develop. But, once more, I had no actual goal, no deadline, no targets and when another idea popped into my head, I found myself switching tracks and concentrating on the concept for Fallen Warriors instead.
I'm sure I have always known that I would not be able to write a novel unless I stuck at it but I have always found the creative spark intoxicating and enjoyed the rush that comes with a new idea.
My work took a lot of my energy in 2008, from designing some new systems to eventually embarking on a new role early autumn. Starting at a new company, I was allowed access to some online libraries and actually given an allowance to download some eBooks. I downloaded some techie books I thought would be useful but one non techie book has literally transformed my life: 100 ways To Motivate Yourself by Steve Chandler. Since it was an eBook, I was able to download it onto my phone and read the two page chapters anywhere, even on the bus, or while sitting with my youngest daughter as she went to sleep.
Many of these chapters spoke about goals and how to go about achieving them but he mentions one technique in particular which resonated with me, four circles. I have to admit that it was weeks after first reading about the technique and while half daydreaming during a church service that something our pastor said clicked and I decided to actually use the tecnique to enable me to finish my novel.
- In the Leftmost circle I wrote my ultimate goal and target: to complete my novel Fallen Warriors in four years and to be at least 100,000 words long
- To achieve this I would need to write at least 25,000 words a year, and this I wrote in the next circle.
- To achieve this I would need to write at least 500 words a week, and I wrote this in the third circle.
- To achieve this, I would need to write at least 100 words every week day. This went in the fourth circle.
I now had a definite goal and a way of achieving it that was possible. All I have to do is write 100 words every week day. I then made myself accountable to a close friend and asked them to check up on me.
Since then, at the time of writing this, I have written 35,000 words in less than a year, have created a website that makes me publicly accountable: http://www.fallenwarriors.co.uk/ and have begun to expand on my original goal while still maintaining the deadlines I have set.
Looking back through my 100 goals ten of them are directly related to the goal I describe above.
1 To write an enjoyable, bestselling novel
2 To change and influence people through my writing
7 To write and sell a screenplay (I orginally conceived of Fallen Warriors as a screen play)
36 To have written 50,000 words for my novel by 31st December 2009
37 To write characters that people can identify with
38 To create emotional connections with readers
81 To direct a movie
83 To own the screenplay rights to successful novels
84 To earn a living as a writer
100 To publish Fallen Warriors
I know that I am only on the beginning of a journey but the more I learn about goal setting and apply it in my life, the faster I am achieving my goal and the more excited I become.
What goals have you set for yourself and how have you gone about or are going about trying to achieve them?