How S.M.A.R.T. are you as a writer?

Posted Jun 15 2015, 4:45 pm in ,

smartgoalsIf you’ve ever attended a goal setting class or been a part of corporate America, you probably have the key goal acronym down: S.M.A.R.T., standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (or Relevant), and Time-Bound. These are all the elements that help you give yourself the greatest chance at successfully reaching your goals. 

But as a fiction writer today, it pays for YOU to be S.M.A.R.T. as well. Not just for you to attain your work goals, but for you to retain your sanity while you’re at it. 

Here’s how the “SMART” system applies to authors:


Successful business owners, authors included, focus on less to achieve more. The same holds true for being an author. You’ve already specified yourself as an author (go you!) so you’re part of the way there. But for maximum impact, you should be funneling all of your author effort into a very specific niche of books – not trying to write everything for everybody. As authors with multiple pen names (I’m one of them!) can attest, spreading yourself too thin can be a challenge to maintain. 


Having goals is one thing – keeping yourself accountable to a written-and-reviewed plan is another. On a daily basis, how are you stacking up against your written plan? Or if you don’t have a plan, consider this simple question: What’s important to you and how can you measure whether or not you’ve achieved/embodied it? Write it down, and then refer to it every day, until it becomes second nature. Even then, you should continue to review your plan monthly, just to keep yourself on track. 


This one is difficult for even the most well-intentioned author. There are only so many hours in the day. Are you burdening yourself with a schedule that not even the Flash could keep up with? Only you know the constraints on your time… don’t sabotage your efforts by trying to achieve too much. 


As a professional author, you’re writing for a purpose beyond self-entertainment. Accordingly, how well do you know your market? Is the work you’re creating well-suited for your targeted niche? Are you writing the kind of books that will get read by your ideal reader? If not, consider making yourself, and your brand, more relevant to the market. Note, this doesn’t mean that writing in a small niche isn’t worthwhile! But identify that niche, and own it. 


What is your ultimate goal as an author? Is it to be a multiple-time NYT Bestselling author – with the enduring sales to match? Is it to win an award? Is it to make enough from your book sales to quit your day job? No matter what your goal, it should have a deadline attached to it (much like your books do). Not because you’ll give up if you don’t reach that goal by the specified date, but to give you something to shoot for. We all see further when we’re looking out to the horizon, instead of at our feet. 

Let’s be S.M.A.R.T. out there, people. 


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