ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Dogs Can Save Authors from Poorly Written Goals

Updated on January 5, 2020
agilitymach profile image

Kristin Kaldahl is an award-winning author, blogger and former journalist.

Source

At a writer’s conference I attended recently, a speaker asked her audience of authors how many of them regularly met their writing goals. I didn’t even think much about the question. I raised my hand.

Now the large room was full. There were over a hundred writers there.

And I was the only one with my hand up.

That shocked me. It shouldn’t have, but it did. I knew that writers in general understand little about proper goal setting, and I should have recognized that fact when mine was the only hand in the air. Yet, it caught me off-guard.

Why am I able to meet my writing goals? Am I just super organized and driven, staying up late into the night to meet lofty word count goals?

Not at all.

I know what many writers don’t. I know the difference between goals and dreams and how to set proper, obtainable, useful goals that become stepping-stones to meeting those dreams. And I learned it through my participation in dog sports.


Video of dog agility with author and her dog, Asher.

What Dogs Can Teach Writers

See, I compete in dog agility. I’ll throw an agility video into this blog for those of you unfamiliar with the sport. I came to sports late in life, and after I began to compete, I ran head-first into the importance of a strong head game. You need one in dog agility. It doesn’t look like it, but it’s hard to handle a fast agility dog. If a handler’s foot is off just a few degrees, she can easily send her dog off-course for a non-qualifying score.

One of the biggest parts of having a healthy head game—a mental mindset that leads you to success instead of failure—is to learn how to set proper goals.

Goals Versus Dreams

So, bring on the concept of goals versus dreams.

This is huge.

People constantly confuse dreams with goals. Goals are future actions you wish to see happen that YOU HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER. Dreams are those future things you wish to happen that YOU HAVE SOME, TO NO, CONTROL OVER.

This is huge. I already said that, but it’s worth repeating.

Just today I read an author on Twitter say she had set for herself the “goal of getting published someday.” Oh girl. This is not a goal. It’s a dream. You have no control over whether a publisher will ever want your book. You have no control over the market trends. You have no control over an editor’s personal taste. By making this a goal, you have set yourself up for failure.

I have never set the goal of getting published. I have said, and often, that it’s my dream to be published.

Big deal, you say. It’s just semantics.

Exactly.

Words are power. We know that. We’re writers. If I call a dream a goal, I will feel like a loser if it fails. But my problem wasn’t failing a goal, it was improperly knowing the difference between a dream and a goal.

Dreams Can't be Failed

You cannot fail dreams. You may not reach a dream, but it is NEVER a failure to try. It is never wrong to go for it and come up short. It is only failure if you don’t make the stab.

That’s why it’s important to know how to write proper goals—because you can fail a goal. And when you do, you put another checkmark under the “botched writer” column in the stats about yourself you keep in your head. And that leads to a disastrous head game, which can lead to a lack of confidence, poor writing, and possibly even quitting altogether.

Improper Goals

Every single day on Twitter, I see writers set word count goals like “My word count goal for the week is 10,000 words.” I cringe.

That’s not a goal. Ten thousand words is a lot of words, unless you’re a speed writer. What if you get sick? What if there’s an emergency at work, and you have to pull eighty hours that week? What if you get stuck on a plot point and have to spend hours thinking and outlining your way out of it?

The “what ifs” go on and on, and “what ifs” are things YOU CANNOT CONTROL. So, a lofty word count is not a goal. It’s a dream. Your chance of leaving the week feeling like a word-smith failure again is high.

Some authors have picked up on this, and they don’t set word count goals. Instead they have sit-in-the-chair goals. This is better. You can say, “I will sit at my computer to write, edit, or outline five days out of the week.” Notice, I’ve not placed time limits in there. You can, of course, but that moves you further away from something you have full control over to something you don’t. Life eats time.

Source

More Examples of Poorly Written Goals

When the New Year turned, I saw many authors make resolutions and goals on Twitter. The large majority of them were incorrectly written. Let’s look at some.

“I will get published this year.” Nope. This not a resolution or a goal. It’s a dream. This, unfortunately, is out of your control, unless you are self-publishing. Then, it might be a goal, depending on how close you are to publication.

“I will find an agent this year.” Again. Not a goal. This is a dream. Unfortunately, agents choose whom they represent. You can’t force agents to pick you as a client.

“I will finish my WIP (work-in-progress) and write my second novel and self-publish them both.” A great dream, but a dream none-the-less. You have just laid out a massive time-chunk of writing, editing, production, marketing, and more. Don’t make unrealistic goals. They are empty things.

“I will write every day.” Doomed to failure. Sure, someone COULD meet this goal in a year, but life would have to be very, very good to them. A flu, a vacation, a death in the family, writer’s block, etc. You get the idea. This is a dream, not a goal.

Properly Written Goals

Well-written goals from the recent writers’ New Year’s resolutions lists include things like:

“I will create a schedule blocking out time for my writing.” Okay. This is a great goal. Notice, it doesn’t say that the schedule will be met every single day. It says a schedule will be set.

“I will work to bring the highest quality writing I can to each short-story I create.” This is a goal. It’s a daunting one and could be argued, but if you understand that to meet this goal you will need to edit the bejeebers out of the stories, then I’d say it’s a goal. No time-limit. Just an understanding that you will work hard to bring your A-game to your writing.

Source

Good Goals Make Dreams Come True

Why is this important? Because not only will meeting your goals increase confidence, but setting attainable goals gives you manageable stepping-stones to reach your dreams. Sports competitors know this. Sports psychologists preach this. Focus on small goals within your control, and before you know it, your dreams can become reality.

When I go to the start-line with my dog to run for the ribbons in agility, I’m not focusing on winning. I have no control over that dream. I’m not focusing on my dog running clean. He could slip and drop a bar. I have no control over that. I am focusing on the little things within my control: getting my cues out on time, setting a good line between obstacles, keeping my voice light. I have found if I focus on these little goals, the dreams, like earning an agility championship, magically fall into place.

Again, this isn’t something I came up with. Sports psychologists have taught this for years. Listen to Olympic athletes in interviews. When asked if they plan on winning the Olympics, they will invariably say, “I will focus on doing the best I can.” In other words, I have no control over the judges, over the other athletes, over a cramping leg, over the million variables that go into my sport. But I do have control over meeting each little goal that makes up my best effort.

And, you, dear writer, have the same ability.

Pay attention to the semantics. Goals versuses dreams. Let it change your goal-writing and lead you to your publishing dreams.

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)