Goals and Shoals by J Vincent

January. The month of resolution-making, of setting goals. Doing this is never difficult. Keeping goals from sinking on the shoals of life is excruciatingly tricky at times. Like last week. My goal was to write this blog. The shoal that goal hit was a virus striking my computer. Traumatic! I had actually managed to remain a virus virgin these many years. The aptly named "Trojan" somethingorother slipped right past my virus protection program which was the first thing to disappear--but let's not go there. What turned out even more painful happened after I handed over my laptop to be "scrubbed" and have a different virus protection program installed. It was then I realized why I should have replaced my old desktop that died in October. Sans computer there is no word-processing--i.e. writingmanuscript, email, or otherwise; there is no email reading. There is no internet, no google directions to the new doctor, no browsing. I can hear you thinking that anyone can live without the internet. Many do. BUT, there is always a but, I had changed all my bills over to paying online and not automatically. I am also going to be taking a trip and need to finalize arrangements and print out several things that they used to mail the traveler. Enough of those shoals.

Back to goals in a roundabout way. Making them is easy. Keeping them is more difficult (see above). Reaching them revolves around the degree of sincerity. No, seriousness. Nope, determination and desperation (a new insight after the computer withdrawal) are much more accurate. Remember the no email reading? I solved that by figuring out how to do it on my Nook. Same for browsing and googling although word processing and printing is sadly out of the oop. To get this blog written I went to my son and used his computer/printer. In the end I will solve all the problems by buying a new desktop. I momentarily thought "Never again will I be high and dry" as fools do but something will come along and throw a road block up along my personal computer highway in the future. To prevent one of the major ones I also bought an external hard drive and set it up to automatically backup any new or changed file. Remember I did say this was a roundabout approach so back to the topic.

Another difficulty in meeting goals occurs if they are too nebulous, too indistinct. The more concrete, the more specific the better. One of my major writing goals for 2012 is to get the first book in my Honour series up through Smashwords. If I write just that as my goal I can almost guarantee it will never happen or take many many months to implement. So I broke it down into specific steps.
1. Find an editor---check
2. Sketch out a cover and find someone to draw or paint it--check
3. Implement the changes necessary after the editor goes through the manuscript--check
4. Download the Smashwords manual on formatting and study it --in progress
5. Format the manuscript
6. Format the cover art
7. Upload to Smashwords

My other major goal is to write the fifth book in the Honour series. I've broken that goal down into research steps, plot realignment (I started this book over a year ago and it has mostly lingered in a doc file--a non-growing file), and scene and chapter goals. Staying on track is not easy but setting small obtainable goals week by week insures more success--at least for me. My "goal" is to finish the book. My set goal at the moment is to finish a chapter. Small is better in goals, like building a two thousand piece puzzle. You can only do it one piece at a time but each piece builds the picture. Each small goal builds the story until one day there is a completed manuscript!

Happy New Year! Happy Goal Making and Keeping. May the shoals in your life be but minor ones!


Pat Davids said...

Joan, I'm excited to hear about the Smarshword project you have underway. Consider if you will, giving a program on this for WARA at one of the upcoming meetings in 2012. At that as a goal, not a shoal, please.

Rox Delaney said...

Joan, I'm impressed! First, getting through a crash (or two for you, considering) is no easy feat. But it seems you're coming out of this even better than before. That's a big plus!

As for the goals, thanks for the reminder to break down the goal into bite-size chunks. Much easier to see progress that way, which helps stay on course.

Reese Mobley said...

I'm interested in learning more about the Smashwords too. Good luck with your goals! WARA is a good place to stay motivated.

Rox Delaney said...

I have a friend who's used Smashwords and recommended it when I asked about it. That led me to download the guide, which I've skimmed. It takes some work at first, but provides an excellent finished product in the end. Wishing you lots of good luck on the project!

Joan Vincent said...

Laptop is BACK!!! after ten computerless days. Thanks for the kind words Pat, Rox, and Reese. Don't be too impressed--desperation is a heck of a motivator. Let's wait and see if I manage to get the manuscript formatted for Smashwords and successfully uploaded. Murphy's Law seems rather strong for me right now and between Christmas, my mom's estate sale and the computer snafu its been delay, delay, delay. I intend to be positive though. Once I get started on the formatting it won't seem so overpowering--Right?? One chapter at a time. Goals go down more successfully and much more easily in small bites!

Nina Sipes said...

How awful for you. I'm still getting straightened out after a crash and a re-alignment of a new computer and printer. I went to windows 7 from XP professional. I know that new software is an improvement, but I hate spending the time learning the new stuff--especially under the pressure of being behind by the time I get started.
Good luck. My thoughts are with you.

Penny Rader said...

So glad you have your computer back, Joan. And I hope you meet all your goals this year with no more shoals to bungle things.