The SMART choice
How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution? At the end of the year we get excited about all the great things we want to see accomplished in the next year, so we make our plans. The problem is many times those resolutions are long forgotten before we even finish the first quarter of the year. When we do remember them again, we beat ourselves up for not carrying through with the plan.
The good thing is, we are entering the eighth month August, which represents new beginnings. Instead of beating yourself up for not fulfilling your plans, start a new plan, begin anew. This is key, you must make some SMART steps to beginning walking in your plan, otherwise, if you don’t plan, you really are planning to fail. I have my own twist to the SMART steps. So, what are some SMART steps?
S – Specific and Simple. Don’t say, I am going to write my book in three months. While that may be the outcome, you want to take some small steps. In fact, you want to be as specific as possible to make sure you are accomplishing your goal. Ask the right questions, what do I want to write, when do I want to accomplish this, and why do I want to accomplish this goal? As someone stated, how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time. Take the small and simple steps to help you accomplish the bigger outcome. Make your first goal to write your idea for your story, a brief synopsis. Then move to write an outline. Depending on the type of story, create a brief idea about your characters and begin to see them as people so you can ensure they are not flat in your story.
M – Measurable and meaningful. You must create steps that can be measured when they are completed. One goal I set it to write a certain number of pages each day. I don’t stop until I have written those pages. Additionally, you want to make sure what you write is meaningful. For example, you could make a goal to write ten pages for your story and accomplish it. While that is measurable because you could accomplish it, does the writing add meaning to your project? When I use meaningful, I am speaking about what value does the action add to your work or your process. Do the pages you write lead you closer to the book you want to complete?
A – Attainable and accurate. As you set your goals, have the bigger picture in mind as you break that goal into the bite-size pieces. You want to make sure you are giving yourself realistic time frames based on your life and work outside of writing. In addition to making sure your time frames are reasonable, you also want to make sure your information is accurate. You need to allow for time within your schedule to make sure you are confirming the accuracy of your information or research. In a previous post, I wrote about this believe that you don’t need to do any research. I believe every writer should do some research around what they are writing. A substantial amount of time needs to be spent reading and researching. Make sure you include that in your goals.
R – Relevant and realistic. If writing your book is important to you, you must make sure you have some realistic goal to help you accomplish it. Do you have the expertise needed for your topic? If not, how will you get it? Research? Interviews, what? Being a writer is more than wanting it, it is doing the work to make it happen. Make sure your goals are something you can do.
T – Timely and transformative. While you may not get your book written and ready for publication in one week, you also don’t want to drag it on forever. Give yourself a realistic time frame and then work towards accomplishing that goal. Your question should be how is my work going to help transform my readers? If I believe God has said write this book, I have to also believe He wants it to be something that changes the life of the reader and brings about healing, deliverance, or hope. Those things have a time requirement for them. I believe if we wait too long to write the message God has placed on our hearts, those that needed it miss their blessing because we haven’t written it. Get to it!
Prayer: God, you tell us if we lack wisdom you will give it to us. We need your help understanding the full plan you have for our writing. What do you want us to write? Who do you want us to touch? How do we go about getting the job completed? It can be overwhelming at times, but we trust you to help us through the process. Thank you for helping us to complete the task well. Amen.
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I teach college-level courses for both undergraduate and master level classes. I have often written for, and continue to write for several ministries and organizations that I serve. I tell you this because I am always reading others work. What I find as someone consistently reading others work, is sometimes the lack of care in the writer’s work. Today, I want to talk to you about some of my experiences with writers; some things I believe we all need to be mindful of if we want to see our visions fulfilled. Today I will address four mistakes by writers.
Mistake #1 – “I don’t need an editor.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have asked individuals to get others to read their work. I had people get angry at me for this suggestion because they believed their work was perfect. Even the best writers still need someone else editing their work. The human mind is a funny thing. When you write something and miss explaining the point, you may not catch it because you know what you meant to write, so your mind fills in the missing pieces. That’s horrible for the person reading your work. If there are missing pieces in your work, your reader will struggle to understand what you are writing. Eventually, the reader will give up. Get an editor. If you can’t afford an editor, ask someone you know, such as an English teacher to read your work for you. You can also purchase Grammarly or other editing programs. Even with these programs, they do not catch everything, so you will still need to have someone else read your work. Don’t put your work in print without good editing.
Mistake #2 – “My book will organically come about.”
I am the kind of writer where at times God will give me an idea or a thought, and it won’t release me until I write it down. I have written complete plays and other works in one sitting. Even though this happens to me sometimes, I would never tell anyone to just wait until your book creates itself. I love a quote by A. Lee Martinez. The quote stated, “Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.” In other words, you can’t wait for your work to produce itself. You must dedicate yourself to writing. Set a weekly writing schedule and then write. And if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to writing, you may want to reevaluate why you want to write a book in the first place. It will not write itself, so get to work.
Mistake #3 – “I don’t need to do any research.”
I was so excited with a coaching client I started helping in June. She is an expert in her field. She’s been doing it for more than thirty years. What she is writing about, she has proven it works. Yet, she said in our first meeting before I even suggested it, was she was going to do some research. That was music to my ears. See, I am a researcher. I haven’t always been a researcher, but I have developed into one over the years. I remember when working on my master's degree, one instructor said to us, “we don’t care what you think, what can you prove?” That may sound like a harsh statement, but it is a true one. People don’t want to buy your book to read your opinions, they can get that for free on social media. They want to know what can you add to their lives to help them in the areas you are presenting. Yes, share your experiences (not opinions), but also add to your work by doing your research. You should ask yourself some questions. Who else has presented what I am presenting? Is there a need for what I want to write about? What need am I trying to fill with my work? These are some of the questions you must begin to ask yourself so you can make sure you are presenting something that will be needed.
Mistake #4 – “I do not have to organize my work, I can be creative with how I present my work.”
Most people don’t stop and look at the format of books, why is that you think? Well, it is obvious, you buy a book to read it not to detect its’ outline or formatting. However, if you ever purchased a book without a standard format, you would know it immediately. Formatting a book is for the ease of the reader. You want your reader to know what you are presenting to them. You do that by writing an outline of the chapters first. Then you take time to format each chapter to have a standard presentation. For example, if you start your chapter with a story, then a Scripture and end with your point, that must be consistent in every chapter. How confusing it would be to your reader if they read your first chapter and it begins with a story, but in the next chapter you go right to your point. Then in another chapter, you deleted the story altogether. Your reader wouldn’t know what to expect. The next time you look at a book, look at how it is formatted and how each chapter has a consistent arrangement.
If you work on these four mistakes, you will see your work improving. Remember, if your work is important to you, you want to give it the proper care to make sure it is developed properly.
Prayer: God, help us to seek a spirit of excellence in all we do as it relates to our work. Help us partner with others that will challenge us and help us to grow. Give us the wisdom we need to complete what is before us. Help us not to get weary in doing the work needed to produce the best work we can. We give you thanks in advance for what you are bringing out of our lives. Amen.
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Hi! I'm Dr. Jewel D. Williams. I am a wife, mother of 3 beautiful girls, lead pastor of Vision & Education at Abundant Life Worship Center. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses at a Christian college. Additionally, I am an author and CEO of Tri-Production Publishing, Inc. What is important about it all is I love to serve. I was "Saved to Serve."