Posted by: penpatience | February 1, 2017



“THE BIG DIG,” my narrative non-fiction essay has recently been published in the “Comin’ Up Roses,” February/March 2017 issue of MaryJaneFarm Magazine:

WRITERS WORDS:  “If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.” –- R. A. Salvatore



S pecific  M easurable  A ttainable  R ealistic  T ime-bound

It’s the beginning of the New Year and many of us, still in the throes of post-holiday spirit, have made goals we hope to achieve in the coming year. Perhaps we chose to lose ten of the gained holiday pounds, vowed to keep fit with diligence in our chosen exercise program or, finally, dust off that partially completed short story that has been pushed to the side of the desktop gathering dust.

I’ve often said in previous posts, that goals are commitments that must be met. I also indicated that sometimes extenuating situations and emergencies might interfere with planned goals and although a goal had to be temporarily postponed, one should not lose sight of it. However, all too often a goal falls to the wayside forgotten in the turmoil and challenges of everyday life. Why is that? I believe it’s because the goals we made weren’t SMART GOALS.

A seminar memento from an earlier business career titled, “Smart Goals,” can be applied as an inspirational or how-to message for almost any endeavor and is especially beneficial for writers in meeting their different writing projects.

     An Example:

Goal:  This year I’m going to write a memoir, two short stories, a non-fiction essay and complete the “dust collector” short story that’s been dormant far too long. (Hmmm… goals appear vague, uncertain, indefinite, ambiguous…)

Specific: I’m going to dust off that short project and finish it. It’s been sitting for over six months.

Measurable:  I’ll write 500-750 words on this project three days a week for approximately two hours per day.

Attainable:  I’ll complete this project barring any real emergencies. (Running out of coffee, wine and inspiration are not emergencies)

Realistic: Is this an achievable goal? Can I do this? Remember that old nursery rhyme, “The Little Engine That Could?” — It puffed, “I think I can. I think I can.”  However, writers should puff: “I know I can! I know I can!”

Time-bound: How long will it take to finish this story? Well, three dedicated days per week @ 500-750 words a day, the writing time should be complete in approximately two months.

HOO-rah! The goal has been met.  The story has been completed within the planned time frame.

However, keep in mind, additional time for resting the document, editing, rewriting, writing circle critique and, if you have one, reading by a beta-reader will consume additional time. Perhaps consideration should be made for these tasks within the original goal or a subsequent one. The sooner the “dust collector” has been removed from dormancy and submitted to publications/publishers, the better!

Each writer has different priorities and time constraints. If a writer has a full-time job and a growing family, the attainable writing goal will be affected by this demanding lifestyle. Writing goals, most likely, will be measured in much longer time-bounds.

A professional full-time writer’s goals will encompass many specific goals with deadlines that must be met. It’s a chosen career path that provides the majority of the writer’s annual income. Projects must be measured accurately with realistic time-bounds.

And, most writers can relate to that poor little engine that doubted he “could,” puffing along through unforeseen obstacles, rejection slips, critique slings and arrows and inspirations that somehow dissipate when the going gets tough.

BUT…Writers that utilize Smart Goals techniques puff along despite these many uphill battles:

“I know I can!  I know I can.”

Writers: Check out this great site for writers: The Writer Interface.


Mary Rosenblum, Published Author, Writing Teacher/Coach, hosts this site that offers multiple services, writing tips and information for writers of all genres.


  1. Love these reminders of how to set and achieve real goals. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Nice piece. Very true listening a goal is only the the first step. Prioritizing and establishing a time frame for each goal a must.

    Good job.


  3. thank you for you comment and kudos, Joe.


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