Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Being Behind And Setting Goals

Yup, We Are All Behind…

I sort of talked to myself last week in a few blog posts about the stress that often goes with being behind. And the freedom of this new world that causes that feeling of never enough time.

Well, in an effort to continue to talk to myself and let you guys listen in on my ramblings, I’m going to try to get a solution to being behind at the moment. If my solution works in some form for your writing projects, great.

First, not going to look back. That solves nothing. Like rewriting a story. A complete waste of time. Today, here in the middle of March, I am behind with my monthly magazine. Fact. How I got here makes no difference at all.

Second, going to set a goal that I control. The goal is simple. I would like to have issue #48 of Smith’s Monthly published before October of this year. That will be caught up. A goal that is all in my control.

Third, I need to look hard at the six months until my goal. Anything major that might get in the way known? Answer to that is nope. Unknown I won’t worry about.

Fourth, take inventory status of where I am at the moment. I have half of the novel for #38 finished and enough short stories. I have the entire novel for #39 done and enough short stories. I have almost all of the novel for #40 finished. Might not have enough short stories that I want to print, so need to write some more. So after finishing the two, that leaves eight novels to write and about 40 short stories needed to hit the goal.

Fifth, break down the timing. See if the goal is possible. So I would have to finish the half novel and the last part of another novel and some short stories by April 15th. No issue. Finish another novel by May 1st. That makes four of the eleven total needed. Then two novels per month for the next four months, which would allow me to miss one and still make the deadline. Word count including the short stories would be about 120,000 words of fiction per month for five months, with ramping up between now and May 1st. Possible and it would be fun.

Sixth, check in to see if the goal works. The goal has value to me to say next October that I have done 48 issues in four years of my monthly magazine and start into the fifth year caught up.

It has value to me to do that much writing over the summer, my normally most prolific months.

It is also a challenge that will push me, something I like and need to get my focus.

And most importably, it will be a blast.

So done talking to myself now.



  • Harvey

    GREAT post, Dean. And proof that revisiting the topic of Setting Goals is always of value.

    Coming at it from a different, necessary direction adds even more value for more writers. I’d bet on it. Thanks.

  • Fred Aiken


    This is a great post and I enjoyed it. i just wanted to comment on a few things. First, don’t look back needs to be put into context. The way that I read that context is similar to the advice that Dale Carnegie gave by living in day tight compartments. He said that nothing can change what happened yesterday so don’t worry about that. The future is a clean page so don’t worry about it as it is not within your control. The only thing that is in your control is today, so concentrate on what you can do today to make a better tomorrow. He might have used other words but that is my paraphrase of his advice.

    What I got out of your earlier blogs on goal settings is to divide the years goals into shorter time frames, like quarterly goals. When I analyzed the goals I set for 2016 in December, I realized that my method of goal setting (SMART), was missing two critical steps. Your posts showed me that it was necessary to break the yearly goals down into quarter goals that could be evaluated and refocused/revise at the end of each quarter to keep the annual goals on track for successful completion at the end of the year. I gave this revised system to acronym SMARTER [Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time dependent, Evaluate, Refocus). In this context, looking back during the evaluation is the key to its success.

    I have found that in keeping track of my progress towards achieving these goal in an accountability document has provide me with motivation to work towards their achievement without imparting me with any stress. Since I am working on quarterly goals, I will be reviewing my progress to date at the end of the first quarter (March 31 or April 1) to set the second quarter goals based on the results from the first quarter.

    Your analysis at the end of the post is similar to what Kristine wrote this month in her blog post “The Second 2017 Process Blog” on planning her year’ of work to make sure everything is doable and scheduled so nothing is overlooked. In business, planning is always fluid, adjusted to whatever tempest might arrive on the way to meeting the strategic business goals.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I know that they have been a great help to me over the years.

  • I.G. Frederick

    Just out of curiosity, Dean, if you have half of the novel for #38 finished but the entire novel for #39 done why wouldn’t you switch the novels and get #38 out to your subscribers sooner? I know you do the covers in advance, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be that hard to switch the dates/issue numbers?

    • dwsmith

      I.G., in 37 we had the cover and the add for #38, so we’re just going to leave them. Also, as I ramp up as I did last year to catch up, the subscribers and Patreon supporters are going to get buried. So figured it won’t much matter. Actually, I also have the novel for #39 almost completely done.