Writing for Children's Magazines
An Ezine


  Mini-Goals for Huge Results  

  By Pascale Duguay 




Are your long-term goals giving you wings or dragging you down? When life keeps getting in the way of your writing, you may wonder if there is even a point to having long-terms goals. That’s why I find it more useful to concentrate on short-term goals. And by short, I mean small. How small? How about mini?

The idea of mini-goals first came to me while reading Sonia Choquette’s Trust Your Vibes at Work. She writes, “Forget ultimate goals, as they are too vague and impractical.” Instead, she recommends focusing on what needs to be done now. Take for example a part-time writer whose long-term goal is to write full-time. Although it is a worthy goal, the gulf between where she is now and where she wishes to be may be huge. Not exactly inspiring.

Instead, while not giving up on your dream, shrink your ambitions to a manageable size. Each week give yourself ten mini-goals to accomplish. List whatever you need to do to get yourself going in the right direction. Do you need to clear a space on your desk? Buy new folders to sort your papers? Read that article on writing better queries? Create a character profile for your latest heroine?

Be specific when writing down your goals. As Choquette write, “If your goals are not focused, life gets crazy, inviting anxiety and confusion.” Remember to make your tasks easy to accomplish or you may skip them altogether, defeating the purpose of the exercise. Do not write down “study market books.” Mine each contain hundreds of pages – way too much for my tired brain to even consider tackling. But if on my mini-goal list I write, “study five pages from Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market”, I am much more likely to get it done.

Often, working on a mini-goal will lead to doing more than you had intended. The trick is simply to get started, to have a goal simple enough you can jump right in. Your five pages of market study may lead to ten or more pages without your even noticing it.

As you work on your goals, don’t be surprised if you get swamped with ideas for new ones. Jot them down. But don’t allow yourself to start on them until the following week (unless absolutely necessary or you have made it to the end of your original list). Do what you can to complete your present goals first. Not only will it help you stay focused, but crossing out even a few tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment as well as much-needed proof that you are making progress.

Consult your list first thing in the morning. See which tasks you can try to fit in or attempt to accomplish inside your busy schedule. Always keep your list handy throughout the day. You never know when an unexpected pocket of free time may suddenly appear, allowing you to get a mini-goal started or even completed.

At the end of each week, take a moment to look over your list. Note how many mini-goals you were able to accomplish. More important, take a good look at those you were unable to do. Did they get left behind because they required too much time and effort? If so, break them down some more: Make them truly mini.

Sometimes, life just gets in the way no matter how easy your goals. One week, you may complete only three goals with two more barely underway. Simply carry the unfinished ones onto the following week and add new ones to make a total of ten again. During a singularly unproductive week, I once carried over an entire list of mini-goals. Thankfully, I was saved from wasting any more valuable time as my ready-made list helped me quickly get back on track.

This method is particularly useful for those who struggle with time issues, whether permanent or temporary. The mini-goal list can also be an invaluable tool, if you suffer from procrastination. Since each one is so easy to accomplish, you won’t need to figure out ways to convince yourself to get started. Add to the fun by rewarding yourself each week you manage to complete all ten mini-goals. First mini-goal? Make that list!

Take Control

When life interferes with my writing time, the writing newsletters I read are usually the first to be set aside. That’s not a good thing since they contain important and timely information. Here’s my 10 mini-goal list for taking back control:

1) Skim newsletter headlines.

2) Pick section that interests me the most.

3) Read section and highlight potential markets discussed.

4) Look up markets in market book.

5) Pick most likely market and study in more detail.

6) Brainstorm ideas for my selected market.

7) Pick one idea and develop it into a short paragraph.

8) Prepare a query for my market.

9) Revise and polish query.

10) Send query.

This way, I’m sure to send at least one query a week no matter how busy I am!

Writing for Children's Magazines, May 2017           Copyright Pascale Duguay



Pascale Duguay is the creator of ThePartTimeWriter.com. She lives in the Quebec Eastern Townships where she writes for both children and adults. She is also a translator (French/English) and a school librarian. Visit her personal website at www.pascaleduguay.com.



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