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“What does goalsetting have to to with poetry?” might be an immediate response to today’s topic. And the answer is, that depends on what your goals for your poetry are. If your goal is a bit of cheap therapy, and you’ll never show the poems you write to anyone, that’s fine. It is still a goal. Anything that a person does, they are getting something from it. So, why not have stated and conscious goals to help you get the most out of your poetry?

Goals for poetry can fall into many categories: goals for practice, goals for production, goals for collaboration, goals for poetic self-improvement, goals for publication or exposure. There are probably some other categories that a creative poet could add. The main thing is that creating and writing down our goals allows us to focus on them. They’re like New Year’s resolutions.

Oh, dear, that does bring up another thought. How do we stick to our poetic goals better than our New Year’s resolutions? There are two parts. The first is to formulate your goals well, and the second is to have a system in place to keep your goals in mind.

There is an acronym in goalsetting: SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Tangible
Let’s look at an example goal. “I will write more poetry.” Is that a SMART goal? How much more poetry? Well, it’s not specific. Is it measurable? Maybe, if you’ve been measuring your poetry all along. But is this more by specific number or completed poems or more words. The measurements aren’t specified. Attainable? Probably, but without measurements, will you know? And how long will it last? Let’s try another goal. “I will write three completed poems a day, every day in 2006.” Is it specific? Yes. Is it mesurable? Yes. Is it attainable? Possibly. Is it realistic? Probably not. It will be difficult to come up with over 1,000 ideas for poems in one year. One poem per day is more realistic, and there will be days without. Is it tangible? Yes. Another? I will write at least one high-quality and polished poem per week in 2006. So long as the author understands what high-quality and polished means, that sounds like a SMART goal.

So, that leaves the need to keep our goals up front and have a laser-like focus (“I will use fewer clichés in my writing.”) on accomplishing them. And that will leave me with something to talk about in another Discourse.

Happy writing!

The Gnostic Poet

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