It's time to talk about having goals. Having day dreams of crowded book signings and readings is great. But how will you get there without laying out a path for yourself? Goals. When your career path specifically goes through the dark woods of creativity it is easy to get lost along the way. Unless you give yourself clear cut goals both short term and long term you will not succeed in this field. So where should you start mapping your path to success?
Word Count - This is a very basic starting point. Pick a word count for yourself to hit every day. I try never to write any less than 250 words per day. Now for me that is a relatively low number and very easy to hit. But that is the point. If I set it at 3000 words and have a fully stacked schedule that prevents me from hitting my goal I will feel like a failure. Negativity is counter productive to creativity. Start small and remember slow and steady wins the race.
Literary Magazines - Both online and small press literary magazines publish on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis. These make for great short term publishing goals and also allow you to gauge the quality of your writing. I try and submit to at least one magazine a month and shoot for at least 4-5 publications a year.
Now remember every good system of goals has an even better system of rewards. In a career where you work largely alone you need to reward yourself for meeting goals. If you make your word count every day for a month treat yourself to a movie or dinner. Just don't ever reward yourself by taking the day off of writing. This is a seven day a week 365 day a year job you chose and you can't risk taking time off. If you can help cut a path for yourself with small goals you will reach your larger ones. And in the end seeing that book on a store shelf will be a greater reward than anything you can give yourself.