Another busy week is coming to a close, and temperatures here are heating up. Have you played hooky yet? I've want to, but deadlines would not allow it. How has your week gone? Have you finished all of the tasks you've set out to complete? Regardless, it's time to wrap up the week with some weekly wisdom from the web.

Why I Steal Content (And Why You Should, Too): This caught my eye because I've done what this article talks about. I've rewritten some of my old articles that I've used elsewhere and posted them on this blog on days when I've been busy, which is fine as long as I still hold the rights to the content. Do you ever recycle content? If you don't, why not? 

How To Turn Those Writing Dreams Into Goals & Actions: What are your writing dreams? Be aware that they are just wishes until you set goals and plan to achieve them. I've discussed the importance of setting writing goals. This article spells out how to turn writing dreams into goals.

Fiction Writing
5 Tips to Trap Your Characters: This guest post at The Write Practice covers trapping characters, not so much physically as mentally and emotionally (although being physically trapped is possible too). Look at the questions to consider as you create a prison for your main character. 

When in Doubt, Do Something Drastic by Georgie Lee: This happens occasionally to every fiction writer, I suspect. Even if you have planned and plotted, your story seems to fall flat. So what should you do. According to Georgie Lee's post at Savvy Authors, do something drastic (as the title implies). The article gives a few examples that I'll let you check out for yourself.

I hope you have some time to get out this weekend. Enjoy!

Friday, normally a day I would be posting links and sharing the articles I have been reading. But considering the date, it seems appropriate to break the tradition and offer an article in lieu of link love. After all, another year is ending. Now is the time to reflect on successes and failures of the year and look ahead. Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet?

The problem with resolutions is that people make them only to forget a few weeks later and then remember at the end of the following December, realizing they kept maybe one (or none). Rather than making general resolutions, set specific goals for the year. For now, the discussion will focus on writing goals. Set long-term writing goals and then plan a strategy to achieve them by dividing them into short-term ones and tracking your progress.

Set Specific, Measurable Writing Goals
First and foremost, your writing goals should be specific and measurable. So avoid goals that look like this: “In 2012, I will become a better writer.” Assuming you intend to improve skills, this is too general and subjective. However, how does one improve writing skills? Writing often, reading, and possibly taking a writing class would be good places to start, but the first is the most obvious and important. Now, set both short- and long-term goals in this vein. Obviously, the goals will look different depending on what you write:

Long term: I will complete the first draft of my novel in ___ months.

Short term: I will write ___ words per day.

These are not mine, by the way, just examples. But regardless of the writing you do, the goals should look like this in that they are measurable. Remember, if it can't be measured, it can't be managed.

Add Deadlines
Now, give your goals deadlines, since that is how you'll measure your progress. For example, this is my first short-term writing goal for this blog:

I will write 3 three to five hundred word blog posts for Perfecting Your Prose by January 6, 2012.

This very short-term goal is measurable, realistic, and deadline oriented. Now, let's look at that long-term example above:

I will complete the first draft of my novel by August 1, 2012.

And to get to this point you set this one for short-term steps:

I will write 500 words per day toward the first draft of my novel.

If the deadline doesn't work, set a new one. Once you grow accustomed to setting deadlines, you will get a better feel for what is realistic for you.

Write Them Daily in Present Tense
Put your goals in writing daily, and write them in present tense. The future is an abstraction, but writing them in the present tense will keep them in the here and now.

Take the long-term example again:

I have completed the first draft of my novel by August 1, 2011.

Yes, it sounds a little awkward at first, but it will keep you thinking about your goal in the present and working to achieve it.

Take Action
The only way you are going to really excel at writing or anything else you want to achieve is to take action. Schedule specific times for writing, and make it a priority. After all, this is important to you. Sit down and write, and do not get up until you've written your target word count. Yes, it's quantifying here, but the more you write, the more you improve. So quantity is good.

An Aside
While the content of this article is mine and is tailored for writers, the basic goal-setting concepts come from
Brian Tracy's book Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want—Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible. This is a great book with guidelines you can use for setting goals for writing as well as other areas of your life. Consider reading in 2012 if you haven't already.

So what are your writing goals for 2012?