If you decided to click on this article, I’m guessing you’ve struggled with achieving your writing goals in the past. It’s not surprising, most people grapple with meeting goals and expectations and often find failure. Whether it’s time to set New Year’s Resolutions or you’re planning a new writing project, you can help increase your chance of success by using a few tips to set your intention properly. Use one or all of these recommendations to help you meet your deadlines and up your writing game.
How to Set Achievable Writing Goals
1. Set Realistic Achievable Goals
Sometimes when setting goals, it’s easy to shoot for the moon. Writing a novel in a month sounds great, but if you can barely write 200 words in a day, you’ve already set yourself up for failure. Take into consideration your writing process, your other obligations, and any deadlines when setting quantity goals. If you’ve been struggling with writer’s block or trying to start a new project, feel free to go easy on yourself. It’s better to set a low goal of 200 words a day and overshoot it most days than to set an ambitious goal of 500 words a day and miss it most days.
If you have big goals in mind, like writing a novel, make sure to break that project up into mini goals with firm time frames. Give yourself daily, weekly, or monthly word count goals and set a “deadline” date for yourself. This will help you avoid procrastination and make the big goal more manageable and less overwhelming.
2. Set Goals You Can Control
As you’re brainstorming your writing goals, make sure you identify any goals that are beyond your control. While selling a story to a prized magazine, winning a big literary award or getting into an exclusive writing workshop are worthwhile dreams to work toward, you can’t control the outcome of those situations. Instead, you should identify steps you can take to work toward those dreams and set them as your goals.
If you want to sell a short story to a well-known magazine, set goals like writing X short stories in a year or sending out XX submissions to editors. Those goals will help you in two ways: you’ll write stories that the magazine could potentially buy and you’re getting more practice as a writer, which increases your chance of being published.
3. Write Your Goals Down
This might seem like a given, but it’s surprising the number of people who do not write down their goals. If you just keep your writing goals in your head, you’re far more likely to fail to achieve them. So get out a piece of paper or record them on your computer or phone. Record each project, break down the different steps, and set deadlines for each one.
4. Share Your Goals
This is another trick to ensure your success. Share your writing goals with your spouse, friends, or mentor. This will make you 65% more likely to reach your goals. To improve your success even further, have an accountability partner that you check in with regularly. This can be another friend who is a writer or a writers group in person or online. Not only will this relationship help you achieve your goals, but it gives you someone to commiserate with when you’re fighting writer’s block or getting frustrated by rejection.
5. Set Aside Dedicated Writing Time
Building a regular writing habit in your life is one of the best ways to set yourself up to success when it comes to writing goals. When you set a dedicated time to write and build a regular habit, it will make it easier to get your words done each day. Just like how you have an early morning habit of taking a shower, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth, your writing practice can become an “automatic” process.
Pick a frequency and time in your schedule that will work for you. Whether it’s every day or certain days of the week, put it on your calendar as an official appointment with yourself. If you have a job and family obligations, you may have to be a little creative. If you make writing time a priority, you will be more likely to meet the goals you’ve set.
Read some tips on how to find time to write.
6. Track Your Progress
The more often you monitor your progress toward a goal, the more likely you are to achieve that goal. This is one of the reasons word count tracking spreadsheets are so popular with writers. You may have to try a few different systems before you find the right one for you. For me, habit tracking was more useful that word tracking since I spend a lot of time rewriting and editing, so I use a habit tracking app instead.
At a minimum, you should regularly read over your goals, note your progress, and make adjustments to your plan.
Looking for more ways to inspire your writing? Read these inspirational writing quotes. Check out these tools to destroy writer’s block. These movies about writers will give your brain a writing break and inspire you at the same time. These inspirational books on writing will remind you about what you love about the craft. And these quirky pens will add some fun to your writing routine. Make sure to follow these healthy living tips for writers.