With the end of the year approaching, many writers are starting to set writing goals for the New Year. This is the perfect time for you to think about your own writing career and reflect on your own goals for writing.
But where should you start when setting out to achieve your writing dreams? Here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you identify how to set writing goals for yourself.
First, Identify what your big project is going to be
Is it the first draft of a book, a successful blog, completed video scripts, or a collection of poems? Think about what you’d like to have accomplished by this time next year. Make it something you’ve been meaning to do but never got around to; this will ensure that you choose a project that counts.
Make your project something you want to commit to long-term. This will enhance your motivation and desire to keep going until the end. Remember, this should be something you’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s to strengthen your career or help you delve into writing more.
Make an Action Plan
The best way to start achieving your goals for writing is to plan for them. After all, this is something you’re intending on finishing, so you’ll need to make sure you sit down and think about how much you want to accomplish.
Know yourself and how much you can realistically complete in a given time frame. Do you generally write for an hour every morning? Or, maybe you only have time to work on your writing three days a week. Set writing goals based on what you know you can finish.
Caution: don’t use internet sources or challenges to set goals for writing. While there’s plenty of theories on how to speed up the writing process through suggested word counts and chapter breakdowns, your goals should be set by what you know about yourself. Remember, you want to be able to finish your project, not lament that you can’t reach someone else’s arbitrary goal.
Setting Your Milestones
Think about what your big writing milestones are going to be. A milestone is defined as a smaller goal within in a larger one. Writing milestones can include the number of blog posts completed, how many chapters you’ve finished, a set word count, completed poems, and more.
The writing milestones you choose will depend on your project and goals. Think about the most challenging parts of your project and set writing goals you can reach based on them. Try to stretch yourself when you can, but always stay on the realistic side when in doubt.
How to create your timetable
Before you can set milestones and a schedule for yourself, you need to understand how you work. If you already know that you, on average, write 1,000 words a day, then you can set your writing goals based on that.
But what if you have no idea where you’re at? Here’s a few ways you can figure out your writing process.
- Think about how much you typically accomplish in a week. Try to make a guesstimate based on what you’ve already done. Do you write for an hour a day? Do you know how many pages you usually write? Try to think about your process and write it down on a sheet of paper.
- Record how much you work on your writing for the next two weeks. See how your process actually is compared to what you thought. Do you write one chapter at a time before editing, or do you plan out your writing beforehand? See how you balance these writing components to make an accurate timetable. This will allow you to set writing goals that are realistic to your workflow.
- Understand what your goals are for this work. If you’re writing a 100,000 word fantasy novel, then your timetable will look a lot different than someone who’s writing a 50,000 word Middle Grade book. Your writing goals for your work should be reflective of the amount of time you’re putting into each part of the project. Think about how you need to outline, research, and plan during your writing process. All these components should be included in the timetable.
Now that you know your process, write the schedule
After you’ve identified your unique writing process, it’s time to make a schedule of milestones that work for you. Try to make your milestones on a weekly or bi-weekly basis so you can measure your success. This will ensure not too much time passes between each writing milestone and holds you accountable on a relatively frequent basis.
Sure, you can have daily goals too, but some people might not be able to write every day if they work full time or juggle other obligations between their hobby. Daily goals are great if you need them, but you might find yourself beating yourself up if you fail to work on your writing every day. Try to be ambitious, but not unrealistic in your goals for writing.
Holding Yourself Accountable
After you’ve set your writing goals and deadlines, now it’s up to you to hold yourself accountable. You want to make sure you keep yourself on track and don’t skip your goals for weeks on end.
Here’s a few strategies you can use to keep yourself accountable to your overall goals for writing.
- Keep a journal of everything you accomplish after you sit down to write. This will help you know how much you can realistically finish while also forcing the habit of putting down what you actually completed. You’ll know if you’re spending too much of your time distracted if you see yourself consistently falling short.
- Only reward yourself when you finish milestones. Buy yourself that special Starbucks drink or piece of cake only after you’ve completed your big writing milestone. This gives you an external incentive to sit down and write.
- Turn off your phone and work in a relatively quiet area. Whether it’s your personal office, the library, a cafe, or your couch, find the place where you’ll be the most productive.
- Re-evaluate your passion for the project if you find you’ve been neglecting it. Think about the reason you wanted to start your writing project in the first place. This can help re-ignite your enthusiasm and help push you towards finishing your goals.
Are you ready to get started?
Now that you know how to set a writing goal, it’s your turn to start thinking about where you want to be a year from now. After all, your work isn’t going to write itself, so there’s no better day than today to get started producing your passion project.
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