Do you have personal writing goals for the year? Do you know whether your goals for writing are the right ones to make this year the most successful one yet?
You might wonder if you’re setting writing goals that are actually attainable.
What is required from a goal in order for it to help you succeed in reaching it?
If your past writing goals have turned to vapor, maybe you’re wondering what you’ve been missing.
In this article, we’ll show you how to set the best creative writing goals you’ve ever set in your life so that you can publish not just one book but a catalog of books.
If your main goal is to be an author, why not become a prolific author who generates a passive income stream from a series of self-published books?
You can achieve this if you know how to set yourself up for success with your writing routine.
- The S.M.A.R.T. Goal Formula
- 9 Proven Ways to Achieve Your Writing Goals
- 1. Set your daily minimum writing target.
- 2. Plan and schedule each writing project (book, blog post, article, etc.).
- 3. Set milestones for each larger project, and celebrate your progress.
- 4. Use time blocks for your daily writing commitment.
- 5. Make time for self-education.
- 6. Start a writing journal.
- 7. Identify helpful resources.
- 8. Be active in your writing community.
- 9. Reevaluate and set new writing goals.
- Goals for writers keep you on track.
The S.M.A.R.T. Goal Formula
If you’ve read anything about goals, you’ve probably run across the idea of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. Here’s a recap of the formula, which describes key aspects of effective goal setting:
Specific and measurable are self-explanatory. It’s not enough to make your goal about “becoming a better writer” or “earning money as a writer.”
Make each goal specific and measurable.
Here are some writing goal examples:
The word “achievable” here isn’t synonymous with “realistic.”
While it’s close to that, it’s closer to the word “possible,” which — depending on your mindset — could describe something that sounds totally doable to you but overly ambitious to someone else.
Achievable is in the eye of the (individual) beholder, whereas realistic has more to do with society’s ideas of what constitutes a reasonable goal for the least productive common denominator.
That said, the word achievable takes into account your real-life situation and other time commitments.
It doesn’t make sense to overcommit to one goal if it means sacrificing another, more important goal.
Relevant basically means your new goal is related to your overarching goal and will contribute to the larger tapestry of your life’s work. It’s this “magnum opus” that describes where you want to be years from now (a few, ten, twenty, etc.).
Your S.M.A.R.T. goal is something you can focus on and celebrate when you reach it but that also gets you closer to “the big one.”
A time-bound goal has not only a deadline but a reasonable time-frame that honors your other commitments.
9 Proven Ways to Achieve Your Writing Goals
1. Set your daily minimum writing target.
When you’re serious about writing, you make time for it every day.
How much time can you spend writing each day while still honoring prior commitments? How much can you write in this amount of time?
It doesn’t have to be a large number. The point here is to know how much you can commit to writing each day.
To build a daily writing habit, consistency is more important than quantity.
If you set it low, you can always write more, if you’re able to.
If you set it too high and are unable to consistently reach it, you’re more likely to skip writing on days when you doubt your ability to reach that target.
For example, you might think that it makes more sense to set a goal of at least 1,000 words a day, but then you hit a low point, you feel overwhelmed, and you barely have ten minutes to give to writing before you have to run out the door again or before you collapse into bed.
In ten minutes, you could maybe crank out 200 words, give or take, depending on how tired you are.
So, you think, “Well, it’s not even worth it” and skip writing for the day. And once you give yourself permission to skip one day, it gets easier to skip others.
Instead, just write what you can, however little it might be.
Writing fewer words is better than writing none.
2. Plan and schedule each writing project (book, blog post, article, etc.).
Based on your daily minimum writing target, calculate how much time it should take to write and rewrite a book/blog post/novel/etc.
For instance, you might find it takes about a month to write a 25,000-word nonfiction book, another three weeks to revise it, and an additional week for a final edit.
Plus, it makes sense to add a buffer week in case something comes up in your life that cuts into your writing or editing time.
Once you have an idea of roughly how long it’ll take to write a book and get it ready for publication, you can set your publication deadline on your calendar.
And once you have it on the calendar, you can tell others about it — including an accountability partner, who’ll check on your progress and help you stay on track.
Creating a writing template is also a great help with this. It’s part of the planning process and should come before scheduling.
Once you break down a larger project (a book, novel, screenplay, etc.) into smaller parts — and you have a fair understanding of how long it will take you to finish each part — you’ll be better able to schedule the entire project.
Having a template for each of your nonfiction book projects, for example, will speed up the planning, scheduling, and creation for subsequent books.
Your template will also make it easier to do the next step.
3. Set milestones for each larger project, and celebrate your progress.
Set milestones based on your project’s template.
Once you reach them, do something mindful to celebrate your progress. Savor a cup of your favorite drink, prepared just the way you like it.
Or treat yourself to some fresh flowers — or a new book — or to half an hour listening to a new audiobook (with the beverage of your choice).
For a book, you might set the following milestones:
Celebrating each milestone along the way reminds you of the progress you’re making and encourages you to keep moving and to reach the next one.
It makes the whole project feel more winnable because you experience small wins along the way.
4. Use time blocks for your daily writing commitment.
As for your daily writing, it helps to break it up into smaller time blocks.
The Pomodoro method uses 25-minute writing blocks with 5-minute breaks between them.
After four 25-minute blocks, you can either stop or take a longer break before writing again.
The breaks are necessary – to get your blood flowing again and to give your eyes a break.
Plus, it’s easier to think about writing for 25 minutes at a time than writing for an hour or two hours straight.
You’ll also want to track your writing time, location, word count per block, and other relevant details.
For example, for one writing block, you could record the following information:
If you keep a record of these details, you’ll be able to review them later and see what details contributed to a higher word count and which ones slowed you down.
To more easily keep track of your writing time and your breaks in between, you can use a Pomodoro timer app (like PomoDuctivity) for your computer or your phone.
Some will even keep track of your stats for you.
More Related Articles
5. Make time for self-education.
Stephen King is famous for saying, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
Every writer should have these words emblazoned somewhere in their writing space.
Because if you stop learning, you don’t have the tools to access what you’ve learned in the past and connect it to what you’re learning now.
Continued learning — engaging your heart as well as your mind — is what enables you to draw from your storehouse both the new and the old.
There are so many ways to do this. Try several. Try them all.
When you read effective writing examples in your genre, you learn how to improve your writing, which increases the likelihood that your readers will not only finish your book but leave a positive review for it.
When you read other genres or books that have little or nothing to do with your personal or professional interests, you learn something new that might add extra layers to your understanding of what you “knew” before.
You’ll see new connections, and, if you’re open to it, explore new ways of thinking about familiar things.
And this can only help you improve as a writer.
6. Start a writing journal.
When you’re writing a goal statement, a journal is an ideal place to do so and to keep track of your progress. And keeping a daily journal helps develop the habit of daily writing.
Your writing journal is where you’ll get clear on your “why” — the vision behind your writing goals. You’ll take some of that beautiful mess inside your head and put it into words, one thought at a time.
And in doing so, you’ll help clear your mind and regain focus on what you truly want.
Write in it every day to record ideas for your book (or future projects), to brainstorm idea lists, and to jot down random sentences, bits of dialogue, etc. Or just write what you’re thinking about, what’s bothering you, what you love, or what makes you angry.
Write freely, without editing, and let your thoughts out onto the page.
If you like, you can always go through what you wrote and tidy it up later. But this journal isn’t for editing practice. It’s about setting and reaching your writing goals while steadily improving your craft.
Use whatever works best for you, whether it’s a simple notebook, a leather-bound journal, or a series of Google docs. The important thing is that you use it every day.
If you’re using a tangible journal, stock up on your favorite pens.
7. Identify helpful resources.
Writers have so many useful resources to choose from — online and elsewhere. It’s worth your time and energy to find and use the writing tools you find most helpful.
Maybe one of them is a comprehensive online thesaurus. Another could be the shelves where you keep your most useful and inspiring books on writing.
Find resources — books, blog posts, writing tools, websites, etc. — that help you answer the question, “What are good writing goals?”
Because until you can answer that question, goal-setting will always be an uphill climb.
For online tools, you can create your own writing directory of websites with content that can help you set and reach your writing goals. This list can change throughout the year as some resources disappear or newer, more up-to-date resources replace outdated ones.
Another valuable resource is a writing coach or mentor who has experience writing similar content, as well as setting and reaching goals.
Or you might sign up for a writing course or program that helps you set S.M.A.R.T. writing goals, finish your WIP (work in progress), and create a profitable writing business.
Whatever resources you choose, make them as accessible as possible so you’ll use them when you need them. And don’t forget to share links to online resources that could help other writers. What you share could make all the difference to another writer.
8. Be active in your writing community.
Being part of the global writing community can be overwhelming. But there are legions of smaller writing communities — online and in your geographical area — that can help you grow as a writer and contribute to the success of others.
Connect with other writers in your area or on your favorite social media platform. Or join a writing critique group (online or in person) to give and receive helpful feedback.
You can find online writer support groups on social media, but don’t sign up unless you plan on participating. If you don’t have an active presence there, you’re more likely to feel detached from the group and to leave it without gaining or contributing anything.
Make time to build an active, engaging presence in at least one writing group.
- Encourage other writers.
- Share your experiences and what you’ve learned.
- Share links to resources that can help other writers in the group.
- Ask questions and comment on other posts with helpful information.
You can also swap beta reading or editing services with other writers. This works best when your works are roughly the same length and have the same degree of complexity.
Writing communities are also a great place to find an accountability partner. Meet with them on a weekly basis (online or in person) to help each other stay on track and make steady progress toward your goals.
9. Reevaluate and set new writing goals.
Once you reach a writing goal, it’s essential to not only celebrate it and take some time to reflect on the significance of that goal but to set a new one.
Always have a dream worth pursuing. Always have a goal that excites you and keeps you going. The day you stop setting goals for yourself is the day you stop growing.
Even if you’re not feeling motivated as you set new, specific goals, act as if you know your life will improve as you work toward it.
As you set these new goals, plan how you’ll celebrate when you accomplish each one. And break it down into smaller goals you can celebrate as you reach them. Set deadlines for each short- and long-term goal. And ask yourself what you can do every day to ensure you meet each goal before its deadline.
None of these goals have to be your ultimate goal. Each one builds on the one before it.
Your ultimate goal is to become the writer you want to be. And that’s too big of a goal to work toward without breaking it down into smaller ones. So, get clear on how you want to see yourself and what you’ll have to do every day to become that person.
And if a new and better goal comes to mind, don’t be afraid to explore it.
Goals for writers keep you on track.
You’re reading this article because you have every intention of taking your writing far beyond the “I have a blog, but no one reads it” stage.
And if you’re willing to do what it takes, you will make measurable progress this year. And by the end of the year, you’ll have reason to be proud of what you accomplished.
Make sure every writing goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Do something each day to move closer to your goal, always keeping in mind how it relates to your larger goal — the bigger picture.
Because if your goal has nothing to do with what’s most important to you, your zeal to reach it will probably fade.
Even with goals that are tied to your highest priorities, you’re likely to have slump days and moments of doubt.
You’re going to sometimes feel as though you just don’t have it in you to reach that smaller goal, let alone the larger one.
But if you keep your eyes on the end goal, it’s much easier to get back up and keep moving forward. Keep making your daily contribution.
Because you do have what it takes. And you can make it count.
May your courage and determination influence everything you do today.