How to set goals for your writing

Fotolia_75241805_XSHappy new year, everyone!

The first few days of a new year are always exciting for me. Like most people, I use this time to make resolutions and set goals for the year ahead. Many writers I know set goals for 2015 too, and I think that’s important. Without goals that keep us moving forward, it’s too easy to procrastinate and put off starting that book or finally finishing it.

With the right goals, you’ll keep moving forward and achieve your dreams, not just in your writing life, but in all other areas of your life too.

So what does having the right goals mean?

Most of all, make sure your goals are SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for goals that are:

  • Specific: Your writing goals should be concrete and unambiguous. Instead of a general statement such as “I want to write a book,” set a specific goal such as “finish the first draft of my romance novel by July 31.”
  • Measurable: Your writing goals should have criteria that allow you to measure your progress toward your goals and whether you have reached them. If you set a goal such as “become a better writer,” it’s hard to judge whether you succeeded. Instead, choose phrase your goal in a way that can be measured, e.g., “reading ten books about writing this year.”
  • Attainable: Your writing goals should be attainable with the time and skills you have. If you set your goals too high, you’ll only give up in frustration. So instead of choosing a lofty goal such as “writing 10,000 words every day,” pick a word-count goal that is doable considering your writing speed, work schedule, and other commitments.
  • Relevant: Your writing goals should be something that is important to you personally. Don’t write a dystopian novel just because that’s what sells after the success of The Hunger Games. Readers will realize if your heart wasn’t in it, and by the time you finish your novel, that publishing trend might be over anyway. Write what you love. If that’s a dystopian novel, great. If not, write a story that keeps you interested from start to finish.
  • Time-bound: Your writing goals should have a deadline. Without deadlines, it’s too easy to keep putting it off. Deadlines create a sense of urgency that will get you moving toward your goals. So instead of setting an open-ended goal such as “being a published writer someday,” choose a time-bound goal such as “submitting my manuscript to five publishers by November 15.”

My personal writing goals for 2015 are publishing the first two books in my writers’ guide series as well as four novels. One of them is already with the editor and another is a republication of an old novel I want to revise, so I think that’s achievable if I write about 2,000 words every day.

This word count goal is specific, measurable, and attainable for me since I write full time. It’s also relevant since it contributes to my writing goals for 2015, and it’s time-bound.

What are your writing goals for 2015? Leave a comment and let me know!

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