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Writing is a creative process, but one that also requires a strong amount of self-discipline. You have to set your own goals for yourself, and accomplish them by yourself. To ensure that you meet your writing goals, you need to determine them in the first place. You should also evaluate yourself as you go.
Whether you are a new writer or have been in the game for years, what you write and how often you do it are all up to you. Even so, consider the following tips on how to create writing goals and eventually, fulfill your dream of getting published and reaching a lot of readers.
- 1 Make your writing goals S.M.A.R.T.
- 2 Determine how you’ll measure your progress
- 3 Have a daily word count goal
- 4 Set aside enough time for each day’s writing
- 5 Check in at the end of every week and every month
- 6 Take breaks when you need to
- 7 If you find yourself stuck, change your process
- 8 Keep on writing
- 9 Analyze and fix your weaknesses
- 10 Get rid of distractions
- 11 Have a social support system
- 12 Concentrate on improving your craft
- 13 Develop habits along the way
- 14 Learn from your mistakes
- 15 Join the Commaful Storytelling Community
Make your writing goals S.M.A.R.T.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. This means that, to be considered smart, your goal must have a high probability of getting accomplished. For example, you can aim for writing a 15,000-word self-help ebook within one year. Then, break this down into small daily tasks like hitting 500 words a day. You’re more likely to do these than dreaming of finishing a bestseller without any genre, word count or deadline in mind.
The goal’s completion has to be verifiable, too. You can verify by first setting your indicators of success. A specific word count and a reasonable deadline can be used to confirm that you’ve accomplished your goal. If you’re blogging, a certain number of blog posts and pageviews can also serve as an indicator.
When naming your goals, don’t forget to consider what you want to accomplish and what you can do. This way, you can help ensure that your writing goals can inspire you to work hard and live your dream. Moreover, recognizing your limits for now can lessen your tendency to procrastinate.
Determine how you’ll measure your progress
Writers have different reasons for obsessing over their writing goals. You and other wordsmiths likely prefer different ways to measure your progress as well. Having certain indicators of success is essential, but it’s not enough. You should also point out how you’ll track and validate your level of goal completion.
If you’re new to goal-setting, use whatever tools you have—whether it’s just a lined notebook, a desk calendar or a printed tracking sheet attached to your corkboard. As you advance and become more experienced, you can automate this process to make it easier to reduce clutter, switch projects, and track them just by looking at an Excel spreadsheet or a virtual calendar.
Have a daily word count goal
Once you have your general goals in place, break them down even further. This involves turning your main goal into small daily tasks like writing around 100 to 1000 words a day as mentioned previously. You can refer to the word counter feature of Word or Hemingway App to find out if you already met your daily target.
However, be realistic on how many words you can write in one day. Putting out 5000 words a day, for example, sounds like you’re closer to completing a 20,000-word book within 4 days. In reality, you might feel mentally drained right after the first day alone. Thus, you should avoid unreasonable targets. If you can only string 1000 words a day, then go for it even if it means you’ll take 20 days to hit the overall target word count.
Having a daily word count goal can be a key factor that will help you meet your goals. After all, it gives you a clear target to hit every day and a sense of urgency in your writing.This makes you feel like your writing success is in your hands, rather than at the whim of inspiration. With the kind of consistency you’ll develop from meeting your daily word count, you can also improve your skills dramatically.
There’ll be days when you might fail at meeting your daily target. That’s okay. Focus on your progress instead.
Set aside enough time for each day’s writing
Aside from a daily word count goal, setting a schedule for your everyday writing is also necessary. Basically, you’re incorporating it into your daily routine.
Scheduling is easier when writing is your main job. You can choose between writing in the morning, afternoon or evening. In case you have another job, you can tap your free time to schedule your daily writing. Determine whether you’ll write for 30 minutes, 1 hour or 2 hours a day. Next, determine what time you’ll start.
You can set an alarm using your phone or a traditional alarm clock. If you’re going to write for several hours, allocating time for breaks is a must. For this, you might want to apply the so-called Pomodoro Technique. This productivity technique involves working for 25 minutes then taking a short break afterwards (preferably 3 to 5 minutes). You’ll repeat this for four more times. But for your fifth breaktime, indulge yourself with a longer break (around 15 to 30 minute).
Remember, though, that whatever your schedule is, don’t beat yourself up for not sticking to it perfectly. Just do your best and adjust it for the days when you just can’t get yourself to write.
Check in at the end of every week and every month
After creating your goals, review them at the end of each week. Go over your notebook, tracking sheet or digital calendar. See how many times you’ve completed your daily word count. If you have other daily writing tasks, check how many of them you’ve accomplished within the week.
Then, at the end of every month, review your progress. You can either crank up the intensity if you aren’t doing as well as you want, or you can reduce your goal and reevaluate if you’re blowing right past them.
Furthermore, if you’ve exceeded your schedule, you can choose to reward yourself for getting so much done by granting yourself downtime or doing something else you enjoy. The entire point of the goals system is to be flexible and fair to yourself anyway.
Take breaks when you need to
Sometimes, life gets in the way of achieving your daily or weekly goals. You might be traveling, spending time with loved ones or recuperating from writing too quickly and too excessively. Treat these hours or days as your well-deserved breaks from working too hard.
If you feel bad for not being productive, dedicate around 10 to 20 minutes into improving your skills or working on a small task. This task could be drafting an outline, reading an article related to your current project, or revising one paragraph from yesterday’s writing.
You can also devote such time for going over a dictionary or thesaurus and taking notes of words you might want to use for your writing. You can read for leisure as well (and our site is a great place to do that!).
But above all, use the time to rest and don’t feel guilty for it. Your brain needs time to sleep and rest, and without it, you won’t be able to write.
If you find yourself stuck, change your process
Naturally, you’ll want to stick to a process that has worked for you before. However, the unexpected twists and turns of authoring a book can make the rhythm of your writing process difficult at best. Even the most steadfast author has to adapt his or her process for certain situations and to experiment with new methods and ideas. Accordingly, you should accept that some days will be better for certain kinds of writing than others.
As such, it’s advisable to experiment to see if different processes will work for you. Would you rather write in the morning or at night? Do you need a fresh cup of coffee with a snack every day, or do you prefer writing on an empty stomach? As long as you’re getting the content on the page, make sure to keep an open mind about your process, even if that means being less rigid than you usually are. Writing a book requires a lot of endurance, so you’ll need to find what works for you, so that you can keep going.
Keep on writing
Even the most dedicated writers will fall victim to distraction: the television beckons, social media begs to be updated, email pounds questions, and the siren song of good books begs to be read. You will fail. You’ll fall behind, suffer a burst of self-doubt, or find other more ‘interesting’ pursuits.
Don’t beat yourself up for it, but do acknowledge what you did and then choose to start writing again anyway. These are all invitations to improve what you’re writing—perhaps to cut out the extraneous details, the dead-ends, or the poor explanation.
Analyze and fix your weaknesses
The key to improving your abilities is to take an objective look at the weaknesses you have now in your writing and examine them honestly. Whatever the specific problem is, the first step in managing it is to find it, and then understand why it is a problem.
For instance, lack of motivation is a common problem among writers. It may also strike you along the way. This problem can arise due to various factors. One of these factors is not knowing what you really want. If you can relate to this, what you can do is examine your past and present. Think of the things that you enjoy doing for hours. Consider these then modify your goals to reflect what you discover through such exercise.
Are you prone to procrastination? The following tip will help you deal with this problem.
Get rid of distractions
Pursuing any literary project is best done in a distraction-free setting. If you have a home office, do your writing there instead of in the living room or kitchen counter. In case you don’t have the luxury of space, set up your work area in a corner or beside a spare wall. Work in an area where there’s no TV that can distract you. If you find it hard to resist novels, keep them away from your work desk as well. You can decorate your working area but keep it to a minimum. Leave your collections in another room or area of your house.
Don’t forget to remove the distractions on your devices. Turn off irrelevant notifications. Limit your apps as well. Open your email account and review the newsletters you’re receiving. Unsubscribe from those that don’t really offer you something helpful for your career and/or life.
Do you also get sidetracked due to the number of household chores that need to be done? You can also set a schedule for them instead of doing them at random times. Also, try this trick, if you can do a chore within 2 minutes, do it. This could be as simple as picking used clothes and putting them in your laundry basket. You can also wipe the kitchen counter or wash your used glass. But once done, focus on your more important goal for the day.
If you’re tracking your word count and setting daily goals, you’re probably going to feel some pressure. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Studies have found that pushing yourself to do more can result in better quality work, if you’re self-directed and patient. But it does help to have a social support system in place.
You can join a writing community and share with the other members your writing goals. They can cheer you on and celebrate with you when you accomplish a goal. If you’re nervous about talking about your writing goals to others, you can do it privately. For instance, you can tell them only to your partner and child.
By sharing your goals, you can gain further acknowledgment for your writing progress. This will later on serve as positive reinforcement which will prompt you even to keep working hard.
Concentrate on improving your craft
It’s tempting to make business writing goals especially if you’re a new author. You may want to hit a certain sales target or a specific revenue. But ultimately, your primary long-term goal should be becoming a better writer. Whether you want to make a living at it or just enjoy doing it, improving your craft makes everything else fall into place.
Keep reading. Write every day. Review your progress each week. Invest in your education. Books and workshops can seem expensive, but any author knows that they’re a great investment in terms of both time and money.
Take responsibility for getting better. No one will do this for you—you either need to budget time to read pro books or ask your more well-established author friends for recommendations.
Develop habits along the way
In all areas of life, it’s a good idea to formulate habits, rather than choose rigid goals. Habits are more flexible, since you can’t always control the situations that you find yourself in.
Writing and reading everyday are habits you can develop. Reviewing your progress can turn out to be a habit, too. When creating and developing habits though, it’s important to focus on one at a time.
You don’t have to remember a habit, it’s just what you do. It shouldn’t feel like a big challenge that requires willpower. If it does, it’s time to back up and make some adjustments.
Learn from your mistakes
By analyzing your own failure, you can learn how to set effective goals. One of the biggest mistakes writers make when setting writing goals is to get too undefined. If goals aren’t defined well, there can be too many possibilities, and the writer doesn’t know where to start, because too many other things become relevant. The end result is procrastination.
Learning how to create writing goals is essential for any author who wants to be successful. If you’re able to create a goal and stick with it, you’ll find yourself motivated to follow through on your thoughts and ideas instead of letting them fade away and disappear. Once your goal is complete, go ahead and reward yourself! Whether you plan on reading a new book, seeing a movie or buying yourself a new comic book, give yourself the gift of your success as a writer. Don’t forget to enjoy the process, your progress, and later on, your success.
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