It’s a new year, and you know what that means: resolutions.
Resolutions can be difficult to keep. Why? They are typically vague, representative of some far-off dream. To get in shape. To be nicer to people. To write a book.
Those sound like great things to accomplish, but they’re undefined. They revolve around the end result, rather than the process. To create goals you will actually accomplish, the focus must be on action.
So how do you set writing goals that will get you from where you are to where you want to be?
Focus on the process.
1. Set goals to accomplish each day.
First of all, daily goals give you bite-size pieces to work with. Saying I want to write a novel is daunting. You’re likely to begin gung-ho and then get discouraged. But saying I want to write 500 words per day gives you something to work toward when you get up in the morning. It’s less abstract, and you can go to sleep knowing you either met your goal or you didn’t. And if you didn’t, there’s still tomorrow. Resetting after each day makes it less likely that you’ll give up or go a week without working toward your goal.
2. Give yourself deadlines.
This doesn’t mean you have to know the exact date you’re going to finish your writing project. But focus on creating small deadlines for yourself, even if that means fifteen-minute word sprints! I’m going to write 200 words before supper. I’m going to create this character’s backstory before Monday. That final, completed project can feel like a giant cloud looming over you. Give yourself opportunities to succeed, and take some of the pressure off yourself.
3. Make your writing goals part of your life.
So many writers expect to mold their life around their writing. I’ll just wait until I have more time. After the holidays. After this work project. After life settles down. Spoiler alert: Life won’t settle down. There will always be a reason not to write. Don’t wait until you have three solid hours of undisturbed writing time because that could be two years from now. Fit it in when you have time. Thirty minutes. Five minutes. Better yet, make time. The best writers recognize that writing fits into your life, and if you’re waiting for life to stop so that you can write, you’ll be waiting a long time.
4. Share your goals with others.
Whether it’s your family, your writing group, your friends, the greeter at Walmart, tell somebody what you’re doing and why! Let the support you and hold you accountable. Bonus points for seeking out a writing partner to check in with once a week. Yes, it’s great to push yourself, but slacking off becomes much more difficult when there’s someone watching over your shoulder.
5. Set multiple types of goals.
Productivity goals. Craft goals. Time-commitment goals. I will write 3k words this week. I will improve my editing skills. I will devote thirty minutes each day to writing. Setting different types of goals will keep you feeling positive when one task or area isn’t going your way because something else will be. You can even set easy, simple goals like listening to writing podcasts during commutes—goals you know you can accomplish every day. Keep your positivity up. Recognize the good things you are doing.
Follow these tips to set goals that will drive you toward writing success! And leave resolutions alone. Change doesn’t happen by talking about it. Change requires action.
Photo by Kat