Goal Setting for Writers

Sunday, November 27, 2011
picture by jscreations @ freedigitalphotos.net
I know goal-setting blog posts and articles are published around the New Year, so I considered saving this post until then.  I decided, however, to post it now. 


Because setting goals only for the New Year is silly.  It’s never too early (or too late) to set goals and to start achieving them. 

How to Set a Goal

One of the many lessons I learned as a competitive swimmer is how to set a goal.  Goals need to be both measurable and achievable.  You also need to re-evaluate your goals after a certain interval, or after you’ve achieved them.

Measurable Goals

For example, if your goal is to “write more,” this is probably an achievable goal, but it’s not easily measured.  A stronger, more measurable goal would be “I will write for 20 minutes three times per week” or “I will complete one full short story by December 31, 2011.” 

These are clear goals. After a few weeks you can look back on your writing habits and determine whether you have indeed written for 20 minutes three times per week, or on December 31, 2011 you can see whether or not you have completed a full short story.

Achievable Goals

Goals should also be achievable.  It’s easy to get overeager or overconfident when you set goals.  Believe me, I know.  I think, if I set really challenging goals, I will achieve more.  This is a good idea in theory but it usually ends up backfiring – I set my goals too high, I don’t reach them, and I end up feeling guilty or lazy. 

Start with small goals.  “I will complete one full short story by December 31, 2011” might be a small, simple goal for some of you, however, if you have never written a full short story before, and you are anticipating a houseful of guests for several days over the holidays, that goal might be too challenging.  You might need to push back the deadline.  And that’s ok.  Work with your schedule.

Re-evaluate Goals

Remember to re-evaluate your goals periodically, especially after you’ve reached a goal.  And then set new goals.  If you are able to complete a full short story by December 31, perhaps your next goal can be “I will submit my completed short story to three different publications and/or contests.” 

Keep working towards a goal to stay motivated.  It’s easy to slack off and “forget” to write or “not have time” to write if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.

What are your writing goals?  Are they measurable and achievable?


Unknown said...

Like the tips for organizing goals!

Shyxter said...

As a writer, you really have to set a goal for yourself, else you can do away with writing anytime you don't feel like it. Setting measurable and achievable goals will fuel a writer's commitment to make writing a regular habit.

Savanna said...


Thanks for sharing! This is an informative article.

I've admittedly been pretty on and off with my writing goals throughout the years. I do my best to keep up with the goals I do set, but during college I often forgot to set goals. Now that I'm out, though, I'm beginning to find a balance between goal-setting and money-making. :) This article was a nice reminder for me to keep my goals in check, and not to set them too high... as I have a bad habit of doing that. (So I know exactly what you mean about feeling guilty.)

Thanks again,
MyForgottenPen (A Progressive Writing Guide)

harry @ GoalsonTrack.com said...

Great advice on goal setting for writers.

You may also want to check out and download a free ebook on goal setting called “Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” at http://www.goalsontrack.com/index/goals_ebook

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