How to Set Goals that Will Help You Become a Successful Freelancer

Saturday, December 01, 2012
Have you looked at today’s calendar? December 1. The first day of the last month of 2012. How are you doing on your writing goals for 2012?

If your goals are on track – congratulations!

If not, now is the time to consider different types of goals and what might work best for you.

Minutes Spent Writing
Many writers set time related goals. “I will spend 1 hour a day writing.”
Pros: If you are struggling to fit writing into your day, this is the way to do it. Start with 15 minutes and build.
Cons: 1 hour. 1 paragraph. Time wasted? I’m not telling, but I can piddle away 45 minutes with little effort which is why I set . . .

Word Count
Other writers set a word count goal. Mine is 6000 words/week. I can take a day off, which is sometimes essential for my mental health, and still meet my goal.
Pros: If you tend to write and rewrite the same page endlessly, this can push you to produce.
Cons: See, NaNoWriMo. Anything counts as long as I get words down on the page, yes?

Need to get more of your work circulating? One writer I know submits a specific number of finished pieces and queries each month.
Pros: This helps get your writing into an editor’s hands.
Cons: Tough to pull off if you write novels.

Pieces Circulating
Other writers strive to keep a set number of manuscripts circulating.
Pros: Again, this get your work off your desk but it also allows for some wiggle room. Submit 20 crafts and, until you hear from the various editors, you can work on your novel.
Cons: If you only write novels, this still won’t do you much good.

Billable Dollars
This year, I tried a new type of goal. I submit $1000 worth of material each month.
Pros: This goal forces me to pay attention to what various gigs pay. My income has gone up nearly 20%.
Cons: Again, longer work, such as my middle grade novel, gets pushed aside in favor of the short stuff.

To-Do List
Some writers work from a to-do list. “These are the things that I want to do in 2013.”
Pros: It helps you keep the big picture in view.
Cons: For me, it was too vague. Too many items on an annual or monthly list can be pushed back “until later.” Keeping both an annual list and a weekly list felt like doing my taxes.

As you may have guessed, I work with a combination of goals. I have a weekly to-do list and a weekly word count. I have a monthly billable dollars goal.

The problem is that I still have a number of bigger projects that have been works-in-progress for too long. Next year, I’m adding a to-do list of book projects. I’ll pick one and work on it each morning before tackling either my word count or billable dollars.

Different goals work for different writers. What works for you?

Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.


Jennifer Brown Banks said...

I typically construct a weekly "to do list" Sometimes it works; other times it works me! :-) I also try to establish short and long-term goals for each year. I'm excited about the potential of 2013!

Marcia Peterson said...

These are great. Very specific and doable! It's time to start thinking about 2013 goals. ;)

Margo Dill said...

I like these different categories. Maybe I should try something like this--right now, i try the work when my 2 year old lets me or I can get babysitting plan. I have a daily list, a weekly list, and a big project list. I love to scratch things off my list, but there's so much more I would love to do. :) But I also love spending time with my 2 year old. I wish there was more time. :)

Rose said...

Thanks to Margo's fantastic classes, I was able to reach my writing goals for 2012. They were modest (nothing like a seasoned writer's goals!) and I am thankful that I found this forum along with Margo's classes. These suggestions will help me set greater goals for 2013. Thank you, WOW!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue BE--

This was a fabulous post. The different goals you suggested along with the pros and cons, gave me a whole new perspective.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad this was helpful! For various reasons, my goals have changed a lot in the time I've been a writer. Write and Learn!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I like the billable dollars goal! That's an interesting way to think about it, but even though you are submitting a grand worth of material, it doesn't necessarily mean editors will accept it all. But you mentioned it increasing your income overall so it sounds like it works! :)

I use Google Calendars for my goals and check them daily. If it's not on one of my calendars it doesn't exist. I don't know if this is effective though because it leaves me doing things at the last minute...seeing something on the calendar and thinking, Oh no! I have to do that now!

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