Setting Writing Goals


Welcome gangsters. Well we all have dreams don’t we? Some people want to take over the world. Others want to arrive at work without having spilled coffee on their shirt. Some want to get published. Others want to run twenty kilometres without passing out. Most of these example dreams listed here deserve to be achieved – no one needs to run twenty k’s, it’s bad for the knees…

What do you need to succeed here?

No, not an invisibility cloak but in actual fact – goals!

Sounds boring doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you rather have more time to write or read instead of writing about writing? You may even be thinking, that’s not how I operate.

People work in different ways when it comes to writing. Some people write in long blocks over a weekend, while others write for an hour every morning before work or in between breastfeeds. You may be working on one lengthy novel or you could be writing several short stories for an anthology.

What works for you?

At the Newcastle Writers Festival this year (this seems to be a reoccurring topic for me, our regular readers may notice!), Australian writer and award winner Carmel Bird said that she often has many writing projects on the go at the one time. I lean towards this way of operating but many people don’t; some people begin a project and focus solely on it until it is finished.

Which ever way you operate, it is important to acknowledge it. Why? So you can set manageable and achievable writing goals, so you can celebrate a few small achievements that lead to celebrating a large one.

Part of setting writing goals is ensuring you have a satisfying routine. What does your day look like? If you had to complete a day calendar, would the reality of your day match your expectations?

Once you have your daily routine worked out, focus on the weekly. What do you wish to get out of the end of this week? It could be to finish writing a chapter, to complete research on existentialism, or maybe edit a poem. You will know your pace.

Next you need to apply this strategy on a monthly basis. It could be that at the end of one month you will have four poems edited or four chapters written. If you apply this over six months, then it means you could have a major project completed or ready for editing.

Write a little note to yourself that at the three-week mark it will feel hard. Also do this at the three-month mark and, for longer projects, the three-year mark. A psychologist working at my volunteer organisation explained that the number three in change or a project is often where you will feel the challenge the most.

I have said this before and I will say it again – a person doesn’t shove a whole pizza in their mouth, they eat it piece by piece. So why would a person try to write a whole novel in the one frame of mind? Write it chapter by chapter, line by line and word by word. It will keep the project fresh, clear in your mind and you will stay in control.

On the theme of celebration, when you reach your writing goal, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, yearly etc., ensure you recognise it! For example, next to the goal, you can write a reward. You can vary it so it suits you. Mine for example would be: Goal – finish writing chapter six by next week; Reward – can watch The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for a whole night. Writers are unbreakable, too!

Peace out.


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