Setting Writing Goals for the New Year
When I see all the amazing writing my authors do, I am so amazed. I write; I enjoy thinking of and creating stories, but I am so bad about setting a writing schedule, especially because I am first and foremost an editor.
I love editing more than writing, and I tend to dedicate my time to that. Plus, after editing all day or all week, I don’t always have enough creativity or energy left to write. Like on super heavy editing days, I sometimes can’t speak coherently by the time I’m done.
Maybe you’re like me and have a writing-related job, so by the end of the day, you just don’t have it in you to write. Or, maybe you are busy with your day job and/or your family and/or just everyday life. When you’re exhausted and your mind is just tired, writing can easily get pushed to the wayside, even if being a romance novelist is your dream.
Because of this, I think a great first blog post of the new year is to discuss writing goals and how you can establish them.
Goal setting has two important components: the end goal and the small, measurable goals that you meet on the way to the end goal.
Why do you need these different goals?
Well, saying that you want to have your next novel written by December of 2021 is great, but that’s a huge goal to try to make. It can feel unreachable, and there’s no clear path to your book being finished by the end of the year.
When you break down your end goal into smaller, reachable goals, you are doing two things. The first is to help you create steps to follow as you are working towards the bigger end. If your goal is to have twenty chapters in your book, you could lay out that you will write two chapters a month for January through October, then spend November and December revising your writing.
The second element you are achieving by setting smaller goals is that you are helping yourself crush goals and feel encouraged along the way. When you set little goals, you get to reach those goals often, which will in turn encourage you to keep hitting those goals and keep working towards whatever your final goal is.
I’m someone who doubles down on those little goals; the more I feel like I accomplish, the more motivated I am to keep moving forward.
For instance, I have my big goal; then I break it down into a timeline of when I want the proper steps completed by. Then I have my weekly goals and, beyond that, my daily to-do list. All of this helps me keep track of what I’m doing and what I need to do in my head. Each little check mark feels like a major achievement.
But, it is important to find a system of goal setting that works best for you. Some of my friends find my system overwhelming because it looks like I have so much to do. They would rather have five to ten medium-sized tasks, while I would rather have twenty-five small tasks.
This is why it’s so important to find what works best for you. Play around with different systems if you have to. I am a true believer in finding whatever works for you--no matter how you need to do it. Because if the method you’re using doesn’t work for you, who is it really helping?
The best place to start is with these questions:
What do you want to accomplish in your writing this year?
By when do you want to accomplish this?
What do you need to do to achieve this large goal?
What can you reasonably do to accomplish this goal?
The biggest caution I must give you is to make sure your small goals are reachable and measurable. I don’t mean you can’t push yourself with your goals, but don’t set yourself up to fail.
For instance, maybe you want to set a daily writing word count goal for yourself. You know on a good day you can write 4,000 words, but on days when you’re tired and really busy, you can only write about 400. On average though, you write about 1,500 words per day. In this case, set your daily word count goal for 500 words, or maybe 1,000 if you really want to push yourself. This way, on your worst day, you know if you push you can reach it, but on your good days, you’re going to absolutely crush that goal.
Once you get used to the goal of 1,000 words, you can increase it if you would like it. Just make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure.
This needs to always be your mantra when setting writing goals: I will not set myself up for failure.
When it comes to setting goals, it is important to keep in mind that you can change those goals (the big one and all the little ones) if you need to. There’s nothing wrong with reevaluating what supports your end goal and your overall wants.
After all, would getting your next novel written by April really be an accomplishment if you don’t like the final manuscript? Wouldn’t it be better to push your goal back to June if that means that you feel like your romance novel is what you want? Of course it would, and this is when I would highly suggest that you reevaluate what you want and set new goals. Trust me, it’s totally allowed!
As I said at the beginning of this post, writing my own romance stories get pushed on the backburner a lot for me--literally almost all of the time. That’s why I want to set some writing goals here with you.
In 2021, I would like to make my own writing a more central part of my life. So, my big goal is to write every day. For January through March, my goal is to write a page a day. Then, in April, I will see about increasing my goal to two pages a day.
I’ll keep you all updated on if I am reaching that goal. It seems small, but sometimes I get sidetracked after only two sentences, so a page a day is really a good place to start.
Keep your goals reachable and measurable.
Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Don’t be afraid to reevaluate what you want and set new goals, if you need to.
Celebrate every single little accomplishment you accomplish; those little (or big) celebrations will keep you going.
I would love to hear all about the goals you will set for yourself. Please share them in the comments below!