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5 Tips to Help You Set Writing Goals
Goals help you to identify what you want and create a plan to achieve it. Without goals, you could lose track of time or lose focus—and never finish the book you’ve always dreamed of writing. You need to do more than just plan to write a novel; you need to outline the steps you’ll take to complete it.
You’ll want to set smart goals that will incrementally lead you to complete your novel, such as allotting daily word or page counts. Setting goals helps to make big projects much more manageable.
Here are a few tips for creative writing goals, so that you can finish your latest project!
1. Create Realistic Goals
If your goals are unrealistic, they’ll be unachievable and overwhelming. Don’t let your passion for finishing your novel cause you to push yourself too hard and set goals that simply aren’t possible. For example, it might not be reasonable to set a goal that you will write your novel in one month. Neither should you set a word-count goal to write 10,000 words a day—especially if you also have a full-time job. Setting reasonable goals in the first place will make it much easier for you down the road.
Consider setting writing goals that you can accomplish step-by-step, one day at a time. The best thing you can do is create daily habits that will help you reach your goals—rather than burn yourself out early with ambitious expectations for yourself. Here are some goals that many writers will set for themselves:
- Write 1,500 words every day
- Write for three hours every day at a scheduled time
- Finish one chapter each week
- Practice morning journaling
2. Create Measurable Goals
When you achieve a goal, you’ll get a rush of motivation to keep writing—but if your goals are too vague (for instance, “I want to become a better writer”), you won’t even know if you’ve achieved them. Create goals that you can track and check off as you go. This will help you to come up with smaller goals that will pay off long-term, which will also help you develop daily writing habits.
Writing goals will be easier to track if they have numeric values or deadlines associated with them. For example, you can make a goal of writing a certain word count every day, and then check in at the end of each month. You could also plan to have a certain amount of pages by a certain day.
Establish a time frame for when you want to complete your project. This could be a set amount of months, or maybe you want to finish by the end of the year. Dedicate a reasonable amount of time each day to tackle a small piece, and by the end of the year, you may just have your completed manuscript.
3. Track Your Progress
It doesn’t matter what kind of writing project you’re doing—whether it’s a novel, a screenplay, short stories, or a nonfiction book, you’ll be writing thousands of words and possibly hundreds of pages. Don’t let yourself lose track of how far you’ve come. If you are tracking your goals as you go, you’ll know how close you are to completing your first draft and crossing that finish line.
The easiest way to track your goals is to use a calendar. You can write your goals on each day and mark them off as you go. You may also want to keep a writing journal to document how you’re doing. You may find that your goals were too ambitious, or maybe not ambitious enough! For example, you may find that you have less time to write in the day than you thought.
You can modify and write new goals as you go to best meet your needs.
4. Be Accountable
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If you really want to achieve your goals, you need to make them a priority. Otherwise, you’ll find every excuse to not make them happen, and you’ll lose sight of your long-term goals. This is your opportunity to learn valuable time-management skills and finally become an author.
You should evaluate your schedule and identify when and where you will be writing every day. During this pre-arranged writing time, you should be 100 percent focused and time-bound to complete your daily goal.
5. Find Your Motivation
Every author has their own reasons for being a writer. Knowing why you love writing and tapping into that passion will help motivate you when you’re feeling like you can’t go on—you don’t want to halt your writing career due to a bout of writer’s block.
When you’re goal setting, consider working in a reward system to motivate yourself as you work toward your long-term goals. For example, you might say that if you write every day for a month you’ll buy yourself something nice. You could also give yourself a day off if you meet a certain word count.
If you’re feeling down or need the motivation to write, consider listening to a writing podcast, reading bloggers who are working on their own projects, or watching videos of authors speaking at writing conferences. Learning how good writers were able to achieve their writing goals can help inspire you to meet your own. You can learn a lot from good writers about how to set effective writing goals and become a better writer. You can also look for local groups of writers who can become a support network throughout the writing process.
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