Goal Setting for Writers
As writers we often have a difficult time setting goals. It may be that we set goals and then forget about them, set are goals too high, or we don’t set goals at all. Regardless, goals can be extremely helpful on the road to getting published. Listed are various tips to help you get started. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.
Goal setting tips:
1. Making Lists
Lists can be extremely helpful. I think it’s important to make two.
A. List number one:
This is how goal-setting begins. Consider your past projects, and make a list of them. If you need to look at your records to remember them all, do that.
What inspired you to start these projects? What did you like about working on these projects? Have you finished them–and if so, have you submitted them to publishers?
B. List number two:
This is your “Incomplete” list. Make a list of all you uncompleted projects, maybe even complete projects that you have yet to submit to a publisher. Decide why you have yet to finish these projects, and if you’re interested in completing them.
2. Be Realistic:
Set goals that can be accomplished.
This is harder than it sounds, particularly for writers trying to make it in the industry. I myself have a tendency of setting my goals way too high. There’s an easy way to beat this: Pay close attention to how much you regularly produce, and use that as a guideline when you’re making your short-term goals.
Long-term goals aren’t much different, except that they can generally be as large as you’d like. The key to setting a good long-term goal is giving yourself a realistic time frame in which to complete it. For instance, if right out of high-school you say “I’m going to be a famous author by next year”… it’s not necessarily realistic. It’s extremely hard to accomplish. However “I’m going to have two books published 4 years from now” is a little more do-able. Still difficult, but do-able.
3. Find what works best for you:
Sometimes setting the right goals takes a little experimentation.
For example, I used to have a goal to write 1 page per day. I did it for maybe 3 days before I moved on to other things. Later a changed that goal to 3 sentences or more per day, which provides great initiative for me to write each day. It’s different with every writer, so experiment until you find what’s best for you.
4. Setting your goals:
A. Past failures:
Look at your lists from before. Before you start setting goals, consider which projects gave you the most trouble, and why. With the right goals, you may be able to bypass those problems. Try to consider which types of goals would help you complete those “incomplete’s”.
Of the projects that you’ve written down, which did you like writing the most? Which would you like to finish? Rewrite? Publish? Make a goal to complete these projects, just make sure you choose the right goal and the right workflow per project. Whatever you do, don’t take on too many at once.
C. New tasks.
Many writers have new ideas running through their heads all the time. Sometimes it’s best to write those ideas down, and wait until the right time. Otherwise, you’ll always be starting new projects, which isn’t necessarily a good thing–that often leads to a brand new pile of “incomplete’s”. (This is the curse of the artist.)
However, some of these projects are more than an idea. It might be a short story/poem that you’d like to enter into a contest, or an article that
you’d like to get published. Projects like these often rank high on our list of priorities.
5. Know your priorities:
By now, you probably have a large list of projects that you’d like to complete. As mentioned before, don’t overwork yourself, and don’t set your goals to high. This often results in disappointment, we may be writers but we’re still human. It will take some time to complete these projects. The key here is prioritizing. Consider which projects will benefit you the most, and which ones will ultimately take you to your long-term goals. These should be at the top of your list.
6. Make your goals work for you:
A. Track your progress:
Write down what your working on, and how long it takes to complete it.
B. Find a “mentor”:
Find someone to share your goals with, and have them periodically check up on you to see how your progressing.
C. First draft:
When you’re trying to rapidly pump out projects, don’t concern yourself to heavily with quality. At least not on your first draft. Editing comes later. Often times, writers won’t finish projects because they’re too busy editing as they write. The “Editor” and the “Writer” are two different mindsets.
Periodically re-evaluate your goals, see if they’re working for you, and if you need to set any new goals.