Writing can be an enriching and fulfilling activity, but it also takes discipline and commitment because it can be challenging to stay on track. As a writer, you must keep a consistent and regular writing habit to steadily progress towards your goal.
Many writers struggle with sticking to their writing goals and end up feeling discouraged and unmotivated. That is why setting writing goals is an effective way to help you establish a clear direction for your writing, ensure that you’re progressing towards your writing aspirations, and keep you motivated.
I will share KEY STRATEGIES that successful authors have used to set their writing goals and stick to them.
- Define Your WRITING GOALS
- Set Realistic WRITING GOALS
- Create a WRITING SCHEDULE
- Set a REALISTIC DEADLINE for your Writing Project
- Eliminate DISTRACTIONS
- TRACK your progress
- Stay MOTIVATED and ACCOUNTABLE
- CELEBRATE your successes and REWARD yourself.
- Parting Advice
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stop pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.J.K. Rowlings
Define Your WRITING GOALS
Before you start writing, you must have a clear vision of what you want to achieve; therefore, it’s essential to define your writing goals.
- Ask yourself WHY you want to write.
- Are you looking to establish yourself as a professional writer, or are you looking to write for personal fulfilment?
- Do you want to PUBLISH your book or article?
- What do you want to achieve and accomplish through your writing?
- Do you want to write a NOVEL?
- Do you want to write a SELF-HELP guidebook to help people overcome an affliction?
- Do you want to write a collection of POEMS?
- Do you want to write a MEMOIR?
- Do you want to write a series of BLOG posts?
- Do you want your book to expand into a SERIES?
- Do you want to write a RESEARCH paper?
Once you clearly understand your goals, you can get specific, measurable targets by breaking them down into smaller, achievable tasks. For example, if you want to write a novel, set a word count goal for each day or week.
The secret of productive goal setting is in establishing clearly defined goals, writing them down and then focusing on them several times a day with words, pictures and emotions as if we’ve already achieved them.Denis Waitley
Set Realistic WRITING GOALS
Want to know the benefits of having a goal as a writer? Well, a goal provides you with meaning and direction. It gives you something to look forward to. As a writer, you must focus on completing your book’s purpose, and your goal will assist you in achieving it.
If you don’t have a goal in mind when you write, your writing won’t have a reason to be published because it won’t be clear what its purpose is. You will be unable to build an audience and may even be unable to write a good narrative. As a result, having a goal should be mandatory. You should prioritise it before beginning anything.
Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; cant’s into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality. Don’t just think it – ink it!Michael Korda
Goals assist you in determining how you will utilise the resources at your disposal. It will help you regain motivation if you lose it. Most importantly, you will have better time management – time is a commodity that cannot be returned or replaced once spent.
Hence, having objectives will guarantee you don’t spend time on meaningless ideas, ideals, and actions. Your goals will also help you make better decisions because you will be sure of yourself and have a clear mind.
It’s essential to set goals that are both challenging and realistic. Unrealistic goals can be demotivating and can cause you to lose confidence and lead to frustration and discouragement in your abilities. Instead, break your objective down into smaller, more achievable goals.
“I keep a hotel room in which I do my work—a tiny, mean room with just a bed, and sometimes, if I can find it, a face basin. I keep a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards and a bottle of sherry in the room. I try to get there around 7, and I work until 2 in the afternoon. If the work is going badly, I stay until 12:30. If it’s going well, I’ll stay as long as it’s going well. It’s lonely, and it’s marvellous.”Maya Angelou
Breaking down your writing goals into smaller tasks can make them more achievable and manageable.
- First, look at the bigger picture and understand what you want to accomplish at the end of it all.
- Now, ask yourself what actions must be taken to achieve this bigger picture.
- Next, turn those actions into tasks.
- Finally, perform each task on a particular day and time.
For example, if your goal is to write a book, break it down into smaller tasks like outlining, character development, and the theme you want to convey and set a goal to write 1,000 words per day or complete one chapter per week.
This will help you focus on each task and stay motivated as you see yourself making progress, and you will see your goals coming to light.
The best goals, writing or otherwise, are specific, measurable, and keep you coming back at regular intervals.P.S. Hoffman
One method to break down your goals is using SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting SMART goals can help you clearly understand what you want to accomplish. You will be able to see your progress and create action plans that you can actually execute.
For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “write more,” set a specific goal like “write 500 words a day for the next 30 days.” This goal is measurable, achievable, relevant to your writing vision, and has a specific time frame.
As a writer, you will benefit greatly from this strategy knowing your plans are realistic and will be completed at a specific time. With it, you can evaluate what works and what does not work.
I started reading about people of great accomplishment… and it dawned on me suddenly that the person who has the most to do with what happens in your life is you.Ben Carson
M1-S521: HOW TO MAKE A WRITING SCHEDULE THAT WORKS
In this course:
- You will learn how to prioritise your writing.
- How to set up your writing schedule
- How to eliminate the greatest time wasters that most writers face.
Create a WRITING SCHEDULE
What is a writing schedule? A writing schedule is a daily routine you follow. This timetable helps you stay focused and provides structure to your writing routine. With it, you can remind yourself what time you need to start writing and when to stop for refreshments or pause and let your mind relax.
Once you have set your goals, it’s time to create a writing schedule that will work for you. Creating a writing schedule is an excellent way to ensure that you are dedicating enough time to your writing goals; however, getting used to a writing schedule can be challenging when you have other tasks that need your attention.
Figure out how much time you can realistically spend writing every day. Then, choose a specific time of day when you want to write, and block it off on your calendar. Some authors like to write at the same time every day, but others find it beneficial to set a particular time each week for writing.
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometres or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerise myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long—six months to a year—requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”Haruki Murakami
Remember, it has to be a schedule that you know you can stick to. So is it early in the morning, during your lunch break, or late at night that you find your creative writing juices flowing?
You will need a lot of discipline to follow a writing schedule thoroughly. However, make it a habit to write during this time every day, and you will soon find that it becomes easier to stick to your writing goals. Whatever you choose for your writing schedule, ensure it is realistic and achievable, given your other commitments and responsibilities.
Essential elements to remember when creating your writing schedule.
- Even if you’re writing on the side and have more pressing concerns to face in your regular job, you can still write at least 500 to 1000 words daily. Of course, this will not be easy at first, but once you’ve built your habit, it will all come naturally to you.
- In your writing schedule, you must mark a time for writing, even 30 minutes to one hour. Do not do anything during that time except write.
- Do not mix your reading time with your writing time. If you want/need to read, set a separate time. This will help you get focused.
If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take 30 days. But if you give yourself 3 hours, it will take 3 hours. The same applies to your goals, ambitions, and plans.Elon Musk
Set a REALISTIC DEADLINE for your Writing Project
If you want to be successful as an author, your commitment should be double that of the average person. Consider deadlines your guide to avoiding wasting time, money, and effort. Deadlines should be your friend, not your enemy. Don’t set unrealistic deadlines, even if your purpose is to beat your previous deadline.
When you set a deadline for your writing project, you get to see how much you can do between the moment you start to the time your finish. Your brain will be wired to accomplish your set goal by the deadline. However, there will be instances where you will fail to meet your goals even with a deadline in mind. That’s when it’s essential to note what kept you from achieving your goals and then work on that next time.
A goal is a dream with a deadline.Napoleon Hill
To set realistic deadlines:
You start by examining your writing project at hand.
- Is it something you can finish in the time allotted?
- If it seems too large, divide it into smaller jobs.
- Be explicit about what you want to achieve with each activity and when you want it finished.
- Move to the next task immediately if you were able to finish the other task early. This will allow you to meet the deadline and still have time to rest or work on another project.
When you learn to make deadlines work for you, you get closer to your long-term goals every day.
Deadlines aren’t bad. They help you organise your time. They help you set priorities. They make you get going when you might not feel like it.Harvey Mackay
M1-S524: HOW TO SET GOALS FOR LITERARY SUCCESS
In this course:
- You will learn how to choose the right goal-setting method to help you reach your goals.
- Discover how writing goals are different from publishing goals
- Learn how to aim for your goals’ “sweet spot” and how to adjust them as your skills improve.
Regardless of who you are, if you want to be productive, you need to eliminate distractions because distractions are the enemy of productivity and can derail your writing progress and hinder your ability to achieve your writing goals. Therefore, to be a successful writer, you must identify the things that distract you the most and eliminate as many of them as possible when writing.
Getting rid of distractions is essential if you are writing to be published. You need to pay attention to getting your book written. Focus is important, so you need to figure out what’s getting in the way and get rid of it. Some of the distractions are:
- social media
- games installed on your phone
- unexpected visitors.
If you can’t fly, then run,
If you can’t run, then walk,
If you can’t walk, then crawl,
But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.Martin Luther King jr.
The first step to removing these distractions is to put them out of sight whenever you work.
- Find a quiet place to write.
- Log out of all social media accounts.
- Disconnect your computer from the Internet while you write, so you don’t get tempted to open your browser unless you need the Internet for your research.
- Close unnecessary tabs on your computer
- Keep your phones inside your drawers or somewhere far from your place of work, and only get alerts when there’s an emergency.
- Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and tell family members that unscheduled appointments with you are a no-no. So when someone comes to your house, your family members can ask them to return when you’re free.
- Interesting to note that you can increase your attention span by exercising before working on your book.
- If you find it challenging to focus and are easily distracted, consider using a productivity app or software to help you stay on track.
A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.Junot Diaz
TRACK your progress
You should keep track of how much you write because that will keep you motivated and on track. So writing down how many words (word count) you write each day or week and celebrating your achievements is crucial.
Ways to track your progress
- You can keep track of your daily progress towards your goals with a writing journal.
- You can use a word count tracker book or an online word count tracker.
- You can make a work plan that tracks when you need to rest and how long those breaks should last. This should reflect where you stopped, why you stopped and how many hours you’ve spent writing.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t reach your goals. Instead, you should adjust your goals and keep going. It will help you stay on track and give you a sense of success and progress as you move towards your main objective.
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.Jim Rohn
If you need help tracking your word count, then these creative books are designed to help you (the author) become more productive and meet industry standards.
Take control of your writing project and see how productive you are. These books literally help you track the time you spend on your manuscript in one place to measure your progress.
Stay MOTIVATED and ACCOUNTABLE
Writing can be a solitary activity, and it’s easy to lose motivation. However, one of the most effective ways to stick to your writing goals is to stay accountable. Here are some ways to stay accountable and motivated:
- You can join a writing group or workshop where you can share your work and receive feedback from other writers.
- You can find a writing buddy or accountability partner to check in with you regularly and provide encouragement and support.
- You can read books, blogs, and articles on writing can also help you stay motivated and learn new techniques.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.Stephen King
CELEBRATE your successes and REWARD yourself.
Talk to yourself about your successes; be sure you are recognising your own accomplishments, no matter how small they may be.Rhett Power
Finally, celebrate your successes along the way. Take time to acknowledge your progress and accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. You can stay motivated and on track with your writing goals if you celebrate your successes.
We all know that setting goals and sticking to them can be challenging, so it’s an essential part of the writing process to celebrate your successes by rewarding yourself for your hard work.
This can be done when you achieve a writing milestone, such as completing a chapter or reaching a word count goal. Take a moment to be proud of what you’ve done and treat yourself to a reward.
Celebrate your progress and keep yourself motivated; this will encourage you as you work towards your next goal.
Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.Winston S. Churchill
Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.Wilma Rudolph
Setting writing goals is an essential step towards realising your dream of becoming a better writer. Sticking to them is the key to staying focused and motivated while you work towards your main writing objective. However, it takes time, effort, and commitment.
To sum up, you can achieve your writing goals, become a successful writer, and develop a consistent writing habit by beginning with a clear objective to define your goals, creating a writing schedule, eliminating distractions, tracking your progress, staying accountable, and celebrating your successes by rewarding yourself to stay motivated.
Remember that writing is a journey, and you need to enjoy the process (the trip) as well as the destination. Getting what you want takes time and hard work, but every step you take towards your writing goal is a step towards reaching your dreams. So keep writing and have patience!
Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.H.L. Hunt
CREATIVE WRITING SHORT COURSES AVAILABLE