There is an old adage the says: so you think you know your end game, but have you really defined your writing goals? I will be the first to admit that I have had ill-defined goals, lost track of the plot, and worse have no end game in mind. What about you?
As a writer, what do you want to achieve?When by?
According to Write non-Fiction too many writers never seriously think about their writing goals, never write them down, nor create a timeline for when they want to achieve them. In truth, it is easy to lose sight of our long-term goals, but not to have any (or not having written them down) can be worse.
Everyday goal setting allows us to stay on the path and in place. Even achieving one goal is a step in the right direction.
According to Writing World writers begin with “qualitative” writing goals in mind: they want to be a ‘good’ writer, or a ‘better’ writer, or a ‘successful’ writer, or a writer who produces ‘valuable’ material. These are excellent goals and every person should be interested in improving the skills they have. They should also seek to discover new ones.
With writing, there are so many places to start. So many books to learn from, etc. Even a century after its first publication, there are writers advising we look only at Strunk and White’s Elements of Style for advice. Others may consider such a book to be a monument of the past. Indeed, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of sites offering such advice today.
The best advice I ever received was to read (a lot) and continue writing. But reading alone is not enough — the writer must learn to read critically. Read what is said and see how the writer says what they have to say. For example, the phraseology of the exceptional piece helps the writer that reads it, improve. Especially if you try to imitate that style the next time you write.
Write the Goals Down
Take a sheet of paper (electronic or real) and start to write your goals down. A goal is written if more likely to be accomplished, especially if you look at it daily. Don’t be afraid of impressive targets. Go after those goals.
Better to say you will complete writing the first draft of your novel this year, even if it is currently just an idea boiling in your mind. It gives you something to shoot for.
Writing down goals forces you to decide what you want to achieve. It also gives you something to review regularly. You can also enjoy ticking them off the list as each is achieved. A written goal if more likely to be achieved.
If you have a target, for example:
“Sell” at least ten magazine articles this year.
Write a fresh blog post weekly.
You must consider that it is necessary to perform all the preparatory work. Relevant market research, write query letters, etc. or submit a certain number of articles per month in the short term. All a part of achieving your writing goals.
The first step in achieving personal goals is to think about what you want in your life (at least some vision of the future). It underpins what you do.
If you run your own bakery, you need to know how to bake, manage money, make contacts with people, solve problems, build a business plan be creative and decide on the need for bakery products. The skill list is not limited to baking — it includes business skills. Connecting with people, managing money, creating a business plan, etc. Taste only goes so far, the rest is possible with human interaction.
The same is true for a writer. Most writing goals include making money. Think about and develop your business skills alongside your language skills. Can you write a query letter? Where do you find writing assignments? If the answer is ‘No’ then you must find out how and where.
For any writer, the secret of achieving what is most important for you is your commitment to writing. A commitment that involves daily action. It is habit forming. Writers must write every day. Whether writing a blog and a novel you need to make writing a habit. The best way to do that is by doing it regularly. Driving your writing goals.
Frances Caballo makes a valid point on Write Non-Fiction Now, suggesting writers define goals using the SMART formula. That is: specific, measurable, attainable, relavant, and time-bound. Understand these. Know also that your writing environment is important. You must determine what conditions are needed to help you achieve your goal.
If you base your goals on a personal map of goals, then keep track of the achievements and celebrate each success.
While it may be possible to write at your job, particularly for office workers, who can use their own desk as their writing location, this should be avoided. There are many reasons for this, including legal ones. Primarily, this is a matter of professionalism. While at work, do your job to the best of your abilities. Jot a note in your journal (provided it is a short one), but that is all.
Where can you write? Do you have your own desk? Is it in a location where you can concentrate? Kitchen counter-tops only work when the kitchen is not in use. Using the dining table as a desk is cut short by meal times when all your notes must be tidied away.
A fixed space is best, but I am well aware that many writers do not have the luxury of having a dedicated home office, as I do. Find yourself a comfortable location and dedicate that as your writing space. Have a coffee machine or kettle near if you are one of those people that work best with their favourite cup of poison to hand.
Conceive your goals and the success criteria as a performance process. Note: you can achieve part of your goals, even if you don’t necessarily achieve the desired final result. The aim of publishing one high-quality blog post per week may not have been reached. If you made steps set in place a process to create high-quality articles then you have achieved a stepping stone. You merely need to repeat it. Then get better at it.
WikiHow provided an excellent article on writing personal goals, starting with how to formulate effective goals. Effectiveness is vital. You need to hold yourself accountable. But do not beat yourself up should you fail to achieve the goal. Learn what you did well and what you did poorly. Avoid those mistakes next time.
These goals need regular adaptation and often need restatement. I maintain a publication plan for articles I am working on, which is regularly reviewed and updated. You should regularly review yours. Also, reflect on the growth of your knowledge and experience. What are you better at today than a year ago? What is the next step in your learning experience?
Need to Change your Focus?
Such assessments may help to determine whether long-term objectives need to be changed or whether correct short-term strategies are being used to achieve them. The results you achieve may cause you to question what you are doing and whether to change focus.
If you have sent ten queries a week in the last six weeks and have yet to receive a positive response, it may be time to reassess your actions. Are you highlighting the wrong information or is the success simply one letter away? Can you learn from the experience of others? Who can you ask? All pertinent questions.
Your goals may or may not need to change. One possibility, you may need to move to different markets, re-examine the ideas you have. Do you need to know more about the people you pitch your ideas to? Do you need to learn to write more effective query letters? Ask yourself other questions, then make a plan to resolve the challenges.
If you like this article, we appreciate any donations to GobbledeGoox. What are your thoughts writing goals? Something to contribute? Please leave a comment. The images here were sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay, Unsplash or other sites.
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