How To Be Realistic About Your Writing Goals

By on July 22, 2019

Writers need to set goals for themselves, we all know that. Without goals it’s all too easy to start procrastinating and to find that other things in your life begin to take priority. Without goals you may make such slow and frustrating progress that the whole writing process becomes unenjoyable and you may start to question whether it’s worth continuing with it at all.

Yes, having goals is essential. But perhaps even more so is setting goals that you can actually achieve. It might seem obvious, but many writers don’t give themselves the opportunity to really think about what it is they need to do in order to achieve what they want to achieve. They don’t consider the time it will take to get there and don’t give themselves any clear action plan on how to make their dreams a reality.

Being realistic about your writing goals is essential. Intentions are meaningless if they are vague, they don’t have deadlines attached to them, and they are simply too massive to comprehend. If writers don’t make the time to think about their goals and break them down, they may as well not bother setting them in the first place.

So how can you create simple, smart, actionable writing goals?

Do the math.

Goal setting is all about the numbers. You need to figure out the quantity of work you want to produce and when you want to create it.

To do so, you need to figure out how many words, how many blogs, how many articles etc. you need to produce to make the progress you want to make. You then need to work out if you really have enough time to achieve this. If you don’t, you need to adjust those figures and start again.

Create a schedule.

Realistic writing goals should be time-bound, and giving yourself arbitrary deadlines is pointless, so you need to set yourself a schedule. Being realistic about when you intend to write and how much writing you can get done is crucial to your success.

Be honest about your commitments.

Some things in your life are non-negotiable in terms of being able to move them or juggle them. There are also some things that you know you like to do and will have a hard time giving up.

Carving out your writing time has to come from being honest with yourself. Responsibilities such as other jobs or picking up the kids from school can’t be budged. Commitments such as Friday night drinks with your friends can be, but if you know that realistically you won’t want to give that up then don’t factor it into your schedule as an opportunity to write. Chances are you’ll keep breaking your promise and then feel as though you are letting yourself down.

Break it down.

Goals need to be small, specific and precise. If you have a big target such as finishing your book, break it down so instead, you have ten small goals with clear steps on how to achieve each one. Spending time breaking down your goals in this way will help you understand exactly what you need to do to accomplish each one and make them seem much more realistic and much less overwhelming too!

Track your progress.

Whether it’s a simple checklist or a fancy tracking app, keeping yourself informed about your progress will allow you to see how far you’ve come. Reminding yourself of how much you’ve already achieved will help to keep you on the right track and feel inspired to do more.

These simple tips can help any writer set realistic, manageable and achievable goals. Doing so will help you feel confident in your progress and help to manage your expectations about how quickly you can finish that book/ that blog/ that article. Realistic writing goals will help you make steady, quantifiable progress towards what you want to achieve and will keep you motivated to keep pushing yourself to get there.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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