Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Set Writing Goals for the New Year (That You'll Actually Accomplish)

If you're anything like me, you've spent the past few days thinking/worrying about the coming year. Maybe you made some New Year's Resolutions (speaking of which, if you've ever managed to keep any, I'm impressed). Or perhaps you looked back over the past year and thought of all the changes--great and small--that have occurred in your life.

The new year is an excellent time to re-commit to your writing. Perhaps you've become listless at the thought of your most recent project. Well, here's a ready-made opportunity to revitalize this aspect of your life! You could commit to writing every day or at set times each week or month.

No matter what you decide, however, there's one very important aspect that you must not ignore: if you make a promise to yourself to write, you must write. There's no getting around this important fact. If you let yourself down now, not only will you get no writing done, but you'll also fail yourself. If you break this promise and resolution, how are you to trust yourself in the future? You compromise your very self-respect.

Of course, if you decide on an unattainable goal, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Your goal should be "SMART"--that is, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

To make your goal specific, think small. A specific goal would be something like, "I want to write 500 words on my current story _____ every Wednesday and Saturday." A broad goal would be, "I want to write more in 2012." Do you see how making the goal specific could help you achieve it more easily?

To make your goal measurable, think in terms of landmarks--hours spent writing or word count. "I want to write 500 words" is measurable, because you can measure the quantity "500 words." Same with "I want to write for thirty minutes." You either write for that amount of time or you don't.

Next, your goal should be attainable. This is pretty self-explanatory--for example, "becoming a rocket scientist" if you flunked science is not very attainable, whereas "writing thirty minutes once a week" is attainable if you've been writing fifteen minutes each week. That doesn't mean your goals should be difficult--by definition, a goal is something that's a little ways outside of your reach, so that you have to strive to attain it. Just make sure it's possible to attain.

The next category, realistic, is actually one of the hardest to measure. On the one hand, if you set your goal too low, then you won't really be motivated to achieve it. However, if it's way too high, then there's no way you can attain it. So, for this one, it's really up to you. How much energy can you commit to this goal? How much time do you have on your hands? Are you both willing and able to achieve the goal?

Finally, you should make your goal timely. This just means to set a time frame for your goal. "I want to write 500 words someday" is a lot less motivating than "I want to write 500 words within the next 7 days." When you have a deadline, you will begin to strategize exactly how you want to accomplish it within the time frame you set.

So, again, remember--make your writing goals this new year "SMART" goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. And when you've decided on them, why don't you tell me what goals you set? Enjoy setting and achieving your goals!


  1. I always have so much trouble with my New Year's resolution to write more. This rather explains why :P Thanks for the tips!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Elisabeth! As with everything, of course, goal-setting is much easier said than done. Still, I'm hoping these tips help to actually accomplish those goals! You're very welcome :)


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