To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns: The best-laid writing plans often go awry. If work, family obligations, or a topsy-turvy year have put your writing career on the back burner, now is the perfect time to refocus on your writing goals. Based on over twenty-seven years of experience, the expert strategists at Writer’s Relief have come up with some Dos and Don’ts to guide you in achieving your writing goals during the upcoming year—starting today!
The Dos and Don’ts of Achieving Your Writing Goals
DO Try Different Goal-Setting Methods
Whether you are researching, setting word count goals, have a reading list, or are outlining your next project, it’s important to find the goal-setting method that works best for you. Be sure to set realistic, well-defined objectives: A vague “I’ll write a book this year” won’t be as effective or measurable as “I’ll write 3,000 words every week.”
Don’t multitask. When you’re writing, you should be writing—and nothing else. Try time-tracking methods like a weekly or monthly planner. The Pomodoro Technique can also help to maximize your productivity while writing. Set a timer and take a three- to five-minute break every twenty-five (or so) minutes. You can learn more about the Pomodoro Technique and other time-management skills here.
Another goal-setting method guides you in creating a blueprint of your previous year to help you plan for the upcoming year. With over a hundred thought-provoking questions, this blueprint will help you get in touch with what you really want to achieve in the coming months. The SMART method (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound) also helps you set and keep your writing goals.
DON’T Micromanage Your Life
Keep in mind your lifestyle when setting your writing goals. Are you a professional working 60-hour weeks, a stay-at-home dad with three kids under the age of seven, or a retiree with time on your hands? Remember, too, that sickness, family emergencies, vacations, and even a simple laundry pileup will occur and disrupt your carefully made writing schedule. Micromanaging every day or every week in your planner can easily lead to discouragement. Instead, set monthly or quarterly goals for your writing and remain flexible—life happens!
DO Get Creative
Color-coded calendars and journal entries offer fun, creative ways to organize your writing goals using markers, highlighters, and stickers. For anyone who enjoys collages, vision boards are a way to gather quotes, words, and images that represent your writing goals to help you visualize the process of getting your work published.
DON’T Get Carried Away
When crafting your visual aids for achieving your writing goals, don’t spend so much time choosing the right color marker or selecting photos that you’re distracted from the very thing you should be doing—writing.
DO Celebrate Your Accomplishments
When you reach the word count you set for your weekly goal, complete a poem, or finish your outline by the end of the month, remember to celebrate your accomplishments! Rewards will help you stay motivated. Spend time with friends, see a movie, take a day trip, buy yourself a treat, or just take a nap! Keep in mind, self-care is a constant need, not just a reward.
DON’T Punish Yourself
The point of setting writing goals is to help you make progress with your writing; it’s not about strict adherence with dire consequences. If you miss a deadline you’ve set, don’t be too hard on yourself, or you’ll end up losing your motivation. Instead, see this as an opportunity to take a break or readjust your goals. Your goals are for guidance and are not written in stone—they can be changed as necessary!
DO Submit Your Work To Literary Editors Or Agents
If your goal for the upcoming year is to get published, you’ll need to submit your work! A consistent submission schedule is the best way to whittle away at the publishing industry rule of thumb: one acceptance for every one hundred submissions. It’s also important to set aside several hours to research the best markets for your work each time you’re ready to send out submissions.
DON’T Go It Alone
The busywork of making effective writing submissions can be time-consuming, but there’s good news—you don’t have to do it. That is, as long as you hire a professional, trusted author submission service like Writer’s Relief. With over twenty-seven years of targeting submissions for our clients, we have an excellent record of success. Our research experts will pinpoint the best markets for your work and boost your odds of getting an acceptance. Check out a few of our many happy clients, then submit your writing samples to our Review Board today!
By setting realistic goals—and sticking to them—you’ll be able to complete more writing projects and make more submissions. Try new time-management methods, get creative, make regular submissions, and celebrate every victory, no matter how small. With each goal you meet, you’ll be one step closer to boosting your odds of getting published.
Question: Which goal-setting method are you ready to try?