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What are your writing goals? Do you want to complete your novel, finish editing your short story or essay, start a new poem, or finally submit your writing for publication? With a day job, ongoing commitments, or unexpected changes sending your writing routine topsy-turvy, it’s not always easy to accomplish your goals as a writer. But don’t give up! At Writer’s Relief, our strategists know some great tips to help you with setting—and keeping!—your writing goals.
Setting Writing Goals You Can Achieve
Break your long-term writing goal into multiple short-term goals. Let’s say your long-term goal is to become a published writer. Instead of seeing one big, hard-to-accomplish task, separate your objective into short-term steps. If you’re writing a book, you would start with completing and polishing your manuscript. The next short-term goal would be writing a great query letter and after that, finding a literary agent. If you have a short story, essay, or poetry ready to submit, your short-term goal would be to research potential literary journals for your writing. When you break down a big project into smaller steps, it’s easier to achieve those goals. And with each small, self-imposed deadline you meet, the positive reinforcement will help carry you through to your ultimate goal.
Start a writing calendar. Many writers are procrastinators extraordinaire, so without a calendar, you may find yourself always putting off your writing goals! Plan your schedule to work best with your lifestyle. You can set writing goals on your calendar by days (On Tuesday, I will spend X amount of time writing), weeks, or months (I will send out X query letters this week or I will send out X poetry submissions in the next thirty days).
Make your goals specific to your writing style. Though some writers find having no set plans inspiring, others need more structure. Rather than locking in to write X many words each day, you might find it more helpful to schedule which projects you’d like to work on during your writing time. Or perhaps you’d prefer to focus on craft-related goals, such as your characters or settings. The same goes for making submissions—rather than I want to make X submissions total, you may find it more helpful to make a list of the specific journals where you will send submissions.
Keep your writing goals realistic. Think honestly about how much time you have for writing. If you’re busy with lots of daily responsibilities, you may not be able to write 10,000 words a day, every day. Writing 5,000 words a day—or even 1,000, or a few hundred—may be more realistic. And if you can’t write every day, that’s okay too. Remember, as long as you’re writing (even if it’s just a few sentences some days), you’re still working toward your goal.
Set goals for writing-related tasks. Editing, proofreading, and rewriting are all important tasks that a writer needs to set aside time to complete. Skimping on any of these steps will result in a manuscript that’s not quite ready for submission. Researching the best markets for your work also requires a lot of time, so be sure to put this on your calendar as well. You’ll need to spend hours tracking down journals or literary agents and determining which ones are a good match (and which are not!). If you try to rush through your market research, you’ll end up sending your work to the wrong places—making it harder to accomplish your goal of getting published.
Team up with other writers and hold each other accountable. Joining a writers group or finding a critique partner or mentor can help you stay motivated, and the encouragement from other writers will make it easier to stick to your writing goals. Plus, your new writing friends are sure to have their own goals, so you can always cheer each other on!
Make a dream board. More creative than a calendar, and equally useful, a dream board can help you visualize your writing goals. Find photos in magazines or print pictures off the Internet to inspire you to keep writing. You may also find it fun to make a vision board for specific projects—images that look like your characters or setting or generally invoke the mood you’re trying to capture in your writing.
And The Most Important Secret For Keeping Your Writing Goals…
Don’t go it alone! It can be hard finding time to write and to submit your work on a consistent schedule. Delegating the busywork of proofreading, formatting, and researching the markets for your work will allow you to focus on writing. At Writer’s Relief, we have over twenty-six years of experience researching and targeting the best markets for our clients’ work. And our system works—check out all the testimonials from our very happy clients! To learn more about how we can help you meet your goals and boost your odds of getting published, submit your writing sample to our Review Board today!
Question: What’s your most important writing goal?