Posted in On Writing

Writing Goals

Goals are important to everyone. They are what keep us pushing through when we come across obstacles. As writers it is very important for us to have goals specifically for our writing. But knowing that we need writing goals and making good writing goals are two separate things.

It is very easy to say that our writing goal is to publish the world’s most loved novel but should that be our only writing goal? No. In fact, that goal should not be our goal at all because it doesn’t follow SMART goal writing. The table below explains SMART goals and how this goal doesn’t fit.

Specific The goal should state exactly what the goal maker is going to achieve. The goal “to publish the world’s most loved novel” is specific.
Measurable There should be a way to measure the goal and how close it is to completion. This goal is not as measurable as it could be. It can be measured by sales and positive reviews but at what point does a novel become “the world’s most loved”?
Achievable The goal maker should be able to achieve their goal. If the goal is unachievable the goal maker will become frustrated and, most likely, give up on the goal. There is no specific path to selling millions of books and there is nothing that can be done to ensure success in the world of publishing. Because of these two things, this goal is unachievable.
Relevant The goal should be relevant to the reason for making the goal. This goal is about writing and is therefore relevant.
Timely There should be a time limit on when the goal should be completed by. Depending on the goal, this limit may be set for minutes or years. “To publish the world’s most loved novel” has no time line. This goal does not say if the novel will be published in one year or one hundred years.

When making writing goals, I always ask myself if it follows the SMART goal making principles. Does the goal state exactly what I want? Can I measure my progress? Is this goal something I can realistically achieve? Is this goal relevant? Do I have a time line for when I want this goal achieved?

Once I have a writing goal, I usually start making a plan to achieve it. For instance, if my writing goal is “to publish a novel by September 1, 2015” then my plan would include smaller goals that build up to the larger goal.

Some of the smaller goals I might decide on would be:

–          Write out a basic novel idea by July 22, 2013

–          Finish the first draft by November 1, 2013

–          Edit first draft by January 1, 2014

–          Edit second draft by April 1, 2014

–          Edit third draft by November 1, 2014

–          Query agents and publishers by February 1, 2015

–          If agent or publisher is not found, begin self-publishing process by July 1, 2015

–          Publish novel by September 1, 2015

As you can see from this list, each goal leads into the next goal. The goals are like a ladder which gradually builds up until you reach your final goal. By having smaller goals leading up to a larger goal, you can make what seems to be an unachievable goal become achievable.

What is your writing goal? Do you have a plan to achieve it?


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10 thoughts on “Writing Goals

  1. The most important aspect of setting goals is to break them into smaller chunks. To me, there’s no point in having a huge, lofty goal if you don’t have a concrete, step-by-step way to go about it.


  2. My writing goal is a daily one: to do some personal writing every day. (I already write professionally, but in marketing.) Whatever job you do have, it’s easy to forget your personal writing. To make it achievable, my notebook and a pen are next to my bed. I wake up in the morning, write for a few minutes, and move on with my day.


    1. It can be easy to forget personal anything in the midst of professionalism. But I love your idea of a notebook by your bed to write when you wake up. That is an awesome way to accomplish your goal. 🙂


  3. I really like your SMART chart. It makes sense that writing should have tangible deadlines as with anything else.

    I’m currently in the querying phase of my first novel, but in order to deal with the waiting I moved on to my second (in the series) with the same kind of goals. I usually try and give myself deadlines that include a reward for finishing. For example, I knew I was taking a trip to the UK in June, so I gave myself until three days before the trip to finish my first draft. It worked and while I was on vacation I didn’t obsess about book…too much.

    Now I have to look it over and start making notes. I’m giving myself until my daughter starts school so I can have three days of doing nothing. Then I have to finish my second draft rewrites before leaving town again. Rewards help the experience even if I haven’t heard back from my queries.


    1. Rewards definitely help for motivation. Hopefully you finish your read through early so you can spend some more time with your girl without thoughts of writing creeping in. 🙂



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