How to Set Writing Goals!

Planners can be FUN!
If you were to ask me what the most important part of building your career as a writer is, my answer would be one word. It wouldn't be "writing," or "editing," or "publishing," or anything like that. The most important word that encapsulates the long and uphill journey of being a writer is GOALS.
Personally, I can't function without clear-cut goals and hard deadlines to accomplish them by. I know that some people function better when they're winging it, so if you're one of those people, this post may not help you as much. But for those of you like me, or those of you who may be stuck in a rut and unsure how to move forward, this post about goal-setting is for you!

I think sometimes, the hardest part about accomplishing your major writing goals is knowing how to do it. For example, say you want to publish a book this year, but you've never published a book before. How do you go from sitting down and writing to having a tangible book in your hand? It's such a big and daunting process that it may seem impossible, and these uncertainties may prompt many writers to give up. I encourage you not to give up! Instead, you just need to figure out how to set more concrete goals, and learn how to break them down into bite-size pieces.

Here is a look into my goal-setting process and how it helps me. I hope this advice helps you if you're currently struggling to set attainable goals or to accomplish the goals you already have!

Step 1: Start with your end goal.

Before setting  smaller goals or making daily agendas, you need to know what your end goal is going to be. Your end goal is going to drive all of the smaller actions you take, much like a mission statement for a business. As a writer, you may have many end goals: to publish a novel, to make writing your full-time job, to finish your first draft of a manuscript, etc. Think about what your current goal is. What do you want to accomplish this year? Write that down!

Step 2: Break it into as many small steps as possible.

Now that you have your big goal, the key is to break it into as many small steps as you can. For example, let's say your goal is to publish a novel within the next year. What steps do you need to take to get there? You'll want to write thing down like, "Get my manuscript edited," or, "Find an agent," or "Find a printing service and cover designer." Depending on which road you plan to take, these steps will vary. But once you have a list of smaller steps, you can figure out exactly how to get yourself from point A to point B. If one of your problems is that you have no idea how to get a novel published, then maybe one of your smaller goals can be "Do market research on the publishing industry," or, "Choose whether to publish with a major company or an independent press." Every decision and action you take will be a part of your process.

Step 3: Determine when you need to have each piece accomplished.

Once you've determined the steps you need to take, it's time to plot out when you want to accomplish each one. Without a self-imposed deadline, you may find yourself wandering aimlessly or struggling to find the motivation to work on each piece. When you have your goals in order, determine how much time you think it will take to finish them. Be realistic with yourself, but also don't be afraid to push yourself a bit. You don't want to say that you can write a whole novel in one day, but you also don't need to give yourself a full year to write the first draft if you think you can complete it in six months. Once you have determined how long you will take to complete each step, write it down in your calendar! If you think you can complete your first draft within six months, then go to the date six months from today, and write it in there that you're going to finish your first draft by that day. If you think it will then take you another three months to get it edited, go three more months into the future, and write that down! Whether you use a planner or an online calendar, it's important that you mark in your deadlines and stick to them.

Step 4: Break it down even further, into daily to-do lists.

Now that you have all your deadlines plotted out, you'll want to break it down further. Often, this will result in breaking things down into daily tasks. I do this in the form of to-do lists. So, if your big goal is to publish a novel, and one of your sub-goals is to finish your first draft in six months, then maybe put, "Write for an hour," every day on your to-do list. After that, if you think it'll take three months for the editing process, break that down. Maybe for the first few days after your draft is completed, you'll write something like, "Search for editors online," or, "Interview editors," in your to-do lists. Then, once you've found one, your to-do list items will break into things like, "Follow up with editor on their progress," or "Receive changes and comments from editor and review them." Once you can break down your goals into daily steps, you'll be on the right track to accomplishing anything!

Step 5: Get it done!

This is the most important part. You can have the best goal-setting strategies in the world, but if you ignore your goals and constantly put them off, you're not going to accomplish them. To help me with this, I make check boxes on my to-do list, because I find the process of ticking off a check box so satisfying. Find what works for you--but make sure you're actually DOING each piece when you say you're going to. Hold yourself accountable! 

I hope these tips were helpful for you guys! I'll be back on YouTube on Monday with another Writing Tip of the week, and on Friday I'll have another book review video for you guys.

What strategies do you guys use when goal setting? Tell me in the comments below!

Happy writing!

Savy

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