I don't know about you, but I often struggle to create writing goals that I can meet in the time I set out to complete them. Sometimes the rush of creativity means I'm writing in bulk for short stretches. This works sometimes, but it can often lead to feeling rushed or stressed out. Setting goals to write in shorter spurts for a longer time can help make your writing time feel more relaxed.
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How to Set Writing Goals That Stick
Setting achievable goals also makes you feel accomplished and successful when you complete them. Keep reading to find out how to set writing goals that stick!
Brainstorm the meaning behind your goals
Before setting your goal, take the time to brainstorm and think about what you're looking to achieve. Try asking yourself some of the following questions:
What are you interested in writing right now? Is this a project that excites you and feels fulfilling?
Do you perk up at the thought of working on it, or do you feel dread at the prospect of this project?
What is the current motivation behind your writing? Is it for pleasure, is it for money, is it to have a career as a writer?
Are there looming deadlines you must meet?
How much time do you realistically have to devote to your writing? Consider the hours you work at other jobs and the time other responsibilities in your life take up.
What is the endgame goal of your current writing? Do you want to submit your finished piece to a contest or shop it around?
What do you need to do to further your writing? Is research required for this current project?
Focusing on these questions can help you gain clarity about the reality of your writing situation and what you're looking to achieve.
If you're like me and often set goals that are too intense or would be stressful to achieve, these questions can help you see what more realistic goals might look like.
Reframe the way you think about writing goals
Consider writing goals as things you hope will happen instead of plans that must happen. Sometimes, meeting those goals during a busy week can feel overwhelming. It's OK if there are days or weeks where you cannot meet these goals. Congratulate yourself when you can meet your goals, and know that you are trying your best even when you don't meet them.
Aim for realistic timeframes
You've probably heard other writers suggest that writing every day is the only way to go, but that doesn't work for everybody. By exploring those questions I mentioned earlier, maybe you'll realize that writing three times a week is more your speed. That's great! Plan for whatever works best for you.
Consider how much time daily or weekly you're willing to spend writing. Practice dedicating different amounts of time to writing if you're not sure. Find what works best for you. And don't be afraid to adjust your goals as you make discoveries. Maybe you thought writing every day for an hour would work for you, but then you discovered that writing four times a week for 35 minutes yielded better results. That would be a great discovery, and you should feel proud to change your schedule!
When you're ready to write your schedule, follow these scheduling tips from Disney and Dreamworks screenwriter Ricky Roxburgh.
Consider your feelings
Recognize that your emotions about the work may dictate how much time you're willing to spend on it. If you're working on something that engages and excites you, you might find it easy to work on it frequently. If this is a project you must complete for deadline purposes, but you aren't excited about it, writing for a shorter amount of time for more days might help you push through it.
Use a calendar or set reminders
For some people planning far ahead and marking their writing goals on a calendar can help them stick to their plan; for others, that can feel daunting. Having reminders on your phone for every day you plan on writing might be something that feels more comfortable.
Celebrate your wins
Don't forget to acknowledge when you have a good writing day and meet your goals. Do something you enjoy afterward, like watch your favorite show or get a treat. Associate writing success with other pleasures!
Be willing to be flexible
Planning flexibility in your writing goals can be helpful when you fall behind. Consider adding bonus writing days to your schedule to compensate for missed days.
Sticking to writing goals can be challenging, but hopefully, these tips will help you meet some of them! Remember, writing is hard, and even great writers struggle with it. Don't be too tough on yourself if you're falling behind or not meeting every goal. The important thing is that you stick with it and keep trying. Be kind to yourself, and happy writing!