Writing a book is perhaps one of the more challenging projects you could ever embark on, and writing a really good book has even more pressure attached to it! That’s why setting solid and achievable writing goals is essential to succeeding in your venture of completing your book or other writing projects. Having daily, monthly, and yearly goals will undoubtedly push you to stay on pace with outlining, drafting, editing, and revising your work. In this article, we’ll cover 7 tips for creating and sticking to your writing goals in 2023.
7 Tips to Help You Set Solid Writing Goals
Before we dive into the tips, it’s important to note why setting goals is so critical. Your writing goals are a roadmap that you can use to measure your progress and stay motivated throughout the entire process of writing your book. Developing useful and realistic goals will also help keep you focused and on track throughout the year.
The best way to get started with setting writing goals is to brainstorm all of the ideas that you have for your project. Then pick one particular goal that stands out from the bunch and make it specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This is known as SMART goal setting – where each element of your goal should fulfill these criteria for you to have the best chance at achieving it.
1. Create Realistic Goals
If your writing goals are unrealistic, you’ll have a really hard time achieving them. Not only will you experience an overwhelming sense of discouragement and failure for missing an unrealistic goal, but it will only make it that much harder for you to push forward in finishing your novel. Don’t let the passion for finishing your book cause you to rush the process by setting goals that just aren’t possible. For example, it’s not reasonable to think you can write your entire book in a month. It’s also not reasonable to think you can meet a daily writing goal of 8,000 – 10,000 words per day.
Consistency is key to reaching any goal. Setting smaller, achievable goals that you know you can achieve as you work toward finishing your book will get you much farther along. Most of us are working full-time jobs, have families, and other responsibilities, so setting a smaller daily goal that you can stick to will help you make steady progress forward.
Similar to the concept of dieting, we can’t only eat healthy for a period of time and expect long-term results. When it comes to writing, we should focus on developing a writing lifestyle that includes healthy daily writing habits. The compound effect of your consistent writing will help you reach your greatest writing goals while keeping you from experiencing burnout.
Helpful Daily Writing Habits:
- Write around 1,500 words every day
- Set aside 2 to 3 hours every day at a scheduled time
- Plan to finish one chapter per week
- Set aside some time to read books from authors you admire (this inspires ideas)
- Practice journaling or writing down your ideas in detail
- Meditate or spend time in reflection (practicing deep thought)
2. Set Measurable Goals
Once you achieve a goal or two, you’ll feel a burst of motivation to continue pushing forward to achieve even more. However, if your goals are too vague, you won’t know when you’ve actually achieved them. For example, if you create a goal like, “I want to write more each day,” “I want to become a better writer,” or “I want to read more books,” then you won’t have a definitive way to track your success. Instead, you can add metrics to these vague goals, which will make them more specific and measurable. For example, “I want to write 1,000 words per day,” “I want to read one book per month,” or “I want to take two writing courses this year.”
Adding numeric values to your goals will allow you to not only track your progress, but it will draw a clear finish line in the sand, letting you know exactly when you’ve achieved your goal. You can schedule meeting with yourself to see how much progress you have made at the end of every month or every 60 or 90 days. Establish a reasonable time frame for when you plan to accomplish the goals you’ve listed. Knowing the date you should finish or achieve a goal will help you break down those larger goals into smaller ones.
3. Track Your Progress
You can’t celebrate your progress if you’re not tracking it! Whether you’re writing a novel, a memoir, a screenplay, a short story, a creative nonfiction book, or anything else, you should acknowledge and be proud of any progress you have made. Tracking your progress as you go will let you know how much closer you’ve gotten to the finish line.
The easiest way to track your goals is with a calendar or project management software. There are tons of great online tools out there that will allow you to easily set up your large and small goals. Something we have enjoyed using in the past is Asana, which is a project management software that is free to use for single users working on smaller projects. With software like Asana, you can set your writing goals, add due dates, and format your project in a task list view or calendar view.
4. Prioritize Your Writing Goals
Writing a good book not only comes down to effort but also time. To set aside the time required to write a high-quality book or anything else for that matter, you must make writing a priority. It’s so easy to let our dreams slide to the wayside, especially when other life priorities get in the way. Even still, you must remember that life is short and your dream of finishing this writing project is only going to happen once. You deserve to realize your passion and dream, so don’t let the other priorities in life make you feel like your writing dream isn’t as important. It is!
One of the best ways to prioritize is by using a priority matrix. This is a simple tool that helps you sort out which tasks are urgent and which aren’t so much. You can use a priority matrix to figure out what needs to get done now and what can wait until later. This will help ensure that your energy goes towards daily priorities that truly matter, allowing you to continue carving out time to accomplish your writing dream.
5. Find Motivation
If you’re passionate about writing, then finding the motivation to write might not be a problem for you. But when life gets busy or when you become discouraged about your progress, knowing where to turn for motivation can help you keep moving forward toward your goals. If you’re struggling with a lack of ideas, you might find inspiration and motivation by reading books that are similar to the one you’re writing. If you’re writing a short story or narrative essay, you might draw motivation from reading literary journals. If you’re writing a screenplay, you can look up a few scripts for your favorite movies online.
If you have plenty of ideas but something in your life has you feeling down, you may be more interested in personal motivation. We all struggle with ups and downs in life, and sometimes hearing encouraging words of success from others like us is what we need most. In situations like this, consider joining a local writing group or book club. Get around people who love writing. You can also look up author interviews and hear personal stories and tips directly from successful authors and writers.
6. Get An Accountability Partner
Having someone to help you stay on track is a great way to ensure that your writing goals are achieved. It’s all too easy to make excuses and procrastinate when no one else knows about our goals; so having an accountability partner, such as a friend or family member who will listen and encourage you, can really help keep you motivated and determined. You can also join online writing groups where other members are working towards similar goals. Not only will they encourage you, but they’ll be able to offer advice and feedback on your project.
Accountability partners don’t have to be involved in the creative process of your book or any other writing project; all they need to do is check in with you from time to time and encourage you to keep going when the going gets tough. You can plan to meet your accountability partner monthly or quarterly to go over progress. Ideally, you might be a great help to that person in their writing journey as well!
7. Reward Yourself
Celebrating the little wins is what can drive you to reach the finish line of actually completing your writing project. Every time you hit a milestone, such as completing the first draft of your book or simply finishing a chapter, reward yourself! You can plan small rewards to encourage yourself throughout the writing process and then save up for something special after you complete it.
Rewarding yourself doesn’t just have to be materialistic either; it could simply be taking an evening off once a week from your entire workload, going out with friends, or even treating yourself to a massage. The idea is to break up the monotony of working towards your goal so that when things get hard, you have something inspirational to look forward to. This will help keep your enthusiasm and energy levels high so that you can push through any obstacles that stand in your way.
Writing Reward Ideas:
- Make a small purchase of something related to your writing career such as a new keyboard, mouse, journal, or pens.
- Invest in a writing course or certificate
- Invest in a writing conference or retreat
- Take a weekend trip
- Plan a small milestone party with friends
Putting It Into Practice
As we move into a new year, we sincerely hope you find these tips helpful as you plan your writing goals. Remember, writing can be a fulfilling and enjoyable task— if you plan and set yourself up for success. The team at Writer’s Hive Media is rooting for all the writers out there, and we are wishing you good writing vibes in the new year!
Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont.