Everyone has bigger or smaller goals in life, even if they haven’t written them down anywhere. We, as writers, LOVE to write things down. It comes with the territory of being a writer, right? I am here to invite you today to encourage you toward setting writing goals for you as a writer and, of course, write them down.

Setting Writing Goals #1: Brainstorm

Everything starts with a little good old brainstorming session. Allow yourself to dream big and write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish in your lifelong career as a writer? Do you want to get published in that magazine you read with your coffee every morning? Would you like to self-publish instead? Or maybe just share your work with a tight group of writer and reader friends? Consider all the works you want to actually write as well. Perhaps even something like a comic is on your mind, too? Don’t leave any stones unturned here. Dream big.

Setting Writing Goals #2: Weed Out the Fluff

Perhaps that comic idea is something your friend wants to do but not you? Take a look at your brainstorming notes and see what’s truly a goal for you. Of course, you can always add and change your goals list, but doing this now can help ease unnecessary overwhelm. Cross out whatever doesn’t truly fit what you want to aim for. Consider keeping these notes for your brainstorming for future reference, if you ever want to go back to that comic idea (perhaps you’ll end up taking up that project your friend wants to do? Who knows.)

Setting Writing Goals #3: Assess the Timeline

Now that any fluff is out of the way, look at your remaining goals. These are goals you’ll commit to for the next month, quarter, year, or decade. Decide which is which. Building a solid writing routine can take up to a month, but writing a trilogy might take a year or two, if not more depending on what kind of writer you are. So, next to each goal, assign a timeline. What’s a “this year” goal? What’s not? Anything you’re considering only doing way down the line? Broad strokes are fine here. No need to write down the exact date just yet.

Setting Writing Goals #4: Set immediate deadlines

Take a look at your goals list again. It has a resemblance of a deadline now next to each goal, but that’s not what it actually is. Only now, on a new piece of paper (or a new note on your phone, whichever you prefer), you will write down real deadlines. What’s due by the end of this week? By the end of the month? What requires a second (or third) look with some research before you actually can set a reasonable deadline for it (remember that comic idea with your friend?). In all cases, here’s how to make sure you meet your deadlines without over-stressing yourself.

Setting Writing Goals #5: Track your progress

Help yourself and track how you do every week and month. Some goals might be done faster than expected, but honestly, usually, everything takes twice as long. Be aware of this and don’t be hard on yourself if you fall a little short of the goals you had set for yourself. Instead, you can assess, adjust, make a revised goal, and continue working on your career as a writer.

Setting Writing Goals #6: Break it Down

Sometimes goals are just… massive. Too big to tackle in a month, let alone in an afternoon (we would like that, right?). What you can do in this case, is to break down the goal into smaller chunks. A goal to make a full-time living as a writer can be further broken down into writing your debut novel (assuming you haven’t done that yet), finding beta readers, and editing and publishing.

Even all these steps can be further broken down to as small as a tiny goal of writing 100 words in your manuscript for the upcoming week. See which of your goals you have brainstormed during the first step (assuming you did that) are too big for you to tackle as is and make a list underneath it of smaller tasks to start off with.

Setting Writing Goals #7: Schedule it

Assuming you did everything we talked about thus far, your last step is to schedule those smaller goals from your list into your calendar. They might not all get done if you don’t schedule them. So do that, and set reminders to go off as well. 

With this last step, you’re all set with your direction as a writer and have an action plan with reminders in your calendar. Good work! Speaking about work, if you’re up for it, go and cross off a small task from your list for an extra dose of that always-needed motivation. Remember that setting writing goals will pay off. Happy writing!

Did you find this post interesting? Check out our guide to help you increase your daily writing count.