Setting Writing Targets
When you’re working on a big, long-term writing goal – perhaps becoming a published novelist, or making a living from your writing – it’s easy to get discouraged or distracted along the way. Sometimes the gulf between where you are with your writing and where you want to be can seem like an impassable chasm.
This is where it helps to set smaller, specific writing targets: ones that you know you can meet, and which will take you step-by-step towards your eventual goals.
1. Work out your priority for the year
In 2007, I was focusing on short stories: my target was to write at least two every month and submit them to competitions or publications. I ended the year with over twenty five finished short stories.
It’s usually not a good idea to split your focus between several projects. If you write around a job or family life, pick your one priority for the year: whether it’s finally getting around to writing that novel you’ve been planning, building up a collection of poetry, posting regularly on your blog, or polishing up your business writing skills.
2. Set realistic targets for yourself
In my case, I could manage two complete short stories per month whilst working full time – it was a bit of a stretch some months, but achievable. If I’d tried to write a short story every week, I’d have given up before January was over.
Try not to give yourself a target that relies on outside forces: aiming to have something published every month is laudable, but it’s influenced as much by the whims of editors as by your own writing abilities.
Some good targets could be:
- Writing 500 words of your novel every day.
- Writing a poem every Saturday.
- Posting a new entry on your blog three times a week.
- Reading two chapters of a book on writing every week, and trying out some exercises.
3. Keep track of how you’re doing
When you have daily or weekly targets, keeping a visual record of progress can be very motivating! How about putting a tick or gold star on the calendar for every day that you meet your goal, or keeping a wall chart of word-count progress by your desk?
If you prefer a more high-tech approach, Joe’s Goals is an easy way to keep track of how you’re getting on. You might also find scheduling writing sessions in task management software such as Remember the Milk helps – sometimes, our brains work well with a deadline.
4. Assess whether meeting your targets is getting you closer to your goals
It’s great to be ticking off those four completed poems every month, or those three blog posts each week – but after a few months, take a good look at whether meeting your targets is actually taking you closer to your goals.
If you’re trying to win writing competitions, are you getting short-listed yet? If you want more readers for your blog, have visitor numbers risen? If your aim is to improve your writing skills, are readers commenting more favourably on your work?
Sometimes, you might need to revise your targets in order to make faster progress towards your goals: your target of four poems each month might be too ambitious if you’re rushing them and producing sub-standard work, and you might reach your goal of a competition win sooner if you instead just wrote one great poem each month.
Do you have big, long-term goals or dreams for your writing? What smaller targets are you setting yourself on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to help you reach these?
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