It doesn’t matter what you want to write – having a goal will help you focus. But goal setting is a skill in itself – so how do you do it? What makes a good goal, what makes a bad one and how should you approach the whole process?
We’ve been helping writers set goals for years and we’ve seen the mistakes, challenges and successes they’ve had. Sometimes goals are too vague to be of use and other times they’re way too ambitious – and that can kill your confidence stone dead.
Here are our 7 rules of goal setting that will help you stay focused, keep motivated and moving forward with your writing:
1. Have a goal, not a millstone
Always know what you want to achieve with your writing but know that your goal isn’t set in stone – it’s important to know you can change it at any point.
2. Vague goals lead to vague outcomes
You don’t need to have a specific project in mind when you start out but you do need to aim for something specific – eg. writing a certain amount of words or for a certain amount of time, accomplishing a task like keeping a journal or writing morning pages.
3. Break large goals into small daily steps
Every large goal should be broken down into a set of smaller bite size writing steps which ideally, should be done daily. If you miss more than two days of writing in a row you’ll be less likely to get back to it.
4. Writing doesn’t always involve writing
You can progress towards your goal without writing every day. Thinking, doodling, planning, editing, brainstorming (you get the point) still count.
5. Be realistic but don’t be easy on yourself
Make your goals achievable but not easy-peasy. When they do become easy-peasy – make them progressively harder. That’s how you get better.
6. Quit feeling sorry for yourself
If you’re consistently failing to meet your goals, change them to ones you can achieve. Beating yourself up for not meeting a goal is the most damaging and pointless thing you can do. Stop it.
7. Don’t get blocked, take action
If you’re feeling blocked, pick a tool that will unblock you – eg. morning pages or freewriting to flex the writing muscle.