Our research among writers shows that people who set meaningful, clearly defined goals are significantly more likely to complete their week’s writing challenge than those that don’t.
When you set a goal, you’re simply giving yourself something to aim at – a target to hit. That target can be big or small – it doesn’t matter – the key is to have one and to regularly check in against it. Having a goal gives your work a direction and it means that you know when you’ve achieved it – so you keep making progress.
But what if you don’t have a clear project in mind? That’s fine! You don’t need to have your project nailed down to set a goal but do try to give yourself something to aim for – like writing for a certain amount of time each day or trying to hit a word count. That will give your writing focus.
Whilst your writing goals are personal to you, there are some ingredients that one should have if they’re going to keep your writing moving forward. Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before you set your writing goal:
1. Am I excited by it?
A goal without an interesting challenge is just boring old work! Always set a goal that energises you – something that fires you up and you’ll get a kick out of achieving. An indicator of a good goal is you want to achieve it – but you’re not 100% confident you can. Setting a goal that excites you is a good way to keep you motivated.
2. Am I pushing myself too much?
Your goal needs to energise you but it also needs to be winnable otherwise you’ll just lose motivation. So, don’t get carried away! Set a goal that stretches you in some way but is also realistic. Consider all the things you need to do in your life and set your goal accordingly.
3. Am I pushing myself too little?
Any goal you set needs to achievable but not so much so that it all becomes way too easy – otherwise you’ll just get bored. You’ll receive a far greater feeling of accomplishment and pride if you achieve a goal that (slightly) scares you.
4. Is it as specific as I can make it?
Vague goals leads to vague outcomes. It could be that you want to finish a project or progress it by a certain amount. Or, you could just want to write for a certain amount of time or a certain number of words – whatever it is make it as specific as you can so you know when you’ve got there and can measure your progress.
5. Do I want to learn?
If you don’t meet your five day goal this time but put in the effort to achieve it – you’re still a winner! The most important thing is to learn from the experience and alter your goal the next time you write. If you feel you’ve been too harsh on yourself this time – make your goal easier. If you think you could do more – crank it up a notch. The key is to learn from your writing practice and adapt along the way.
6. Am I comparing myself to others?
Your writing goal is a very personal thing. Only you know how busy you are so never judge the goals you set and don’t compare yourself to others. Set a goal that’s right for you – not for anyone else. Set one that stretches you, that scares you a little, but most of all, set one that excites you, energises you and puts some fire in your belly!