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Chris is co-founder of Prolifiko, writing productivity coach, writer and content consultant.

So, you’re determined to finally finish (or maybe start) that writing project. Great news – but how do you kick off your writing goal in a way that means you’ll continue? Here’s an infographic that can really help.

How to set a writing goal infographic
Goal setting infographic

1. Make your writing goal as specific as you can

The first step in achieving any writing dream is to give yourself a target to hit.

You’ll need to make your writing goal measurable in some way. Think about how you’re going to achieve that goal – if it’s a large goal you need to break it down further into small steps. Do you want to write a certain number of blog posts over a period of time? Write a certain number of words each week or spend a certain length of time per month?

Make your goal as specific as you can. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: “How will I know that I’ve completed this goal?” If you don’t know, you’ll need to make your goal more precise.

2. Give it stakes (you have to give a damn)

A good writing goal is personal to you and has stakes attached to it. There needs to be some consequences if you don’t reach your goal and there needs to be some benefits if you do.

If there are no consequences or benefits attached then you’ll struggle to give a damn whether or not you reach it because… well, what does it matter? And that means that you will lose motivation.

One way to give your goal stakes is to imagine yourself into the future and make a list of the benefits of meeting your goal – and the drawbacks of not meeting it. Neuroscience proves that when you imagine your future your brain releases chemicals like Oxytocin which improves your mood and keeps you going.

Think about your life in the future – in a month, at the end of this year, or this time next year. How will your life have changed after meeting your writing goal? Will you have increased your career chances, improved your business? Will you feel more fulfilled, creative and happy?

>> Read more: How to set a writing goal: the ultimate guide

3. Make it stretch you – but not too much

Your writing goal needs to energise you but it also needs to be winnable otherwise you’ll just lose motivation. It’s good to be ambitious but if you’re too ambitious – you risk falling at the first hurdle.

So, don’t get carried away. Try to get the balance right. Set a goal that stretches you in some way but is also realistic.

Saying that, don’t make your goal too easy to achieve either. If you think your goal looks a cinch to complete then you’ll probably just get bored along the way.

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.

4. Plan it, schedule it

Our research among thousands of writers indicates that planning in the time to write matters far more than the amount of time you allocate to writing.

It doesn’t much matter so whether you write in daily chunks – or whether you binge write to a deadline or whether you schedule a portion of your day, week or month for writing – the key is that your writing time must be identified in advance – in whatever way works for you.

The very worst type of routine comes when you ‘try to find the time’ to write at the last minute. Not only is this a waste of time, it’s also a psychologically and physically depleting approach that will grind you down!

5. Do you REALLY want to write it?

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your writing project – so you’ve got to feel committed to it in some way. You have to feel an enthusiasm and passion for the project – or that you’ve just got to do it!

When you’re thinking about what you want to achieve with your writing, try to pick a goal that energises you in some way. Something that fires you up and you’ll get a kick out of achieving – or that if you don’t achieve you’ll be kicking yourself this time next year.

>> Read more: How small steps lead to great progress

Infographic: How to set the perfect writing goal

  • Vague writing goals only lead to vague outcomes. You have to know when you’ve reached your goal, so get specific.
  • It’s good to feel a little scared by your goal. Don’t worry if you are not 100% sure you can make it.
  • ‘Trying to find the time’ to write is depleting. Plan in the time in advance and prioritise your writing time.
  • A goal without a challenge is just like work. Stretch yourself. Make your goal winnable, but not a cinch to achieve.
  • You’ve got to want it. Wanting to write and enjoying writing (or having written) will make you more likely to return to your project. It helps to be motivated, but often motivation comes from momentum.

You can download the goal setting infographic here. Thank you to Graphic Change for designing the infographic.