Setting Writing Goals

Not setting writing goals is dangerous for me!

There’s always something else to pull my time and attention away from writing. It’s too easy to let each day go by and not accomplish much writing. It’s too easy to tell myself that it’s okay that I didn’t get that first draft done by the end of the month. I tell myself that putting off finishing a piece of writing or not submitting that story this week is okay. There’s always tomorrow!

The next thing I know is that I have made time for everything else except my writing.

I’m guilty. I’ve reached that point again. It’s time to regroup and prioritize. It’s time to put my writing first again.

The trick is in setting realistic goals. I want to set goals that challenge me and push me forward. But I don’t want to set such hard goals that I get discouraged. And I certainly don’t want to spend so much time making goals that I don’t actually do any writing! (Guilty again! I’ve done that too!)

Also, goals should be well-defined but not so restrictive that I can’t adjust them when I need to. For instance, if I set a goal of getting the first draft of a short story done within a week and find that the story has taken on a life of its own, as long as I’m working on it diligently every day, I can extend that goal. So there needs to be a bit of flexibility.

One of the best ways I’ve found to keep moving ahead is to keep a journal about my writing. I can jot down how much time I spent on that blog post, how much time I devoted to market research for that short story, how much time I spent revising. As long as I see that I’ve made an honest effort every day, I consider that a good day of writing.

I’ve heard some writers make Excel spreadsheets to track their writing time. Others have a writing partner who holds them accountable for their writing. What tricks do you use to keep on track?

Okay, back to my writing!

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