Setting The Write Goals

I want to write more in 2013 than I did in 2012.

The new year is a time when many writers reassess their goals and take some time to make a plan for the year. Me, I’m not a planner. Don’t get me wrong. I try it almost every year, and fall off the wagon in a few weeks. I’d like to be one of those authors who can work off outlines, and keep to a set writing schedule, but something in my nature resists that.

But trust me, there is still hope for people like me, and all of you who are trying to figure out what your goals should be for the year. In that spirit, I thought I’d share a couple of the things that have worked for me:

1) Keep it simple – I have at least 5-7 projects in my head at any one time. It can be a temptation to create a plan that incorporates all of them. Trying to do too many things at once can spread us thin, and decrease the quality of our work in any one project. We all want to succeed tomorrow, and this self-publishing world seems to increase the pressure to keep putting something out there, but it’s a lot better to get one or two things done than to start 5-7.

2) Keep it concrete – Simply put, 1000 words a day is better than writing an hour a day. That can be more or less than an hour, but it is a set amount to shoot for each day. If we make our writing goals by time alone, then we risk squandering our hour with distractions, or cutting ourselves off when we’re on a roll.

3) You are not alone – Most of us try to have relationships with other people. It makes us better character writers, and just plain better people. There’s a somewhat romantic notion in devoting ourselves so fully to a thing to the exclusion of all else, but the else doesn’t tend to love us for it. I do believe there are some professions that might be better off not getting married, but writing isn’t one of them. Make sure to structure time with your loved ones into any plan you make. Otherwise, what was it all for?

4) Don’t be afraid to drop goals – I’m not saying give up, but rather, reallocate your time to things that are working and lose the things that aren’t. Or it may even just be a matter of reducing time spent in one thing, and increasing it in another. I used to write this blog four times a week (my “Daily Show” schedule). Ultimately at least one of those posts ended up being “filler” and I was feeling exhausted when I tried to work on my external writing projects. I’ve been writing three times a week for half a year now, and I think not only has it improved the quality of the blog, but the quality of my other projects. You have to be willing to reassess rather than just sticking hard nosed to a goal.

5) Pray about it – For me, faith comes into not only why I write, but how I write. Personally, I’ve never felt it was a good idea for me to make decisions about what I work on without God. I’m not saying that I don’t make my own decisions, but there is something about the reflective process that is necessary when making any important decision. And trust me, any serious writing project is an important, potentially life altering decision. Take it seriously.

6) Track it if you must – We all like ticking off the little boxes when we finish something. Just make sure you’re not spending more time making and serving the list than doing the actual work. That’s why I’m a fan of the concrete but lose goals of 1000 words a day. Easy to check, quantify, and get back to work.

7) Be patient – You probably aren’t going to write your bestseller tomorrow. If you’re a blogger, your first, your tenth or even your hundredth post might not be Freshly Pressed. Writing is a lot of hard work, refining your craft, and plain old output. Success will come to those who put the time in, and who don’t worry about it to much. Relax and just enjoy the writing. You already probably work for money, and maybe you want to make money off the writing too, but it’s not going to be any better than your workaday job if you don’t remember to have fun as well. While I don’t think we should trick ourselves into thinking the writing life is an easy one, I think we should enjoy the fruits it has to offer, independence, community, and the ability to create something new.

Good luck in the new year. What are some of your goals for the year?

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19 Comments

Filed under Writing, Writing Goals

19 responses to “Setting The Write Goals

  1. madiebeartri

    I’m not a planner. I have tried. I write as the thoughts enter my head usually at 3am. My brain likes to jump around from one story to another. I have heard writers say work on one project at a time. I can’t do it. This will probably be my downfall. Nothing will get finished in its entirety….or I will eventually finish 5 projects at the same time…

    • I definitely understand the jumping from idea to idea. That’s kinda why I like the blog. Here is the space where I can embrace the random, do a 40 minute story outside my usual genre. Try a new writing experiment. Outside of the blog I do try to keep to one project, but there are always temptations. Good luck with all your projects!

  2. Fabulous post! This is exactly (I mean, EXACTLY) what I needed to read at this point in time. My first, and foremost, goal is to not compare myself to others – I’m going to write simply for the love of it. Thank you for helping me to start off my day with this clarity.

  3. sonivashisht

    Share us with the secret of ‘ Freshly Pressed’ some day …:d just joking! I am looking forward to somewhat be able to catch with NanoWrimo kind of thing. Just something better day by day improving and refining. Your blogs and writing are amazings .

  4. I’m not a planner either. I have 4 or 5 works-in-progress going and I hop from one to the other. Every once in a while, I’ll set a temporary goal, like 2000 words a day for 30 days, just to get myself moving. I tend to procrastinate. Good luck with your writing goals!

    • Good luck to you as well. If i think about it (not counting the blog), I have 4 WIP (3 Novels and my current non-fiction project). This doesn’t count the several more books in my head that haven’t been typed yet. So I definitely understand the multiple projects thing. It can be tough to work on just one, but finishing is also a glorious feeling. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. K. C. Mead

    I would say that my major writing goal for this year is ambitious but I want to have a book contract in hand before the fall — my first book is getting published (and by a traditional publishing house, no less!) this fall and I want to keep the momentum going; I find that I have a problem focusing on specific projects as well except for when I’m working toward a deadline — whether its for a contract, competition, or class, some sort of clear deadline is always a major help to me. They say, after all, that we’re at our most creative once we’re put under constraints — thanks for this great blog!

    • I agree wholeheartedly, constraints often spur creativity along. Congrats on the traditional publishing! I’d still like to do that with at least one of my WIP. I think the multi-pronged approach will probably work the best for me. Good luck in the year to come!

  6. The past few years, I’ve realized myself to be a floater rather than a planner, but this year, I’m going to try and write every day. The goal of 1000+ words per day is a great one, much better than any amount of time. Great post, can’t wait for more. 🙂

  7. One of my goals is to write for writings sake, or like you said, have fun with my writing. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? The point you made about not worrying about the finished product resonated with me.

    • I’m glad. I’m a fan of the movie “Finding Forrester” and am a big believer in “punch the keys, damnit!” Just getting a first draft is a big stumbling block, and one that is helped by just writing. Revision can fix all your mistakes later. Hope this year of writing is fun for you!

  8. This time of year, I’ve been seeing a lot of “Resolutions are stupid” blog posts, so it was refreshing to see a post about setting realistic, achievable goals with a blog. You’re doing nice work here. I just discovered your blog, and I’m liking what I’m seeing here.

    • Glad you like what you see. I don’t think resolutions are stupid either (though I sometimes question our arbitrary choice to make them at the beginning of a calendar year). I do think making some kind of a concrete plan can help in making each writing year better than the last. You just have to also be willing to flex and change it as new ideas and projects arise (i.e. For me the Fractal Book last year cut into revisions on my novel, which I hope to get back to this year). Good luck this year!

  9. Pingback: Write Goals 2014 | [BTW] : Ben Trube, Writer

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