How to Set Clearly Formulated Goals for Your Writing: And How to Achieve Them

How to Set Clearly Formulated Goals for Your Writing: And How to Achieve Them + a FREE Download

A new year is approaching, and so I thought: Would it not be great to end this year by planning next year’s writing goals? Below, I share my process of doing this.

Every person has at least one goal they want to achieve in life. It can be based on anything and everything. This post will illustrate how to set up clearly formulated goals to help you achieve what you want.

This post is designed for writers. However, the methods of setting up goals in this post can be used by anyone for any goals. And, regardless of your goal, you will find the information in this post valuable.

 

6 Essentials to Achieve Your Goal

In order to achieve your goal, you need to have the following:

  • A clearly formulated goal - You need to know exactly what it is you want to achieve and what it will take to achieve it.
  • Ambition - You should really want to achieve your goal, otherwise it’s not a goal important enough.
  • Discipline and stamina - You need to have the stamina it takes to achieve your goal.
  • A written program - You need to have a practical action plan over how to achieve your goal.
  • Routines - Everything you do to achieve your goal needs to be incorporated into your daily (or, least of all, weekly) routine.
  • Continuous tracking - You need to track your work in order to see if you are getting closer towards achieving your goal, or if you need to change or improve those tasks you’re doing to achieve your goal.

If you follow the instructions below, you will have the tools you need to set up goals and work towards achieving them.

 

Two Separate Lists

It is important to have goals. Goals feed the motivation, and the motivation is what drives us to reach whatever it is we want. But to set up goals (and achieve them) can be really hard.

 

Personally, I have two separate lists of goals when it comes to my own writing-goals. One is all about realistic goals, those I know I can achieve if I only put my mind to them and work hard (example: write this many words a day, edit these many pages a day, publish these many books a year, etc.).

 

The other list is what I call the “List of Dreams”. Here, I’ve gathered goals that may not be very realistic but absolutely achievable if I work hard and stay focused (example: a private writing-cave/office with a view of Manhattan, hitting The New York Times Best Seller list, adapting one of my novels into a screenplay, etc.). It’s important for me to have this “List of Dreams” because it inspires me every time I look at it, and inspiration is the fuel to my fire.

 

You should also have two lists, one for realistic goals and one “List of Dreams”.

 

With that said, the list with the realistic goals is the one we will focus on in this blog post, because those are the goals you will deal with on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

 

So, here’s what I want you to do:

  • Grab a piece of paper.
  • Write down all the goals you want to achieve with your writing and writing-career, both realistic and those that are far away dreams. Ask yourself what you really want, and write them down. This is meant to be like a mind mapping exercise. Go crazy with your ideas.
  • When you’re done, highlight those you want the most as of right now. You can have one or many goals. You can also have several that are connected to each other. Either way, transfer them to a new piece of paper. This is the list we will focus on.

 

You can, of course, make this list a digital one. The important thing is to write down your goals. One thing I’ve noticed have worked for me is to write them down and hang them up somewhere where I can see them every day. This gives me daily motivation to work towards achieving my goals. If you can’t, or don’t want to hang the list where you can see it every day, you should at least write down your goals. I have found that I’ve reached those goals I’ve written down more often than those I’ve only had in my head.

 

I believe this has something to do with a psychological aspect—just like writing a book can bring you some clarity of what it is you actually want to say or portray, or even make sense of the world. Even though this may seem like a very simple thing to do, it’s very important. If you write down concrete goals, your brain will remember them and you will have a bigger chance of actually achieving them. That’s what we all want, right?

 

If there is anything I want you to take with you from this blog post, it’s that: always write down your goals.


Download the FREE SMART Goal Setting Formula template!

Do you want a workbook to write down your goals?

Download the FREE SMART Goal Setting Formula template!


SMART Goal-Setting Formula to Set Clearly Formulated Goals

Now that you have a basic list of goals you want to achieve, it is time to actively begin working towards making your goals a reality. To do that, you need to clearly formulate your goals. One of the ways I use to formulate my goals is to use the SMART goal-setting formula.

 

Have you heard about the SMART goal-setting formula? If not, or if you need a quick reminder, here is a short explanation:

  • S — Specific
  • M — Measurable
  • A — Achievable (how)
  • R — Realistic (worthwhile)
  • T — Time-based (when)

 

Let’s take a closer look at them:

Your goal needs to be as Specific as possible, meaning that you need to answer questions like:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why do I want to accomplish this, and why is this important to me?
  • What are the requirements?
  • What are the constraints?

 

Your goal needs to be Measurable, meaning that you need to answer questions like:

  • When will I start working towards achieving my goal?
  • How will I measure my progress?
  • How will I know that I’ve reached/achieved my goal?

 

Your goal needs to be Achievable and something you really want to achieve, meaning that you need to answer questions like:

  • Can I see myself achieving this goal?
  • How can the goal be achieved?
  • Can I break it down into manageable steps, and what are the logical steps I should take?

 

Your goal needs to be Realistic because it needs to realistically be something you are able to achieve, meaning that you need to answer questions like:

  • Is my goal to difficult to reach? Too easy?
  • Is this a worthwhile goal?
  • Is this the right time for me to reach this goal?
  • Can I put down as much time and effort it will take to achieve my goal?
  • Do I have the necessary resources to achieve my goal?

 

Your goal needs to be Time-based in order for you to be able to control your way to achieving your goal, meaning that you need to answer questions like:

  • When will I spend time working towards achieving my goal?
  • How long will it take to achieve my goal? (Be realistic.)
  • When is my deadline? (Be specific with the date.)

 

When you have answered these questions as detailed as possible, you will have a clear, formulated goal that will be a lot easier to achieve than a goal that is still stuck in your head.

 

So, grab a new piece of paper and answer these questions for every goal you wrote on your list.

 

Plan of Action

Making your plan of action is quite simple. You start by getting a larger overview. If you have set your deadline one year ahead, you have that time in between start and finish to plan.

 

The easiest way to make a plan of action (and a way to be able to track your progress) is to split your overarching goal into smaller ones. For example:

  • Your overarching goal is to write a novel of 60.000 words in a year.
  • Split the goal of 60.000 words in a year into monthly goals: 5.000 words a month.
  • Split the goal of 5.000 words a month into weekly goals: 1.250 words a week.
  • You can also plan daily goals if you want to get into the nitty-gritty.

 

Simple, right? However, not every goal is this basic.

 

If your goal is, for example, to publish a novel before the end of the year, the planning will look a little different. There are many smaller steps you need to take to reach this kind of goal—like getting your novel professionally edited, getting your novel formatted, working on a book cover with a designer, fixing the product pages on the different retailer’s platforms, etc.

 

With a goal like this, you need to plan from deadline to start. The reason you begin from behind is because there are many different components to finish some weeks before the release date of a novel. To make it easier, write a list of the things you need to get done, and then make a note on how long (realistically speaking) it will take for you to finish those tasks. For example:

  • Developmental edit - one month
  • Line edit - three weeks
  • Proofread - one week
  • Book cover design - two weeks
  • Etc.

 

Then it’s time to put them in a planner of choice. Write down when you need to finish these smaller goals, and then when you need to start them so that you know what task to start when the time comes.

 

Planning your plan of action from behind is also a great way to see how long your goal may take to achieve. You may realize your deadline is too tight, or that it’s too far away. If so, change your deadline to a more realistic time.

 

When you are done with your plan of action, put it in action and work towards your goal/goals.

 

Recap

  • Grab a piece of paper
  • Write down all the goals you want to achieve with your writing and writing-career, both realistic and those that are far away dreams. Ask yourself what you really want, and write them down. This is meant to be like a mind mapping exercise. Go crazy with your ideas.
  • When you’re done, highlight those you want the most as of right now. You can have one or many goals. You can also have several that are connected to each other. Either way, transfer them to a new piece of paper.
  • Grab another piece of paper and write down your answers to the questions in the SMART goal-setting formula list to create a clearly formulated goal.
  • Create your plan of action by splitting your overarching goal into smaller ones.
  • Now, set your plan in action and work towards achieving your goal!

 

I hope you found this post useful!

Do you often set up writing-goals? If so, what is your method for doing this? Please do share in the comments below.

 
How to Set Clearly Formulated Goals for Your Writing: And How to Achieve Them + a FREE Download
How to Set Clearly Formulated Goals for Your Writing: And How to Achieve Them + a FREE Download