How to Set and Keep Writing Goals

by Lindsay 3/17/2019 5:35:00 PM


Contributed by:
Katie Almeida Spencer


Setting and keeping writing goals can seem like a daunting task. Indeed, many people approach writing like any other art form – you either are or are not an artistic genius. If you are a writing genius, the ideas should just flow out onto the page, right? Well, no, usually it takes quite a bit of work.


Elizabeth Gilbert discusses this in her TED talk titled “Your elusive creative genius.” She explains that in the past, we would never say that one WAS a genius, but instead that one HAD a genius. That simple verb switch changes everything (then again, changing our verbs always has that sort of impact). Anyone can HAVE a genius, but it takes work to recognize, nurture, and appreciate that genius.


Writing takes work, even writing that is inspired by a genius. There is always (hopefully, at least) an audience to consider, and the act of considering that audience combined with looking at a text as a whole is a deliberate and sometimes tedious process. That said, it’s not impossible to set or keep writing goals, and setting and keeping these goals will help your inner creativity wiggle loose and spill out onto the page.


Here are three important steps to setting and keeping your writing goals:


First, make writing a priority

Sounds simple, right? Many writers want to write more, so it would seem it already is a priority. But then other things creep in – our obligations to our relationships (whether our kids, partners, friends, neighbors, or coworkers), our homes (mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathroom, and so on), cooking and eating (which require shopping beforehand), staying healthy… You get my point. There are A TON of things that could seemingly take priority over our writing, especially if writing doesn’t pay the bills (yet!).


You MUST take the mental leap and make writing a priority. Give yourself the space to say no to tea with a neighbor or yes to simpler meals so that you have more time to write.


Be realistic about your time

Once you’ve mentally committed to writing as a priority in your life, you have to deal with the minutiae of actually finding time to write (i.e. setting and keeping writing goals). Sit down with your schedule and figure out where you can fit more writing in. Assume whatever it is you are working on will take you more time than you expect. (Full disclosure: That is NOT one of my strengths.) And start filling in your planner. Literally write down that you will be working on XYZ piece from 9-11 a.m. on Friday morning.


This requires you to really recognize your abilities and limits. Do you work best in the morning, like me, or after everyone else is in bed, like my husband? Can you make meaningful progress on your piece in less than an hour, or would it be foolish to even try? Don’t set yourself up for failure by giving yourself a half hour chunk every morning if it takes you 25 minutes to really get rolling. Instead, carve out two and a half hours one day. You’ll feel more accomplished, and that will keep you motivated.


Stick to a process

Finally, find a process that works for you and your genre of writing. You usually cannot just sit down and wing it. For example, business writing (and I would argue most writing to a degree) is heavily dependent on a clear understanding of audience, so the writing process should lead with a nuanced audience analysis.  Instructional Solutions goes through a detailed and specific 6-Step writing process for business writing, but there are lots of approaches out there. 


Figure out your process and write it down. Put it near your work station (whether that is a computer or a notebook). Stick to it so that you use your time efficiently and don’t get side tracked.


These seem like simple guidelines, but they can be truly transformational. Making writing a true priority in your life will allow you to find time in your schedule for it, and sticking to a process will allow you to be efficient and effective with your time. This combination of emotional and mechanical work will help you set and keep realistic goals, which will create a momentum that lets you enjoy more of the fun and creative work of writing.




Blog Archive  Feed Subscribe

Recent comments

Sign in