Without writing goals, it’s difficult to reach your dream. There are many examples of writing goals, and they vary depending on the author. However, what is true for successful authors is the same: They pursued a writing goal.
A Story About Goals
Goals are often compared to True North. Deviate a few degrees and you’ll land in a completely different location than you originally planned. While this example is a great one, let’s compare writing goals to rock climbing:
You stand at the foot of a mountain range and someone walks by. “What are you climbing today?” They ask.
“Oh, I’m a climber.”
They look at your gear and nod. “I see that. Which peak are you aiming for today?”
“I don’t know. I’m just a climber. We’ll see what happens.”
They frown. “How will you set a climbing course if you don’t know where you want to summit?”
“Like I said, I’m a climber. I’ll figure it out.”
While this example may seem silly, and some of the best climbers would shake their heads at it, we can likely all relate at some level.
We want to be a writer, but we’re not sure what goal to pursue first:
- Learning how to write
- Working with a writing coach
- Writing a book
- Growing a platform
- Creating a book proposal
In this article, we discuss three different stages of writing and writing goals for each. Whichever category you fall into, we have tips for you:
Whether you write a fiction novel or nonfiction, you can apply these writing goals. At its core, writing is about getting those words down no matter your selected genre.
Beginning Author: Set A Daily Word Count
It’s easy as a new author to believe that unless your first draft looks like your favorite book’s final draft, you’re not cut out to be an author. Thankfully, this is so far from the truth. Authors are known for their many edits, and even bestselling authors work with editors before their final draft goes to print.
Instead of letting yourself get discouraged with your first draft, take a few minutes to change your mindset. When I was first learning to write, my writing mentor taught a method I still use:
- Set a daily word count
- Edit the previous day of work
- Write the current day of work
Sticking to a word count goal has helped me successfully write my books, on deadline, and meet (if not exceed) my deadline. Instead of planning to write 500 flawless words, plan to write X number of words and edit them the following day.
This method keeps you writing, keeps you editing, and helps you move closer to your writing goals every day.
Beginning Author: Learn To Self-Edit
Writers frequently ask me if they should hire a professional editor prior to submitting their work to publishers. Short answer, no. A publisher makes an offer on your writing, not the edits of a professional. This reasoning is why it’s imperative to learn how to self-edit and make it one of your primary writing goals.
If you plan to self-publish, this is also true. You have control over your writing career, but you still want your work to be the best it can. Learn different writing rules, and grow in implementing them into your book:
- Show the story, rather than tell it
- Write actively, not passively
- Maintain your writing point-of-view
- Remember less is more with description
You can apply these rules to nonfiction, as well as focus on:
- Creating a strong voice
- Use great sources
Learning to self-edit will put you leaps and bounds ahead.
Mid-Level Author: Self-Imposed Deadline
Once you feel more comfortable writing and editing, it’s time to train yourself to write on deadline. If you plan to release your book in six months, how many words do you need to write per day to reach your writing goals?
Remember, once you set a release date it’s crucial to meet your deadline. Whatever genre you write, it’s vital to do what you say you will do. Imagine trying to reschedule your:
- Guest blogging dates
- TV interviews
- Podcast appearances
- Launch team
Do yourself a favor and stick to your deadline!
Mid-Level Author: Make Use Of Beta Readers
Writers often refer to their books as their babies. Early on, it can be difficult to accept feedback, even if it’s in the form of constructive criticism. Once you are used to editing your book, consider sending a few chapters to other writing friends you respect.
Ask them for feedback regarding:
- Chapter length
- Anything else they pick up on
Beta readers who are also writers help you see your book from both a reader’s perspective as well as notice areas for writing improvement. Beta readers view your writing goals with a fresh perspective, and this is crucial.
Experienced Author: Work Life Balance
If you have several books under your belt and writing on a deadline is normal for you, examples of writing goals will probably look a bit different. For you, you may need to focus on:
- Spending the appropriate time OUT of the writing chair
- Turning off your brain when you’re away from your office
- Refusing the urge to exceed your daily word count
Successful authors have so much coming at them:
- Fans asking for their next book
It can be difficult to step away and enjoy the moment. Consider spending an afternoon with family and friends with nothing on the agenda. Go to dinner and don’t talk about your work in progress. Do what you need to do to recharge!
Experienced Author: Love What You Do
On the other hand, when you grow accustomed to writing for a living and regularly publishing books, like anything, it can get monotonous. Don’t forget to focus on the privilege it is to write for a living:
- There are so many aspiring authors who would love to be where you are
- Your hard work is changing so many lives
- Your talent is a gift you can use for others
Sometimes writers take some time off to vacation, decompress, and reset. If you have the opportunity and feel the need to do so, take advantage of some time off. Burnout is real, even if it comes from doing something you love. The more you can pace yourself, the longer you will find yourself loving what you do best.
Decide Today’s Writing Goal
Nonfiction and fiction writers alike all have goals to pursue. If you want to reach your goal, it’s crucial to set daily goals so with many small steps, you can reach them.
Today is not an exception.
Instead of clicking out of this article and scrolling through social media, open a notes app or grab a piece of paper. Write down a goal for today, and then work to achieve it. Your goal could be as small as reading your last bit of writing or as ambitious as writing 1,000 words by evening.
Whatever it is, make your goal doable for you and where you’re at in your journey. Slow and steady is the way to reach your goal with energy, instead of burned out and ready to be done.
Best wishes as you set your next writing goal and continue on your journey. Writing is a privilege we all share!
If you're ready to lock in, finish your book, and hit those writing goals, be sure to pick up this guide: