How to Set Meaningful Writing Goals in 9 Steps

August 21, 2023 | 11 mins

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Writing goals are important, and you don’t need us to tell you that (no matter where you are in your book writing process). 

But as simple as they sound, setting goals – especially ones that center around your writing plan – can seem like a daunting task. It can be overwhelming to know where to even begin.

If you want to learn how to write goals for your writing process, start by acknowledging your power. Sing it loud and sing it proud, my friend, because you do have the power!

You are very capable of setting and achieving your writing goals when it comes to writing a book. Be prepared to celebrate your small wins along the way. 

They will lead to your ultimate goal of holding your completed book in your hands. I can speak from experience that becoming an author of a published book is one of the most special moments you will ever have.

If you’re like me (and most writers out there), you likely struggle with eliminating distractions and remaining focused on actually writing. Maybe you even struggle with overcoming self-doubt. 

Follow the steps I’ve outlined here and you will begin to see positive changes in your life – no matter what obstacles get thrown in your way. Regardless of what phase you’re in with the writing and publishing process, it’s time to pause and make sure you’re setting yourself up for success each day by setting writing goals and holding yourself accountable.

Ready to learn how to write goals that will help you succeed? Let’s get started.

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9 steps for setting meaningful writing goals

Here are the steps you should take to set successful and meaningful writing goals:

1. Know the “why” of your writing goals

Answer this question: Why are you writing your book? 

Consider how your written story will positively impact the lives of your readers and the world as a whole. Consider how it will change your own life. 

Will your book lead to a speaking or coaching career? Will it help you launch a new business? Will it provide you and your family with financial stability? Will it give you the flexibility to work from home and spend more time with your family?

Write the answer to this major question in 3-5 sentences. Then, hang it up where you will see it as you write each day. It will serve as motivation and help you persevere as you navigate through the world of self-publishing.

Display Writing Goals

2. Commit to your writing plan

Some days it will be super easy to stay committed and excited about meeting your daily writing goals. Other days will test you. 

These challenging days will shake you to your core and flood your mind with doubt. In moments like these, instead of succumbing to writing excuses, revisit your “why” and focus on accomplishing one step at a time. 

The number one question you need to focus on is: What’s the next step toward reaching my writing goals?

Don’t view the entire mountain at once. You don’t want to look too far ahead. 

Focus on what you can do today to move the needle forward. 

Take your first step toward the top. Soon enough, you will reach that breathtaking, long-awaited view.

Here's how to commit to your writing plan:

Visualize yourself achieving your goal

What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like? Visualize it in your mind, or create a vision board full of inspirational images and writing quotes to help you “see” your achievement.

Then, make a promise to yourself to put in the hard work to reach that vision.

Create positive affirmation statements

One of the most important things when learning how to write goals is simply to shift your mindset. Write a list of positive statements that start with “I am” and “I will.” Use these positive affirmations to improve your mindset and overcome self-doubt.

Display your favorite statements above your writing space and read them aloud each morning. Keep your statements specific and attainable. Include statements you might not necessarily believe yet. 

After time and repetition, you will start to feel more confident and believe in each one. Believing in yourself ultimately leads you to accomplishing your goals. The more you say it, the more you’ll believe it and the more you’ll live it.

Here are some examples of positive affirmations to help get you started:

  • I am able to think and speak positively. 
  • I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to with hard work and determination.
  • I will complete the first draft of my book by April 12th.
  • I will become a motivational speaker for teachers and children.

Develop daily writing habits

I recommend writing first thing in the morning. Set your alarm for one hour earlier and create a routine that includes a block of time for writing.

Find book writing software that improves your productivity, and be consistent with it. 

Establishing a routine will strengthen your writing muscle and develop positive habits that become automatic, so that you are working towards your writing goals and sticking to a writing plan every day.

I highly recommend reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod if you haven’t already. This morning routine does wonders for your mind, body, and soul!

Eliminate distractions when writing

In a world where distractions are coming at us from every angle, it’s important to learn how to eliminate them.

Write in a place where you are able to fully focus on your craft. Create a writing plan, and actually follow it in a distraction-free place.

If your phone or other devices are distracting you from your writing goals, keep them in a separate room and make yourself earn them as a reward.

Be accountable

Hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress. It can also be helpful to have an accountability buddy who will check in with you regularly and provide further encouragement and tough love as you work to achieve your writing goals.

Pro tip: If you don’t know any fellow authors or writers who you can count on, attend some writing conferences to network with others who are going through the same book writing process as you!

3. Set deadlines for your writing goals

It’s important that you set deadlines for any goal you’re working towards. Deadlines add a bit of pressure, which will help you fight procrastination. 

Make it a realistic writing goal deadline. For example, don’t set a goal to write your book in two days. Sure, it may not be impossible, especially if you hire a ghostwriter. But if you plan to write on your own, your goal needs to be realistic. 

Create different writing goals depending on where you're at in your journey as an author.

Check out our other article for examples of writing goals at different author stages. Then, use a planner to record the deadlines for your writing goals. When it’s written in your calendar, you’re making it official (which will help you take it more seriously). 

The planner I use has a monthly view and a daily view. This helps me keep track of my monthly deadlines as well as the smaller daily writing goals I set for myself. 

On days when I feel overwhelmed, I only focus on the daily view. On days when I need to see the bigger picture, I refer to the calendar view. It’s the best of both worlds!

4. Plan out rewards

You deserve to be celebrated – especially after your motivation pays off. After all, you’re on your way to becoming a published author!

In order to remain motivated, set weekly or monthly rewards to work toward as you start writing your book. 

It can be as simple as going out for ice cream or dinner at your favorite restaurant. Or it can be buying something for yourself that you’ve been wanting for some time now. The choice is yours. 

Whichever type of reward will help motivate you to achieve your writing goals, plan it today. Remember to enjoy it once you’ve earned it and be grateful for your progress thus far!

This may seem childish, but it worked for me so I’m willing to embarrass myself by telling you. When I accomplished my daily goal, I would earn a smiley face sticker in my planner for that day. It was incredible to look back on the week or month and see the consistent effort I put in each day toward my goals!

Rewards, big or small, will help you stick to the writing goals you set for yourself. Choose your favorite rewards today and keep celebrating those small successes along the way. 

5. Break down the writing goal

You can choose how you want to set up your goals. When setting my own writing goals, I start with the big picture and work backwards to help navigate what course of action needs to be taken to reach the overall goal.

For example, during your early writing stage, a goal might be to create a detailed outline of one chapter per day. After 10-12 days (or however many chapters are in your book), you have a complete outline to take with you to the next step in your writing process. 

Writing Plan Schedule

If you are further along and weeks away from your book launch, start by setting your launch date and work backwards to plan the weeks prior accordingly.

With the big picture in mind, I break it down into smaller goals: first weekly, then daily. This helps me know what needs to get done each day in order to stay on track with my ultimate goal.

6. Use to-do lists

You may find that writing your goals on paper is the easy part, but following through is the challenge. You’re not alone!

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Here are some tips to help you stay on track with your writing goals:

Become a to-do list fanatic.

Lists help you keep track of everything that is on your mind (goals, ideas, things you need to get done, worries, etc.). Writing it down helps you declutter your mind and focus on one step at a time as you work to achieve your goals!

Prioritize your to-do list. 

Choose one to three tasks you MUST complete that day. You can’t move onto anything else until those selected items are complete. Remember to reward yourself in some way! This helps you know what to focus on first, get started right away, and manage your time well.

Set time limits. 

Set a timer. Work for 20 minutes then take a break for 5 minutes. You can use this strategy throughout the writing and editing phases of your book. Work with full focus during those 20 minutes knowing you will have that 5 minute break to walk around the house, get a snack, go outside for some fresh air, do something creative, or whatever it is that makes you feel refreshed.

Track your progress.

If you like visuals like I do, you can also keep track of your progress using a stoplight visual. Write your goals in the following color-coded columns: Get Movin’ (red), In Progress (yellow), and Accomplished (green).

As you complete each task, move it to the correct column. This helps you see all of the tasks you’ve accomplished thus far, but it also helps you create appropriate writing goals based on what is still left in the red column. It’s a magical feeling moving a task from red to yellow or yellow to green! Progress!

Track Writing Goals

7. Do at least one task a day

This all sounds nice and peachy, but the reality is … there will be difficult days that make reaching your writing goals hard. Life happens!

If for whatever reason you are having an “off” day – because let’s face it, these will happen more often than you’d like – take action.

Ask yourself this question: What is at least one thing I can do today that will get me one step closer to my ultimate writing goal?

Even if it’s not the most productive day you’ve had, at least you can go to sleep that night knowing you completed one important task. Be proud of the effort you put forth toward your writing goals.

But also, give yourself some tough love to get back on track the next day. Remember that positive habits come from consistency.

Be patient. Success may not come right away. It takes time, belief, and consistent effort.

8. Think positive

Remember this: You’ve got the power to choose the words you use everyday and whether your thoughts are positive or negative.

When speaking or thinking about your goals, choose wisely.

It’s normal to have negative thoughts like, “My writing isn't good enough” or “I’m never going to finish this chapter.” 

But the key is to dismiss the negativity. Re-frame your mindset.

For example, instead of thinking about how much more you have to write, think about how much you’ve already written. 

Positive thinking leads to positive actions, which leads to a positive life

Reaching Writing Goals

9. Imagine achieving your writing goals 

Imagine standing at the base of a volcano being told you were about to begin a journey to the peak then slide your way back down on a thin wooden board. 

Volcano boarding (aka sleigh riding down an active volcano) began with our guide’s encouraging words, “Show yourself what you’re capable of doing.”

Those words ignited a spark in me as I stood at the base of Cerro Negro Volcano during my service trip in Nicaragua.

That experience helped me realize that we are always going to be faced with mountains in life (or in this case, a volcano). 

If we choose to acknowledge the entire mountain, but then focus on one step at a time… it will help us reach that breathtaking view at the top. 

Get on with your goals!

Now you know how to set your writing goals and stick to them, so you're ready to start the journey from blank page to published book. In order to get there it takes baby steps, determination, and a positive mindset.

How do YOU stick to your writing goals?

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