It’s easy to say “I want to write a novel” or “I want to be a blogger” or even “I want to grow my following” and it’s much harder achieve these goals. Today, I want to talk about how to set and achieve goals.
- Have a clear image of what a successful end would look like. Today’s end goal will be “I want to complete my first draft.”
- Create a deadline. For example: “I want a rough draft at the end of the year.” My “big goals” are always end of the year goals. Thinking ahead more than a year makes me sad and anxious. It’s too big and there are too many places where the plan could go awry. You have to find your own large goal sweet spot. Maybe you’ve got what it takes for the five-year plan or maybe you only want 30-90 days.
- Create goals and timelines for each chunk. You might use your story arc to create these goals. Like if you have a three act story, you want to spend 3 months writing the intro 4 months writing the middle and 5 months writing the back third. Or you might break the book by chapters and decide to write 2-3 chapters a month. Personally, I use straight word counts, but everyone will have their own organization.
- Identify any stumbling blocks in achieving your goal. I can type about 1,000 words an hour once I get into a groove. What holds me up is research.
- Create a way to move around the “hard parts.” To succeed in my plans, I need to limit my research or mark-up areas where I’ll need to verify or detail out in a second draft (if I even keep whatever scene it is). Besides that, I need to set a timer when I start researching. No more than 45 minutes of impromptu studying. Any more time needs to be scheduled and accounted for.
- Schedule time to meet your goals. I can’t write my rough draft every day. Instead, I’ve scheduled time each week to write and I stick with a weekly word count goal. My goal is 3,200 words a week. To reach my goal I’d only need to write about 2,700 words a week, but I’m setting up a safety net with a larger goal. This way if my story is longer than I thought or if I fall short some weeks, I could still finish my project.
- Actually block out the time you plan to use each day/week/month and keep a reminder near you. Trying something new? I recommend that at first you give yourself double whatever the amount of time you think you need. If that’s too much time awesome!
- If double the time doesn’t complete your task, relax. Your experience is normal, don’t be discouraged. I recommend backing off your yearly goal and just spending a month recording your process. How far do you get in each writing session? How long are the sessions, are shorter or longer spurts better for you? Are there times of day that make writing easier? Use this self-knowledge to create a more realistic plan and goal for you. Remember if at first you don’t succeed; you just need a different plan!
Looking for more content like this? Check out my 2020 writer’s goals, my 2020 planner system and Habitica, a goal system that may help you track your own progress.