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How to Set Writing Goals & Stick to Them

January 04, 2024 (Last Updated March 18, 2024)

Marcy G.

It’s the beginning of a new year, and you may already be feeling the pressure to stick to resolutions and keep yourself accountable. As an author, setting writing goals is a great way to stay focused and make progress in your writing endeavors, but sticking to these goals can be anxiety-inducing, causing stress and burnout. Establishing defined writing goals requires commitment, planning, and the ability to adapt. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set writing goals and stick to them:

Define Clear and Specific Goals

Clearly define what you want to achieve with your writing. Whether it's completing a novel, writing a certain number of words per day, or finishing a specific project, make your goals specific and measurable.


Break Down Larger Goals

Divide big writing goals into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes the overall objective less overwhelming and allows you to track progress more easily.


Set Realistic Timeframes

Be realistic about the time it takes to accomplish each task. Setting unrealistic deadlines can lead to frustration and burnout. Identify the most important goals and tasks and focus on what will have the greatest impact on your writing and career.


Create a Writing Schedule

Establish a regular writing routine. Whether it's daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, having a consistent schedule helps form a writing habit.


Use SMART Criteria

Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This framework adds clarity and structure to your writing goals.


Visualize Success

Create a mental image of achieving your writing goals. Visualization can increase motivation and help you stay focused on the end result.


Track Your Progress

Keep a writing journal or use tracking tools to monitor your progress. Celebrate small victories and learn from challenges.


Stay Accountable

Share your goals with writing buddies, friends, or family who can provide support and hold you accountable. Knowing that others are aware of your goals can boost motivation.


Eliminate Distractions

Create a dedicated writing space and minimize distractions. Turn off notifications, set specific writing hours, and create an environment conducive to focus. Creating a writing space you feel comfortable in leads to productive writing habits.


Reward Yourself

Establish a system of rewards for achieving milestones. Treat yourself to something enjoyable when you complete a task, whether it's a small break, a snack, or a leisure activity.


Adjust and Adapt

Be flexible with your goals. Life is dynamic and unexpected events may arise. Adjust your goals as needed, and don't be too hard on yourself if things don't go exactly as planned.


Learn from Setbacks

If you encounter setbacks, view them as learning opportunities. Analyze what went wrong, make adjustments, and use the experience to improve your future goal-setting strategies.


Incorporate Variety

Keep your writing routine interesting by incorporating variety. Experiment with different writing styles, genres, or projects to maintain enthusiasm. It’s also helpful to consume other books, magazines, and writings that are not your own to provide inspiration and different perspectives.


Seek Feedback

Share your work with trusted peers or writing groups. Constructive feedback can motivate you to keep going and improve your skills.


Celebrate Achievements

Celebrate both small and significant achievements. Acknowledging your progress fosters a positive mindset and reinforces your commitment to your writing goals.


The key to establishing any sort of routine or striving toward a goal is consistency. Adaptability and a positive mindset will help carry you throughout your writing journey, so remember that even if you have a bad writing day, or heck, week or month, that there are tools readily available to get you back on track and recenter your mindset. Happy writing!

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