Construct Writing Goals That Can Succeed

If you’ve had the chance to read my last Blog ~ Preparing To Set Writing Goals That Can Succeed…  Writing Tip #10 and Writing Exercise ~ Reflect On Your Writing Year… and followed my recommendations, you will be ready to construct writing goals for 2017 that have a real possibility of success. You will also have a list of writing achievements to date, and a list of longed-for writing outcomes.

Set aside your Writing Achievements List, ready to add to it as your goals come to fruition one by one.

Now I invite you to take my step-by-step journey into successful goal-setting. This process is intricate and sometimes heavy going, but well worth the effort in the end should you choose to follow the trail. I suggest working your way through the steps slowly, taking breaks to refocus if necessary. Here goes ~

> Take a critical look at your Longed-for Writing Outcomes List and decide whether each item is actually a goal and not an aim. To avoid entering into the incessant debate about the definition of these two words, I simply state that in this context I consider ‘aim’ to be a more general, all-encompassing statement such as ‘I want to be a well-known author’ and a ‘goal’ to be one of the many tasks I need to complete in order to reach that aim… for example, ‘Write at least one short story’.

> Re-word the items on your list to be clear, concise and qualified, like the above example.

> Remove any items that this process has rendered superfluous, and any which you consider are no longer relevant.

> Set aside any items that don’t currently engage your passion and those that are not relevant, but will be again… for example, writing projects tied to seasons or yearly celebrations that have passed. These can be kept for future consideration.

> Add to your list any writing-related activities you plan to undertake to enhance your writing journey… for example, ‘Take a short course on writing dialogue’ or ‘Enter at least two writing competitions’ or ‘Subscribe to three on-line writers’ journals’.

> Source opportunities for any writing-related activities you have added to your list… and insert specific information, such as name of courses/competitions/journals, associated dates and the like, into the appropriate listed tasks.

> Prioritise and re-order your list, taking into consideration known dates, your abilities/resources, and logical sequence. For instance, it would be a good idea to take the short course in dialogue before entering work into competitions.

At this point, you have an ordered list of clear, concise, qualified, sequential tasks that suit the direction of your particular writing journey. They are specific (short story, course on writing dialogue), measurable (at least one… subscribe to three…), based on your motivations (passion), and focus-oriented (the direction you want to take your work).

Take a closer look at each item on your list and ask yourself ~

> Do I have the resources – skills, time, space, head-space, information, money, contacts – to reach this goal?

> If not, what do I need to do to acquire the missing resources?

> Am I in a position to make this happen?

This journey through the list will indicate whether or not you have the ability to bring each goal to fruition. Some goals may need to be moved further down the list, or on to the separate list you’re keeping for future consideration. You will be left with only goals that you want to achieve and that can be achieved.

Your list may, however, be overwhelmingly long and out of the realms of possibility on your 2017 calendar. As you have already refined your goals and moved off the list any goals that are for the future, the next task is to consider how far down the remaining list it is realistic to expect to travel in one year.

To make this decision, there is a need to explore your writing in the context of time ~

> Give each item on your list an estimated time value… allowing 10% more time than you think the task will take.

> Calculate how many hours you plan to devote to writing each week. Under-estimate rather than over-estimate to allow for unforeseen events.

> Taking these two values and your already known deadline dates (for competitions, courses and so on) into consideration, and working down from the top of your prioritised list, draw a line under the items that you can realistically achieve in January.

> Repeat this process for each month of the year, leaving free any periods of time when your opportunity to write may be diminished due to holidays, visitors and so on.

> Any remaining items can be left on a Reserve List, from which you can draw if you finish the nominated priority goals in less than the year. Anything remaining on this list will be your starting point for your writing goal process for the following year.

The process presented here personalises every aspect of the goal-setting journey at the same time as dealing with the accepted mechanics of setting goals. It is a deep exploration of your current position in relation to writing, what you want to achieve and how you might get there.

If you’ve stayed with me to the end, you have a complete list of Writing Goals for 2017. The individual goals are clear, concise, qualified, sequential, specific, measurable, based on your motivations, focus-oriented, achievable, realistic, time-bound and tangible.

You’ve worked hard to give yourself the best possible opportunity to move your writing forward in a productive way over the coming year.

You can reinforce your intention to achieve your stated goals by writing a commitment to yourself to do everything you can to bring them to fruition. I suggest you do this now, while you’re still in the goal-setting zone, to weight the power of your goals in your favour.


What happens if you don’t set writing goals or if you don’t pack your goals in safeguards for success?

Share your thoughts in the Comments section on this page…


Next Blog ~ Turn The Opportunity To Succeed Into Success



Writing Exercise #9

Reflect On Your Writing Year

An important part of goal-setting is to reflect on what has been before. Recognition of what has been achieved and identifying what hasn’t, gives a foundation for new direction.

Take some time to explore your writing year by thoughtfully answering the following questions:

  • Did you achieve all the writing activities you wanted to during 2016?
  • Or are there writing projects unattempted, partly-finished and put aside, or relegated to the bin?
  • Are the projects you wanted to complete, but didn’t, still relevant?
  • Does your passion still burn for these projects?

If your achievements fell short of your dreams, consider why this may be…

  • Why were some hopes fulfilled and not others?
  • What made these more achievable?
  • Were your hopes too big for your circumstances?
  • Did other commitments overshadow your writing endeavours?
  • Are there strategies that could have been implemented to assist your attempts to meet your goals?

Your journey through these questions will give you insight into your writing life, which will be invaluable when you move on to set achievable goals for your writing in 2017 – per my next blog.

This exercise is related to my blog ~ Preparing To Set Writing Goals That Can Succeed and Writing Tip #10.

Prepare To Set Writing Goals That Can Succeed

In my last blog ~ Writing-Friendly Spaces I wrote about finding the ideal writing space and how to make the most of the resources you have when the ideal isn’t available. This raised the question of whether life events actually stop us from writing or if we use them as an excuse not to write. Both scenarios can be true, as can a mixture of the two, and I’ll write further about this in later blogs when I tackle Writer’s Block and how we stop ourselves from writing.

For now, I’d like to focus on just one way we hold ourselves back from achieving our writing dreams. We don’t take the time to give ourselves perspective.

We know we want to write. We scribble notes, write drafts of stories and bumble along learning as we go… and, if we’re lucky we may even get something published. But, do we really know where we’re going? Or what our ultimate aim is?

The term ‘Struggling Writer’ usually refers to a person struggling to make a living from writing, but I suggest that it also relates to people who are struggling to live the writer’s lifestyle… working long hours, often in the face of obstacles, and feeling as though they’re grappling in the dark and not getting anywhere.

If we’re honest, we’ve all been there… I certainly have. So, how do we go about pulling ourselves out of this rut?

The answer is to follow a very simple life tenet. If you’re going to construct a sturdy house, you must first lay solid foundations. In the same way, if you want to develop a successful writing career, you need to build a strong base as a springboard for your work.

With the New Year fast approaching, this is a good time to reflect on the past twelve months and consolidate your writing assets ready to make plans that will move your writing forward in 2017.

We all know about setting New Year’s resolutions that peter out after just a few weeks… if they last that long. There are two precautions we can take to significantly reduce the chances of this happening. The first is preparation and the second is to create goals that have the opportunity for success built into them.

Pre = before. Precaution = steps to take beforehand. Prepare = get ready, set up, put in order…

Preparation then, is putting things in order ready for what is to come… that is, getting perspective on what we have to take into the next phase of gaining qualified direction… in this case, in relation to writing.

The three steps I recommend in preparation for setting writing goals are:

Revisit any previous Writing Goals you may have set, including the most recent. Begin an Achievements List with the goals you have met and then make a separate list of any Outstanding Goals that are still relevant.

Consider what else you want to achieve with your writing and what resources you may need to acquire in order to bring these to fruition. Add these to your Outstanding Goals list – at this stage, your list of goals can be as exhaustive as you want it to be because the items on it will be prioritised, re-shaped and re-ordered in the next step of the goal-setting journey.

By the time you get to the end of this three-step preparation exercise you’ll have your writing journey to date clarified, an achievements list and a long list of what you want to achieve and the resources you may need.

This perspective will be your strong basis on which to create goals that have the opportunity for success built into them… and this will be addressed in my blog between Christmas and New Year – just in time to step into a productive year of writing!


Has goal-setting been your writing friend?

Share your thoughts in the Comments section…


Next Blog ~ Construct Writing Goals That Can Succeed

Writing Exercise # 8

Why Write?  

Write a one-page outline of your reasons for writing…

Over the years, I’ve asked many beginning writers why they want to write and established writers what drives them to write.

The answers are many and varied, because writing is such a personal journey. However, most responses fit under the following headings:

  • For myself
  • For family and friends
  • For others
  • To be famous
  • Because I have something to say
  • I have specific messages for others
  • For money/career
  • I feel the need/compulsion to write

Identifying with one of these reasons does not necessarily exclude all the others, and you may have several reasons for writing. Likewise, your reasons may change over time.

The notion behind this exercise is that it is important for you to know what is driving you to write at any given time.

(Related to Writing Tip #9 – here)