“Becoming a nationally recognized author is easy,” said no one ever. It’s common knowledge that becoming a successful writer is difficult, to say the least, but just because your dream is lofty doesn’t mean your goals for reaching it should be. Here are five tips on making your writing goals for 2015:
1. Make them specific
Lose weight, eat healthy, and be kinder are three examples of goals that never work. Why? Because they are too vague. How can you reach a bar that has no level? What can you actually aim to hit? Like any New Years Resolution, a vague goal is unattainable and will be dropped within one week of attempt. Lose one pound a month, participate in Meatless Mondays, and say good morning to my family and coworkers each day are much more attainable.
Specific writing goals might include: write three out of seven days a week, write one hour every night, finish one chapter a week, complete one novel in a year. Do you see how these goals are clear and therefore attainable?
2. Be realistic
One of the main reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail is because they are not attainable. Maybe losing 30 pounds is too much for one year. Writing-wise, maybe completing three novels in one year is too much. Know yourself and consider your barriers. Work, family, and social obligations hinder progress. You are not going to be able to cut out those conflicts so plan goals that take that into consideration. Think about what you accomplished this year. Did you complete one novel? Write three days a week religiously? Great! Then take it just one step further. Plan on completing edits on that novel and drafting or outlining another. Plan on writing four days a week this year. Just remind yourself, it the goal is too outrageous, you will get overwhelmed and will be more likely to quit. If you feel your goals are too reachable, plan on surpassing them. There is no harm is doing more than what you planned.
3. Think short-term
Another reason New Year’s Resolutions fail is because they are annual goals. Instead, break up annual goals into monthly, weekly, or even daily goals to make it more manageable. It helps you track your progress as well. Step back, each month, week, or day and evaluate how you did. This gives you the chance to adjust your efforts and to ensure that you are continually progressing toward that annual goal.
4. Tell others
Sharing your goals is a great way to make yourself accountable for them. Nobody likes to look foolish or noncommittal, so by telling your friends, family, neighbors, dog–whoever–that you are going to–say, complete a novel this year, you are adding extra incentive to finish. We are not only motivated by dreams of success, but fears of failure as well. I know I work a lot harder knowing that my sister and best friend would be disappointed in my if I gave up. Not only that, but other people can cheer you on and offer much needed support.
5. Reward yourself
We live in a consequence driven society. If you fail to perform your duties at work, you are written-up or fired. However, there are few rewards to balance out the punishments. Not that many employers offer raises or promotions based on merit these days. And how often is the student behaving in class acknowledged for their good behavior? We know the kids who are acting up, they are being disciplined, or at least we hope they are.
Writers are notoriously cruel to themselves. We are more critical to our books than any editor can hope to be and we are always punishing ourselves for failing to accomplish our lofty goals. We need to start rewarding ourselves for our hard work. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals and reward yourself when you accomplish them. I know you are going to punish yourselves for the ones you don’t accomplish, but on the flip side, treat yourself for the ones you do. Trust me, knowing that a two-piece sushi special awaits for you at the end of chapter five is very motivating;)
Those are my top five suggestions for making your writer’s resolutions. If you have interesting or helpful advice for setting writer’s goals, please share in the comments below:)