We all have goals, no matter how small: for some writers, it’s simply to finish a book and have a few avid readers. For many others, being a full-time author is the ultimate goal. So, no matter where you are at in your goal-setting as a writer, we’re going to walk you through some of the reasons why it’s great to have goals, and how you can craft these goals to suit your writing practice, as well as get into why its important to have ambitions as a writer… regardless of how “small” these ambitions are!
5 Key Points For Framing Goals as a Writer
- Start small
- Have a “soft” and “hard” deadline
- Be patient with yourself
- Ask for guidance
- Know your limits
Remembering these 5 key points when setting your goals will help you from abandoning them, becoming overwhelmed, or procrastinating. But, to get into it in a little more detail, let’s look at actually setting those goals next.
How to set goals as a writer
Set a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goal – it may seem difficult to think that far ahead for some, but setting goals beyond daily word or page counts is immensely helpful for keep track of your writing goals. Plan out how many pages you want to have written in a month, what chapter you want to reach by the end of the week, and stagger yearly goals such as publication dates, pre-order periods, social media posts and newsletters highlighting your new release, and more. A helpful tip: colour coordination! Use four different colours on your digital calendars or in your physical agendas, one for each type of goal: daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. This will make it easier for you to find what you are looking for in your schedule, and will also help you stay organized.
Do a little math – daily, weekly, or monthly word counts require the most math, and they are immensely important if you want to keep on track. If you want to have a 50,000 word draft in two month’s time, for example, simply divide 50,000 by the number of days in those months. Likewise, remember that there are roughly 250 words per page in the average book. If you need to calculate how many pages you need to write per day instead, divide 50,000 by 250, and then divide that number by the number of days in those months (let’s say 61) to get the result: a cool 3 and a quarter pages per day! Remember to complete this kind of math when setting your writing goals; it can really help you from feeling overwhelmed by your first draft, for example. Thinking of 50,000 words written over 2 months as 820 words or 3 and a quarter pages per day is much easier to swallow than simply stating your goal as 50k in 2 months!
Don’t overwhelm your calendar – keep things in their simplest form:denote deadlines and daily tasks, and keep it at that. Unless you love having a very structured week (and many people do!) you can risk overwhelming both your writing calendar and yourself. Keep a separate writing calendar. This ensures you can focus and check up on your writing-based tasks without worrying about your other deadlines, such as work-related or life events.
Prioritize certain goals based on deadlines – is there a certain time your editor is available? Do you need to get the next book in your series out within a few months? Are there life events that may prevent you from writing for any period of time? Consider all of these as deadlines when prioritizing goals.
Context is key when goal-setting – remember the reason why Ambition vs. goals Alright – we’ve discussed goals and how to set them, but what about ambition? Everyone has ambitions in one way or another, and for writers specifically, these ambitions can vary. Some examples of ambitions for authors include:
- Publishing their first book
- Writing a book a year
- Earning a living from writing
- Selling X number of copies
- Writing (and completing) a series
- Seeing their book reach the top of the charts
- Getting one of their books translated into X number of languages
- Having their book go viral
And so on. These ambitions range from “small” to “large” in terms of how long it may take to accomplish them, how much of your energy is needed, and how important they might be to you as an individual. Some authors might be focused on writing and publishing their first book, while others might be hoping to reach new heights on social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram. Many more simply want to reach their goals of work-life balance and financial stability. No matter what ambition you have, there are ways to reach achieve them!
How are they different from goals? Think about it like this: the goals you have are what will help you achieve your ambition.
Think of your goals as a path to follow towards your ambition. You may have to follow a new or branching path from time to time, making or adjusting goals as the scope of your author-related ambitions change, but setting goals along the way will make your ambition achievable.
How to harness the power of your ambition
It can be very hard to maintain motivation or to remain passionate about an ambitious project from start to finish, and we want to remind you that… that is okay! It’s completely normal for you to feel tired, burnt out, or even totally over your current writing project, even if you once loved it. Harnessing your ambition is not about forcing yourself to overwork or to overcome your writer’s block – it’s about looking at the long-term, viewing the whole of your work rather than the results of it, and recognizing your achievements. Remember to celebrate even the “smallest” of achievements. Use that calendar we mentioned earlier to keep track of said achievements, or have daily, weekly and/or monthly to-do lists that, quite literally, give you a list of things to celebrate!
Keep tabs on your motivation, and use those moments when you feel most motivate to focus on those goals that will help you achieve your ambitious plans – we have plenty more on motivation here.
Next, define what ambition means to you – again, look at your ultimate ambition as an author. No matter how “small” or “large” it may be, it is obviously important to you. Why is it important? What does achieving that ultimate goal mean to you? Answering these questions can help you feel more motivated than ever.
Lastly, remember and accept that is okay if your ambitions change. You define your own success at the end of the day, and if success looks different to year as the days, weeks, and months go by, lean into that. Revisiting your goals from time to time can help you understand your own ambitions as they grow, evolve, and, ultimately, transform you into the writer you always wanted to be!
Check out the following episodes of the KWL podcast to hear from other authors and learn more about their writing goals, and how they achieved them:
And, as always, happy writing (and goal-setting) from the KWL team!