Resolutions Suck – Set Up Awesome Writing Goals Instead

Hurray! We’re poised at the top of a brand new year! Who doesn’t love a fresh start?

But New Year’s resolutions? You can keep ’em. They don’t cut it for me – and I bet they’ve been less than successful for you in the past.  So how about you and I sit down and set your firm 2018 writing goal?

I’m sure you’d much rather sit down with a plate of BBQ and a gin (dreamy!) but pretend I’m in the room fixing you with a “let’s get cracking look.” (If you’ve ever attended my live workshops that shouldn’t be too difficult.)

But firstly a quick word about soft goals and firm goals. Soft goals are closer to wishes (and resolutions!)

These are some soft goals…

  • I’m going to write a novel this year.
  • I want to get a poem published this year.
  • I’m going to start my screenplay in 2017.
  • I want to get a producer interested in my short film script.
  • I’d really like to start a blog about (insert topic)

You get the picture, it’s all a bit nebulous and vague.

Firm goals are specific, challenging and measurable. Which novel? It might be that your goal is to finish the first draft of (insert title), it might be that you want to write 1000 words per week of (insert title) or your goal might be to just write 200 words a day just to develop the habit. Maybe you want your screenplay market ready by April.

It doesn’t actually matter what your firm goal is…

What matters is that you give yourself a fighting chance to achieve it. A plan, a map, a schedule – something with a clear destination and steps you can follow… (Click to tweet that)

So what is your firm writing goal in 2018?

Once you know, I want you to tweak it to include a firm, realistic deadline.

Here’s one of my writing goals…

  • I want to complete the rough draft of my new screenplay idea by June 30th 2017

Step 1 – write down your firm goal.

Step 2 – consider using a competition entry or funding application date to help you complete your work.  I rely on this a lot – and it works. ( If you want a regular deadline you could also consider joining or setting up a writers’ group.)

E.g. last year one of my writing goals was to finish the 3rd draft of my play and enter it into a competition on Dec 1st. Did I achieve it? Yes. And honestly, if I didn’t have that deadline I can guarantee I would still be blithering about how I really must get that play finished. True story.

So now you’ve identified your firm goal…

…take Step 3 which is to break it into mini goals or achievable pieces. In short, you’re going to create an ACHIEVABLE schedule. And you need to be realistic about what’s do-able – there’s no point setting yourself up to fail.

Depending on your other commitments, and how you like to plan things, you need to make some decisions about whether your mini-goals are related to word count, page count or a daily or weekly task.

Look at your goal and work out how long you think it will take and work backward. Using software such as Excel or Trello can be a simple way to create your schedule as it gives you something tangible to check in on – and amend. This also helps you stay on track.

E.g if your goal is to write a new, market-ready short story in 3 months your mini-goals might look something like this…

Weeks 1,2,3,4,5 – Write 750 words per week = your fat, rough draft.
Week 6 – First re-write = 1st draft
Week 7 – Second rewrite and edit = 2nd draft
Week 8 – Get fresh eyes on my story (and some feedback) no matter what shape it’s in.
Week 9 – Third rewrite off feedback – 3rd draft
Week 10 – Edit 3rd draft
Week 11 – Final feedback
Week 12 – Final polish/edit – and you’re done.

You’ll notice each stage has a sense of completion. So tick off each mini-goal as you achieve it – this week’s 750 words – tick! My rough draft complete – tick!  Give my work to someone for feedback – tick!

It’s important to give yourself a pat on the back every time you accomplish a mini-goal as reward helps you keep moving forward. Remember what I said about measurable? (Click to Tweet this Blog Post)

Let’s make 2018 our best writing year yet.

Your Tasks

  • Identify your firm writing goal with a deadline.
  • Maybe find a writing competition that’s relevant to your medium – put that date in your calendar.
  • Email me your firm one sentence writing goal! Do that here.
  • Break your BIG Goal into do-able mini-goals.


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