Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Goals

I think setting goals is helpful to put things into perspective. Sure, you want your novel published RIGHT NOW, but let's be realistic. Publishing is slow. It takes most people years to write and polish their novel before it's ready to go to the presses.

Those years can feel like a never-ending race, yearning to cross the finish line that never appears on the horizon. So how to avoid the inevitable sense of discouragement. That feeling of, "I'll never get there?"

Setting a series of goals can help you measure your progress. Not just the "I want my book published" end goal (if that is your end goal), but a series of goals that will move you along in a stepwise fashion.

This isn't my idea. I got it from Jack M. Bickham, who mentions it in The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them). He recommends using a five-year plan. Start with where you want to be in five years. To achieve that, where will you be in four years? And in three? In two? At this time next year? And then, what can you do this week, even today, to move you forward?

If you set a series of goals, you can make them small, things you can accomplish in a reasonable period of time. How long will it take you to write the first chapter? Or to do research? To figure out how the story weaves together?

By taking things one step at a time, you will be able to measure your progress, even when you feel you aren't getting anywhere. A series of goals helps keep discouragement at bay. And it gives you lots of reasons to celebrate along the way.

What are your writing goals? Over the next five years? For this year? Today?


  1. There is so much about the writing world that is out of our control, so I try to set goals that I am in control of (number of novels finished, revisions, etc).

  2. Hi, Nice to meet you through the A-Z challenge!

    That's right, goal-setting is very important!

  3. Goals are really important.. but I do try not to force myself to have goals.. Like I keep seeing the "end result" and get tensed instead of doing the best I can.... But as a writer, I do have a generic goal to give it my best and grow along the way :)

    Nice to meet you.

    Following you from A-Z challenge!

  4. Great advice. I think splitting a big goal into smaller ones is always a good idea; making goals that you can tick off and are truly achievable rather than one huge one that you somehow try to kind of make your way towards over several years.

  5. My writing goals include finishing my anthology of short stories about dogs; finishing my first screenplay and my first full-length stage play. Inspiring post!

  6. Setting even small goals is such a helpful exercise. Today's goal is to start planning a new story collection. In five years, I want young readers/listeners to know the names of some of my books. That sounds huge! One word at a time...

  7. Talli: definitely. I actually try to only concern myself with things that are in my control. :)

    Bz: Thanks for stopping by!

    Ju: To each his/her own. :)

    Angelina: Smaller goals just feel so much more manageable.

    Luana: Excellent goals--good luck!

    Brooke: Terrific goal. You can do it. :)