Setting Writing Goals for the New Year

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It’s almost 2014! It’s time to ring in the new year with some writing resolutions! If you have a hard time setting or keeping resolutions, I want to share with you some tips for success in 2014.

Resolutions are Goals, Not Dreams

First things first, when setting your writing resolutions for 2014, remember that resolutions are goals, not dreams. Goals are things that you can achieve through your own willpower and dedication. Dreams are things that require (at least in part) luck, finances, or the participation of another person. (Yes, these are my own definitions, but trust me, they help a lot!)

So, for example, getting published is a dream, not a goal, because it requires a good deal of luck and relies on other people (agents, publishers, consumers, etc.). So getting published does not make for a good new year’s resolution since there is no way you alone can achieve it.

So what does make for good writing resolutions? Things you actively have control over. Here are some examples:

  • Finish my novel.
  • Read 3 books about writing.
  • Build my author’s website.
  • Submit 12 short stories.
  • Query the agents on my list.

Consider Your Time and be Realistic

There’s nothing worse than setting a resolution that you can’t even keep in January. So make sure to consider the amount of hours it will take to achieve your goals and whether you actually have that amount of time to spend on your writing. It’s great to challenge yourself, but it’s not great to set goals that can’t be achieved.

If you have only a few hours a week to spend on your writing, then choose a simple goal like “Finish editing my novel.” If you have a few hours per day, then you can start to look at bigger goals like “Edit novel one, write novel two, and plot novel three.” But a goal that big is only going to work for a close to full-time writer, so be realistic!

Set Long Term Rather than Daily or Weekly Goals

Daily or weekly goals can seem like a great idea. For example, “Write one hour everyday,” or “Write a short story every week.” But the problem with daily or weekly goals is that there’s no room for error. When you don’t have time to write for one hour on January 8th (probably because of #PitchMad), you already feel like a failure, making it difficult to jump back into your goal.

So what’s the solution? Set long term goals. Rather than writing an hour everyday, set your goal at writing 365 hours in 2014. That way you get closer to your goal by spending more time on your writing, and if you miss a day, you can easily catch up. Even if you can’t write for six months, you can double up your hours and still meet your goal.

Track Your Progress

Part of what I love about NaNoWriMo is that little chart that shows my progress. It feels great to be getting closer and closer to my goal. But you don’t have to participate in NaNoWriMo to track your progress. There are loads of online progress trackers (just google it) or you can make your own old-fashioned progress trackers by making a chart for your goals and filling it in (like those old fund drive thermometer charts you used to use in grade school).

How you track your progress doesn’t matter, but tracking it will make you far more likely to stay on track and reach your goals.

So what are your 2014 writing resolutions?

If they include working with an editor or mentor, please check me out. I’d love to work with you. If you have any writing questions you need answered, I take blog post requests in the comments or to my email: ellenbrock@keytopservices.com

If you liked this post, please share it!

Happy New Year!

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4 thoughts on “Setting Writing Goals for the New Year

  1. Hannah Edia says:

    I really love this. So straight to the point. I would have loved if you provided a chart or a draft of a simple chart to track writing progress for people like me #smiles. I love the write-up though. Thanks for sharing

  2. thewriterscafe247 says:

    My writing resolution for 2014 is to write with a plan. For a long time I’ve kept my writing and my writing process very free-form and lately I haven’t been able to come up with much. Well that is to say I’ve been able to create some cool ideas and scenarios but I haven’t been able to work them into a story where they’d make sense. So my goal for the next year is to explore different plot/genre structures. Great post!!!!

  3. Kylie Betzner says:

    I like the idea of tracking your progress. That has helped me a lot this year, though I break up my annual goal into monthly goals to ensure I can reach my annual goal and to monitor my progress.

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