Hello, friends! Welcome to a brand spankin’ new year. We had friends in town to celebrate the days leading up to 2018, but now that it’s just me, Spencer, and the cat at home recuperating, I’m taking some time to put together my favorite resolutions: writing goals.
I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo in November, but I did begin a new writing project and start using Scrivener full-time for my researching and writing needs. I’m currently buzzing with positive energy and motivation, which I’d like to channel to get some serious writing done in 2018. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’m pretty good with the goal-setting and less great with the follow through, but I’m diving a little deeper into my goals this year to help set myself up for success.
If you’ve ever gone through a formal goal-setting process, you’re likely familiar with SMART goals. I use the SMART formula when putting together yearly goals at work, and I think it’s a good way to look at writing goals, too.
SMART goals are:
While we go through the different writing goals that I’m setting for myself this year, I’ll be sure to check off each of these five elements and then conquer my writing life like never before! Ready to rock 2018 like none other?
Long-term Writing Goals
Let’s be honest, shall we? If you’re a writer, your main long-term goal more than likely involves getting your manuscript published, and while that’s a great end goal to have, there’s a long way between starting a first draft and querying your story for publication.
When I say “long-term” here, I’m really thinking in months and not years. First, you’ll want to think about the specific things you want to accomplish this year (outline a story, finish a draft, edit your manuscript, start a second draft) and then create a realistic timeline for yourself based on how much time you have to spend writing on a regular basis.
For instance, my first big goal of the year is to finish the first draft of the story I started writing during NaNo. When I take into account the aspects of the SMART formula, my goal will look something like this:
1. Before April 1, I will write ~60,000 words to finish the first draft of Imbolc.
Is it Specific? Yes, I will finish the first draft of my current story. Measurable? Also yes, since it’ll take me roughly 60,000 more words to finish the draft based on my initial outline of Imbolc. Achievable? Definitely, because 60,000 words in 3 months fits nicely within my weekly word count goal. (We’ll go into this short-term goal below.) Relevant? This one seems self-explanatory, but I’ll go ahead and say “yes” since I have to finish the first draft before I can begin editing and rewriting. And finally, is it Timely? Since I’m nearly halfway through the first draft already, I’d say it’s pretty timely.
While this format is great for keeping yourself accountable throughout the year, the nature of writing (and whether you’re more of a planner or a pantser) means you may not know enough to write out a wholly SMART goal for each aspect of your writing. Here are a few more of my long-term writing goals for 2018 to give you an idea of what I mean:
2. During the month of April, I will rework the outline for The Nostradamus Project.
3. I will spend 3 months writing the second draft of Imbolc.
4. I will spend 3 months writing a new first draft of The Nostradamus Project.
Use the SMART method when you can, but the most important part is deciding on a few attainable, long-term goals that will allow you to write through the different pieces of your manuscript, from outlining to publication.
Short-term Writing Goals
I think it’s important to set smaller goals, too, to keep you motivated and provide you with opportunities to celebrate successes throughout the year. When you’re creating long-term goals, these short-term goals should correspond to ensure you are writing enough to achieve each specific goal in the proposed time frame.
For some of you, an obvious short-term goal would be writing x number of words every day. However, if I’ve learned one thing from NaNoWriMo, it’s that I don’t do terribly well when I impose a daily word count on myself. Many people thrive on them, and if you’re among them, that’s fantastic! Instead of a daily goal, I’m going to give myself a little more leeway:
5. Every week, I will write at least 5,000 words.
That’s about 715 words a day if I write each day of the week, but it also lets me skip a day or two without completely throwing my goals out of whack. You could do a daily, weekly, or even monthly goal for the year, and regardless of your preference, I would recommend using Pacemaker Planner to track your writing progress. If you’re like me and live for visual graphs showing how much you’ve written and how much you still need to write, Pacemaker will become your new best friend. (I even wrote a quick step-by-step guide to help you create your writing project in Pacemaker.)
And that’s my writing plan for 2018! Five writing goals that will help me maintain a consistent writing habit and check off a few important milestones for my two WIPs. Just sharing them with you makes me feel excited for what’s to come this year.
What writing resolutions have you set for yourself this year? Will you work to maintain more long-term or short-term writing goals? Leave a comment with your goals, and we’ll keep each other accountable!
P.S. If you’re getting back into writing, you might want to check out some invaluable resources from my favorite writing blogs!