Today, we’ve got a guest post from Nathan at Become the Monster: a self-help website based around goal setting, motivation, and becoming the person you want to become (be it a monster or not!) It’s a great website that’s worth checking out! He kindly agreed to write a post about goal setting and whilst he talks directly about setting goals as a writer, the principles can apply to anything.
Goal Setting For Writers
Firstly, I’d like to thank our resident writer Riley J. Froud for letting me loose on her fantastic loyal readers by having me write an article that will hopefully benefit all you awesome writing geniuses who write hundreds of thousands of words, working insanely hard on your excellent work and for us lonely indie writers, who seemingly do it all for nothing or very little.
For myself, I just write for a couple of blogging websites (my own and one or two others), and can’t comprehend writing much more than 1500 to 2000 words every couple of days, so I definitely appreciate how much work it takes to be a real author like you.
As for me, I write within the Personal Development space, topics like goal setting, habit change, time management, mentorship and more are all topics I have written about and will continue to write about. I have the same dream as yourselves: to be a writer of note and authority at the same level as the people who inspired us to put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard.
I digress though, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this article and have a real look at how goal setting can help you be more productive with your writing.
Before We Begin
I’d like you to have a look first of all at your current lifestyle.
We all have different responsibilities, with working hours, maybe you are a parent or volunteer at your local shelter three times a week and when you have the time to sit and write, you just haven’t got the mental energy to concentrate, if you have the time to write at all.
Or maybe you have the time and energy, but not the equipment or resources to write.
So, what do you do?
This is where a lot of writers fail to even begin, they make excuse after excuse, why they can’t write, maybe blaming others for their inherent ability to not change their situation to suit their own needs.
But you must find the time, money, equipment or whatever the resource to do what is right for you.
If you want to be a writer, then you must write.
If you have a lack of time, then look to see where you are wasting time. Can you cut down on your volunteering? Are you spending hours in front of the television? Are there other people in your life that are distracting you, people you can maybe cut from your life?
And if you don’t have the equipment, are you telling me there is no local library, college or friend that can let you use their computers to do your work on?
My laptop broke recently, and without it I couldn’t work on my website in my usual manner for about a week.
But, instead of worrying and not doing any work, I just went to my local library and got the work done anyway.
You seriously have to look at your lifestyle and decide if you want to be a bestselling author or are happy not living your dream.
So, with that said…
There are 3 goals I’d like to talk about here.
You probably know about 2 of them, and may even practice them already.
The three important goals for writers are –
- Word Count Goals
- Time Goals
- Style Goals
The word count and time goals are very well known and well used throughout the world in writing circles.
I’ll go through them again, just to reiterate how important they are and why you should be doing them.
Then I’ll talk about the style goal.
This is something I think is important and will help you create in your own unique way, while still being “commercial” with your books.
Let’s get on with it.
A word count goal is setting a goal based on how many words you want to write per writing session.
This can seriously amp up your productivity. Imagine setting a target of 10,000 words a week and accomplishing that, week after week. That has got to help you grow in confidence when you constantly achieve it.
Be careful though that what you write isn’t fluff, or writing for the sake of it just to reach your goal. It has to be 10,000 words of meaningful writing that you can be proud off and that people will want to read.
If you do set a goal, you can break it down even further into daily chunks, 2000 words a day over 5 days, is much better and less daunting than leaving it until the last day.
And of course it doesn’t have to be 10,000 words as I mentioned above. We all have different lifestyles, so maybe 5000 or 2000 words per week is better for you. 5000 words written is better than 0 words written.
If you write just 100 words a day, that’s 36,500 words a year. That can’t be bad and could easily be two children’s books a year.
So, write even a little bit, but do your best to reach your word count goal: it will do your confidence and productivity a world of good.
This is another obvious goal that you may use already and is very common among writers who may be busy with other things. It’s about giving yourself a set amount of time to write each week.
Setting a target of say 5 hours a week to write, for example, can massively boost your productivity and focus on your writing.
In this case, you sit in front of your computer 5 times a week for an hour at a time, you set a timer for 60 minutes and all you do is write, focus solely on your writing and nothing else.
The word count doesn’t matter at first as you learn how to focus your mind, but when it clicks, you’ll be on fire, your words will just come automatically and you’ll be surprised how many words will come.
You can even set rules for others to not distract you during the time and say no to plans to do other things that take you away from your writing.
Now, I feel this is a bit of a new goal that you may not have come across, but I think it is very important.
It is more of an opinion too, with which I hope to create a debate on whether it can help. It’s not necessarily about how much you write, but instead, about how commercial you books are and how much they will sell.
Now, I am not sure how much you have read H.P. Lovecraft’s work, but in his early career he was heavily influenced by the style of Edgar Allan Poe. He’d write very gothics tales like The Tomb and many others which were published in a magazine called The Vagrant.
From that, he found his own style with stories like, Dagon, Call of Cthulhu and At the Mountains of Madness.
I personally believe that working similar to Poe helped him get his work published and set him up for greatness.
I think it should be the same for others: we all have influence from other authors.
So why not use a style of a writer you love and appreciate and has been successful in the main stream and use it somewhat in your writing, without plagiarism of course.
You will be surprised how much this can help you get that book deal or more sales and good reviews.
Now I hope this has given you some insight into how important setting goals with your writing is and how it can create productivity that will blow your mind and not take away from other things you enjoy as well.
I would suggest you give them a try if you haven’t before, you may be sceptical about this, and you may feel that by setting time limits and goals, it takes away from creativity.
But, in the end, if you are somebody who struggles to find the time to write and don’t want it to take away from time with family or your day job, then you seriously need to consider using goals and structure to help you write.
And please, let me know what you think of these goal setting ideas and my article.
I’d appreciate any feedback in my writing style from fellow writers.