Writing goals

There is light at the end of this 2020 tunnel—a shiny, new year is rising. I think most of us want to believe 2021 will be brighter, more hopeful. We can help make it true for ourselves by setting some hopeful, and doable, goals.

What’s the goal?

I’ve stopped calling them New Year’s resolutions. Goal seems to fit better. A goal demands a plan, a strategy for attaining it.

First, I choose a realistic goal I can achieve within or by the end of the year. Now, how do I get there?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten in achieving writing goals is to divide the year into quarters—just like businesses do. I have an ultimate goal, but I create mini-goals in each of the three-month quarters to help me achieve the ultimate goal.

Map it out

Acknowledge your ultimate goal. Don’t be shy. Say it out loud and write it down. Then tell someone—someone you know who is going to ask you about it. Imagine them asking you about it in the coming months, and you telling them you are on it! You’re working toward it. Because you are.

Create a log and write everything down. What would you like to achieve in the next three months that will help you achieve your ultimate goal? Join a critique group? Take a writing class? Write every day for a certain amount of time?

Maybe you have some ancillary goals that will make you feel productive and help your ultimate goal. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to finish your novel, but seeing your byline on a web article would be great. Becoming more savvy with social media will certainly be useful. Map out those goals, too.

Write down your weekly to-do list and choose days to work on specific tasks. Plan it out on a calendar that pops up on your phone or computer so you can see your scheduled must-do list. (Or you can do it with an old-fashioned planner that sits hulking by your laptop as an everyday reminder.)

Then assess your progress at the end of each week, each month and each quarter. Based on your progress, make mini goals for the next quarter.

Nothing in stone

Sometimes the ultimate goal might change mid-stream (and those other goals, too). Maybe finishing that novel is no longer feasible. You’re getting feedback from your new class or group you joined (a mini-goal in the first quarter) that suggests a lot more research or rewriting than anticipated. Or sometimes life happens, and time gets sucked away.

That’s okay. Goals are not written in stone. They can be revised and reworked—just like our writing. But by the end of the year, there’s progress. The distance between where you started and your ultimate goal has been shortened. And that is something to celebrate.