This probably already sounds obvious, but setting actionable writing goals will help you get closer to your writing dream. These goals can be anything from 500 words a day to 5,000 words a week to “I will have a completed manuscript in six months.” Some writers I know well set a goal of “I will write one hour a day.” This way they account for those inevitable days of writer’s block.
But something to keep in mind is that you’ll want these goals to be SMART. Why did I do that in all caps, you ask? Because this is an acronym. I stole this tool from my business management days, and I find it really useful in other aspects of my life. Especially my writing life and as a coaching tool. Let’s break it down.
S – This stands for “Specific.” This means your goal can’t be vague. Nothing like “I’m going to write a story.” If you’re not sure how to make it specific, think about everything that needs to be involved. Consider not only what you’re trying to do, but also why it’s important to you, and what you need in order to get there. What kind of story do you want to write? What tools do you need?
M – This stands for “Measurable.” You need to set an indicator of success. How will you determine that you’ve written that story? Is it a short story that needs to be under 10,000 words? You need a scale of measurement that shows you’ve accomplished your goal. This means you’ll need to track your progress as well. Check in regularly to see where you are.
A – This stands for “Attainable” or “Achievable.” This goal needs to be something you can do. You want to be ambitious with your goal-setting, but not so ambitious you can’t actually achieve it. Otherwise, you’re immediately setting yourself up for failure.
R – This stands for “Relatable.” This means that your goal needs to be relatable to your bigger goal. If your big, hairy, audacious goal (or a BHAG, pronounced “bee-hag”) is to be a published author, then you want your smaller goals to be related to that. Consider what action steps you need to take to reach your BHAG. If you want to be a published author, some of those goals will need to include writing a query letter and submitting to agents. I’ve also seen variants of there where people use “Realistic” instead of relatable. Pick which works best for you and your BHAG.
T – This stands for “Time-bound.” You need to set a due date or end date for your goal. When will you have your story written by? This sets a deadline for you and helps hold you accountable and keeps you on track.
Setting SMART goals will help you stick to your writing plan. If you’re a daily journaler, schedule time into your days or weeks to work towards your goal. Add it to your Habit Tracker!
Earlier I mentioned something called a BHAG, or a big, hairy, audacious goal. This is the big kahuna, the big dream you’re working towards. Set your sights here and then make your SMART goals smaller, so they help you reach your big goal. By breaking it down into manageable pieces, you’re far more likely stay on top of it and make some progress.
I recommend that your first goal should be “Determine my one BHAG and my five SMART goals by ten o’clock tonight.” You got this!