Goal setting for writers

I’ve noticed another skill that can be transferred from my ‘day job’ to writing: that of Goal setting.

In my profession, training competition horses and riders, goal setting is hugely important, both to provide incentive and to benchmark success. As writers, we can do the same and reap the same benefits. Goal setting gives you purpose and focus, and will help you to achieve more than if you simply drift along aimlessly.

Set 2 types of goals: long term and short term.

  1. Long term goals – these may be as amorphous as being successful or earning enough money to give up the day job.
  2. Short term goals – may vary from almost immediate (start a novel) to mid term (finish a novel) to further ahead (have a novel in a publishable state), or they may be marketing goals – start a blog, understand Twitter, arrange a book launch or some such. You get the idea?

Define your goals

  1. How do you define success? Not anyone else – you. These are your goals, so you should set the parameters. Earning enough money to give up the day job may be your measure of success, but how much do you need? Quantify, be precise, know what you are aiming for. Perhaps for you success is gaining the approbation of your peers, or when you gain a certain ranking on the Amazon lists. Don’t be shy, be ambitious with long term goals – you may never achieve them, but in striving to reach them you will go further than if you limit yourself.
  2. Set yourself several short term goals, with different rankings regarding time to achieve, or just set one. It’s up to you, depending on where in your writing journey you happen to be just now, but again, be precise. If you know you aren’t going to be ready to publish in a set period of time, then simply make your goal that you finish a book. If you only have time to investigate one type of social media, then only set one. Short term goals should be realistic and achievable.

Be flexible

The most important thing to realise about goals is that you will not always achieve them.

And the second most important thing is to appreciate that this is not failure.

Goals are there to incentivize you, but they may fall victim to outside influences that are not under your control. Illness, unexpected family issues, problems at work, computer crashes – anything and everything may sabotage you.

When this happens, you need to treat it as a challenge, not a setback. Don’t abandon your original goal, but make alternative plans that lead back towards it.

That is how you achieve. That is how you will be successful.

So, people, how do you define success, and what goals have you set yourself?


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