Writing Goals

My enthusiasm for writing renewed, I’ve started to focus a little harder on what my goals are as a writer. Usually this is supposed to be the first step. But the first step in an enlightened intervention is close enough for me.

So I’m currently reading a nonfiction book on how to start your freelance writing career. One of the chapters I recently finished talked about setting yourself goals. Throughout my life I’ve had a rather mixed attitude about goals. There were places where I thought goal-setting was appropriate (like planning your college courses), and others where thinking about goals seemed like a waste of time (like when my hippie of a communication writing TA told me to set myself learning goals when I knew they would not be accomplished in that particular class).

The other problem I tend to have with goal-setting is that I change my mind more often than I’d like. I wanted to change my major at least once a year, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But I now realize that this attitude could’ve also resulted from not enough clear focus and goal-setting. My mind isn’t a particularly linear place, so it’s hard to tell.

In any case, reading that chapter made me want to think a little more clearly about what my writing goals are. According to the book, you should have both short-term and long-term goals, and they should be quantitative, or measurable. This makes a lot of sense, since things like success and quality are so subjective that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell when you achieved them.

I sat down and wrote out a list of goals for my writing, both short-term and long-term. They range from the daily goal of writing 1,000 words each day (one completed blog post or article and 500 words toward a larger project), to the ten-year goal of becoming a self-sustaining writer (because I don’t realistically know how long that will take, but I assume it will take a while).

I can’t say for certain, since I’ve only had these goals for a few days, but I’m starting to understand the benefits of setting goals, especially for something like writing. Goals are like the homework assignments of personal life: you want to get them done in order to be successful, and you feel really good about yourself when you finish them. I was always comfortable in an academic setting, so it helps me to think of my personal projects as assignments. This gives them more authoritative weight in my mind and makes me feel more urgency toward completing them. Otherwise, I start to hear my parents in my head asking me why I’m wasting my time when I should be making money (I can’t wait to rub my first writing income in their faces).

What are your writing goals? How do you stay focused on accomplishing them?

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