Writers Write Down Goals: It's The Baby Steps That Get You Published

We’re just past a month and a half into 2012 today.  How are you doing in meeting your writing goals?  What’s that?  You don’t have any goals?

This year I'm changing to ink.

 I know, I know.  A lot of us clean house, schedule surgery, or leave the country to avoid those things called “New Year’s Resolutions.”  Believe me, I’ve been there and done that.  I don’t even bother with “resolutions” anymore.

But I do have goals.  Steps along the road to publication.  Steps I know I can make, that give me something to aim for.  If I don’t set goals, how will I know if I’m making progress?

Let’s do it together.  Let’s make it easy on ourselves.

We’ll start with something small, something we know for sure we can accomplish without major stress.  Maybe that’s a daily or even a weekly goal.  Discipline is top-of-the-list important in reaching any goal, even small goals.  Ideally, we sit down and write every day.  Of course, we all have housekeepers, grocery shoppers, lawn mowing crews – Not!  Can you write one hundred words each day?  How about, we promise ourselves that if we can’t sit down each day, we’ll catch up those one hundred words before the end of the week.  One hundred words.  That’s the word count on this paragraph.

How easy was that?  Once you’ve moved this far out of your comfort zone, tiptoe a little closer to the edge and figure out something you can do on a monthly basis.

What if for one month, we wrote seven hundred words each week?  See Jane write.  See how the words add up.

Whoohoo!  You’re hanging over the edge, feeling the wind in your hair, and guess what?  You arrived there in such small steps that you didn’t even think about fearing what you are about to face.

So go for it.  Go big.  Make a six-month goal.  Really think about this one.  What can we write, learn, accomplish in a six-month period?  Take a hard look at your weekly and monthly goals.  How do those goals work together to build a first draft, a series of articles, a chapbook of very personal poetry?

Break this goal into very specific steps that focus on writing a complete first draft, or researching and writing a set of articles on a specific topic of particular interest to you, or polishing and rewriting the novel that’s been sitting in your drawer for the last three years.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The one you wrote when you were supposed to be studying for finals.  Yeah, that one.  Dig it out from under all the story ideas you’ve been ripping from the headlines and tossing into that drawer.  I’ve dusted mine off.

Okay, deep breath. And one, two, three – go for the one-year goal.  What will we have accomplished in one year’s time when we fold all our weekly and monthly accomplishments together?

If you write 100 words each day, at the end of the year you will have 36,500 wordsOr a novelette.

If you write and submit one book review to a publisher or review website each month, at the end of the year you will have 12 clips.  Or a nice start to a writing portfolio.

If you write 1,000 words per day, at the end of the year you will have 365,000 words.  Or the first three books of your new series.

If you set goals, sit down and write… you’ll end up with a book!

There, that wasn’t so scary was it?  It’s one day at a time, until it’s one week at a time.  All those weeks will blend into months of writing, and suddenly you’ve reached that one-year goal that shone so far in the distance in January of 2012.  In December, you’ll be taking your bow for that new manuscript, that series of articles sold, that accomplished writer you’ve become.  And we’ll be the ones applauding.

Tell us about your 2012 writing goals in the comments below.  It’s always nice to know the rest of us will be cheering for you.

A pared-down version of this post was previously published on The Owensboro Writers Group website.

2 thoughts on “Writers Write Down Goals: It's The Baby Steps That Get You Published

  1. Suzanne, your goal setting ideas are terrific. I’m going to put a link to this website on my “Writing Resources” (or maybe I should make that Writers’ Resources).

    My writing goals need some work, but they basically boil down to the following:
    01). Finish one of my short stories by mid April;
    02). Submit this story to a publisher by the end of June;
    03). Write, edit or do research for writing on at least three days per week;
    04). Submit a total of six pieces (including above) to publishers by the end of the year!

  2. Theresa, it’s great to see you here. Your goals look realistic and very do-able.

    Setting goals down on paper (or the computer screen) feels like a lot of work while you’re attempting to define them. But at the end of the year you will be amazed at how much you have accomplished once you see your goals checked off on the list.

    Keep on writing. And visit often.

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