3 Tips for Setting Reasonable Writing Goals

On Friday, I posted a blog about setting writing resolutions for the new year. And while it’s important to come up with a plan, it’s even more important to come up with reasonable, attainable goals. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure, you want to actually make progress! Otherwise, what’s the point of making those resolutions?

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Don’t do this.

So how do you set realistic goals? I’m glad you asked!

1. Be Specific

When you’re writing down your resolutions for the new year, you might be tempted to write something general like “write more.” Don’t do this. The vagueness of it can keep you from making the progress you want because you don’t have a clear plan of action. It’s like saying you want to “be healthier” in the coming year but you have no plan for eating better or exercising. If you want to write more, come up with some concrete ideas for how to accomplish that. Write in a diary every day, write one line of fiction every day, try to finish a piece of fanfic each week. Whatever works for you and what your overall goals are, that’s what you need to focus on.

2. Don’t Overdo It

I don’t know about you, but the new year always has me feeling very ambitious. I want to take on everything but by overloading myself, I’ve fallen apart in the past. Dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD mean that I take these kinds of hits very hard and these put bigger roadblocks in my way than they might otherwise. But over the years, I’ve tried to find ways to work with my mental health issues instead of trying to push past them like they aren’t there. Doing the latter almost always results in my lying on the floor and staring up at the ceiling in the midst of an existential crisis.

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Be realistic about what you think you can achieve in the coming year. Writing a novel a day isn’t realistic unless you’re Stephen King but that dude is nuts and even he doesn’t try that. Remember that you can always add more goals to your list if you complete the first set.

3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Nothing good or productive ever comes from comparing yourself to another writer. Everyone has a different style and works at different speeds. It’s not a contest; there’s more than enough space for everyone to create the art they envision. For example, in my last post, I laid out my goals for the upcoming year:

  • serialize my new novel, Home, for my Patreon patrons before publishing it
  • finish my new nonfiction collection and publish it
  • publish at least 6 Kindle shorts during the course of the year
  • submit work to at least 5 contests
  • submit work to at least 10 literary magazines
  • continue blogging a least 3 times/week
  • maintain my daily content on my Patreon
  • continue writing in my diary every day
  • don’t throw up during my reading in March

I admit, that is a LOT. However, I’ve spent years building up to this point in my writing career and workload; this isn’t my first rodeo. Maybe my personal goals seem too daunting for you–that’s okay! Don’t feel pressured to keep up at my insane pace. Maybe my personal goals seem too basic for you–that’s okay too! Challenge yourself according to where YOU are at, not where someone else is at. Your path is what’s right for you.

 

What are your realistic, reasonable writing goals for the upcoming year? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to have a happy new year (and tip your bartender if you go out tonight)!


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Emily Regan is the author of several books, including "What's an Adult?: No One Knows Anything and We're All Going to Die." She is an avid fan of reality TV, an unironic Hanson fan, and currently resides in Arizona with her family.

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