It wasn’t long ago that I was adrift in the world, working hard but feeling like I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I spent my time dreaming of a different life – but dreams aren’t reality unless you make them so.
When Frodo left the Shire he decided to take the ring to Rivendell. Sure, he didn’t know he was going to eventually make for the fires of Mount Doom, but he set out with an idea of his destination.
The same goes for your writing journey. It’s no use saying ‘one day I’m going to write a book or start a blog or become a copywriter’ because let’s face it, one day is now. The only way you’re going to make it happen is to stop dreaming and start writing. But to motivate yourself you need to figure out what your Rivendell is.
Enter Goal Setting
Frodo had pretty good motivation to leave the Shire because Sauron had sent the Nazgûl after him and the ring. While you may think your motivation isn’t as extreme – it kind of is. Time is everyone’s Nazgûl and before yours is up, you want to achieve your writing dreams. But where to start? With a map of course!
Your map is your written goals and these will help you find your Rivendells – the points you need to get to on the way to your greater destination – which is probably a lot more appealing than Mount Doom. By setting specific and realistic goals for your writing, you’re more likely to follow through and find success – and more importantly, happiness.
You should set writing goals because they help to:
- Get you out of your comfort zone
- Give you something to work toward
- Give your writing purpose
- Make things that seemed impossible, possible
- Give you more confidence in your writing ability
- Make yourself accountable for your writing progress
- Affirm your priorities and clarify writing aspirations
- Help you believe in yourself as a writer
You can find a template to write down your goals in Writing Journey Co’s Resources for the Road (coming soon). Write down your overall goal and then break it down into smaller, weekly goals or sub goals – your Rivendells. Then, once your done, stick your weekly goals somewhere you’ll see them everyday – the bathroom mirror, the TV, on the block of chocolate you’ve got stashed at the back of the fridge. Review your progress each week and make adjustments.
Actions speak louder than words
It’s no good just writing down specific goals. You need to think of specific ways to achieve them too.
For example, if your overall goal is to write a fantasy novel and your short term goal is to start writing 500 words of this novel each day, then you need to outline exactly how you’re going to do this. Is it by cutting out television or waking up an hour earlier? Will you write on your way to work or while your kids are at swimming training? By deciding how you’re actually going to achieve your goal, you automatically make it more realistic and thus achievable.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding on the actions you’ll take to achieve your goal
- How am I going to measure my progress? Again be specific.
- What is the time frame I’m giving myself to achieve this goal?
- Am I already doing something to actively achieve it? Is it working and, if not how can I modify my actions to ensure success?
- What, if any, progress have I made toward this goal so far?
- What can I do today to start achieving my goal?
To give you an example I’ll share with you my current writing goals.
Goal One: Write at least 2000 words a day.
To achieve it: Use the Commit app.
Goal Two: Wake up by 6:30am every morning.
To achieve it: Set an alarm.
Goal Three: Get 1000 email subscribers to Writing Journey Co.
To achieve it: Offer subscribers a resources pack, create the best content I can, interview inspirational and successful writers on the podcast.
Time frame: 1st June 2015
Goal Four: Launch the Writing Journey Co podcast.
To achieve it: Finish the Podcaster’s Paradise webinars, record the first 5 interviews and edit them, attend workshops and writing festivals, make at least one contact at each event attended.
Time frame: 1st June 2015
Goal Five: Finish editing my manuscript.
To achieve it: Have an editing day with a writing friend at least once a week, work on a chapter a night, attend workshops and writing festivals.
Time frame: 1st September 2014
I’m not saying goals make things easy
But they do make things easier. Think of Frodo. Despite the Black Riders, Old Man Willow, the Barrow-wights and of course the Nazgûl he doesn’t give up. He is headed for a destination and he’ll do whatever it takes to make it. Your writing journey is exactly the same.
Some other things to remember
- Don’t expect your writing to be perfect (that’s what editing is for) – just be happy you’re doing it.
- If you fall off the horse brush yourself off and get started again. Don’t be discouraged by failure – it’s all about flearning.
- Bribe yourself. When you achieve your weekly goal take some time out catching up with a friend for coffee or indulging yourself at the bookshop.
- Most importantly remind yourself it’s not just about the destination.
Has setting goals helped you achieve a writing goal? Have you got any other useful tips on setting goals? Let us know in the comments.