Writing

How To Set Achievable Writing Goals for High-Quality Writing

Kevin Kessler
May 25, 2020
10 minutes


Have you ever set writing goals for yourself that you struggled to achieve?

Is finishing a writing project a slow, painful slog?

Nothing is more vexing for a writer than to set goals for themselves and constantly failing to meet them.

This is where proper planning of your writing goals comes in.

In this article, we’ll show you how to set achievable goals that won’t hinder your writing and allow you to actually finish your writing project.

Before we dive in though, let’s find out what writing goals actually are.

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What are Writing Goals?

Writing goals are a set of writing objectives that outline exactly what it is you wish to achieve with your work. It can either be short, or long term in nature, and details part, or the whole of your writing project.

Properly planning these goals can mean the difference between finishing your work in a timely manner and having to rush to meet a deadline. It shouldn’t be a surprise to even novice writers that rushing can affect the quality of your writing.

Knowing how to engage in goal setting is another big one here, because your end goal needs to be reasonable and attainable. You need to set smart goals that actually make sense. An important tip to follow here is that word count is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Your goals should have nothing to do with the length of your writing.

Step 1: Know your own writing style

Each writer has their own distinct way of writing. Some can sit down in front of a computer and churn out several thousand words in one sitting. Others prefer to write slowly, edit, check for grammar, and re-edit every time they finish a short chapter.

No one plan will fit each and every writing style, so you shouldn’t limit yourself to a template. Know your own style and adjust your goals accordingly.

Step 2: Establish the reasons for your writing

No project is ever undertaken without a reason, and writing is pretty much the same. Establish why it is you’re writing and use that as your motivation to keep going. It’s like the old adage, it’s not the destination that’s important, but the journey, and writing should be the same.

Step 3: Break down large projects into smaller ones

It’s easy to get demotivated if you look at a project and realize how much you still need to do. Breaking down the work into small, easily achievable batches keeps your attention on the work that you’re currently doing. Concentrating on several small projects is definitely easier than focusing on just one large piece of work.

Step 4: Set reasonable deadlines

Deadlines are an important part of making writing goals. It gives you a timeline and allows you to construct a proper schedule. One of the biggest mistakes that novice writers make is giving themselves deadlines that they know they can’t meet.

Optimistic thinking is the enemy of a reasonable deadline. You should know your own pace in completing projects and create deadlines that reflect that.

Step 5: Use to-do-lists

Even with large projects broken up in batches, making smaller to-do-lists is still useful. To-do-lists keep your work organized and give you a chance to determine if you’re going to meet the deadlines that you set for yourself.

Example screenshot of Google Tasks.
Google Task screenshot

(Image Source)

It also ensures that you’ve not missed any important steps during the writing itself. Using a to-do list to meet those realistic goals you set in the first step is a great way to stay organized and keep on top of things. With a to do list, you know when you have achieved a measurable goal.

Step 6: Keep your work in plain sight

Out of sight, out of mind is something that happens more often than one would like. This is, unfortunately, also true for writing projects. Various responsibilities tend to make us forget even the most obvious of things, especially if they aren’t clearly visible.

Leave a copy of your work out in the open, or at least a small sticky note of your to-do-lists. This will help you remember your project on the off chance it slips your mind.

Step 7: Make writing a habit

The frequency that you write will most often be more helpful than the length of time you spend doing so. Turning writing into a habit keeps you working constantly. Even if you just write short pieces each time, it will eventually add up.

Making a habit out of writing also prevents procrastination, as you don’t need to force yourself to start working. If you want to become a better writer, writing needs to become a habit that is ingrained in your daily life.

Step 8: Know when to take breaks

Everyone has off-days, and you’ll certainly be no different. Even the most dedicated writer will need to take a break every once in a while, to recharge their system. You don’t really need to include breaks in your schedule, though no one would really find it strange if you did.

Just remember to take it easy if you feel that work is beginning to overwhelm you. Some breaks are really important to take, and this is true even if you have a writing assignment with a deadline. Breaks, even just short ones, are proven to lead to higher productivity.

Step 9: Think positive

Your mood can have a big impact on the work that you do. Try to keep a positive outlook and surround yourself with things that help improve your disposition.

You’ll be surprised by how much that helps in motivating you to finish a project. If you are suffering from writer’s block, don’t despair because it won’t last forever. Stay positive and eventually things will work out.

Step 10: Have a backup plan

Life doesn’t warn you when it throws a curveball your way. You should prepare for eventualities like this when you’re working on a project that you think will last a while. Give yourself a bit of leeway by doing extra work if the chance presents itself.

Have backup plans ready in case your laptop malfunctions or someone else has borrowed the reference materials that you needed. Be prepared. A good writing plan always involves a backup plan to fall back on.

Step 11: Learn from your mistakes

If you’ve ever set writing goals that you’ve failed to meet, make a note of the reasons why that happened. Learn from your mistakes and try to avoid the pitfalls that caused you to fail the first time around.

Writing Goals: Learn from your mistakes
Darius Foroux

(Image Source)

If you keep improving your methods, you’ll eventually find the proper ways to achieve your goals without too much fuss. If you can learn from your mistakes, progress will follow all on its own, and then you can set even larger goals for the next time around.

Step 12: Don’t reinvent the wheel

You’re not the only writer that has set goals that they struggled to achieve. Learn from others and find out what they had to do to succeed. Use their experiences as the model for your own plans. Something like blog posts don’t need to be revolutionary or ground breaking, just as long as they are coherent, sensible, and well written.

Wrap Up

We hope that this article has given you an idea of how to properly set writing goals for yourself, and the ways to make those goals achievable.

The fact of the matter is that having a daily writing routine can help you get over hurdles that you won’t be able to make it over if you don’t make a solid habit out of writing.