Thursday, September 2, 2010

Setting Personal Goals

I love goals. I set all KINDS of them--"I will be showered and dressed before noon," for example, or "I will only spend X amount on ice cream cake this month."

Ice cream cake, while delicious, must be eaten in moderation.
Writing is no exception. Personally, I have tried a diverse assortment of goals when it comes to managing my creative output--some with success, some with not-so-awesome results.*

In one of my high school classes, we were taught about making goals (I believe it was health class specifically, which is weird, but ... whatever). I remember being told that you should have 3 types: 1) short term goals, 2) medium term goals, and 3) long term goals.

I absorbed this information like a good little student and have replicated it in my writing life. If you're like me, and goals help focus, motivate, and compel you, I would encourage you to set a few.

But what sort of goals should you make when it comes to writing?

Short term: 

This usually looks like "I will write 1k a day all summer" (*snort* because THAT happened, yeah...) or "I will spend X time each day writing instead of on twitter."

Medium term: 

For me this usually looks like "I will finish writing this book by August."

Long term:

"I will finish 4 WIPs this year." I really set this goal this year--whether or not I'm crazy, I'm not sure... (I have, however, completed 3 to date. I'm not holding out hope for the completion of that 4th one though!) This might sound super productive, but in reality I have about 8 WIPs in various stages of completion lying around at any one time. Finish, of course, means "complete the rough draft." Editing is a whole different animal.

I play lots of mind games with myself (an aspect of my ocd, I'm afraid) and for me, goals are mostly about suckering myself into expending some extra frantic effort for the singular consolation of achieving said goals. But hey, it can be very effective!

If you don't have any goals regarding your writing, I'd encourage you to make a few.

It could be as simple as "I will write every single day, even if it's just a sentence."

* Once I set a short term goal (1 week) of writing 5k a day. It ALMOST KILLED ME. No, seriously. It was awful.


  1. I do this for everything too! I'm a list person. So sometimes, I just make it a goal to get five items crossed off the list by the end of the day. Word count goals are really great to set, too, but I tend to run over with word count, so I found it's better for me to set chapter goals or to get to a certain scene by a certain date. Writing novels can go so slowly, it feels like it's the only way to get through without losing your mind with impatience!

  2. I think you nailed it ... it's the only way for me to keep my sanity when writing takes so long.

    And yes, I LOVE lists. I make lists of all the things I have to do around the house so I can cross stuff off.

  3. Personally I'd rather have the "get dressed before noon." Yeah, that works better for me than any writing goal. I can do that.

  4. @candyland Getting dressed before noon is really quite difficult for me. I generally work later in the day, and ... I just don't see the point. It's awkward when people surprise visit me and I'm still in my pjs though.

  5. I don't do goals. Mostly because I don't want to feel let down when I don't meet them. I suppose blogging every weekday is a bit of a writing goal. A pretty weak one though. Food for thought.

    Thanks Katherine!

    Today's guest blogger is Emilia Plater!

  6. yeah, i set (and break) a lot of goals... *feels guilty*

  7. Phew! I did it! Finally managed to follow! Man, that glitch was frustrating. But yay, I did it! :D

  8. @ Carolina Yay! I'm excited it finally worked :-D

    @aspiring_x I break a lot of goals too ... but sometimes they really help me, so I keep making them all the same.


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