Before you can get started with conquering your word count goals and building your writing career, you need to figure out what you want. That means you need to set some writing goals, whether that’s for your project or your career in general.
And you don’t need to have some grand “master plan” figured out! You just need to know the direction you’d like to go.
SMART goals can help you do this.
// Why are goals important?
Goals are important for every facet of life. They help us figure out what path we’ll take forward, whether that’s training for a half marathon or finishing and publishing a novel.
I like to think of goals like the destination you put into Google Maps when you’re on a road trip or traveling someplace new. You have to know where you’re going in order to figure out how to get there!
I’ve written about goals before, so be sure to check out this other blog post if you want to read more about setting goals.
// What are SMART goals?
Goals are good, but SMART goals are better.
When I still worked in the corporate world, one of the goal-setting techniques I learned was SMART goals. The SMART system offers five criteria for goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
The basic idea for SMART goals is that you’ll set these milestones that help you narrow down your time frame, metrics, and other measurable factors so you can see how you’re progressing forward.
// Why SMART goals are helpful for writers
As writers, we tend to set big goals. Dreaming big is great! I encourage everyone to chase those big crazy dreams.
But sometimes, that’s too vague to start with. “I want to write a novel” is a fantastic goal, but it doesn’t tell you how to get there.
That’s where SMART goals come in! They help you break down those big goals into more manageable little chunks, which I’m talking about in my new book Productivity for Creative Writers: Refining Your Process and Building a System that Works for You.
If your goal is to write a novel, you’ll want to break that down into smaller goals. For example, you might start with, “I will finish an 80,000 word draft in two months.”
This is SMART because:
- It’s Specific: It has a word count and a deadline.
- It’s Measurable: You can base progress against your word count goal.
- It’s Attainable: You would hypothetically need to write 1,333 words per day to achieve this. In other words, it’s reasonable for a busy person.
- It’s Relevant: You want to write a novel, and you need a draft before you can revise and publish.
- It’s Timely: It has a reasonable time period and deadline. It’s not so long that you’ll get discouraged, but not so short that you’ll lose your mind.
If you want to start working on your own SMART goals, download the helpful worksheet below that you can print over and over again to map out all of your writing goals.
// Your Next Steps
Now that you see why SMART goals are helpful, it’s time to actually get to planning!
Even if you aren’t big into planning, you should have some goals and milestones in mind. Write these down either in the worksheets linked above or in your own writer’s notebook.
And, if you’re looking to learn more about productivity and setting up a writing system that works for you, check out my book Productivity for Creative Writers: Refining Your Process and Building a System that Works for You, available on Amazon.
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more questions. If you need more guidance to set goals and take control of your writing career, I can help you as your personal writing coach.