Friday, February 7, 2014

Set Goals for Your Writing Career

     “Never quit dreaming.” That’s what my eighty-four year old mother-in-law told my husband. Even at her age, she dreams and works toward them. Good advice, and one we writers should take to heart in the new year. Dreams change but should never depart. Reaching our dreams requires planning.

     Here’s my suggestions for setting goals for your writing career.

1.     Is this really for you?

       What do you like to write? What do you read? What do you enjoy? Do have other obligations that come first? Can you balance them with writing? Are you willing to dedicate writing time every day? If you follow Christ, discern God’s will for you in this area. If or when you publish a book, are you willing to promote it?

      Think about these things. Don’t be caught unawares.

2.     Break it down into bite-sized pieces.

     When I started learning the craft of writing, I divided my goals for the long haul:

a.     6 month goal

b.     3 year goal

c.     Lifetime goal.
The point is to determine a plan that you will turn dreams into reality.

3. Mark it down, Baby.

     Each year, I use a wall calendar with big squares. I write my goal for that month at the top of the sheet. This could change later in the year, but the calendar shows me what I’m shooting to reach. Then, I break it down week by week on the calendar. 

     The point is to write down your goals. Don’t just keep them in your mind. Put them in tangible wording. Be realistic. Be fair. Be determined.

     Then at the end of the year, measure your success at meeting goals. Decide what you need to change or incorporate in the next year. Where have you failed or procrastinated? Do you maintain a strong desire and/or need to keep writing or has that changed?

4. Include a time for learning.

         Educate yourself in the craft. What do you need to study? How can you best train?

Here’s some suggestions:

a.     writing groups/loops

b.     online courses

c.     writing craft books

d.     critique groups

e.     In-person conferences and/or workshops

f.     Blogs that focus on writing

    Consider a combination of any and all these. How can you best spend your time and money? Most of us can’t do everything, but we must keep learning while we write.

5. Who influences you?

         Become accountable to a mentor or critique partner. Network with authors online and in person. Listen to them. "More writers become published through the recommendation of another author than by a pitch to an editor." (quote from award-winning, multi-published Christian author Lena Nelson Dooley). With certainty, we can learn from other's experiences.

     Learn from publishers, editors, and agents that have been there and understand the best ways. Become a valuable team member with your publisher.

     Don’t spend time with ones who say you can’t. Seek out people you say, “keep trying.” Associate with people who help you, build you up, encourage you.

6. How’s your energy level?

      Energize through leaving off sugars and fats that drain your vitality.
      Moving your body heightens creativity and invigorates you stamina.
      Love what you do.

7. Pray

     A Christian should never start a new year or make goals without consulting the Heavenly Father in the plans. Maintain contact with God regardless of where your career takes you.

8. Me? A Mentor?

      We’re all at different levels. Someone just beginning to write can learn from someone who’s studied for years.    

     An unpublished writer can gain valuable help from an author that’s published.

     If you’ve published one or two books, you learn from a multi-published author.

     Wherever you are on the path, you have learned lessons you can share. Consider being a mentor to someone else. Teaching will strengthen the lessons you’ve learned, and networking can broaden your base.

In summary,

     Survey your desires and accomplishments in the past year. Write your goals for the new year, for each month, for every week. Make it something you can control. Being published or contracting for more sales is technically out of our hands, but following these guidelines with persistence makes those things doable. So, survey, keep goals, and dream on, writers.

     Since this is near the beginning of the year, I'm on a goal-setting binge. If overeating is a problem, check out my post about setting goals for healthier eating this year. Find it at


  1. Janet, what a great list of how to set and reach your goals. Including 'a time for learning' is one step that some don't take into account, but it's one that is a must.

    And, I agree, persistence is an absolute must!

  2. I so agree, Karen. We must learn to keep writing. Thank you.