Sometimes when I sit down to write, I become a little overly ambitious, I get so excited and inspired! Suddenly my fingers are click-clacking away at the keyboard in front of me, with no sort of rhyme or reason to them. With no sort of plan or goal—and if there is a goal, it may not be the most realistic one. I tell myself that what I’ve just begun will certainly turn into an amazing novel. The next big thing! A New York Times Best Seller, for sure! But I quickly realize that I can’t just sit down and write an entire book. Something like that takes a lot of planning. Diving head-first into something as complex as a novel is less than ideal—and almost sure to end in overwhelming failure.
Whether you’re writing a novel, poetry, blog posts, or any other compilation of words you could possibly think of, it is important to check yourself about how realistic your goal truly is. Surely, it is important to challenge yourself, but you have to make it realistic. For instance, challenging yourself to writing a certain number of words per week, rather than telling yourself you’ll get the entire first draft of your book done in a single month!
Work for your goals, don’t just let them sit there. You should not set a goal and expect it to simply happen just because you set it. You have to make it happen. To do this you may want to set aside specific times each week that you dedicate to the writing process. These moments will be distraction free, and should boost you toward your goal in no time at all. A great way to accomplish this would be to outline a writing schedule or calendar to keep yourself on track. You should be able to look at this calendar on any given day and know exactly what you’re working toward, what you’re responsible for. It will feel great when you finish each particular task for each day.
Don’t overwork or overestimate yourself. Surely, you should be confident in your abilities as a writer, and work your hardest. However, you should not spread yourself too thin. Rather than setting a goal like “write 10,000 words per week” why not set a less intimidating goal like “write at least 1,000 words per day.” Using the calendar that I mentioned before can help you sort out these goals, and make sure that you aren’t setting too many at once. Remember that every day does not need to be an actual writing day, there are many other tasks that can be completed in relation to your writing. These could include character development in your novel, or research on a particular subject for your blog posts.
Set different levels of goals. Every goal does not need to be the same level of urgency and difficulty. Your days could be made up of many small goals, a few medium goals, or even just one large goal that is to be focused on completely. Some may argue that it is all about the big idea goals; however, I have found that that will do nothing more than overwhelm me when I try to complete said goal. You could think of writing like following a recipe: each ingredient could be considered a small goal, each instruction a medium goal, and the large goal would be the ultimate outcome—a delicious treat!
Reward your successes. A great way to make sure you keep your goals is to reward yourself! It may sound childish, but I’ve found that whenever I don’t want to do something, or whenever I am a bit hesitant to do something that I know I should do, I ensure myself that there will be a reward to follow my efforts. This could be a literal reward, such as your favorite food or a night out with friends. However, it could also just be the reward in knowing that if you meet your writing goals you will eventually finish your project—something that will feel amazing, maybe even more amazing than biting into a big slice of pie. Bite into a big slice of success!
Setting small goals is an important aspect of daily life, it is what keeps us driven, keeps us moving toward our biggest goals. Completing goals, both big and small, results in our greatest successes—and if completion of goals is what leads to success, then very clearly we must make our goals completable! By setting realistic goals, we are more likely to reach success, because they are less likely to back us into a corner of intimidation and procrastination.
Everytime I suddenly get the itch to write the next best selling novel, I take a step back and remind myself that that is my biggest and final goal. I remind myself that it will take a lot of planning, time, and smaller goal setting and completing to reach that final goal.