Setting Writing Goals | Novel Progress

My writing buddy and I usually Skype at least once a week, typically during the weekend, and for as long as I can remember we tend to end each call with plans for what we would like to accomplish on our own before we next talk. These are really simple, achievable goals that are easy to remember so that we can hold each other accountable.

We pick these goals for ourselves. They are things we would like to achieve, that are within reason, and the only obstacles to them is ourselves and how we choose to spend our time during the week. She’s amazing and meeting and exceeding these goals. I’m so-so. But I love setting goals. I love knowing what I should be doing (even if I don’t do it)!

Types of Writing Goals

Whether you are a fan of setting goals or not, I think we can all agree they serve some function of motivation. I think they also help writing a novel seem more manageable. Each goal is a stepping stone that leads to the ultimate destination: a complete novel draft.

There are a few different types of goals you can consider setting for yourself. There are long-term and short-term goals. With long-term goals you may have dates in mind for completing your WIP as a whole or for beginning your novel querying. Short-term goals are often stepping stones toward the long-term goal. They take less time to complete and account for different methods to achieving the long-term goal.

Here are some writing goals you might consider on a daily or weekly basis:

  1. Word count goals. Similar to NaNoWriMo, you may aim for productivity by consistently adding new words to your draft. If you know exactly what you want to write, or have no problem writing on the fly, then this goal might be great for you. You can be ambitious or realistic, adjusting the exact number of words as needed.
  2. Finish [x] chapters/scenes. If you want to prefer to look at your novel as a collection of discrete parts, you might feel more productive meeting a goal where you are writing scene-by-scene. Instead of a random number of words, you can know when your writing session for the day is complete when you’ve finished a specific part of your book. Word count doesn’t matter. You’re weighing your satisfaction upon the completion of a scene.
  3. Task-oriented goals. Maybe you like to edit as you go. You might have a goal of writing one chapter this week and next week you’re going through a round of edits. Maybe you leave a lot of fill-in-the-blank spots in your draft and like to attend to those all a once. These can encompass a number of things: naming places/characters, writing witty dialogue, adding hints of foreshadowing, fixing plot holes. Its all still work you can quantify as progress.
  4. Sitting down at [this time] to write. If actually sitting down to write is your problem, then you might consider making it your writing goal to write at specific times/places during the week. No, it may not relate directly to your novel. But this goal will help you complete your novel in the long run.

You have got to know yourself and your writing in order to set good goals for yourself. I personally jump back and forth between all of these different writing goals each week.

If I’m having trouble making the words flow, I find having a word count goal can help. If my mind is on a specific part of the novel, I may dedicate my time specifically to working on that. Sometimes I just want to spruce up the words I already have. I find that by looking closely at my words from time-to-time sparks ideas for things that can happen before and later.

October NANoWriMo Prep

In case you’re new to the blog, you may not know that I love participating in NaNoWriMo each year. When I was younger, NaNoWriMo always seemed to sneak up on me, so in an effort to promote the writing event and encourage others to participate, I organize a weekly NaNoWriMo preparation series on the blog in the place of the regularly scheduled writing updates.

I announced my schedule in my Week in Review this past Sunday, but I also wanted to share it here for anyone who might have missed it.

  • Oct. 3: OctoWriMo | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 10: Deciding What to Write | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 17: A Writing Bullet Journal + Organization Tips | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 24: NaNoWriMo Survival Kit | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 31: Making Time to Write | NaNoWriMo Prep

I’m hoping to finish up my current WIP so I can start something entirely new for NaNoWriMo, but I don’t know yet if it will be possible. I have to make sure I’m in a good place to stop with Troubling a Star, if I’m going to start a new project.

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I started a bullet journal, specifically for writing. It’s turned into a real bullet journal, now though, so it’s taken me some time and research to create page layouts that work for me. The actual writing-related sections are in my October spread, so I’m excited to start seeing how those work next month. Hopefully I’ll be able to share my success on the 17th as currently planned!

What kinds of writing goals do you set for yourself?

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