How To Set Writing Goals For The New Year In Six Easy Steps

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If you’re like many people around the world, you’ve likely set some goals for 2015.  In the middle of thinking about all of your other goals, don’t forget to set some writing goals so that at the end of the year, you don’t find yourself wishing you had done more.

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Here are my 6 steps for setting annual writing goals:

1) Determine Your Why

Why do you want to write? Is it to make money? Do you want to use it to grow your brand? Or perhaps you want to write to preserve family memories, or further a cause you believe in.

There’s no one right “why.” Your why is likely different from mine, but whatever it is, it needs to be at the foundation of your writing goals for the year.

For example, my why is to use writing to grow my passive income, so my writing goals are focused on making that a reality.

2) Decide How Much Time You Can Devote to Writing

One of my biggest challenges when it comes to most anything, including writing is that I tend to underestimate the amount of time things take, and overestimate how much time I’ll be able to devote.

This tendency of mine sets me up for failure, so I now have a different approach to this. If in a perfect world I can devote two hours per day to writing, knowing that my world is less than perfect, I estimate an average of one to one and a half hours of writing per day, even if I’m shooting for two hours per day.

By the same token, if I can, when at my best, write 1,000 words an hour, knowing that some of my writing will take me longer, I estimate that I’ll write an average of 750 words an hour.

That gives me time for research, or for days when the words just don’t flow, no matter how hard I try.

With this type of adjustment, my minimum word count goal for each month goes from 44,000 words (22 working days x 2 hours per day x 1,000 words an hour) to a more realistic 20,625 words (22 working days x 1.25 hours per day, x 750 words an hour).

Now obviously, I may still shoot for 44,000 words per month, but my actual output goals will be based on the lower word count.

If this seems defeating to you, consider how demoralizing it is, and how easy it is to quit, when you fail to meet your goals. If you’re like me, you’ll get more done over the long haul if the goals you set are more realistic.

3) Determine the Type of Writing You Need to Do to Reach Your Why

Now that you have a realistic idea of how many words you can expect to write in a month, go back to your why, and consider the type of writing that you need to do to accomplish your why.

For example, since I want to use writing to grow passive income, I’m going to focus my writing on blogging to promote affiliate products, and writing Kindle books. I’ll still do some writing for clients since that pays me up front, which is sometimes necessary, but my primary writing goals will focus on growing passive income.

4) Create a Writing Plan that Pulls it All Together

By this point you should know:

  • Your why — what you hope to accomplish with your writing.
  • How many words you can expect to write each month, on average.
  • The type of writing you need to do to accomplish your why.
5) Make a Realistic Plan

Again, using my why of growing passive income as an example, I may set a goal to write 12 600-word blog posts each month. That’s a total of 7200 words per month on blog posts, which leaves me 13,425 words per month for Kindle books.

Based on those figures, I could write 12 blog posts per month, and perhaps one short Kindle book per month.

Naturally, things seldom go exactly as planned. You may write some longer books, or more meaty blog posts. But starting with a realistic base will help you set goals that you’ll be more likely to accomplish.

6) Set Quarterly Goals

One final word on goal setting: consider setting one big annual goal (such as a certain level of income) and then making 90 day goals that are focused on helping you reach your annual goal.

It’s easier to plan for the next 90 days, and quarterly goals are less overwhelming. In addition to that, quarterly goals give you a nice fresh start four times each year. Quarterly goals also help you correct your plan as you go along since you’ll likely evaluate your progress more frequently.

Have you set writing goals for the year? If so, how did you go about it? Share your goals and process in the comments below!

Rebecca Livermore
Rebecca Livermore is a writer and podcaster, and the owner and founder of Professional Content Creation, a company focused on training small business owners to effectively use content to market their businesses. While she's worked as a content manager and podcast producer for leaders in the social media and content marketing industries, she's passionate about helping emerging business owners use content to expand their reach and influence.
Rebecca Livermore
Rebecca Livermore