During my high school years, I ran cross-country. It took me several weeks of hard work before I could run several miles without stopping. I’d arise before sunup with my teammates, and each day I’d set a personal goal. First, I ran to a certain telephone pole, stop for a breather, then resume my run toward the next goal. For a couple or three days, I did this, then I’d set a more challenging goal, pushing myself hard till I reached it. Of course, I’d stop for breathers. Before long, I reached the point where I could run several miles at a stretch.
To be a successful (and productive) writer, we need goals, too.
First, a writer needs short-range goals. Such goals should be reasonable and achievable. If the goals are too high, and we don’t achieve them, it makes room for discouragement to settle in. These short-term goals should be daily goals. For example: “I’ll write three pages a day,” “I’ll write five hundred words a day,” or something similar.
Mid-range goals are weekly and monthly goals. Short-term goals should target mid-range goals. If we’re working on a 2,000 word short story, for instance, make an achievable goal of writing five hundred words a day and by week’s end, the story will be written. In the case of my novel writing, I tend to write in scenes. I have a goal of writing at least one scene a week. I write my first draft in a manner most writers don’t—I revise while I write. However, writing books and writing teachers generally discourage this. Since this method works for me, though…hey, I do it!
Which brings me to long-range goals. These are goals writers hope to achieve within a few months or a year. They set short-term and mid-range goals toward achieving their ultimate objective. Want to write a book? Take small steps toward that goal. Determine to write at least one page every day, and by the end of the year a book will be written.
What happens if short-term and mid-rage goals aren’t met? Professional writers understand that things happen. On days when they don’t reach their goals, they plow ahead the next day. They refuse to let discouragement get the better of them.
Finally, writers use a daily planner and write down their writing goals for each week, or if not this, they use other scheduling methods such as bulletin boards, white boards, or planners on their computers. This helps them track their goal-making progress.
So set some writing goals today, and move forward with your craft!