13 Nov 2020

Why Goal Setting is Vital for a Writing Career



We all know we should set goals, but why? What makes goal setting important? And why would writers need goals anyway?

Sure, every new year it’s common practice to do what are called New Year’s resolutions, which are basically setting goals for the coming year. Many of us set goals such as how much weight we want to use, how much money to make, or what habits we want to stop.

How often have you kept your New Year’s resolutions?

If you are anything like me, I’m quite serious about keeping them for a week or two, maybe a month. After that, life gets in the way and I tend to forget about them. That doesn’t mean the goals weren’t important, it just means that other things got in the way.

That’s why a lot of my goals appear as part of my resolutions year after year. I practice goal setting daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

The Importance Of Goal Setting

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve.[1] People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines. – Wikipedia

Simply put, when you plan for the future, you are goal setting. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning what to get someone for Christmas, how much weight to lose or to get a project done or a milestone met. Any time you decide you want to do something in the future, to achieve an end result, you’ve set a goal.

But why do you set goals anyway?

To Define An Objective

Defining an objective, to be achieved in a certain time, gives you something to shoot for. it creates a way to focus your attention on something that you want to get done.

To Be Able To Filter Tasks

If you’re like most people, you get hit all day long with potentially hundreds of different tasks. This could be anything from washing the dishes to working on a particular paper to writing a memo to digging a ditch. Sometimes the number of things to do can get so large that it becomes overwhelming – it’s not possible to get everything done in a day when you consider all of the social media distractions, family life, work life, and everything else going on.

Goal setting gives you away to filter through all of those activities to determine which of them you need to do to make progress toward your goals. Those that don’t help you reach your goals can probably be discarded or at least lowered in priority.

To Keep You Motivated

By setting a goal, you make yourself accountable to achieve it. you have a responsibility to meet those targets that you need to accomplish to achieve your goals. Without goals and their associated time frames and milestones, it can be easy to get distracted and procrastinate. Some call the lack of motivation writer’s block.

To Measure Progress

Having a definite goal that you measure your progress towards the goal. For example, if I decide to lose 20 pounds within six months, I know that I need to lose a little over 3 pounds each month. This lets me measure how well I am doing against the goal. if I find I’m not losing enough weight, I can quickly make adjustments to my exercise or diet so that I can meet the target.

Why Goal Setting Is Important For Writers

Goal setting is especially important for writers and other creative people.

Sometimes it can be difficult to focus on writing. There is always something else to tempt away from creating stories or articles.

Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter and other places is always there and often contains apparently fascinating conversations and communications. It’s easy to get distracted by the vast amount of social media noise that occurs every hour of every day. Setting goals can effectively lower the importance of being distracted on social media and raise the importance of writing.

For example, as I write this article, I’m noticing messages posting on my Facebook wall or my LinkedIn page. The temptation is to go check those out. Somebody might have something important to say. Lord only knows what I might miss – who knows, maybe somebody sneezed inappropriately.

Family life can also serve as a distraction. Setting goals for your writing can allow you to differentiate and focus in spite of all of the chaotic things that tend to go on in families.

You get the idea?

My Writing Goals

One of my goals is to write a minimum of 8,000 words every single day. I write a couple of articles for total of 2,000 words, 2,000 words for clients, 2,000 words for my books and stories, and 2,000 words for my training books. That’s a lot of words to write six days a week! I tend to write about 2,000 words an hour, and then spend another hour reviewing, proofreading and massaging those words until they are ready for publication or sending to a client. That works out to eight hours a day of solid productive time (with a few minutes here and there for breaks).

I also need to promote, since I’m a freelancer, and to sell my books and training products. I allocate about four more hours each day for promotion and marketing activities.

These are actually tasks that I do to meet my goals.

I try to work on four ghostwritten books at a time. this gives me a good, steady income, and that requires writing about 2,000 words for my clients every single day. That works out to about 50,000 words a month.

Another goal is to publish one short Kindle eBook each week. Those are between 10,000 and 12,000 words long each.

Because I like to help other authors, I produced one training book each week on a different subject. That works out to about 12,000 words a week.

Finally, I write guest posts and various articles for my own blog, on Medium, and for other websites in order to build up my presence on the web and on social media. That takes up the rest of my writing goal each day.

Don’t worry, I don’t overwork myself because I take every Sunday off entirely. No writing or anything related to writing is done on Sunday.

These goals and the targets I set for my production might seem to be a bit aggressive. However, writing is my passion and I have things that I want to accomplish a regular basis in order to maintain an income, and build a presence and reputation in my field.

Your Goals

Obviously, you will come up with their own goals. Perhaps you already have.

You want to finish one book this year? Get it published and out into bookstores and on Amazon? Then figure out how many words per day you need to write, edit, proofread and so on. Remember all of the other tasks associated with self-publishing including promotion, marketing, building a presence, networking, and so on. Define tasks to meet your targets, and then start doing them. Don’t let anything stand in your way and you’ll meet your goal.

Do you want to be a freelancer and produce writing for clients? in that case, many of your goals will be driven by the client. What do they want, when do they need it finished, and what quality do they need? These are all questions that you will need to asked to define goals that pertain to each client. Don’t forget that you need to do promotion and marketing to get new clients – and that needs to be done every day, all the time.

Regardless of what you want to accomplish, set realistic goals, and then work to meet them. If you find you can’t meet them, they figure out why and take corrective action.

  • Are your goals too aggressive?
  • Are you allowing yourself to get distracted?
  • Are they the right goals?
  • Have your goals changed?
  • Are you running into difficulties meeting your goals because of lack of knowledge, experience or training?

Whatever the reason you’re not meeting your goals, you can find a solution. Just take a good, objective look as to why, and then come up with a way to handle it. If the goal is too aggressive, then change the goal. If distractions are causing you not to meet your goals, then figure out a way to cut down distractions. If the goals are wrong, they make new ones.

You see how that works?


Goal setting and meeting them is one of the most important ways to keep yourself on track to become an accomplished and successful writer.

Goals are a tool designed to help you. They’re not a straitjacket, and they shouldn’t be onerous.

Make sure you leave time to enjoy life.

If you define good goals and accomplish the tasks needed to achieve them, you’ll gain the happiness associated with doing what you set out to do.

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Bjørn Larssen

“Somebody might have something important to say. Lord only knows what I might miss – who knows, maybe somebody sneezed inappropriately.”

This made me laugh out really loud! It’s so true. I’ve been avoiding social media in the last months because the same occurred to me – I waste time I could be using for writing, reading actual books, or really getting *something* done. The inappropriate sneezing will have to be taken care of by other people.

Thank you for this post!


Great Article! I completely agree that setting realistic goals is one of the most important things. A lot of people just tend to set up goals that are actually wishes without setting the plan to get to them.

Bjørn Larssen

Agreed 100%. There are goals that are either unrealistic, or *too* precise – I used to feel that if I went to do cardio with the plan to burn 500 calories and I “only” got to 496 it was nothing and I was a failure. But I also used to be the sort of person who kept saying “pfft, this book is so bad I could write a better one in my sleep” – except I never got to writing anything at all, better or worse. That’s way too imprecise. And definitely a wish (or delusion) rather than a goal. My current… Read more »

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