Writing Advice: On Goals


This week, on Saturday, National Novel Writing Month comes to an end! I plan on finishing on time, that is I mean to reach the 50,000 word count by the final day. The month has been a whirlwind, but it has been amazing and I’ve really enjoyed living within the world of this story that I’m writing. This year I hope to continue writing to finish the story even past the end of November.

NaNoWriMo is one of my favorite writing challenges throughout the year and, for me, it is a realistic goal. I’ve proven in the past that I can make it to this word goal within a month, so I know that it’s realistic for me to attempt it each year. However, for some of you, this might not be a realistic goal. Some of you may have read my NaNo-related posts this year and thought, “this sounds insane!” And that’s totally fine! Not everyone is comfortable with a goal like the one that NaNo sets forth. What’s important is that you find some realistic goals that you can set for yourself when writing.

A while back, Chuck Wendig — master of blogging about writing that he is — posted 25 Ways to Be a Happy Writer. I found all of them very intriguing and helpful, but I thought the most relevant one at the moment was number 7 on his list, set realistic goals. Wendig writes:

“I’m going to write this book. It’s going to earn me a seven-figure advance. It’s going to climb all the bestseller charts like that giant ape climbing whatever that really tall building is, and I’m going to win all the awards and then I’ll sell the film rights for another seven figures and the protagonist will be played by Baby Goose himself, THE RYAN GOSLING.” Unrealistically high goals just mean a long fall when you miss a ledge or a foothold crumbles beneath you.

That last line is what’s key for me. If you set really high goals that you cannot meet, you’re going to feel discouraged when you don’t meet them. Setting unrealistic goals basically sets you up for failure. Instead of shooting for those crazy, unrealistic dreams right away, save them for later and set some goals for yourself that you know you can meet in the short-term.

Think about some of the goals you have for your writing. Are they realistic? Try listing your writing goals and evaluating them. And happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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