Like anything else, I think it’s important, when setting writing goals, that your goals be realistic ones. If they aren’t you’re going to struggle to reach them and possibly get discouraged and give up. We can’t be having that folks!
In today’s busy world, we are constantly running, whether it be to our job that pays the bills and supports our writing habit, taking kids to soccer/band/dance/karate/etc, getting groceries, dropping off drying cleaning, and so on and so forth. Then there’s housework, cooking, yard work and home maintenance, not to mention needing time to actually relax and you know, sleep. Therefore, when you go to set your writing goals, these are all things you need to keep in mind. Are you going to be able to block out two hours a day to devote to writing? Is it going to cut into family/social time? Will it cut into your sleep? (Note: this blog writing is definitely cutting into my beauty rest. See what I sacrifice for you people?) If the answer is yes, then perhaps be more flexible with your goals. Opt for a daily word count to reach rather than a time period. Some days you may find you reach that count quicker than others and then you can decide if you want to continue because you’re on a roll or to call it a night and do something else. Whichever method you choose, make sure it’s something attainable.
Besides daily writing goals, you should be making goals for finishing your stories, editing, writing your query letters and getting them out. Again, make the goals realistic. Maybe you edit five pages a day. Maybe you give yourself until the end of summer to finish that story. Maybe you plan to query four agents a week for a month. All realistic goals.
If you’re anything like me, goals and deadlines are the motivators to kick you in the ass and get you going. I am quite the procrastinator (hence why I am typing this after midnight…) and deadlines are what make me really buckle down and not be as distracted by the shiny things around me. It really helps me to have one of those big wall calendars with my deadlines marked in BIG RED MARKER. There’s no missing it and then I can feel the pressure as the day creeps closer. Might sound funny, but I swear it really works.
So go ahead and make those goals, but don’t make them something crazy like swearing to write 10,000 words a day. Someone might be able to keep that up for the short term, say during the final days of NaNoWriMo, but it’ll be the rare person who can keep it up on a regular basis. Don’t self sabotage by trying to keep up an unrealistic pace. Be pragmatic and while goals important to keep you motivated, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Sometimes life is unpredictable and things happen. Forgive yourself and start again the next day.