Friday 3 January 2014

What are your writing goals for 2014?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles /

I read recently the results of an American survey that outlined less than 5% of people set goals, write them down and track their progress.

This surprised me somewhat so I ran my own small poll amongst some loved ones, which essentially validated those results. I typically am a goal setter and will sit down at the beginning of a year to map out a series of goals. For some reason or another I didn’t do a very good job of this in 2013.  When I spend insufficient time on documenting and tracking goals, like last year, I don’t make as much progress. And this particularly applies to my writing.

So I’ve made a conscious effort of spending some quality time between Christmas and New Year on both reflecting back on 2013 and establishing goals for 2014. As Anne wrote in her New Year’s Eve post we should do this with the Lord. We’re all probably familiar with Proverbs 16:3

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (NIV)

Sometimes we can read this to believe God will establish what we want. But as my Pastor said recently when referring to this verse, the Lord’s likely to mess with our plans for a while and then He’ll tell you what He wants and what He doesn’t want you to do. And then, and only then, will the Lord establish them.

But the first steps are both giving our goals to God and also listening to Him (as Anne outlined).

Dream BIG

Goals often fall out of our dreams. For example, I want to be a published author? Some people will call this a dream, others a goal. God wants to hear our dreams. The exciting thing is we can’t out dream God so it’s a great place to be in when we’re meditating with Him on what our dreams and goals can be for any given year.

Our dreams will remain forever just that, dreams, unless we engage specific activity to propel them forward. Many of us aren’t working to publisher deadlines rather self-imposed ones and because we’re all busy it’s easy for our writing to take a back seat at times. We’re all familiar with the old adage what get’s scheduled gets done so I find it important to schedule specific time each day to achieve that goal.

I set goals across a range of categories: spiritual, marriage, family, writing, friends, giving, to mention a number of them. Three of my writing goals for this year are:

1.   Complete the draft of my work-in-progress by 31 March 2014
2.   Complete the draft of one 50-page short story by 30 June 2014
3.   Read one writing craft book every two months

I consider it important to write focused goals that are time-bound otherwise the urgent matters that emerge, almost daily, will eclipse these important goals. Yes, stuff comes up which may make it difficult to achieve but put a line in the sand now and deal with the stuff if it happens.

I will share these goals with my writing group and ask them to keep me accountable.

Do you set writing goals and if so, what is one of your goals for 2014?

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Ian, thanks for your insightful post. I'm a goal setter. One of my goals for 2014 is to get a head start on writing book proposals for future contracts. I've found the self-discipline I've gained from setting self-imposed goals has been really helpful now I have a rolling series of deadlines to meet in my current contract.

    1. Thanks Narelle. It's great you now have Steve helping you as I expect he will bring lots of wise counsel re: book proposals.

      I think most of us have a love/hate relationship with imposed deadlines but they're great as a motivator to getting things done.

      I'd like to read a post from you on your writing process. I think many of us in the group would find it beneficial. I enjoy learning from other authors processes.

    2. Hi Ian, yes, that's a good idea. We could organise a Monday writing craft series on our individual writing processes.

  2. Thanks, Ian. I too like setting goals. But I remind myself that it's considered great if you achieve 25% of what you plan and brilliant if 50% comes out to your satisfaction. So I don't beat my head if I don't achieve what I plan. And you're right about the Lord messing with your plans...

    1. Thanks Anne. Yes, there are definitely some goals I set that are really guideposts, for example, I set a book reading goal each year. It stirs me during the year but it won't define my year if I fall short of it.

  3. I like this idea. I do find I'm more likely to achieve something if I set a goal I'm accountable for. I'm also finding having two blogs good for this - I have to have the discipline to determine a schedule, then write the posts to keep that. But other writing, apart from craft posts and book reviews? Hmm ...

    So, what craft book are you aiming to read next? What did you read last, and would you recommend it?

  4. Iola, one exercise I did this year was to write down my motivations for my top goals. I found this really useful as a mechanism to challenge the significance of each goal.

    Do you write your own fiction as well as edit others? Perhaps that might be a useful goal for 2014?

    I tend to use most writing craft books as reference material so look up & study particular elements in a number of books simultaneously rather than reading one from start to finish. But I'm determined to be more thorough in this in 2014. I'm currently working through Donald Maass's "The Fire in Fiction" which I'm finding useful. Any great ones you've read recently other than the Marketing ones (almost all of which I've now bought as a result of your recommendation)?

    1. I have The Fire in Fiction here too, Ian. But still need to get to it. Glad it's helpful. So was your post.

    2. Thanks Dale, appreciate your encouragement.

  5. Hi Ian,
    I am not a natural goal setter at all. I do like your suggestion to make goals for the different areas of our lives, to prevent some areas getting swamped by others.
    As for writing, I'm doing the best I can to figure out how to implement what I've read about launch teams and blog tours, for my new release in April. I find writing comes far easier to me than the marketing side of the job, so that'll be the big challenge for the first third of the year.


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