Monday 12 January 2015

New Year Goal Setting

By Narelle Atkins 

Last week I talked about New Year Writing Resolutions and setting priorities. Today we’re going to look at specific writing goals. 

The first thing I do is review my writing goals from the previous year. I look at the achievements I celebrated during 2014. I consider what worked well for me and why. I ponder the goals and activities I should either scrap or rework for 2015 and consider their importance on my priority list. Do I want to continue working on my unfulfilled 2014 goals? Do I have new goals I’d like to add for 2015?

I break down my goals into short term (up to 1 year), medium term (1-3 years) and long term (3 plus years).

Short Term Goals 

The key to achieving short term goals involves planning a realistic writing schedule.

For my writing schedule, I consider:

1. Daily/weekly goals 

2. Word count vs. hours spent writing 

When I’m writing to tight deadlines, I set weekly word count goals that I split up into a daily goal for the days I have scheduled writing time. I sacrifice leisure time to make the word count and I factor in an extra twenty percent of time/words to take into account ‘life happening’. Something will always happen to disrupt your schedule. 

Your work plan is your road map that defines the steps you’ll take to achieve your goal. I’m going to use the data from my analysis of my work plan for ‘Seaside Proposal’ to help plan my next writing project. I tracked my daily word count and the time allocated for revising and editing. This data will help me to estimate my average word count per hour and determine a realistic word count goal for my next project. 

For my sixth book, ‘Seaside Proposal’, I wrote 40k words over fifteen weeks from May 26 to September 8, 2014. The book deadline was September 15 and I edited as I wrote. I prefer to write a first draft, rest it and then revise and edit, but my schedule didn’t give me the luxury of following my usual plan. 

During those fifteen weeks I attended writing conferences in Sydney and San Antonio, completed copy edits for ‘Winning Over the Heiress’, promoted ‘The Doctor’s Return’ when it released in August, and completed the ‘Seaside Proposal’ book admin for the Art Fact Sheet that’s required by my publisher. I allocated time for book admin and book promo, which reduced the time I had available for actual writing. I did the copy edits for ‘Winning Over the Heiress’ while my critique partners and beta-readers were reviewing ‘Seaside Proposal’.

A few months ago I started scheduling a monthly lunch date, by myself, to brainstorm new and current writing projects. I go to a cafĂ© on the other side of town, where I’m unlikely to see anyone I know, and I spend up to an hour scribbling ideas in my note book. 

In 2015 I’m going to be flying to Sydney for the day on a regular basis for a work meeting related to my day job. I’m planning how I can effectively use the travel time to work on my writing.

Medium Term Goals

How many writing projects do you plan to complete? Which months have you scheduled for each project? 

Are you writing proposals for traditional publishers? Are you working on indie projects? Do you have contractual deadlines to meet? 

Set up a budget and allocate time for each project with realistic deadlines in 2015 and beyond. Have flexibility in your schedule and add in at least twenty percent to allow for ‘life’ to happen and unexpected changes. Don’t forget to schedule time for vacations and other important activities. My twentieth wedding anniversary is coming up and I’ll allocate time for a special family holiday.

Long Term Goals

Your Writing Journey 

Where do you want to be in five years? What steps do you need to take now to make it happen? 

How many books will you have written, either published, contracted or pre-published?

Set goals that are within your sphere of influence 

For example, becoming a contest finalist/winner is outside your sphere of influence. But, entering X number of contests is within your control. 

Dream Big 

Don’t stifle your secret dreams and assume they couldn’t possibly happen to you. If you don’t try, you can guarantee that you won’t achieve your goals. Our writing journeys may not pan out the way we want, despite our best laid plans. I’ve learned to enjoy the journey, including the detours, rather than being fixated on the destination.

NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance set in Australia and lives in Canberra. Her debut book, Falling for the Farmer, was a February 2014 release, followed by The Nurse's Perfect Match in May 2014, The Doctor's Return in August 2014, Her Tycoon Hero in November 2014, Winning Over the Heiress in February 2015, and Seaside Proposal in May 2015. 

Narelle blogs regularly with International Christian Fiction Writers and Inspy Romance. 

She is also a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA). 

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins


  1. Good thought to look at worked in 2014 to help set the goals for 2015. I'm planning on doing some more short stories and submitting to anthologies and e-mags as I've had some success with this last year but I'm keeping my long-term goal of publishing my fantasy series firmly in my sights as well.

    1. Hi Jeanette, Your plan sounds great :) I think it's important to have a game plan for the short term and the long term. Even if we aren't directly working on our big long term goal, we can be taking small steps in that direction and exploring opportunities as they arise.

  2. I'm just starting to plan out my writing schedule for 2015. I know this year that I need to be really disciplined about sticking to it (as much as life allows!) in order to achieve my goals. This was really helpful, thanks, Narelle!

    1. Hi Kara, I'm glad my post was helpful :) The daily discipline is the hard part, and also not beating ourselves up when we fall behind or things don't quite work out as planned. I find a flexible schedule works well for me.


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