How to Set Goals for Your First Writing Project

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

In order to accomplish a writing goal, or any goal for that matter, it will require some thought and planning. There are many things I want to do in life, like taking a trip to an exotic destination, (somewhere like the Bahamas would be nice!) but I might never get there if I don’t plan the trip. The same goes for writing. If no goals or plans are set, I might still be saying, “I want to write” rather than brainstorming ideas for my next piece.

While it can be tempting to dive into the deep end when starting your project, there are ways that this can be detrimental to your final product. For one, down the line it can get quite overwhelming and sometimes the outcome can appear convoluted or unfocused. When you start your project with poor planning your ideas may get lost or jumbled up in the wrong places. You may get repetitive or stuck on a half-formed thought having not planned out the direction your piece may take. Setting up a plan helps establish discipline and control while giving you the opportunity to test yourself and your abilities as you compose your masterpiece.

How to plan for success in a few easy steps:

Begin with the end in mind.

Perspective is everything. When you go into a writing project it is very important to make the commitment to follow through to the end and make an action plan to get there

  • Gauge your audience and gear your content toward them.

By understanding your audience and the goals of your prospective project, you will be able to better prepare your piece to suit your expectations. Remembering who you are writing for is one of many keys to recognizing the tones and style you should use when writing. For example, if you need to write a persuasive article for the general audience you wouldn’t want your language to be so filled with complex words or jargon that no one but scholars would understand. It needs to have an appeal and be coherent to everyone. It needs to have the ability to drive the concept home, and this can be manipulated through consciously planning the language used in your article.

  • Establish your word count goal.

Whether its 1,500 words or 15,000 words, knowing how much you need to write is essential in creating an effective action plan. Now, needless to say, everyone’s daily word count goal will not be the same — but not everyone has one. This is where you must make a commitment. By having a clear idea of the total amount of words that need to be written by the due date, you will be able to break them up into attainable goals that will have you stressing less at the thought of the project otherwise. You can start off with 200 words a day and work your way up as you progress in your craft and gain confidence. One day you will be tapping away at the keyboard without even noticing that you have gone over the count you set! The importance of sustained effort and daily routine will improve your work-ethic, self-discipline and willpower.

Organize and develop your ideas. 

  • Brainstorm it out!

Brainstorming, outlining, and visual mapping can help structure your thoughts and help you communicate your ideas more clearly and effectively. This also helps you plan out where to strategically place certain concepts that may strengthen your story, argument, or whatever your piece calls for.

For creative purposes, going in elbows deep with brainstorming allows you decide what types of literary devices you want to use in your craft, like foreshadowing or symbolism. This first step is essential in discovering innovative ideas, breaking barriers, and opening yourself up to the possibilities that your work can encompass.

Equip yourself.

  • Set yourself up for success.

Do your research prior to starting your piece, and educate yourself to the best of your ability. As is always stated: knowledge is power. It will be more difficult to find holes in your plot, setting, arguments or what have you when you have done your homework.

Equipping yourself also means giving yourself the time to do your work. Setting aside an hour a day, fifteen minutes here and another twenty there, or whatever works for your schedule. Other than that, having the resources to write can be as simple as picking up a pen and paper or using the notepad on your cellphone to do your writing.


  • Execute!

This boils down to one thing: Just do it.

Keep track of your progress.

  • One last emphasis on word count goals.
Deadlines or self-imposed due dates can creep up on even the best of the business. Creating daily word count goals and sticking to them can help guide you through the painstaking process of, for example, a novel of 70,000 words by breaking it down to a doable, say, 7,000 word work-week. That would mean, yes… a thousand words a day! Much less intimidating, thank you very much.
Keeping track of your progress will ensure you meet your deadline in plenty of time to spare.

Don’t (ever) give up!

Remember, like any other skill, it will take practice to get your writing to the where you want it to be. But it is most important to remember to never give up! Keep learning. Keep pushing through.

Be proud of yourself and the progress you are making toward making your goals a reality.


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