The Truth About Writing Goals

Did you make any writing goals last year? I did.

  • Finish editing WIP
  • Send first query
  • Start new WIP

Did I accomplish those goals? Yes. Yes, I did. But this would be the first time I’ve achieved all my self-imposed writing goals or resolutions. I’ve dreamed up some pretty big literary mountains to climb in the past. The problem was, they weren’t realistic for my stage of life. At all.

  • Finish current novel
  • Write second novel
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo

At first glance, it doesn’t look like a bad list. It seems halfway possible. Until you take everything else into consideration. Like the fact that I was still in Jr. High, had never actually finished a story, that I was writing everything by hand, had no possible way of doing NaNoWriMo, and was nursing my arms back to health after a bout of tendonitis.


Your situation might not be like mine. That list that was impossible for me might be easily doable for you. It’s all about balancing your literary dreams with reality. But how do we do that?

  1. Start with reality.

It’s easy to start with the dream and, of course, your dream will always be in the back of your mind. But if we start with reality, we’ll view our dream in those terms. Assess your current situation. How much time are you really going to be able to spend writing? How much will family, work, friends, and activities add to your stress and/or take away your creativity? Are there things like family health problems or situational changes that are going to require more of your time and attention? These are things to think about when coming up with your writing goals for the year.

  1. Don’t dream big

I know, I know, this is probably one of the most counter-cultural things I could say. But hear me out. One thing I’ve noticed about people who “dream big” is that, in their lives, the dream is center stage. Everything else, such as the reality of their situation, gets set on the back burner. When that happens, one of two things will happen: Either reality will boil over and make a mess of the dream, or it will evaporate and leave you with nothing. Whether this be your family and friends, your job, your places of service, or your church, whatever your situation, that is the reality that must be maintained. At the forefront, not on the back burner.


The thing about dreams is, they tend to take a long time to come about despite your best attempts to expedite the process. My point? Dreams work best on the back burner. Slowly simmering, stirring occasionally while dealing with life head-on. Balancing life with the dream. Short-term, small dreams. Or long-term, big dreams.

And so, dear writer, make your goals, but keep them real and remember:

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