How to Use Goals to Write Your Book
When you know what you want, setting goals becomes much easier. You can set a goal to finish your book by a certain date, use it as motivation to get started, or to make sure you stay on track!
Setting goals is an important part of being successful in any area of life, but it’s especially useful for writers who struggle with staying motivated and focused on their writing projects. Goals give us something concrete to work towards, which is essential when trying to achieve something as vague as finishing a book or novel draft (or even just getting started). It helps you to accomplish more and is comparatively better than sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike.
Goals allow us time-bound motivation: we can see how much closer we are getting towards our goal by writing and checking off checklists or hitting certain milestones along the way (like having half or three quarters finished). By doing this regularly, we maintain our momentum toward reaching our end goal without losing sight of why we set out on this journey in the first place!
Goal setting is a proven way to increase performance. It’s been proven in countless studies and experiments. Setting goals has been shown to improve motivation by increasing our drive toward something specific and encouraging us to work harder in order to reach that goal. It also increases productivity because we’re able to focus on one task at a time instead of getting distracted by other things like social media or email notifications. Finally, goal setting makes us more productive because it increases the quality of our work–we’ll give more effort when we know there’s something at stake!
It is important to note, that setting goals when you first get started can be hard so let’s start with the “Getting Started” part!
First, focus on the things that are holding you back.
- Make a list of the things that are stopping you from reaching your goal (leave some space between each of them).
- Take some time to think about each of the things on your list.
- Highlight the things on the list that are within your control, and cross out the rest.
- Focus on what is left on your list, and jot down a few things about how you could move past each item within your control.
- Using this list, create a plan of action on how to move forward in order to achieve your goals. The keyword here is action because nothing can get done if you don’t do it.
If it’s a lack of time or energy, then make sure to schedule more time and energy for writing. You can’t expect to write a book if you don’t have enough energy or time! If it’s because someone else is always asking for help with their own book project instead of helping YOU finish yours… then politely tell them “no” (or at least consider doing so – and doing so more often).
Now that we have the things standing in your way – out of the way, here are seven ways that you can use goals in your effort to finish your book.
Make a list of all of your goals - be thorough.
Write down your goals and make a plan to reach them. You can do this in a notebook or on the computer, but make sure that the place where you write down your goals is somewhere accessible so that no one else can see them! It’s important not to share this information with other random people because they might try to take credit for what you’ve accomplished or tell others about it without your permission (and then nobody will want to buy the book).
Make sure there’s time for all of this stuff: setting goals, writing down those goals, making plans for how we’re going to accomplish those things–it takes up so much time! Sometimes you might feel like you do not have enough hours in your day just doing normal stuff like eating food, working, and sleeping at night; then there’s all this extra work you need to do just so everything runs smoothly in your life…and it can really be so hard to fit room for our goals into the daily…but if we keep working hard enough, the routine will become manageable.
Create a daily and weekly goal.
It’s important to set a goal for each week. The first step is creating a schedule for the week so that you know what days and times you’ll be writing. Make sure your goals are achievable and measurable, with a deadline for each one. If possible, give yourself rewards as well! This will help keep you stay motivated throughout the entire process of finishing your book.
Pro Tip: Start with one goal, not several — no more than three. Again…you can not do everything all at once. You will end up with a lot of things started, barely anything finished, and a ton less energy. This can be so discouraging. You have to focus on one thing at a time, and that means setting goals that are reasonable and achievable. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by trying too much at once, or thinking that you need to do everything perfectly right out of the gate.
Instead, start with one goal — maybe something like “write 500 words per day” or “finish my novel by December 31st.” Then set another goal (a little more challenging) — like finishing 50 pages before I go on vacation next month — and then another after that (something even more difficult).
Don’t forget to take a few minutes every day to check off what’s been done. Review your progress in a journal, notebook, or on your calendar, but make sure that it’s easily accessible so you can look at it frequently
Don't forget your reason "why."
Remember, you can’t win the race if you don’t finish. In order to stay motivated and keep on track with your book-writing goal, it’s essential that you remind yourself of why you’re doing this in the first place. Why does finishing your book matter? What do you hope to achieve by completing this project? How will finishing help meet some of those other goals (like publishing more books or improving your writing skills)?
Asking yourself these questions when times get tough will help keep things in perspective and give them meaning beyond just getting the words out there on paper–and that means they’ll be easier for me too!
Review your goals regularly.
Reviewing your goals regularly is an important part of the process. It keeps you on track, and it helps you to keep moving forward even when things get tough.
Here are some ways that you can review your goals:
- Daily: Every morning as soon as you wake up, make a note of what three things need to happen today for you to reach your goal(s). This will help guide your day so that nothing gets in the way of working toward finishing your book!
- Weekly: At the end of each week (or whatever time period works best for YOU), look back at what happened during those seven days. How did these events impact my ability or inability towards reaching my ultimate goal(s)? If anything came up unexpectedly during this period that might have hindered me from making progress towards finishing my manuscript by December 31st – then plan accordingly next week!
Set up a routine that works for you so that writing becomes normal and effortless.
Make writing part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Make it a habit so that even when life gets busy and chaotic, writing will still be there waiting for you when all the craziness has passed. When you do it consistently, eventually it becomes second nature to write every day without having to think about it or put in extra effort beyond showing up at the desk or table with pen in hand (and maybe some coffee).
Break your goals down into small, manageable steps.
Break it down into small, manageable steps. The steps should be achievable, meaning they are things that you, yourself have the ability to complete. The steps should be part of your larger goal, sequential, and time-based (if you’re writing a novel, for example, you might want to create chapter outlines and then fill in each chapter with details before writing them out). Make sure each step has a deadline so that you can measure your progress as you go along! It can feel so good to not only achieve your goal, but to even do it ahead of your schedule because you gave yourself the time, space, and motivation to finish.
Reward yourself for your hard work and progress.
If you’re trying to finish a project, but haven’t been as successful as you wanted in the past, it’s important to reward yourself for each step along the way. This will keep you motivated and help keep your mind off of all those reasons why you should give up on finishing the book.
Reward yourself when
- you complete an important step or milestone (but don’t reward yourself until all the steps are completed and you’re finished with your project). This will keep things from getting out of control and taking over your life
- something that makes you happy (a small gift or something special and out of ordinary from your day-to-day).
- you reach a goal with something that will help motivate you to continue. For example, if your goal was to write two chapters and you finished those chapters, reward yourself by going out for ice cream or buying a new book.
Setting goals is a proven way to increase your performance, and get things done on your schedule, the way you need to do it. We are all unique, so feel free to change up the list above to fit your unique personality and style. We hope this blog helps you to get started!
Written by Jessica Cassick, M.S., PhD(c)
Jessica Cassick is the CEO of ImagineWe Publishers (Est. 2016), a single mother, a writer, a scholar, and a published author of most of the original children’s Mission Books published in 2018. She uses her writing talent to explore and research a plethora of topics across the publishing world as well as on sense-of-self building, post-traumatic growth, and success. She is a passionate entrepreneur who previously lived life in fast-forward; achieving as many goals as possible with a future-focused mindset. She is now learning to slow down and find balance and peace in the present.