How to Set Literary Goals + a Few of Mine

The fact that we’ve made it almost a whole week into the new year might be enough for some people to say the time for setting goals is past. It’s too late to make resolutions. In fact, a lot of you are probably starting to give up on your resolutions already.

But if you’re anything like me, the first week of 2019 has just been so hectic that you haven’t had time to think about goals or resolutions or what this year is going to look like. Between the variety of cold viruses I’ve had, moving into a new apartment, and getting ready for the new semester to start, my life has been absolute madness. But I’m not about to give up my chance to figure out how to make 2019 the most book-driven year yet! And really, you shouldn’t need an excuse to better your life anyway. So what if we’re a week into the year? Or a month? Or several?

So in case you haven’t had time to set your new goals yet, or if you’re looking for tips for the future, here’s a little bit of the process I’m using to set myself up for some great reading and writing goals.

Review What You’ve Accomplished and Build on it

Whenever I sit down to set goals in any category, I like to take a look at where I stand. What habits do I already have? What did I accomplish in the last year? What have been some of my best successes and worst failures? What projects am I already working on?

Too often, I’ve seen people make mistakes by skipping this step. They start new projects while abandoning their old ones. Or they set goals that would require such a huge step upward they start to seem impossible. And yes, I’ve even made this mistake myself.

If you set a goal to read 100 books last year, but only read 60, it’s not a huge deal. Just don’t expect yourself to get to 120 this year, even if that’s originally what you wanted. Push yourself, yes. Do more. Don’t just reach for 60 again. But understand that doubling your count is going to seem impossible at times, and you’re way more likely to give up a few weeks in if you start to fall behind. Maybe shoot for 80.

If you’ve made a lot of progress on a project this last year, please don’t abandon it! While it’s okay, even great, to use the new year to start on new projects, don’t lose what you’ve worked so hard to gain. Make room for both old and new projects, or you’ll just end up with a bin of half-finished ideas that never went anywhere.

Me? I read 100 books in 2018, so my goal for 2019 is 120. I made some great progress with two manuscripts, so I’m focusing on finishing those within the next year. Oh, and this blog, of course. That’s important too.

Know Your Long-term Goals

One of the best ways to make your goals achievable is to work from the top down. If you know what you want 30 years from now, it’s a lot easier to break down your vision into 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, and even further. If your ultimate goal is to write the next great American novel, figure out what you have to do to achieve that. Want to be the next J.K. Rowling? Break it down!

If all you know is that you want to read and write, it’s a little harder to get specific. Knowing where you want to end up gives you a direction. And once you have your direction you can set the path. Even if your long-term literary goals consist only of reading through some great list of classics, or even becoming a pro at understanding YA, direction is key!

One of my greatest long-term goals is to become a successful, well-known YA author. This year, that looks like getting my YA manuscript ready for querying. So I can get it published within the next five years, then get going on a few more to get my name out there.

Break it Down More

Once you’ve broken down your long-term goals into yearly goals, the best way to make those achievable is to break them down even more. What do these resolutions look like as monthly goals? Weekly? Even daily?

You will never reach your goals if you don’t work on them today, whenever today may be. Yearly and long-term goals are achieved one day at a time. One book at a time. One word at a time. Think about it and work on it every day, and you’ll find that things are much more achievable than you may have originally thought.

Since I’m shooting for making big progress with my blog this year, I’m really trying to focus on getting two posts out a week. Once I’m successful with that, I”ll move into my SEO and Social Media mini-goals. There’s always small steps to make something better!

Make Goals of Quality as Well as Quantity

Yes, your goals need to be measurable or how will you know if you’ve ever achieved them? But that doesn’t mean you should neglect quality. After all, what’s the point of writing more if you can’t write better? Set goals that focus on quality more than quantity. Maybe set a time goal instead of a word count goal to allow you to focus on what you’re writing instead of how much. Make a goal to take notes as you read and find lessons. Stop getting distracted while you read or write.

A big one for me this year is focus. I’m trying to do whatever it takes to cut out distractions while I’m reading or writing so I can give the words the attention they deserve. For me, this means notes, internet blockers, focus apps, and meditation.

Make a Promise and Don’t Give Up!

The most important thing you can do as you set and chase down those goals is to promise yourself to be better, and then follow through. Remember what’s at stake here. You have so much learning and improvement ahead of you within the next year. You are going to become so much better and smarter and stronger.

Setbacks will happen. I promise. You will get sick or busy and you will probably fall behind at some point. But remember that even if you don’t reach your goals, the closer you get, the better off you’ll be for it. If you decide next month that there’s no way you’re reaching your Goodreads goal, that’s okay! But don’t stop reading just cause you’re not going to make it.

You got this, my friend. The words are there for you. Use them!

What are some of your literary goals for 2019? How do you plan to achieve them?

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