Setting writing goals and targets


#AcWriMo2020, like all of its predecessors, works on the assumption that giving priority to writing during this one month of November sets up, or re-sets, a regular writing habit. #AcWriMo also suggests that you set writing goals and make sure that you are held accountable for them.

Writing goals vary. Writing goals generally are of five types:

  1. time spent (in minutes or pomodoros),
  2. words written,
  3. pages written,
  4. tasks completed, or
  5. tasks moved forward (this is often called a directional goal as it is less specific than the first four.)

And writing goals can be expressed as daily or weekly targets.

Whether you’re doing AcWriMo or not, it’s obviously important to make writing goals realistic. You have to think about what is feasible given how you know you write, and what is possible and practical, given your other responsibilities. Of course, it’s also important to  build in some thinking time away from the screen and some real down time when you do something other than writing.

Many AcWriMo-ers translate their goals into a visual format. Targets can be put into a calendar format, on an Excel spread sheet, Gantt chart or table. If you are working on tasks you could also use a pie chart. But you could be more imaginative than this and construct your own image – the journey and mountain are pretty obvious, but I am sure you could think of others.

Once you have a visualisation, you can print it out. You can then cross off, colour in, put a gold star on the target when you reach it.

When your visual display of goals is pinned next to or behind your screen, you have an immediate visible record of achievement and progress – as well as a reminder to keep going. Some people like to also build in celebrations at the end or at key milestones.

Not everyone can work to these kinds of goals. And some people need to mix them up or change them along the way.

If you are wondering how you might mix up targets and goals, use AcWrimo slightly differently, or how you might carry it on afterwards, have a quick look at Canadian author K C Dyer’s Yahtzee planning approach. The Yahtzee method combines variable word count targets and counting back from a task completion goal. It’s an adaptable idea and can be modified to your particular circumstances.

If you have a moment, it’s well worth watching this Creative Writing Academy clip about how Dyer turned the idea of Yahtzee into a writing planning tool – and how it might work for you in the longer term.

And good luck with your writing for the remainder of the month.