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Set Writing Goals for Maximum Improvement

Creative writing goals help you improve your craft and will remind you to set aside time to do so. There is no magic formula that will help you become a great writer, but you can take action that will move you closer to that goal. I suggest setting goals in three key areas:

  1. knowledge
  2. improvement
  3. submissions
  • First, set writing goals that will increase your knowledge of craft to some degree every month. Maybe you have time to read only one book about writing a month. That's something. Or, if you're not a reader, search out YouTube videos that teach writing craft.

    A good place to start on YouTube is the MasterClass series by the Scottish Book Trust: Scottish Book Trust

  • Knowledge fuels improvement, and the more you learn, the better your chances of improvement. But don't leave your improvement to chance. Set writing goals that force you to measure your improvement. You need an objective opinion on this, so if you can afford to hire a writing mentor, this is the fastest and most reliable method of determining your progress.

    If you can't afford private mentoring, join an online critiquing group. I occasionally provide free feedback at My Writers Circle and many other professional and amateur writers do the same and will provide prompt, valuable feedback.

    Also, keep an editing checklist and run a search on particular problem areas. If you tend to overuse adverbs, do a search for "ly." If you overuse participial phrases, search for "ing" words. Your writing goals should be specific, such as that you want a 10% decrease in adverbs each time you check. So keep track of your numbers, and gauge your progress. As you overcome one problem, focus on another, so you have continuous improvement.

  • Don't focus all your writing goals on weaknesses. Your work will sell because of its strengths, so keep honing those, as well, and get reliable, objective feedback on that, as well.

    Knowledge and improvement are the writing goals that will bring you the most satisfaction at first, so buy a book, enroll in a course or writing conference, ask for a critique, pay a mentor, and do whatever is necessary to learn and improve.

  • And submit! The best proof of your improvement is a publication, so always have a submission in circulation. You may not feel that you're ready to submit, but you may never feel that you're ready. Get advice from a professional, and if an editor or mentor says a piece of work is ready to submit, keep it in motion. If an editor rejects it, ship it off to someone else.

    Make this part of your writing goals. If you don't and you're like most writers, you will procrastinate, or you will get one or two rejections and won't want to risk more. Don't give in to this feeling. Set a goal to have a new piece ready for submission every month, research the market, and send the piece out. After six months, you will have six pieces circulating.

    If you're fortunate, you will receive writing feedback and encouragement along with any rejections. Better yet, you will be accepted for publication. But you will only be published if you force yourself to send your work out.

So there you have it. Three simple goals. They won't be new to you, but are you already taking the necessary action? If not, set your goals right now that you will take action on at least one of these goals before the end of the week.

What specific aspect of your writing do you want to improve? Write it down as a goal, and take action. Thinking about it is not good enough. Nothing changes until you take action. Set some goals right now, act on them, and your progress is guaranteed.

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