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Goal Setting 101: Setting Writing Goals the S.M.A.R.T. Way

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Do you often set goals for your writing? Or do you magically meet the deadline without a plan?

Most often, if writing goals are not clear, they are not accomplished. Become a better writer by not setting yourself up for failure.

Setting writing goals is as easy with a S.M.A.R.T. strategy. What’s S.M.A.R.T.? Hint: We aren’t talking about your IQ.

Set S.M.A.R.T. writing goals to learn how to meet the deadline and be more efficient in your writing with our FREE Writing Goal Worksheet.

Download this free guide to set better writing goals and improve how you meet deadlines today!

Be S.M.A.R.T. with your writing goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-bound.


…means the goal is easily identifiable and simple.

Let’s take writing goal examples like wanting to write a screenplay or a novel. If you want that kind of lofty goal, you could easily be overwhelmed because it’s not only too big, it’s also too vague.

Instead, make a goal of writing for an hour a day, or a specific word-count, or page count. Be as specific as possible. Unclear, over-reaching goals are rarely attained.

If you don’t set specific writing goals, you’re unlikely to reach them. It’s all about taking those larger goals and making a plan, knocking them out step by step so you aren’t overwhelmed.


…means you can identify clearly when the goal is accomplished or how much you have left to do to cross it off your list.

If you’re setting a goal of writing five pages a day, but you’re only meeting it half the time, you either need to up your game or adjust your goal. We’ll touch more on being realistic in goal setting in the next section.

Bottom-line, creating a measurable goal will help you understand how to set the time aside to complete it.


…simply means the goal is realistic and you aren’t setting yourself up for failure. Note, we’ve also seen the ‘A’ be defined as Actionable. Use actions verbs to define the goal, and then act on them.

Nothing kills a goal faster than failing at it right out of the gate. If you say you’re going to write 20 pages a day while working a day job and raising a family, chances are you’ll fall flat on your face, beat yourself up and possibly stop writing altogether. You can’t be a better writer if you aren’t giving yourself time to put the words on the page.

But even if you do set a lofty goal of 20 pages a day, there’s no shame in readjusting your expectations.

Is adjusting your goal downward giving up? No. Re-evaluating is smart (no pun intended). In war, Generals re-evaluate and adjust their strategies. In parenting, mothers and fathers always re-evaluate their skills and practices in order to raise healthy children. In our day jobs, our bosses re-evaluate us and we re-evaluate ourselves so we can get more accomplished in less time.

Changing gears is part of life, and those who can adapt best, survive.

There’s no shame in moving the bar for your goals to an attainable one, even if all you’re doing is writing 15 minutes a day. That alone keeps the story in your mind even when you’re not in front of a keyboard.

There’s zero point in setting a goal that isn’t achievable.


…means the goal is directly related to your overall vision of your life or career. Some people also define the ‘R’ as Realistic.

If your goal is to be a successful author, you need to create an author platform, build a website, write blog posts, and still have time to write your novels or screenplays. So if you create a goal of writing a 1200-word blog post every day for your new website, you won’t have time to write the novels or scripts that actually make you a marketable writer.

Set realistic and relevant goals that enhance your overall objectives instead of distract you from them.


…means you can identify a period of time a goal can be reached and be able to schedule it into your days.

On-going goals are ones like “Write an hour a day.” Yes, you can say that’s “time-bound” because if you don’t write today, you didn’t meet your goal. But you should also have other truer time-bound goals, such as having an outline done in 30 days, or finishing the first act by the end of the week.

Those mini-goals of the bigger objective help you stay on track and keep your motivation.

The other importance of having time-bound goals is to stay sharp on the practice of how to meet deadlines

Goal setting is essential to become a better writer. Set your writing goals today with our S.M.A.R.T. Writing Goal Worksheet!