5 Simple Steps to Setting SMART Writing Goals

by Jennifer Blanchard

Jumping for joy

Every year writers set writing goals and every year, many of those same writers give up on their goals before they achieve them. This isn’t because these writers don’t have the ability to reach their goals. It’s because they’re goals are not SMART.

The acronym S.M.A.R.T. is used in the project management industry as a way to evaluate a project’s goals. By using this same acronym when setting your writing goals, you are five simple steps away from reaching them all by the end of 2011.


In order to set goals you can reach, you need to make them as specific as possible. By being specific, you’re giving yourself something to focus on. Otherwise you won’t have anything to really work toward.

For example, if you set a goal of “writing in 2011,” you’re not being specific enough. You need to say, “Write a novel” or “Write 500 words a day.”


In order to tell how well you did on achieving your goals, you need to have a way to measure them. This also helps give you accountability to them.

For example, if you’re working toward “writing every day,” that’s not really measurable on a “how-much-writing-you’re-actually-getting-done” level. It’s better to say: “Write 500 words a day” or “Write for 60 minutes every morning.”


Whether or not your goals are achievable has to do with what you believe you’re actually capable of. Believing is 90 percent of achieving.

Once you believe something, it’s achievable. But if you don’t think you can do it, you can’t.

For example, if you don’t think it’s possible for you to write a novel in a year, then everything in the world will keep you from achieving that goal in a year.


This also goes along with your goals being achievable. It’s about what’s realistic to you. It doesn’t matter what other writers want to accomplish. If you don’t believe you can make it happen, you won’t.

So choose goals that are realistic to you.

For example, if you don’t think it’s realistic for you to write 500 words every day, don’t make that one of your goals. Instead, make your goal to write 500 words a week or every other day, whatever works for you.


Setting a time limit on a goal (such as the end of 2011) is the only way you can really measure and find out how well you did with reaching it.

The problem with setting a year-long goal, however, is you won’t see results right away, which could eventually make you want to quit. Remedy this by breaking down larger projects/goals into smaller goals so you can achieve little things more frequently throughout the year.

By setting SMART writing goals, you’ll be on the road to achieving them in no time.

What writing goals are you going to achieve this year?

Today’s Challenge: Go through your list of writing goals and evaluate them on the SMART scale. How do they measure up? And if you’re ready to publicly commit to making that SMART goal happen, please share it in the comments below.

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers, a blog that offers guidance for writers who struggle to get started. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits challenge.

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