The importance of setting goals and routine in writing

Writing is creativity and talent-inspired art that brings words to life in various forms. Writing begins from the moment you scribble down your first word, or put down an idea into writing, yet if you continue by just writing ideas without a plan, it becomes just words with no destination. Your writing has to be founded on specified goals because you can’t get to where you are going if you don’t have a destination set out. Setting goals in writing is like starting the engine of your car to begin a drive.

Why are you writing? What are you writing for? Who are you writing for?

These three questions are essential in establishing your goals for writing, whatever aspect of writing you want to concentrate on. It is important that you have set out goals, that way, you will have something to achieve.

Various elements differentiate a successful writer from a writer, and that is setting goals, and working around routines to accomplish those goals. Every writer wants to be great, wants to be read, wants to hear ‘oh your work is amazing.’ But a writer gets to greatness by consistency. Consistency is the mother of greatness. Establishing a writing routine helps one to become a prolific, and productive writer who achieves set goals.

In setting goals, there are a few things that should be considered;

  • Be specific
  • Choose your niche
  • Be time-bound
  • Make achievable goals
  • Measure goal progress

– It is important that you specify what your goals are and why you must achieve them. What do you plan to get out of those goals? What do you stand to profit from those goals? How do the goals draw you closer to your desired end? Be specific about what you are aiming to achieve. You have to know what you want, to enable you to make it happen. This also helps in shaping your writing.

– Having a niche is defining your writing, and creating your audience. In fiction novels, there are lots of authors that are known for their epic fantasy work, some are the gurus in thrillers, others are significant with romance. Though trying out different genres at first can help you understand what genre is best for you, if continued, it will limit your growth in writing, because you would have spent less time building your skills in a specific genre. The objective of every writing goal is to make you a great and skilled writer known for your style. Determining what niche you create for your writing will bring you closer to your goals than writing on any and every topic and genre available.

– Time is an essential quality to be possessed in the art of writing. When setting goals, try not to set goals that are extensive in time. You can set your writing time around three (3) months to make it achievable and easier to break down. Setting deadlines puts you in perspective of your work constantly.

– When setting down your writing goals, put into consideration the tools you need to push that story, novel, article, etc, forward. Consider if you have to do extensive or limited research on the work. How difficult or easy is the story you want to tell, can it fit into the time frame you set for achieving those goals? This should be considered when setting down goals for your writing.

– If as a writer you do not measure the progress of your work, it will be a difficult task for you to achieve a significant goal. It is important that at the end of each set out time, you measure if you kept up to the time, if you covered your word count, if you expanded your knowledge on the field of what you wrote. Measuring your progress shows your writing strengths and weaknesses.

Still, some writers have several obstacles preventing them from scribbling the first words. Procrastination, writers’ block, family, and work commitments. Much as these are somewhat valid obstacles, with discipline and dedication, you can write that prize-winning book if you decide to create a routine for your writing.

Therefore, for anyone desiring to be a better and a great writer, a writing routine must be established. This makes writing easier 

Nevertheless, there are no set-down rules for how to set a writing routine. Every writer works differently and has different strengths and weaknesses, with different work schedules. Time availability, goals, and aims. Some take writing as a full-time job, while others have day jobs and need to find time around that for their writing.

The following are guidelines for establishing a workable routine for writing.

  1. SETTING GOALS THAT ESTABLISH A ROUTINE

To have a dependable writing routine, you must first set out goals that are concrete and achievable. What goals do you want to achieve by the routine you create for your writing.

You can start by establishing particular targets to work with, this will help create a successful writing routine that is based on your goals.

Most writers set specified periods to get their first draft ready, when this is done, it makes it easier to break down the number of pages or words you want to achieve for a day or a week.

Also, you need to be realistic when setting down these goals, if you are a slow writer, it makes no sense to set a 3,000-word count to achieve in a day. Your goals and routine should be set to suit you as the writer and not to inconvenience you. This helps for a better achievable writing routine

  1. DETERMINE YOUR PRODUCTIVE, CREATIVE HOURS

After setting your writing goals, it is important to determine what time of the day is most productive, as this goes a long way to influence your writing routine.

Some writers get better inspired in the morning till mid-day, other writers work better at night and can stay up late into the dark hours writing. Therefore, it is important to understand what time works best for you as a writer, what time of the day brings the best of your energy and creativity to work.

If you do not yet know what time your writing is best, you can try writing in the morning, and try also at night, this will help to determine your best hours for your writing routine.

  1. CREATE TIME NOT FIND TIME

Writing tends to feel like a lot of work especially when done regularly, so some writers prefer to just find available time during their day to write or scribble down words. This is the most common problem when establishing a routine for a writer.

Although this in itself isn’t a bad way of writing, it limits productivity if you only have to work at irregular free time.  To become an established writer who finishes projects, it is necessary to make time as a routine and not rely on free time.

When you leave a long space between your writing time, your story and characters become stale in your memory, and often you will need to reread what you have written to get inspired and creative to continue or to recollect what your story is all about.

There is really no ideal time for writers, create one.

Making time for your writing routine has to be non-negotiable, and comes from your determination, dedication to writing, and willingness to see your goals and writing aspirations achieved. Even if it has to be fifteen minutes each day, begin with that.

  1. TRY DIFFERENT METHODS

There are various ways writers use to get their goals achieved and their work completed. Most writers get to determine the best methods of writing via experiments, while other writers discover this by noting down progress daily and then compare the results to determine which method is best for them. Below are two methods of writing that might be used to create a stable writing routine.

  • Writing prompts; There are no standard ways to begin writing a story, some writers delve head-on into their story each day, but if you cannot have such a dive in, find prompts  in creative pieces that can expand and inspire your ideas. It could be a question, a scenario, or an instruction.
  • The Pomodoro technique; This technique involves setting a 25-minute timer, and then working on a writing task until the timer goes off, followed by a 5-minute rest. This is a great way to refresh your mind and break up your work time into bits that can be managed. This is best for writers who have difficulty sitting and writing for long stretches of hours.
  1. CREATE A WRITING SPACE

A useful element for great writing is creating a space dedicated solely to writing. This makes routine easy and conducive when you have a place set aside solely for writing. It becomes a route or an escape place to the world of fiction or storytelling.

Creating a writing space that becomes a safe zone for your writing could be anywhere from a comfortable desk and chair in a room, to a home office, or a bustling coffee shop. Whatever space you chose to create, make it a comfortable world without interference and distractions from people, social media, noises, etc. Make it your space and be dedicated to that space, this creates a healthy and consistent writing routine.

  1. FIND YOUR CREATIVE TRIGGERS

Writer’s block is one of the most upsetting blank times of a writer’s life. It gets difficult sometimes to begin a sentence, you could hold your pen to the book, or hand to the system for hours with nothing to write. This can be extremely frustrating, and this happens to even the most passionate writers. How then do you overcome this to meet your writing routine and achieve your goals? Find what triggers your creativity, what gets you into the mood for writing, and motivate yourself into your day.

Remember, creative triggers can come in various forms of; listening to music, taking walks, setting a reward, self imposed deadline, etc.

  1. BE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOUR GOALS

To achieve an effective and consistent writing routine that helps you achieve your goals, you have to set your writing goals in stone, publicize them. By this, it means when you can set writing rules and perhaps write them out, or tell them to family or friends, it helps you stick to those goals and increases the dedication you put into achieving your goals.

You can also have fellow writers team up with you for weekly writing sessions where you both sit and review your achievements on your writing goals for the week. This helps in putting you on check to stick to your routine.

Stick to your routine, make it a conscious part of your day to meet up to the time and word counts you assign to yourself each day, you can also keep a writing log where you record your progress each day. But this does not mean that your routine cannot be flexible to fit in emergencies or unforeseen work that may arise.

  1. GET ENOUGH SLEEP

There is no more important element in great writing than having a healthy sleep pattern. This may sound hilarious and unreasonable, but writers are mental workers more than they are physical workers. Your mental stability is important to produce a great, and creative piece of work. When you don’t get enough sleep hours, you wake up with an exhausted mind. For writers to achieve great work, their minds must be at their best to think beyond the ordinary world, into the storytelling world of writing.

  1. FIND INSPIRATION IN OTHER WRITING WORKS

It has always been said, that a great writer is an ardent reader. This is not far from the truth, the more you read other works by other writers, the better you build your writing skills and use of grammar and words. This also influences your style of writing in a great way. Achieving a writing goal comes not only with routine in writing, but expanding your mindset by reading other writers.

When you set out your goals and start following your routine each day, in time, repetition becomes the important thing that gives you the stamina to complete your writing. WH Auden, a 1948 Pulitzer winner once said “Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

The plan is to set a routine that you become a part of in order to achieve your set out writing goals.

Awe Ogon

Awe Ogon

Awe Ogon is a lawyer, an L.L.B and a B.L. holder with over 9 (Nine) years writing experience, a Nigerian who resides in Accra, Ghana. She is a Christian, an ardent reader, a prolific writer, and published author of Misnomer (a collection of poems), and a non-fiction book, Conversations with God, and two fiction novels in view. Writing has always been her edge over life; her work is outstanding and captivating. Her goal in life is to become a great writer that inspires others through her work.

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