Setting Goals as a Creative Writer
The very existence of the word creative lends itself to flippant motivation and capricious inspiration. Like a library book, it lends itself out freely. It’s easy not to have a specific goal when you’re writing. It’s easy to go in, pen down a few lines, and not really have a plan for how you’re going to proceed or how you’re going to establish yourself as an author. But then inspiration disappears, motivation goes by way of the dodo, and then you’ve got
This is why it helps to have a long-term goal in mind. This goal will guide during your low moments.
You first need to determine what you’re chasing. I’m going to break this down for both poets and fiction writers. While many of us dream of electric sheep and pleasantly sitting around all day writing and making money off our books, it’s important to break things down into smaller, attainable goals.
Are you writing purely to express? Is your ultimate goal to build an audience around your work? To publish a collection of poetry?
First of all, decide which route you want to take. How are you sharing your work? Are you posting online, submitting to literary journals, or working on a poetry collection?
Sort out which goal you want. If you’re posting online, seek out the best websites to share your work. Instagram has become a hub with the instapoetry trend, but there are ample other choices out there, like FictionPress and WattPad, to name a few.
If you are working on a poetry collection, I would encourage you to post some poems similar to the work you’re compiling for the collection. You can start building up your name and establishing your brand. Quoting the wise words of Jenna Moreci, author of The Savior’s Champion, “your name is your brand.” This means that you’ve got to get your name out there. This could be with posting online or taking a more traditional route and submitting to literary journals.
Whether you concentrate on short stories or novels, you’ve got to ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. If you write long-form, then finishing a novel is a logical jump. If you’re more a fan of short stories and flash fiction, then perhaps it’s time to think about compiling a collection. Short story collections are sometimes a slightly harder sell to the average consumer than a novel is, but in our current realm of publishing, authors often need to build their platform either way to ensure book sales.
If you want to write a novel, just jump in and start writing it. It’s okay to dive in even if you don’t have every single scene and chapter planned out. Get a rough outline at the least and start writing.
Alternatively, if you aren’t thinking about publishing traditionally, perhaps you want to gradually post chapters of your novel online to get feedback as you write it. This can be a fun way to improve your work, but if you do this, it’s important to realize that later publishing this novel may be challenging. A lot of publishers don’t want work that has already been posted online. Of course, you can always self-publish, and you might even start to assemble your audience by gradually posting your work online and updating it with new chapters.
If you’ve already written a novel, start assembling your team of critique partners or enroll in a writing workshop. Edit, edit, and edit some more.
Choose a goal that is meaningful to you.
These are just some ideas for types of goals you can set. My suggestions might be more in the realm of long-term goals that might make your writing profitable, but choose a goal that works from you.
If your goal is to gather lots of feedback or to improve, those are still excellent goals. If you want to self-publish a novel or poetry collection to share with friends and family, that is still fantastic. You wrote a book. That accomplishment alone is herculean.
With all that said, there are a lot of reasons to write. We write to express ourselves, we write to help others, we write to share our ideas.
Sometimes, we also write to make money. If this is the path you want to take, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. If you want to share your words but also hopefully make a few bucks, that’s completely fine. There are some little nooks in writing communities where some writers will chide others for writing for something other than the sake of the craft. However, it’s almost impossible to escape our capitalist society, which means we’ve all got bills to pay. If you can pay some of those bills with your writing, that’s awesome.
Other people who have an honorable goal but want to make money along the way aren’t criticized for doing so. For example, if someone wants to help others heal or be healthier, no one would shame them for becoming a nurse or doctor and making money as they do so. There can be a stigma for writers and artists, some might say we’re selling out, but it’s just a matter of building a career on your writing skills or monetizing your hobby a little bit.
Whichever option you want, determine your long-term goal, then break it down into baby steps.