Reader Friday: Writing Goals

Predetermined writing goals can help keep our butts in the chair, fingers on the keyboard.

How often do you set a goal?

Do you preplan your writing schedule for the entire year? If so, what are your goals for 2019?

If you prefer not to look beyond the WIP you’re working on, have you set a deadline to finish the manuscript?

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as β€œBest 100 Crime Blogs on the Net” (2018-2021). She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers" 2013-2021). Sue lives with her husband and two spoiled guinea pigs in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two psychological thriller series (Tirgearr Publishing) and true crime/narrative nonfiction (Rowman & Littlefield). And recently, she appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series Storm of Suspicion. Learn more about Sue and her books at

16 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Writing Goals

  1. I have my writing, editing, and book covers scheduled out to 2021. Keeps things organized and allows for a roadmap to check if I’m on target.

  2. This is SO timely, Sue, both for me and for two writers I’m currently mentoring.

    When I started writing fiction in earnest, I set a firm daily word-count goal of 3000 words of new publishable fiction per day. Like most good goals, it stretched me, but not so much that I couldn’t reach it.

    I missed on some days, went over on others, but the magic was that no matter what happened the day before, the goal always reset to zero the next morning. And if I did “fail,” at least I failed to success. Because I was reaching for the goal, I had a lot of new publishable words that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. (grin)

    In short, if I hadn’t set that goal, I wouldn’t be here today, at least as a fiction writer.

    • We’re surfing the same wavelength, Harvey! I don’t keep track of word counts, per se. Instead, I set daily goals of x-amount of scenes or chapters, and it’s really helped me to increase my output. The only time I hit a speed bump is when edits come back for one book while I’m neck-deep in another. Which happened yesterday. πŸ™‚

      • Absolutely. It doesn’t have to be word counts. When mine was 3000 WPD, that generally morphed into 3 scenes/chapters, which meant (for me) 2700 to 3600 words. So the scene goal helped me reach the WPD goal. (grin)

  3. My deadline is always when my editor has room to fit me in. My daily production goals vary depending on how long I have. Only once have I tried to write a 3 book series back to back with deadlines for each book. I didn’t like that pace, so now I write one book at a time with no plans beyond that one.

  4. I *wish* I was the type who set out writing goals well before hand. While I do think over other writing projects on my list while I’m working on another project, I wouldn’t say it’s any deep planning or goal setting. It’s more like just trying to keep those other ideas on my brain so that I’m open to new ideas or sources of information I can use for those stories and file away for later.

    For this year, the goal is to finish one first draft manuscript.

    • I used to do the same thing, BK. Once my publisher started asking for a yearly schedule, it forced me set goals, which really increased my production. Readers like it, too. They know when to expect the next book. Win-win!

  5. I’ve realized over the past few months that deadlines are my biggest problem. From January to March, my critique group had a session every week, and I was able to crank out two chapters each time. Since then, I’m lucky if I can write a page. And I can’t set goals for myself, because my brain knows they’re not at all fixed or important. I’m hoping, nah I know, if I’m in the publishing round of writing, I can get it done, but until then…

    Nevertheless, my goal right now is to finish my last three chapters of my current WIP by June. Or Julay. Definitely July.

    • You make a great point, AZAli. When someone else, like a publisher or editor, is counting on us to finish the WIP by a certain date, we make it happen by the deadline. If left on our own, it’s easy to procrastinate.

      Good luck with your WIP!

  6. Maybe it’s because I’m new at the business, but I find that editing puts a stop to writing for long periods of time. I’ve got 340 pp of my WIP printed out and, for example, I’ve gotten through about ten pp in the last nearly three hours. During that time, besides sentence-edits, I’ve written maybe 500 words replacing two narrative passages with dialogue. That’s at least 70 hrs for just this edit. And that’s not counting transferring the edits to the computer.

    So I can’t see setting a goal other than “keep plugging away.”

  7. Sue, for indie authors/publishers, another great way to set a deadline is to schedule a novel for pre-pubilcation release. I’ve been doing that only since last September.

    It doesn’t really help me as a deadline for writing since I write shorter novels and write them fairly quickly, but it does help me stick to Heinlein’s Rule 4 (the one I have the most trouble with): Put it on the market.

    Having the metadata out there for a particular release date forces me to get a cover, promo doc, etc. done and actually publish the thing.

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