Putting writing goals on paper for 2018

The general thought of putting pen to paper to establish goals for the next 12 months is something that tends to give me stress flashbacks to my junior high days. Academics tell us goals must be specific, measurable, realistic and timed.

This is not how I write.

It’s true I am a very structured person. I am goal-oriented, highly organized and as a past journalist, driven by the motivation of deadlines.

When I transitioned from being in the newsroom to being at home and attempting to be a writer – whether it be freelance, books or blogging – I knew it was only me at the helm. Me to hold myself responsible, me to enforce the deadlines and the hours in which I’d be in my chair at the keyboard. I’ve always worked well independently. I took several college courses online, I often worked remotely as a reporter. I have no problem telling myself what to do, possibly because of the crushing guilt I feel if I leave responsibilities hanging.

In relation to writing novels, however, I have had few deadlines. Going to publication meant deadlines for editing and proposals and marketing plans. I’ve always met those. When it comes to writing a new novel, however, I never know exactly what I’m getting into. Some novels have taken me many months to write. One I wrote in a frenzied but euphoric three weeks. Some characters are more willing to show themselves to me, their plots readily unfolding, and therefore quicker to write. And it comes through that ability to recognize my characters and setting to properly convey their story that the entirety of the novel comes.

I have yet to be able to staple a deadline to this.

So when 2018 approached, just as in years past, I give myself an outline. Each month, I assign a basic goal that I hope to achieve. “Finish writing X chapters” or “Complete manuscript” or “Edit manuscript.” Perhaps “Query X manuscript” or “Critique partner’s manuscript” or “Submit to X to contest or Pitch Wars.” I also allow certain months for nothing but “Write write write.” In trusting myself with a certain amount of structure yet also free reign, I’ve been able to reach not only my annual goals but many of my lifelong goals as a writer. To see myself in publication, to see my short story in a literary magazine, to earn writing accolades, and perhaps best of all – simply to keep writing throughout my life.

Happy New Year and happy reading!

AM Bostwick


  1. Writing something each day means we get to keep calling ourselves writers. Love this Abigail.

  2. This is so great. I'm big on figuring out at the end of each year what I want to write the next year, too.


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