Writing Goals According to Dean Wesley Smith

I’ve been trying to figure out a better system for setting writing goals – especially one that is more effective at forcing me to stick to my goals. My quest brought me to a post by author Dean Wesley Smith, outlining multiple ways to structure your writing goals, depending on the type of writer you are. You can check it out here, along with Smith’s other writing musings and advice.

This might be exactly what I was looking for. I like the fact that Smith presents multiple systems for generating goals, depending on whether you want to focus on production (like one short story per week) or word count. He also makes it very clear what you should have figured out before trying to adopt any of his ideas, such as how many words you can regularly write in an hour, which I did for the first time the other day. He also suggests a number of other tools to help you achieve your goals, including finding someone to report into each week or month, so that if you don’t reach your goal, you have to explain it to someone else.

Having gone through Smith’s steps and figured out my general production rate, how many hours I have available to me each week for writing, and what some reasonable weekly goals are, I feel a lot better about getting into a writing routine. My only criticism of Smith’s system is that he specifically says that your “writing hours” are only for producing new work; editing, research, and education have to be accomplished outside of this. I think this is easier to facilitate if you’re not working a full-time job, and if you’re able to just sit down and start pumping out words without a process to get you into the writing frame of mind. For example, I have a free hour right after work once a week while my wife is at the gym, but my brain is so fried from teaching, and the time so brief, that I can’t expect to pump out solid writing (and I’ve tried). So I’ve decided that hour is going to be for editing, and production will get done during my other writing periods.

All in all, though, Smith’s advice is really useful if you’re still trying to figure out your writing goals and schedule. Definitely check it out.


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