Setting a Yearly Writing Craft Goal

A few weeks ago, Shonna Slayton of Routines for Writers posted a blog to review her yearly writing goals for 2011. Happily, she met a lot of her writing goals, which is more than I can say for myself. Looking back at my 2011 goals, the one thing I notice more than anything else is that my goals changed pretty quickly out of the gate.

I feel like approaching this year a little differently. The way I’ve set goals in the past has been to break down my writing projects, figure out where I am in the process and then set goals for completion. I’m a very organized type of person in most areas of my life but sometimes I think my organization comes back around to bite me with my writing–an area that is meant to be more creative and flexible. Over the past six months, I’ve been making changes to allow myself more freedom in my writing endeavors so it only seems suiting to start off 2012 in a similar fashion.

Back to Shonna’s blog…

She mentioned how she had not only set goals for her writing projects but also for her writing as a whole. A “writing craft goal,” if you will. She confessed she’d struggled with character development in the past and wanted to improve that particular area of her writing over the course of the year.


Writing Craft Goals

So often I hear of writers setting project-related goals yet a lot less frequently, I hear about them setting goals to improve their craft. While I’ve always had the general goal to become a better writer, I’d never thought of focusing in on one particular aspect of it. We all become better writers just from sheer practice but think about how much improvement you’d make over the next five years if you picked one writing craft goal each year. That’s certainly what crossed my mind while reading that post.

I hope Shonna won’t mind but I think I’m going to borrow her goal for the coming year. I write character-driven stories but even so, I feel like that’s where my writing could improve the most. Actually, probably because I write character-driven stories, I need to improve that area the most. Because I’m fascinated with personality types, I’m usually pretty good at understanding my character’s personalities and their reactions to their current circumstances but ask me what they were doing a year before the story begins and I couldn’t tell you, let alone what their childhoods were like or if they have pets. I’d really like to be able to create full pictures of my characters in my mind to bring my stories to life. So that is my goal for this year.

I’m sure there will be other, smaller goals to go along with this. Books to read, classes to take, exercises to complete. But I love that the goal is general enough to be flexible. I can do these things when I have the time for them, rather than living by deadlines. Of course, if you’re someone who gets more writing accomplished with deadlines, there are lots of online classes to keep you on track as well as setting self-imposed deadlines with books at home. It’s all about finding the right pace for you. And the best part about this goal is that it can go right along with project goals as long as you make the time.

Goals for 2012

I still have projects I would like to complete. I recently started a new web fiction story, Holding My Breath, that I would like to continue. I’d like to maintain my blog here and have been mulling over the idea of joining a group blog as well. I think I’ll start the new year off by pulling out the novel I completed last year–Heart for a Heart–and resuming edits on it. And, of course, National Novel Writing Month is always on the schedule. But these are all merely musings. Thoughts about the next year based on where I am right now. In fact, if there’s any true goal for this year, it’s to let my heart lead me to the stories that I’m ready to write at this point in my life no matter what the calendar says.

What are your goals for the coming year? If you’re setting a writing craft goal for 2012, I’d love to hear it! Congratulations on completing any amount of writing in 2011 and I wish you lots of luck in your writing ventures in 2012. Every year, every day, every minute, is a new opportunity to regroup, refresh and redesign your writing career. Here’s to a fresh start!

Photo by Abdul Rahman

I am an author and a writing business teacher. I am also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. My debut women's fiction novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017. Here, I blog about my journey in publication in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

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Comments (18)

  1. I admire those who can let go to follow their hearts in all areas of life- including writing! I know I have to set word-count goals and final draft finish dates in order to move forward.

    My heart tends to be a bit fickle…:D

    1. This will be a big challenge for me because I’m a goal-setter by nature. I love word count goals! I think there’s a lot of testing to be done to find the best tactic for productivity for each writer. Glad you’ve found one that works for you!

  2. Hi, Jamie. I set craft goals, but I’ve never thought of them as yearly. I just set them and then re-set when I feel like I’m ready to move on. Mainly I divide them up by project. For the past 18 months, I’ve been working on pacing, and now I’m ready to start moving into deeper character development.

    I really like what you said about how much our craft would improve if we just worked on a new craft goal every year. That’s a great way to grow as a writer, and it gives us specific things to focus on instead of some nebulous “I want to be published” dream. Not that there’s anything wrong with the dream–it’s just so big and there are so many aspects of it that are out of the writer’s control. But working on our craft–that we can control. 🙂

    1. I agree completely! That realization is sort of what brought me around to this point. I think if I set my goal to be a great writer, publishing will come in due time. And being a great writer is completely in my control.

      Thanks for sharing your routine as well. I love to get new ideas!

  3. Yay! I’m glad my blog helped you. Keep me posted on what you learn about character development. I’m always looking for new tidbits I can use. (And about this past year? Didn’t you have a little one keeping you busy?!? Those early years are tough on the writing schedule! I think you are doing great on getting the words down.)

    1. I’m so glad you got pinged! I meant to send you the link directly but completely forgot. 😛

      I did find it very helpful and I’m looking forward to tackling this in the coming year. Yes, I had a little one keeping me busy this year and a new one in March to keep me busy next year! But I have to have my writing. It keeps me sane.

      Thank you so much for your encouragement and again, for your great post!

  4. Hi Jamie,

    I like the idea of setting one writing craft goal a year and focusing on that. I’ve never thought about doing that. Best of luck with your goals this year.

  5. Hey, not sure if you’ve already agreed elsewhere, but I’d love for you to come join my mommy authors blog! No pressure, just wanted to extend the offer and let you know I’d be excited to have you 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the invitation! I really enjoyed guest posting for you last time. I’m talking to a couple of other blogs right now so I’ll message you on Facebook once I get things sorted out.

  6. Great post, Jamie! My craft goal this year is to read more mythology and philosophy and open my mind to all the different kinds of plot ideas that would work well with my characters. Like you, I’m more of a character-driven writer, but I really like to have great plots. I never thought to WRITE IT DOWN though – LOL! So thanks for the reminder! I’m going to go write it on my 2012 goals list right now. 🙂

    1. I love your writing craft goal! I think those classes you took did a lot for you. I love that you’re continuing to widen your horizons and inspire yourself. Fantastic!

      1. LOL! It’s funny that you say that. I’m doing extra reading this year because of how much I *didn’t* get out of my master’s degree that I was hoping to! But maybe you’re right, getting back into the educational ring made me want to continue learning…without having to pay $30,000 for it. LOL!

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