How to Break Down Your Writing Goal

Since it’s January, many of us are figuring out how to accomplish our lofty New Year’s Resolutions and break them down into more manageable goals. For writing, there are several different methods of breaking your writing goal down. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, BDR has you covered. Here are a few goal-break-down examples for three different writing goals: I want to write a book for the first timeI want to edit my book for publishing, and I want to publish my book.

I want to write a book for the first time

hands holding blank book

This can be the scariest goal of all, tied with I want to publish my book. Writing your first book is hard. It’s something you haven’t done before, and you may not even know how to start.

Here are a few ideas in breaking your goal down so that you can have your book finished by the end of the year. Make sure you add a calendar due date to each of them so you don’t end up spending half a year on your first mini-goal.

  • Decide what you want to write about
  • Write down the scenes you want to write (or do a full outline)
  • Figure out your characters
  • Do some world building research.
  • Start writing. Pick a date to do this one (preferably early in the year).
  • Pick a time commitment writing goal. Are you going to write 15 minutes a day? 1 hour a day 4 days a week? Every lunch break? Before work? Look at your schedule and figure out what works. However, avoid skipping writing for more than 2 days in a row. It’s much harder to get back into the groove of writing if you take an extended break.
  • Add deadlines, especially smaller ones. Do you want the first half of the book finished by June? Is there a specific scene you want to write by August? Are you aiming to finish the book by October, giving yourself extra time to write if the book is longer than you thought it would be? Figure out your writing deadlines, and be sure to break them down. Do you want to write a chapter every 2 weeks? A week? Smaller deadlines will help you stay on track so you don’t have half a book to write in the last 2-3 months of the year.

I want to edit my book for publishing

girl sleeping by laptop

You’ve already written your book, and now you’re ready for the next step. However, the next step is still intimidating for writers, if not more than writing the first draft (for some). Many writers have multiple first draft books that never were pushed to the next level.

If you want to keep going and revise your book, now is a great time to make a resolution for it. And you’ll want to break it down, too, into more manageable goals. Some ideas are:

  • Obtain alpha/beta readers and get feedback. Do this for each draft!
  • Write draft 2
  • Review draft 2
  • Revise/rewrite to obtain draft 3
  • Review draft 3
  • Decide if you need to revise/rewrite for a draft 4 or you can start heavy line editing
  • Line edit novel
  • Line edit again
  • Find and participate in a writers group

For help getting started on editing, check out our Editing Resources guide.

You may also want to consider what you want to do besides rewriting your book. I want to publish my book can be done at the same time as the goal I want to edit my book for publishing.

I want to publish my book

pen on open book

So you’ve already written your book and edited it. Maybe you’re still editing it. But you want to start looking at publication methods and how to publish your book. Here are some options for breaking down your writing goal.

  • Research self-publishing versus traditional publishing
  • Begin building an author platform/following (website, social media pages, etc)
  • Get active in writer’s groups, Goodreads, writing forums, etc.
  • For the traditional publishing route:
    • Research literary agents and publishing houses
    • Research how to write a query letter
    • Write a query letter
    • Revise and edit the query letter
    • Begin querying agents
    • Give yourself a goal of how many agents you want to contact once you start querying. 10 a month? 1 a week? 2 a month? Querying is an ongoing process and you’ll get a lot of rejections as you figure it out. Keep trying. You may not have a book contract in a few months. It may take 6 months or even a few years. It’s all about finding the right agent at the right time with an availability for another project. Keep trying!
  • For the self-publishing route:
    • Hire and work with an editor
    • Hire a cover designer (or if you’re skilled in graphics design, make one yourself)
    • Format your book into ebook formats
    • Format your book for print
    • Market your book

Working on a book takes time, whether you’re writing a first draft, revising and editing a book, or trying to publish a book. Smaller goals make it more manageable and less intimidating. Sometimes, you just need a few ideas to get started. I know I did the first time I made a writing goal.

Happy writing in 2018!

Looking for more writing goals or New Year’s Resolution advice? Check out:

How to Achieve Your Writing New Year’s Resolution
7 Ways to Take Your Writing to the Next Level in 2020
Four Writing Resolutions for Steady Writers
Four Writing Goals for Inconsistent Writers

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