How to: set your 2016 writing goals

My guide, as a compulsive goal setter, to setting your 2016 writing goals.


1. Be realistic…

Look at your timetable, budget and set-in-stone commitments and set goals that will be achievable within these bounds. This isn’t about giving yourself an excuse to slack off, but making a well thought out plan that doesn’t give you any excuses not to execute it.

2. …and check your hubris at the door

When you know that it takes most writers a serious chunk of time to write a novel draft, don’t convince yourself that you’ll need just two months to get your very first attempt from imagination to paper. If you’ve not delved into the world of screenplays before, pinning all your hopes on penning an Oscar winner might not be a smart plan for 2016, either.

As with the first point, setting realistic, achievable goals will help you set yourself up for success rather than failure. Part of this is keeping yourself humble while dreaming big enough to push yourself to the next level.

3. Look for opportunities at your level

When I look back at my career, it’s often clear to me why I was given some opportunities and missed out on others. The opportunities I’ve received have been suitable for my stage of development, and I’ve had all the right tools in my arsenal to apply for them. My rejections have usually been from programs or grants that were for artists with more experience than me, or could demonstrate practice in an area specific to the opportunity (not just someone who thought it sounded cool!).

Of course it’s good to aim high and sometimes apply for the big, scary opportunities, but too much time spent on applications for programs you’re not suited for can see you missing out on opportunities at your level. The burnout of hardcore application writing for little result when you’re applying above your level is also super counterproductive.

Think smart about the opportunities you’re going to gun for in 2016, and don’t forget to plot them on a calendar so you know when your applications are due and what work you’ll need to do for them.

4. Own your attitude

It’s not just word counts or finished drafts that make up a well rounded writing goal list. Setting some intentions for how you’re going to practice your creative practice can be just as important. These could include:

  • Show up, and show up with some positivity.
  • Commit to not whinging about how hard life is as a writer (and write more instead).
  • Treat your writing business as a business, and whip your attitude into business-like physique.

5. Check in regularly

Motivation is tough to maintain for the long haul. Checking in every month or two will keep you on track and help you break your bigger goals into smaller, achievable to-dos. You can also use these check ins to readjust your goals, if your circumstances change or you find a goal is no longer a good fit for you (or you’ve already achieved it)

6. Find your productivity posse

Checking in with other writers to talk about craft, the industry, challenges and your ideas and projects is refreshing, and can help you keep on the right track to achieve you goals. You might plan regular meet ups with writers in your area, or engage in online conversations with writers and bloggers.


My 2016 writing goals include:

*finishing two full length play drafts to submit to opportunities like Playlab or Playwriting Australia’s development programs

*setting up a “Play Group” – a writers group for playwrights in my city

*tripling my writing income from 2014-2015 financial year (a goal I’ve achieved for the past two years, but the maths of this one is starting to make it a pretty lofty ambition!)

Have you set any goals for 2016, writing or otherwise? What are your top tips for successful goal setting?


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