Writing Raven


Plotting Your Path: Crafting and Crushing Your Writing Goals

This is a four-part article on increasing your productivity as a writer. This is part two of the series. If you need to read the first one, read From Procrastination to Prose: Boost Your Writing Productivity with These Tips

If you’re a fiction writer, you’re probably familiar with GMC – goals, motivation, and conflict – for your characters. For my productivity formula, GMC stands for goals, mindset, and commitment.

Here’s that formula again:


P = productivity

E = energy

G = goals

M = mindset

C = commitment

We discussed your energy and how to work with your natural levels, rather than against them, when it comes to writing. In this article, we’re looking at setting goals.

The Secret to Setting Achievable Goals

The only way for us to accurately measure productivity is by looking backward. You aren’t the same writer you were last year. Not the same person you were a decade ago. Each of us is constantly in a state of growth and expansion, but how can looking back help us with moving forward?

Try this exercise with me:

Close your eyes and imagine it’s New Year’s Eve 2024. You’re accessing your year of accomplishments. Visualize that your greatest dreams came true. You accomplished the item at the very top of your list of goals.

Is it writing a book? Getting an agent or publisher? Publishing the book on your own?

Maybe you added 100 readers to your newsletter list or you made enough money from your writing to take that vacation on your bucket list.

Maybe you bought a new house or a car from your royalties.

Raise a glass of virtual champagne and soak it in. Celebrate what you made come true.

Empowering, isn’t it?

Now, how does it feel? What emotions are you experiencing?

Joy? Satisfaction? Increased confidence? Freedom? Maybe you feel validated?

Whatever it is, this is your intention word for 2024. Make a note, write it down, use it as your mantra and an affirmation of what you’re shooting for.

Because the outward goals are important, but true power to make them happen? That starts with a feeling. An emotion.

When you have a clear understanding of what matters to you on a deeper level, you are empowered. What you value provides a strong sense of purpose and that influences your mindset, motivation, and how you approach challenges.

Happiness, freedom, worthiness, self-esteem, delight – these are what motivate us to get up in the morning and feel eager to get to our keyboards.

Society has trained us to measure ourselves against an ideal in order to feel productive and successful.

However, we need to create a reachable goal. The ideal of anything is impossible to grasp and struggling to do so leads to confusion, fear, doubt, depression, and feelings of failure. At least for most of us.

The good news is that we can (and should) create our own definition of success. Doing so can pave the way to reach your version of an ideal and keep you on track with your writing goals.

Your fictional characters should have internal AND external goals, right? The same is true for you.

There’s nothing wrong with an ideal. In fact, it can act as a stretch goal or be synonymous with your “Big Dream.” The one that seems impossible but makes you smile every time you think about it. Use it to light the path for you, like the sun shining a few steps ahead, guiding your actions. It’s healthy to have big dreams. That kind of ideal can be motivating.

The Difference Between Productivity and Growth

We often get caught up in measuring accomplishments. Checking things off our never-ending To-Do List.

Productivity and growth work hand-in-hand, but if we want to be productive and happy (and healthy) we need to be sure that we’re focused on growth rather than simply being busy.

What do you need to be happy? Look at the word you wrote down. THAT is what you need in any moment, regardless of how many outward accomplishments you achieve.

I love lists as much as anyone else. Calendars, planners, spreadsheets… Nothing feels better than when I can cross off or put a checkmark next to an item on my list. What I have to remember is to not get caught up in associating the amount of work I get done with my self-worth. This is especially true when life gets in the way and I DON’T achieve the goals I’ve set forth.

Resilience in the Face of Setbacks

External goals are subject to external factors that we can’t always control.

When setbacks occur, having well-defined internal goals acts as a source of resilience.

Your internal goals provide a stable foundation that will help you bounce back from failures, learn from experiences, and adapt your writing and business strategies without losing sight of what you value most.

Defining productivity and success on your terms gives you the power to build the life you want.

Seek growth with your productivity. Grow as a human being, as a writer. That’s true success.

Now that you’ve established your internal goal, which is your true success criteria, you can define what external action steps you’ll take to accomplish that goal.

When it comes to improving your productivity, less is more.

Determine your top three priorities and write them down.

Get a planner that’s specifically for your writing career and use it.

Schedule in time for rest, recovery, life in general, and daydreaming. Can’t stress this enough.

Learn to say no to things that don’t match your priorities, and will not help your productivity.

When I had my first agent, I learned that people, opportunities, and events were either helping my career or hurting it. There was no middle ground. Those people and things that were not helping had to go, and it’s a principle I still use to this day when new opportunities and potential collaborations come along.

My first agent started out strong, then nose-dived after about a year. At one point, she ripped a story of mine to shreds and I lost my self-confidence completely. I couldn’t write for months afterward. She later apologized, but the damage was done. An author friend of mine experienced a similar situation with her, and that’s when I knew for sure – the agent was no longer helping me. She had to go. (We parted on friendly terms and it was a good lesson for me to learn!)

There’s a story about a college rowing coach taking his team to the state championship. When faced with choices outside of practice, he instructed the team members to ask themselves, “Will it make the boat go faster?”

If the answer was no, they knew not to do it.

If they were invited to a party the night before a big meet, they had to ask themselves “Will it make the boat go faster?” You can guess what the answer was.

The same applies to your writing.

In life, there are plenty of opportunities and people who come along, some of them helpful, and others not. Some may start helpful, but lose momentum and stagnate (like my first agent). They become boat anchors.

This can include beliefs about your self-worth and self-esteem. Those can help or hinder the actions you take every day for your mental and physical health.

Based on the previous example, an exercise to try is to ask yourself, “Does this make my writing easier? Does this make me more productive? Does this make me happier?”

Take a day in your life and analyze the individual things you do, including what you eat, who you spend time with, how much you’re on social media, etc. Ask yourself this question – does this help or hinder me and my writing?

Consider how you can get rid of any boat anchors you have and free up your energy. So empowering!

I hope you’re enjoying this four-part series to help you create your magic formula for productivity.

Don’t miss next week’s article, Unleash Your Writing Potential: Proven Productivity Mindset for Authors.

And if you missed the first part, you can read it here: https://open.substack.com/pub/writingravenauthorsolutions/p/from-procrastination-to-prose-boost?r=2qrnz9&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

Here’s to your productivity!


From Procrastination to Prose: Boost Your Writing Productivity with These Tips

Plotting Your Path: Crafting and Crushing Your Writing Goals

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