My Annual Fiction Writing Goals for 2023 (Plus Goal-Setting and Goal-Adjusting Tips)
It’s the start of the year … and, like many writers, you might have set some goals for the 12 months ahead, or even made a New Year’s Resolution related to writing.
Most years, I have some kind of fiction writing goal – often related to doing a daily amount of writing, or finishing a big project.
And, if I’m honest, most years I don’t get very close to achieving it.
Maybe that happens to you too?
I don’t think it’s an altogether bad thing. I love writing, I want to do more of it, and I’m a fairly optimistic person … so I’m naturally drawn to setting goals that are a bit too big to manage in the face of reality.
Last year, for instance, one of my initial goals was to write 500 words of fiction per day. With quite a lot of effort, I made it through to mid-March … and then that goal fell apart. (I wrote about that in last summer’s review of my year so far.)
So, this year, my first writing goal is smaller – but I’m a lot more confident about being able to achieve it, even during busy times.
My Fiction Writing Goals for 2023
Goal #1: Write or Edit 250+ Words Per Day
I don’t believe writers should write daily, unless it suits them … and personally, I prefer having two or three longer sessions each week, rather than short daily sessions.
However, having weekly goals didn’t work well for me in 2022. After my daily writing goal collapsed, I often set a goal like “write 2000 words this week” – then it would get to Friday or Saturday, I’d not have written anything yet, and I didn’t have the time or energy to get that much writing done over the weekend.
So this year, I’m going back to having a daily goal. But instead of picking what I’d really like to be writing (500+ words/day, or even 1000 words/day), I’m being a lot more realistic about what I can write, even on busy days.
250 words isn’t a lot. I can write that much in around 15 minutes. That makes it feel very do-able even on days when I don’t manage to sit down to write until my kids are in bed. On the days when I’m up early enough, I can fit in my 250 words before the kids are awake – and start my day off on a really positive note.
Goal #2: Finish and Publish My Novel-in-Progress
My second goal – supported, obviously, by the first! – is to completely finish, and publish, my novel in progress this year. I’m hoping to get this done by the end of September, but that might depend on how quickly I can get it to (and back from) an editor.
I’ve set this goal because I really want to complete a big project this year. I’ve been working on various bits of fiction over the past few years, but the last time I published a new novel was Not So Imaginary in late 2018.
Because it’s a big goal, and one that’s going to involve input from other people at various stages, I’ve also got sub-goals for the next couple of steps:
- Finish the second draft by the end of January 2023
- Complete the third draft (so the manuscript is ready for an editor) by the end of March 2023
Goal #3: Explore Other Genres of Fiction
My third fiction-related goal for the year is to explore some other genres of writing.
Because I want to spend the next couple of months focused on my novel, I’m waiting to start this goal until April. Then, I’m planning to write:
- Two short stories (in different genres, but I haven’t yet decided what)
- Two novel outlines, plus the first 3 chapters of each (again, in yet-to-be determined genres)
I’m excited about this goal! It’s a while since I’ve tried anything really different with my fiction writing, and I want to spend some time experimenting and exploring.
When I first started thinking about 2023’s goals in mid-December, my third goal was going to be to complete another partly-written novel. But almost as soon as I’d written it down, I realised that it didn’t feel like an exciting or motivating goal at all: it felt like a heavy weight! So I switched to something lighter and more fun.
Setting or Adjusting Your Goals for 2023
Like me, you might only have a small amount of time to work on your writing – or some area of your writing.
I have plenty of time each week on my freelance work (and I have a pretty ambitious income-related goal for that), and I also have some time for blog posts and newsletters for Aliventures. But when it comes to fiction, I need to fit my writing around other things in my life (primarily, my kids).
So I completely understand how tough it can be to make time, and have the energy, to work on a writing project.
If you’re setting yourself some writing goals for the year, here are a few things you might want to consider:
- Could you make a daily (or weekly) goal small enough that you can manage it even on your busiest days (or weeks)? It’s easy to end up setting an “ideal” goal that works some, even most, of the time … but that can really derail you when life gets hectic.
- Can you break down big goals into smaller steps? If your goal is to “write a novel this year”, that’s absolutely doable (even around a busy life). But it’s definitely going to be easier if you can work on it all year – not just in a rush in the final few months. Maybe you could aim to write one chapter a week, for instance, or reach a certain milestone in your plot before the summer.
- Is there a way to create a goal that you find exciting and motivating? Avoid creating a goal just because you feel like it’s something you “should” achieve. It’s fine to have a goal that’s fun and enjoyable – in fact, you’re probably much more likely to achieve it, that way.
Adjusting Writing Goals That You’ve Already Set
If you’ve already set goals for the year, remember, they aren’t fixed and immutable. There’s nothing wrong with changing a goal if it isn’t working for you. Maybe you were a bit too ambitious about what you could fit in – or perhaps life happened, and you’ve ended up busier than you expected to be.
Don’t cause yourself a lot of stress, or run yourself down, by trying to achieve a goal that just isn’t reasonable or realistic.
Instead, maybe you could:
- Cut the goal down. Perhaps 500 words/day is too much to even contemplate on busy evenings … but you could comfortably manage 250 words. (And some days, you might well write more and hit that 500 word target anyway.)
- Give yourself longer to achieve the goal. Sure, it might be great to finish the first draft of your novel by the end of June, but maybe giving yourself until the end of September would help you actually enjoy the process (and potentially write something even stronger).
- Set aside one of your goals to tackle next year instead. If you have three writing goals and putting one off means you can achieve the other two – instead of getting partway through all three and then giving up – then you’re definitely coming out ahead.
Sharing Your Writing Goals for 2023
What are you planning or hoping to achieve this year with your writing?
Whether you only have a tiny bit of time to write or you’ve plenty of time and big ambitions, I’d love to hear about your writing goals. You can pop a comment below to share them with me (and the rest of the Aliventures readers).
I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.
Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.
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