Friday, June 22, 2018

Do you set writing goals for yourself? (With Taylor Bennett!)

Today is our last day with Taylor Bennett. If you haven't already, be sure to go find her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Here's our last question with Taylor:

Do you set specific goals for yourself? How have your goal-setting habits been impacted by the publishing process (having deadlines, others involved in the process, etc.)?

Taylor: I've never been much of a specific goal-setter. I used to look at the big picture: I want to write a book.

Now that I have a publisher and deadlines, though, I'm learning that I can't be that vague. Now, I make a to-do list every morning. I know how many words I have to write every day to make my deadline, so that ideally takes precedence. (unless it's the weeks directly before/after a book launch...I learned from my first release that those weeks are pretty much void of any writing, just LOTS of marketing!) Having a to-do list has been surprisingly helpful. Usually, it's not nearly as long as I assume it's going to be, and I can get everything done (plus a little extra) by the end of the day.

Shan: I do but I’m good to myself. Writing is a huge priority for me, but it doesn’t trump family or health obligations. So, when I’m stretched thin and I have to let something go, I do. It takes practice, but now I’m brave enough to let people know what’s going on with me so that they can understand where I’m at and why I’m not being as productive as they might expect.

Jill: Oh, yes. Since I have such an active imagination, I must help myself out by setting goals to remind myself what I’ve committed to. Lists make me happy, especially when I can cross things off them.

When I’m working with a publisher, that makes things harder. Every publisher is different, and some are much better at giving me a head’s up than others. Often I’ll turn in a book and have no idea when I’ll see edits on it. So I’ll start something new and plan a vacation, just go on with life. And then out of the blue, edits show up, and the published wants them in two weeks.

When these things first happened, I freaked out and stressed out and practically killed myself to get them done. As time has gone by, I’ve learned that it’s totally okay to write my editor back and say, “Thanks for the edits. I’m so excited to dive in. Unfortunately, I’ll need an extra week because I’m going to Disneyland with my family for four days and won’t be able to work.” Communication is so important, and if your editor isn’t communicating with you, then you need to communicate with your editor.

I’ll also add that having a publisher goal tends to make me more productive. When outside people are involved, I perform better that if I’ve set a deadline for myself alone. I’m always making excuses for myself. “Oh, I’m tired. I needed the day off. I’ll catch up next week.” But I would never do that for a publisher unless it was a real emergency.

Stephanie:  I’m a huge nerd about goals. I used to have a hang up about goals vs dreams, and felt like it was incorrect to set goals that you couldn’t accomplish on your own. Then last fall I was on a road trip with my husband and he really challenged this idea. it messed with my head so much that I wrote several blog posts about it:

As far as how my goals have been impacted by the publishing process, I would say that it has become more critical than ever for me to identify what success means to me. It is very dangerous in publishing to look to others to tell you that you are successful. For one thing, good luck finding someone who will tell you that. But also, there is always another rung on the ladder, always someone who is doing something better than you. Instagram, library visits, awards, you name it. So for me it became critical to identify, “Here is what success looks like to me, and here is what I am going to do to achieve it.”

Writers, what about you? Do you set writing goals?


  1. I make a to-do list as well, though I'm getting ready to set word count goals for myself, which is a huge step for me!

    1. Yes, that is! I'm curious about your word count goal, if you don't mind sharing.

  2. Well, my total word count goal is 85,000 before edits :) My daily goal is going to be 1,500 minimum. I have some traveling coming up, so I hope to get ahead for those days I just don't have time to write (Summer commitments :)) After things die down, I want to shoot for 3,000-5,000 a day. That may be lofty goals or to some it may seem easy, but I've never done this before, so I'm gonna feel it out, lol :)

    1. Yes, it's important to figure out what works best for you, Ryana. 1,500 seems like a great place to start!

  3. Thank you so much for joining us, Taylor! It was lovely having you.

  4. I have what I like to call a "word counter" which is essentially a bar graph that I fill in to track how many words I get written a day. I usually aim for 2,000-3,000 words a day, but as my schedule has been becoming more and more cluttered, I just work on my WIP whenever I have a free moment.