How to Set Clear Writing Goals

I write these blog post about writing mostly for myself because I have my own struggles with writing.
I know it feels contradictory for someone who has a blog and loves to write to struggle with writing.
However, one thing I have learned is that writing is not just about writing.

There’s so much going on in the brain that prevents our fingers from typing away at the keyboard.
We have insecurities. Other pressing things that need our attention. 
Writing can seem like the most difficult thing to do.
Especially, when it comes to the dissertation. 

I’m sure you can think of every other things to do other than your dissertation.
And it’s not because you don’t want to get it done. 
The dissertation is just so overwhelming. There are so many moving parts.

Where do you start?
Some people say chapter 2. Some say chapter 1.
How do you know if you are doing it right?
There is no right way.
Simply put, you just have to start somewhere and keep going. That’s it.

However, the power of accountability is outmatched.
This is why I’m hosting a virtual writing workshop on Sunday, August 19th. (Will you be joining?)
And there will be a dedicated 6 hours to just writing. 
Do you know much you could get done in 6 hours?


With a good plan, so much!
Need a plan?
Don’t worry, I got you!
Today, I’m going to walk you through how to plan for writing time.

I will share with you how to plan to get the most out of your writing time. 
The advice that I’m going to give will sound contradictory but I promise you, it will be more effective and easier to follow. 

Bottom line: Doing things one thing at a time will outpace trying to do a lot of things at the same time. 
I know this isn’t clear but let me explain.

Step One: Clean House

Have you ever decided that you were going to organize your closet? Or have you ever had to pack up to move to a new location? 
Remember the feeling of seeing a completely empty space and deciding how to arrange your things. 
Working with a free and clean space provides so much possibility and openness in your brain. 

The same thing is true when trying to develop goals. 
Your brain cannot be productive when it is busy doing a billion other things.
So, it’s helpful to first clean it out. 

Now, you know I love a good brain dump because I found them to be so helpful. 
This step is all about dumping all of your thoughts out of your brain, including items you need to complete, errands you need to run, and people you need to see.

  1. Dump your thoughts or least make a list of everything you need to get done. 
  2. Everything from cleaning your room, to going to the cleaners, to class assignments. Write down everything. 
  3. Review the list. Highlight with a different color pen or marker those items that are related to writing.
  4. Write those items on a separate sheet or in the designated space on the provided worksheet. 

Step Two: Prioritize

Take a moment to examine which items on your priority list that would have the largest impact on your life right now. Which ones do you think will be the most difficult to complete? Which ones have a deadline looming?
Next, you are going to prioritize this list from easiest to complete to most difficult to complete.  It may be easier to prioritize by the due date. For items that do not have a due date, assign a date to it. 

Ex. My Priority List

  • Write 100-word bio for podcast (8/21)
  • Write Chapter 1 (9/1)
  • Write Chapter 2 (9/1)
  • Write Chapter 3 (9/1)
  • Qual 103 Assignment (8/16)
  • Read chapter for Theories class (8/16)

Re-Prioritized List

  • Write 100-word bio for podcast (8/21)
  • Read chapter for Theories class (8/16)
  • Qual 103 Assignment (8/16)
  • Write Chapter 1 (9/1)
  • Write Chapter 2 (9/1)
  • Write Chapter 3 (9/1)

Step 3: Action Plan

Take the first item from the list and write down all the steps you need to complete to finish this task.

Ex. Write 100-word bio for podcast (8/21)

  • Find old bio from the book chapter I wrote a couple of months ago
  • Re-read the old bio
  • Add updated information
  • Edit for clarity and word count
  • Email to podcast hosts

Step 4: One Thing at a Time

When making goals we tend to get carried away with how much we think we can accomplish. When we don’t accomplish those things in the designated time, we become deflated and lose motivation. 

My strategy that is most effective for me is assigning one thing for the day that I know without a doubt I can get done. 
I mean, I’m talking about those simple easy tasks that you probably don’t even want to write on your to-do list because you thought they were so simple.

Review your priority list and determine if it will allow you to work your way up from the smallest task to largest tasks. This is known as a snowball method.
Using a snowball method will help increase momentum, which will increase motivation and thus, productivity.

Going back to the last step, Action Plan

Ex. Write 100-word bio for podcast (8/21)

  • Find old bio from the book chapter I wrote a couple of months ago
  • Re-read the old bio
  • Add updated information
  • Edit for clarity and word count
  • Email to podcast hosts

I would give myself ONE hour to complete this task. Nothing more, nothing less. I believe that it will take me less than an hour to complete this task; however, I KNOW that I can have it done in an hour. 

If I finish before the hour is up, I will simply move on to the next item on my Priority List, Read chapter for Theories class (8/16). And so on and so on.

You may think that this will slow down your progress. However, that Action Plan that you create for each task will help keep you moving when your brain begins to get overwhelmed or distracted with other stuff. You simply have to follow the plan. And each action item is so small and simple that your brain does not have to think too hard about what to do. 

Remember when I said that writing was more about writing, it’s the stuff in your brain. 
This strategy helps you to navigate and free up the stuff in your brain. 
When your brain is free to think that you only have to do these few things. It works faster. 


  • Do a brain dump.
  • Identify those items related to writing.
  • Prioritize those tasks from easiest to more challenging.
  • For each task, write a step-by-step action plan.
  • Assign a due date and time period that will allow you more than enough time to complete it.
  • Complete the task and then move on to the next one.

Click here or sign up below to download the worksheet that I created to go along with this system.


What is your system for creating writing goals? Let me know in the comments!