Your Top 2-3 Writing Goals For The Year

Since it’s the beginning of a new year, this is the perfect time to start off with a clean slate (or as much of one as you can). 🙂

I was thinking this morning that it’s a good time to think about the main things we want to accomplish this year.  I originally going to suggest making five goals, but then I thought 2-3 is a lot more doable than five.   By keeping this short and simple, I’m hoping we’ll see success with them.

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What Should The Goals Deal With?

These should be goals related directly to writing.  Yes, I know there are health goals and other non-writing related goals this time of year, but we’re not going to go into that. This is a blog dedicated to the writing business, and that being the case, we’ll focus on writing related goals.

It can be books you want to get done, an LLC you want to set up, a course you want to take to become a better writer or market your books, a new website design, a strategy to get a blog going, a new marketing idea…  As long as it relates to the world of writing, it fits.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what we most want to get done.   I suggest writing these down or recording them if you use dictation software.  You don’t have to do this in one sitting.  I think taking a day or two to mull this over is a good idea.  Often, something will come to mind when you’re doing a chore or taking a shower.  (Funny how that works, isn’t it?)  So as you come up with these goals, mark them down.  The list can be as long as you want in this stage since all you’re doing right now is brainstorming.

Narrow It Down to 2-3 Main Things

Next, set the list aside for a week.  This should help your subconscious mind work through everything you put on it.   Then take the list out and mark the top 2-3 things you want to do.  These are the high priority items.  If you get nothing else done this year, those 2-3 things should be accomplished by the end of the year.

1. Keep it simple.

I advise keeping these things simple enough so you don’t get overwhelmed later in the year when you’re working on them.  So instead of making a goal  something like, “Write a four-book series,” have the goal be, “Write Book 1.” That gives you one goal that is a lot more doable.

You know the expression that says, “You can’t see the forest through the trees?”  Guess what?  You can’t have a forest unless you have trees to begin with.   The purpose of this exercise is to set up strong trees that will make for a healthy forest in the long run.  If you try to do too much, then your trees will be weak.  Do what you can handle with everything else you have going on in your life.

2. Make your goal something you can control.

Having a goal like, “I’m going to make more money this year,” isn’t something you can control.  As much as I would love it if we could control this part of the business, it’s not possible.  All we can do is take steps toward making more money.  So instead of, “I’m going to increase my income,” try something like, “I’m going to create a group on Facebook where I can engage with my readers” or “I’m going to create an email list” or “I’m going to make a blog post twice a month”.  Something like that is directly under your control, and it’s a way to promote your work.

(Below I went off tangent.  Feel free to skip.)

I have been criticized for speaking out on losing income in the past, but I write posts on this blog because I believe in being straightforward and honest about things.  If I don’t do that, then I’m only wasting my time and yours.  I am not going to promise anyone that if they plug in a certain formula or do something specific, they’ll magically find their income go up.  I can share things that have helped me earn more money, but that’s all I can do.  And just because that one thing (such as pre-orders) helped me earn more money, it doesn’t mean I made more money than I did the year before.  What it did was help take some of the buffer off the losses I was experiencing.

Personally, I’m tired of hearing how we are supposed to expect income to go up all the time.  The truth is, it doesn’t always work that way.  You can do everything right and still not have more money coming in.  I have had private conversations with other authors who make a living with their writing.  Last year, some of them (including me) lost income.  Some were losing income in 2015, too.  This is despite doing all the things marketing experts tell us to do and selling in a popular genre.  So if you find that you’re not able to make the income you want even though you’re following all the advice out there, I hope you’ll take comfort in knowing you are not alone.  (Sometimes the worst feeling in the world is thinking you’re the only person this is happening to.  And it certainly doesn’t help when people criticize you for being honest.)

(Now back to the topic.)

If You Finish The Goals Ahead Of Schedule, Make More

Congratulations if you get things done before you think you will!  That’s wonderful.  It’s better if you end up having to add more goals than to not complete the ones you set out to do.

What Are Your Goals?

I’d love to hear what you guys are planning to do this year, so please share!


  1. What a great post, Ruth. Everything you stated was right on. One thing, in conjunction with writing historical romances, is to offer to write blurbs for authors. I envision some benefits but also some downfalls. I am mulling this over as one way to increase income. God bless you on your great post!

    1. I think looking for ways to increase income is a great idea, and if it’s flexible enough to enable you to keep writing, then it’s even better. I often thought of proofreading, but I don’t know if I could fit in the time to do something like that while trying to keep up my word counts.

  2. I understand totally about the income dropping, I’ve noticed it myself. Luckily I still have a day job! I know the loss of income isn’t only for self-pubbed but also for traditionally pubbed. A good mix of both are battling to get their books noticed. People tell me audio is where its at, but it doesn’t seem that straight-forward to do.

    Anyway, my goals this year:

    1. This month I learned how to merge pictures with GIMP and re-did all my sci-fi romance covers, waiting to see if it makes a difference in sales. (tick this off my list, now done LOL).

    2. For the first time, I’m planning a marketing campaign for 2017 and keeping an eye on the results – something I didn’t really do before, I just advertised here and there and didn’t follow the results so closely. I’m trying to find the best place/way to promo. Am keeping a book with the costs, places and results. Started this in Dec 2016, but I’m trying to do something every month in 2017, no matter how small or big.

    3. Aiming to build up my newsletter subscribers.

    1. I love these goals! Congratulations on merging images in GIMP. I still haven’t figured that one out. One of my goals is to get more proficient at making book covers. With the drop in income, I can’t afford to keep paying a cover artist. A marketing campaign is a great idea. I hadn’t thought of that one, but I definitely see the benefits in knowing what works best in getting your books sold. Good luck on increasing your newsletter subscribers! For me, it’s been a slow build, but it is worth doing.

      I’m glad you told me that about traditionally published authors. I don’t get a chance to talk to them. I do think the saturation in the market makes it harder to get noticed. I heard the same about audio, but when I asked an author who made $300K if they were worth it, she said she barely made back the cost on most of them and a small profit on the others. I have a hard time justifying the cost involved in them with the little return. I don’t know if I’ll ever go into audio. If money were no object, it’d be easier to take the leap. 🙂

  3. Ron Fritsch says:

    I agree with you advice, Ruth Ann, to keep the goals simple and attainable. I have two for 2017.

    First, I want to win particular recognition for my last (and fifth) novel. It will connect me with the readers I most want to reach. I’ve done everything I can to achieve this goal. Now it either happens or it doesn’t.

    Second, I want to complete and publish my sixth novel. I have no reason to think I can’t do this.

    1. I hope you get the recognition you’re aiming for! I think that is a wonderful goal. 😀

      I’d say since you finished five novels, the sixth will be a breeze.

  4. dm yates says:

    I love writing, but I do need a goal on publishing in a timely manner. Where I really fall is in the marketing part. That’s where I need simple goals to boost me into better marketing.

    1. That is the tricky part. Writing is so much easier!

      1. Ron Fritsch says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Writing is so much easier than marketing.

  5. I plan to publish my second novel soon and conduct effective marketing.

    1. Love your goals! The second novel will be the easy part, but I am wondering about what you mean by effective marketing. I have found that the more specific we make our goals, the better our chances will be of doing them. Do you have any specific marketing strategies in mind?

      1. Not to spend too much and what I do spend, spend wisely. Try not to go for anything too expensive and outlandish but those activities from where I hope to get the most mileage.

        1. Oh, I hear you on finding ways to be wise with the money aspect of marketing! That’s one of the things I’m looking at this year, too. It’s too easy to spend way more than you’ll make back. I hope you find the right outlets for your genre!!

  6. I know I’m late weighing in here, but I’ve been trying to catch up with all my emails and social stuff.

    1. Finish the book I’m writing and publish it, as well as writing and publishing two more (one novella and one that I have no idea how long it will be).

    2. Like Angela, build up my newsletter subscribers list. I’m thinking of running some kind of contest or giveaway to try to get new subscribers. Then start actually sending out newsletters!

    1. Those both sound great. 🙂 I hear authors who’ve said good things about doing #2.

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