Do you allow yourself to fail? Do you set writing goals, and personal goals, that are on the edge? I’m talking about goals that you think you can achieve, but you’re not quite sure.

For example, maybe you have a goal to write two books this year. That’s a hefty goal to be sure. I read the other day that a blogger had a goal to write and publish four. (I’m just operating on the optimistic assumption that these are well written and plotted books with good editing practices.) 

If you fail to reach your goal there are three potential approaches you could take.

1.       Throw in the towel, quit, and never write another word. (Let’s just say that I hope you don’t take this path.)

2.       Ignore the reasons why you failed and keep trying. (This makes me sad too. What are the odds you’re going to fail again if you don’t pay attention to the reasons why you failed and make changes to your behavior? They’re pretty high, right? And after too many failures the likelihood of quitting becomes quite high.)

3.       Assess why you failed, use the information as feedback, make changes and try again. (As you might suspect, this is the desired approach because it empowers you to continue striving for your dreams and goals.)

It’s Important to Have the Right Mindset Before You Set a Goal

When you’re creating writing goals for yourself, consider pushing what you think is possible just a little bit. For example, if you think that 500 words a day is possible, try pushing to 750 a day. That’s just another paragraph or two, another half page (single spaced) of content.

As you’re pushing yourself just a bit, keep in mind that you’re going to give it 100% of your energy and intention. You fully intend to achieve your goal. However, also plan to assess your successes and failures along the way. If you easily achieve 750 for example, then perhaps you can push it to 1000 words a day. If you miss 750, why did you miss it? You might decide that the goal is too high and cut it back to 600 or you might realize that you just didn’t set yourself up for success today.

Why This Approach?

Generally speaking, this is a more conscious approach to goal setting and achieving. You’re paying attention to what you need and want. You’re giving your writing goals your full attention and intention. And to be able to take this approach, I believe that you have to push yourself just a little harder than you might otherwise.

I’ve talked in the past about setting consistent and regular goals that you can easily achieve. And I think if you’re structured and diligent that this is a good working process. However what I’m learning is that most writers aren’t so structured and diligent – Surprise! We tend to work in fits and spurts. 

However, there are real and powerful benefits to writing every single day. This is one of those realizations that you have to come to through practice. You can’t just choose to believe it or not, you have to give it a try and actually write every day. You’ll be amazed at the profound and dynamic ways your writing will change for the better.

The traditional approach to writing goals leaves too much room for failure, which ultimately affects confidence, progress, and motivation. A more deliberate and focused approach, one that pushes your limits and requires you to check in and assess your goals and failure/success on a daily basis, helps you stay in touch with your writing dreams. It keeps you engaged and committed to the process.

Next steps…

Check out the blog post – What do you do when you fail to reach your goals?

Get motivated!

Identify a writing goal that pushes you a little harder. It can be anything from a daily word count to attending writing critique groups to editing that manuscript that’s just about done.

Take action – begin the process of following through on your writing goals and check in regularly to assess your progress. Pay attention to what is working for you, what isn’t working, and why. Don’t be afraid to fail – failure is positive when you use it as feedback to help you grow, improve, and strengthen your skills and abilities.


Have fun and happy writing!