10 Steps To Achieving A Writing Goal

Many people set goals, but relatively few achieve them. One way to improve the likelihood of the success of a goal is to understand and implement a goal setting process, such as the following, 10 positive steps to achieving a writing goal.

Decide what you want.
  • Be clear in your intentions, and precise in your thoughts.
  • Although there is always a starting point for an idea, a half formed idea will do nothing more than float around in your head in an unrealistic (unattainable) state. 

Decide when you want it.
  • Set short, medium and long-term goals (six months, two years, five - ten years).
  • Be careful with your words. Set goals in a positive ‘present’ tense: e.g. ‘I am writing a novel’ not, ‘I am trying to write a novel’. Trying implies – failure. Another positive, present tense, example: ‘I am writing five, fifteen, forty hours per week.'

Decide why you want it.
  • There may be one or more reasons: to feel personal achievement, to be immortalised in print, to inform or entertain readers, for recognition, to pay off debts, become self-sufficient etc.
  • Understanding why you want something also serves to fuel the desire to achieve it.

Have a burning desire for it to happen.
  • Commit yourself to it.
  • Get involved with people and situations which encourage the thinking, talking and activity relating to it. Read, write, enrol in a course.

Decide what you will invest to achieve your objective.
  • How much time are you going to spend on it?
  • Are you willing to put the effort into it (be honest with yourself)?
  • Will you invest financially into it, if you feel it’s necessary to achieve your goal?

Visualise your goal being met.
  • Imagine yourself completing your novel. Entertain the feeling of accomplishment.
  • Create your own mental image of the completed book cover with the title and your name, the ‘good’ reviews, and the earnings in your bank account from sales.

Create a plan.
  • If you were to write 150 words per day, it would equate to 54,750 words per year; approximately an average length novel (40,000 +), according to the Nebula Award criteria of SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America).
  • Set realistic dates for achieving your goal. Regardless of how much you want to achieve your goal as soon as possible, if you’re working full-time, or have unavoidable commitments, you need to be practical.
  • Consistent, small steps over a longer period of time can be equally as productive as larger steps over a shorter period of time.

Use all the resources you can find.
  • Read avidly, participate in writing groups (in your local area or online). What you focus on creates…more!
  • Create a ‘writer environment’ (even a small area set aside), with reference books (dictionary, thesaurus, grammar), books of authors you admire.

Eliminate self-doubt.
  • You must first ‘believe in yourself, before others will’. Endeavour to reward your own efforts by being quietly confident in your abilities.
  • Turn negatives into positives by changing them into affirmations. Example: I find it hard to write a hundred words a day / I am able to write a hundred words a day.

Expect your goals to be met.
  • Anyone can set a goal, regardless of age, gender, culture or a person’s situation. Study those who have achieved their goals despite serious set-backs for inspiration.
  • People who expect to reach their goals (and refuse to be defeated) are those who usually do, e.g. C.S.Lewis received over 800 rejections before he sold a single piece of writing.

All the best…!

© Copyright Jan Reid-Lennox. All Rights Reserved.


Book Review Styles

The question: ‘How do I write a book review?’ is quite a common one. It’s also not a question that can be answered easily, as there are many varying styles of book reviewing.

When I wrote my first book review – article, a few years ago, it was purely because I enjoyed the book so much that I just wanted to tell everyone. I didn’t write it with the mindset that it was a book review, although it was in theory. The article I wrote wasn’t even entitled ‘Book Review of….’. In my mind it was just my personal opinion of a book that I felt other readers would derive great pleasure from reading. It included:
  • the names of the book and author,
  • book and author awards,
  • publisher details,
  • the basic book description - similar to the inside flap cover of a hardback,
  • excerpts from the book - those parts that left an impression in the skill of the writer, or because of the content itself.
  • the reasons I liked the book - most important for readers to consider whether it may appeal to them also.

As I’ve recently read quite a few new releases and revisited old treasured books that I would like to write about, I decided to do some research on the subject of writing book reviews. I was unable to find a set of universal guide lines by which to review books, but through reading articles and website material on the subject, in addition to breaking down the words ‘book review’ at Dictionary.com, I arrived at a satisfactory conclusion.

  • Book Review: a critical review of a book (usually a recently published book).
  • Review: a critical article or report, as in a periodical, on a book, play, recital, or the like; critique; evaluation
  • Critical: involving a skilful judgment as to the truth, merit, etc.; judicial; a critical analysis.
  • Evaluation: to judge or assess the worth of; appraise
  • Appraisal: an estimate or considered opinion of the nature, quality, importance, etc.

Academic Style
An article from the University of Sydney (Howto Write a Book Review by Hans Pols) lists a series of specific questions that the reviewer needs to address, although concludes that writing a book review is usually structured in three parts (and not unlike an article):-
  • An introductory paragraph.
  • The body of the review.
  • A conclusion.
Pols also notes: - ‘Keep in mind: book reviews contain a brief summary of the content of a book. The main focus of the review is on analysis and evaluation’.

Professional Style
The Writing with Writers, website (Rodman Philbrick) sets out a system for book reviewing with a series of helpful tips. In Step 3 of this system Philbrick writes: - ‘Every book review is different, but each successful review includes a couple of key elements. As you think about what you want to say in your review, complete these challenges:-
  • Describe the setting of the book.
  • Describe the book’s main characters.
  • Give your reader a taste of the plot (but don’t give the surprises away).

In my considered opinion, there are no rigid guidelines for writing book reviews, instead only different styles of reviewing. These review styles differ according to whether it is an academic, professional or a personal review.

As well as the styles mentioned above, a book review style can be as simple as, the book’s details, what you liked, what you disliked, and a conclusion. Book reviews (personal) are essentially certain information about a book that you choose to write about, and personal opinion. 

If you would like to see my book reviews, please visit my new blog:

© Copyright Jan Reid-Lennox. All Rights Reserved.