Writing Goals: One Bite at a Time


When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.Creighton Abrams

 It’s a new year – new goals. We’re excited. We’re pumped. THIS is going to be our year. We feel it in our bones!

Some writer’s have lofty goals: “I’M GONNA WRITE A BEST SELLER!  – 30,000 words per day! – Get published in 14 different languages!”

Some goals are a tad simpler: “Finish that darn chapter book! –  Get a manuscript under contract.   WRITE EVERY DAY!  Blog once a week!”

Then why, oh why, do even our simplest goals fall by the wayside as the year goes on? They’re not crazy goals – completely doable – so WHY?

—–> We try to eat the elephant whole. <—–

“Eat the Elephant Whole” Example:

THE GOAL:   Finish writing your novel.


You start with a clean desk, a nice writing schedule. You’re doing this. You’re amazing. This story is amazing. You’ll have this done in no time! Then a deadline comes at your day job and you miss a few days writing. No prob, you got this. Just a couple days off, you’ll get back to it, you will.

You don’t – not for almost a month. Your first “writing session” back is spent trying to remember where you wanted the story to even go. You stumble through another chapter. It’s crap. You try again. Why isn’t this working? Maybe you just need a little time off?

So you let it sit for a week? Maybe two. Okay, it was really ten – but who’s counting? You think about going back to it, but then you think about how many chapters you still have to write and it’s scares you. Besides you’ve got this great new idea you’ve started on. You really need to focus all your energy on that one before you get back to this one.  After all, it’s only October. NANOWRIMO’s just around the corner. You’ll finish it then.


“One bite at a time” Example:

THE GOAL:   Finish writing your novel.


Your first writing session you don’t write a lick.  Instead you break that big goal into little goals for that month.

January Goals:  Week one:  outline story. Week two:  list main characters; begin character free writes to learn character’s voice. Week three:  continue character free writes. Week four: try out point of views.

February rolls along. A deadline at the day job put you a week behind in January, so you adjust February’s goals.

February Goals:  Week one:  try out point of views. Week two:  write chapter one. Week three: write chapter two. Week four: write chapter three.

You couldn’t stand chapter two. It took you two weeks to get happy with it so again you adjust when making next month’s goals.

Month after month you plug away – get distracted – adjust your “bite sized” goals  – take a week off – have a writing binge – until what? You finished this sucker and it’s not even November?

You decide to skip NANOWRIMO this year because you can’t wait to start revising your novel!

Why does the second example work when the first one didn’t?

Little bites, my friends.

Don’t make the mistake of tackling the whole elephant at once. Look at your lofty goals and chop them up in to bite size goals that are easier to swallow (and finish).

This can be your year! It’ll just take LOTS of tiny bites and an exhausting amount of “chewing” – but you can finish that elephant!

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