Monday, 21 January 2019

Long-Term Writing Goals

Looking Back

Most creative people like to set goals at the start of a new year. Full of enthusiasm, we plan out what we hope to achieve in the next twelve months. But those are short-term goals. Our writing career will hopefully last much longer than the coming year. How many of us make long term goals? I've been thinking about longer-term goals lately. The journey went something like this.

I turned 40 last year. As you can imagine, it was a time of reflection. I looked back and realised it had been 20 years since I had turned 20. What would my writing career look like, I wondered, if I had taken it more seriously in my twenties. It’s not that I didn’t write during that time, but I could have taken it more seriously. Improved my craft more, and more actively pursued publication. Life was simpler back then. I didn’t have a wife and kids to support. I didn’t have a mortgage to worry about. I had all the time in the world and no responsibilities.

True, the self-publishing revolution hadn’t happened back when I was in my twenties so I wouldn’t have had the tools that are available to me today, but I would have been ready to take advantage of them on day one. Heck, I could have even become one of those early Kindle millionaires. You never know.

Don’t get me wrong. 40 is hardly the twilight years, but I began to feel like I’d wasted my opportunity. That I was too far over the hill to really make it like so many others had.

Looking Forward

A little looking back is healthy, but I was getting into regret territory. I had to pull myself out of that. Instead, I started to think about the next 20 years. That would make me 60. My eyes lit up. In another 20 years I’d only be 60. I wouldn’t exactly be ready for my deathbed at that point. What if I were to retire early, at 60, and transition to full-time writing at that point. It’d be more of a career change, than a retirement.

If that was the plan, it meant I had 20 years to work toward a self-sustaining writing career. Two decades. Suddenly that seemed achievable. It’s not like I was putting off becoming a successful author until I was 60. To write full time by that point, I would already have needed to become quite successful.

So that’s now my long-term goal. I want to be able to quit the day job and write full time by the time I reach 60 years of age. I have two decades to achieve it. (And if I take that goal seriously, and work hard toward it, I may achieve it sooner.)

Short-Term Goals

This is all well and good, but long-term goals are just dreams unless we break them down into steps. What must we do practically in order to achieve the larger goal? This is where the short-term goals come in. This is where we make it practical. But now, we are designing our short-term goals with a bigger picture in mind.

Examples of short-term goals to achieve a big dream like mine above could be writing every day (or 6 days a week), setting aside money for editing costs and cover design, or publishing a book by a certain date.

And there's one other important aspect that is easy for forget.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

We can make all these plans ourselves, but if we don't involve God, or consider how those goals fit in with his will and desires, we can be working at cross-purposes with him.

What about you?

Okay, it's your turn. Have you set any goals for 2019? Do you have a long-term goal that you're working towards?

Adam David Collings is an author of speculative fiction. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife and two children. Adam draws inspiration for his stories from his over-active imagination, his life experiences and his faith.
Adam is a great lover of stories, enjoying them in books, movies, scripted TV and computer games. Adam discusses these on his own youTube show – Stories with Adam Collings.
Find him at or sign up to his email list for a short story.


  1. Great post Adam. Just what I needed! I felt that from 2019, God is now calling me to full time writing. All this while I was looking for a part time job to supplement my income. Now - I will stop the job hunt and give writing all I've got. And that excites me. I was going to plan for the year, but realised after reading your blog that what I need is a long term goal - and the next 20 years of writing came to mind even before reading that you too looked at the next 20 years.

    My next 20 years will take me from 61 to 81! :) A bit different to you. But ... my Mum and Dad wrote till they died at the ages of 89 and 90 respectively. So 81 sounds a spring chicken in contrast.

    I really like the idea of having short term goals to achieve the long term goal. Thanks Adam. A really helpful and inspiring blog. It has God prints all over it - so I think you have already begun working your way ahead to that wonderful long term goal. Well done. And all the best with it all.

  2. Great thoughts Adam. I'm much older than you and still working on my debut novel, though I've had lots of short pieces published. I've always been interested in writing, but I think I had a few detractors early on and I listened to those voices. I was writing tons of poetry in my late teens and early twenties and still haven't had a poetry collection out. People actually did publish poetry books back then! I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn't listened to those nay-sayers back then and had just ploughed ahead.

    Also back then, I wasn't aware of all the support there is for writers, and a lot more now with online groups. It hadn't even occurred to me that I could join a writing group or read books on writing craft. But as you say, it's good to reflect, but not to dwell on those lost opportunities. We can all move forward from where we are now. Good luck with your goal for the next 20 years. You're well on your way.

  3. Hi Adam, those birthdays with zeros at the end have a way of creeping up on us :) Good on you, for having writing goals that stretch on into the decades, especially since they comprise of many hours sitting in your chair, writing and typing. Your words remind me of Annie Dillard's famous quote, 'How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.' And I hope those changing times make it progressively easier for each of us to meet our writing and publishing goals, taking us by surprise.

  4. Great observations, Adam. It is such a joy when God's purpose prevails and we've managed to cooperate with him in it - even if it does take years for us to catch on. Twenty years of writing ahead? Sounds like a good plan.