"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ridiculously Ambitious Writing Goals: They Can Help You, Too

Making Ambitious Writing Goals A Boost & Not an Anchor

There are two ways that ambitious writing goals can generally go, and I think sometimes for both beginning and seasoned freelance writers (and maybe even creative writers, too - Justus and Ashley feel free to fill to chip your two cents in the comments about if you think this applies across the board or not for creative writers, as well) the way we handle and deal with ambitious writing goals is maybe just as important, if not more so, than the goals themselves. This is really an important point, because while setting hard to reach goals and accomplishing them can really propel you as a writer (or in any other endeavor for that matter), I know plenty of beginning freelance writers who felt crushed by the weight of their own goals, especially after falling behind and failing to achieve them.

In this post I'm going to share some of the freelance writing goals that I've set for myself for the month of March, and I'll be the first to admit that not only are they overly ambitious - but ridiculously so. That said, I know where I am in life both as a writer and as a person striving for daily betterment of my life and myself, and setting very ambitious goals is a very good idea for the situation I'm in...but where can this sometimes go wrong for writers?

One of my strong points is not organization. Anyone who reads this freelance writing blog with any frequency at all probably understands that. So I'll make a list of questions that you should ask yourself before deciding what kind of goals to set for yourself, and whether to shoot for the realistic or the ambitious.

  • Am I going to become frustrated, disappointed, or depressed if I don't reach my goals or don't come close?
  • Do I take written goals seriously, or do I ignore them completely the more obvious it becomes that I'm going to miss them?
  • Are my writing goals based around what I should do, what I want to do, or both? Or neither? Why?
  • If I have trouble accomplishing my freelance writing goals, is it because money is not enough motivation as a goal? (I know for me it's not)
  • Will ambitious goals make me rise to the occasion, or intimidate me into frustration or depression for not making the mark.
  • What are the reasons behind my goal setting? ((this might be the most important question of all, and one you need to take time to study as a writer if you don't understand the meaning)).
I might not have drawn it out completely clearly, but I think you guys probably get the gist of what I'm saying at this point. If written goals aren't heavily motivating to you, but you still get depressed from not hitting them when the month's end comes around, then you need to a) find a better way to motivate yourself, and b) work on changing your mindset.

Angry can be good. My now "famous" angry blog post about not being ashamed to be an online writer is one classic example of channeling anger into something really productive. That blog post in a way launched this blog to a new level. Followers doubled, e-mail "lurker-followers" doubled, my comments have gone up exponentially, and the links I received from people who liked the post probably got me another point of PR and ranking well enough to draw in about another 50 visitors a week. Thanks to you all.

That was anger turned into production. I can't do the same from frustration or depression. I don't think I've ever met anyone who can. Even worse, being down about not making some ambitious goals can cause you to drag your feet or become despondent about your writing progress so it gets even worse, and suddenly you're in a vicious cycle.

I like ambitious goals for the same reason Timothy Ferriss does. I find in my life that average goals mean mediocre work and effort, and no major adrenaline rush when I hit them...but maybe a little of the "what's wrong how could you not even get that done in a month?" when I don't hit those same goals. If I shoot for the top of a tree and miss, I might land on the first branch. If I shoot for the moon and miss, I still might land on Everest. That's the big difference, and that's the motivation you have to be able to give yourself as a freelance writer in order to really make huge strides forward in your writing career: whether it's online, offline, passive income, or some combination of all three.

So why am I making absolutely ludicrous freelance writing goals (and creative writing goals as well - when you consider them tied in with everything else I'm doing this month) for the month of May when I'm almost certainly destined to fall at least a little short?

  1. The larger the goal, the more work I'll get done even if I fall short.
  2. Having huge goals is an adrenaline rush that keeps me on track and on task.
  3. IF, and it's a big if, but IF I somehow nail the goal and make it, accomplishing that level of work (or even coming close) will be the type of victory and confidence builder that will give me the drive and the ability to run through brick walls for months to close in on my much larger goals for this year.
Those are the reasons that I personally love setting ambitious freelance writing goals, and why I'm going to do so for this month. If this strategy works for you, copy it. If not, find what does work for you. Writing is a skill that can ALWAYS improve, no matter who you are. So get at it.

So here's my favorite time: put up or shut up. So here are the goals I'm sharing:

Freelance Writing Goals
  • Over $5,000 in freelance writing income. This does NOT include passive income or increases in passive income sources like AdSense or eHow. Does not include editing jobs, either. Writing job means writing job. This alone will require a ridiculous amount of writing for me.
  • Double my AdSense income in one month. I've been on a plateau for about 4 months now. It's time to get the work out and get my passive income to some actual serious numbers that can make a dent in the monthly budget.
  • Double my eHow income in one month.
  • Get the AdSense income to over $100/month for me and my brother's business. We hit $20 starting for scratch (and AdSense isn't anywhere close to being the main income stream of this business, but we're all about passive and diversify), and now I'd like to see that make a huge jump in month 2.
Creative Writing Goals
  • Finish 3 more zombie short stories, including an outline for the one I'm really excited about. I'd share the title, but I'm jealously guarding the plot and the title would give it away.
  • Finish 2 more chapters of the novel "Broken" I'm helping to co-write.
  • Finish 4 chapters of the novel I'm writing for my sister.
  • First 20 pages of my novella "Pawprints to Saskatoon," which currently as 15 pages of random scenes and an outline.
  • First 10 pages of "Men with Beards" screenplay I'm helping to write on spec.
  • Write, complete, revise, and send out 2 additional short stories.
Passive Income Writing Goals.
(Yes, I realize AdSense earnings could technically fall here)
  • Write 100 InfoBarrel articles
  • Write 100 new HubPages
  • Write 15 new Squidoo lenses
  • Write 30 new Xomba articles
Other Writing Goals
  • Minimum 8 blog posts on this blog this month
  • Minimum 12 blog posts over at my "Fixing my life" blog (going swimmingly, by the way, thanks for asking)
  • Rough scripts out for YouTube parodies (pet project)
  • 100 articles for backlinks via the KWA directories
  • 30 articles for UAW (which is really 90+ since you have to have 3 versions of each plus hand put in all those annoying boxes at the end)
  • Revise my poetry portfolio (I know, creative, but I told you I wasn't any good at organizing anything)
  • 10 personal hand written letters through the month of March.
So hey guys, those are my goals for this month. It's a ridiculous number of overly ambitious writing goals, but if I do even half of this, it's going to be one of the best months I've had in two years, and it's going to see me in a much better place than where I started. You know what else? The results from that work will be more than enough to give me a boost to keep going.

You know how much of a "writing god" I'm going to feel like if I pull ALL these goals off...or even come close? No blasphemy intended at all (note the lower case 'g'), but the point I'm making is that by putting this out there, this is how I'm going to absolutely kick ass in March of 2010, and get some much needed momentum and strength heading into what's going to be a difficult personal time no matter what happens of the situations coming to bear.

So how are you going to take your writing career to the next level? How are you going to challenge yourself to see what you REALLY are capable of? Leave a comment and let me know. And oh, yeah. 1st blog post of March is down. Feels like I'm already have way there :)


  1. Those goals are absolutely insane. I don't write for a living so I can't imagine doing all that writing. I am getting carpal tunnel just thinking about it.

    But you are right. Aiming for the moon is the best way to land on Everest. Best of luck to you this month.

  2. Hi Kidgas,

    I completely agree with you. That might be the next mini-lesson: write down every goal before posting them online at 3 am, or you might bite off more than you can chew as you keep adding on, lol. Still, March 1st definitely falls under "so far, so good," and even today I've noticed a little more fire, a little more jump, and really good results. I do have to be very careful with the repetitive stress disorder and carpal tunnel, but I've managed a pretty good work/break system for keeping everything healthy. Thanks for the comment and the well wishes, and I'll definitely be updating throughout the month.

  3. Wow those goals are crazy!!! I would have a complete writer's block after all of that! But you are definitely doing the right thing by aiming for extremely high goals. You will be so surprised by how much you actually do! Good luck to you! I am going to set some goals myself!

  4. Wow!

    Let me catch my breath. I’m exhausted just reading your goals.

    My only suggestion to you is to put on a large pot of coffee, put on blinders and get pluggin’ away. You’ll need energy and focus to get through those lofty goals.

    I’ll be routing for you. Like you said, if you only reach ½ of even ¼ of your goals, you’ll make a significant change in your income.

    By the time April rolls around, you’ll probably need the income to buy a brand new keyboard. :)

  5. Hey, thanks for the comments!

    @ Dominique, I'm rather fortunate as my mind never turns off and I've figured out that I'm one of those rare people who does best with 5 hours of sleep and no more - every extra hour definitely counts :) Glad to hear you're setting goals, as well. Always nice to know I've helped out somewhere or inspired someone else to keep moving towards their goals.

    @ Felicia. I've definitely slept well, even after only 3 days of staying on target, lol. The coffee definitely helps, and I've already decided this month is tunnel vision to get as close to those goals as humanly possible. Appreciate the support, and even though it's only 3 days into the month, so far I'm putting up instead of shutting up with the freelance writing goals.

    Love the keyboard comment (I'll be looking ergonomic at that point, I'm sure) and love your blog, as well.

    Thanks again for stopping by!

  6. You can do it! Even if you don't do it, lord knows by the end of the month you'll have done SOMETHING, anyway. This inspires me to evaluate my own goals and see if I can't push a little harder.

  7. Hi Prudence,

    Thanks for the comment and the encouragement. I definitely think the tough writing goals are great because as you mentioned, even falling short still has me accomplishing a lot more than if I just made some simple easy to reach goals. Always glad to be an inspiration. Take care!

  8. I've been thinking about this for the past couple of days, and I'm still not sure where I stand. I suspect it really depends on the individual, but I can definitely see this going either way.

    I feel if I set a goal for myself that is genuinely impossible or so far out there that it's highly improbable that I'll achieve it, I might just feel good if I get partway there, but I also feel like I would sort of give myself permission to ignore it. It's like setting your clock ahead so you won't be late. I know people who do that, and it works for them. For me, though, I know the clock is set ahead, and I'll just look at it and subtract the time rather than consider it a motivator.

    Then again, the one time I tried setting a crazy goal for myself, it worked. I wanted to bang out a rough draft of a short novel in three weeks, and I actually did it (Okay, I think I took one extra day if I'm being honest).

    Like I wrote above, I'm not sure. I'm going to keep thinking about this issue.

  9. Hey Justus,

    Thanks for the great comment! It is one of those interesting arguments to me, because I can see both sides of the equation, and I think I've actually been on both sides. There are times I set unrealistic goals then never really took any serious action on them. Other times, like so far this month, the freelance writing results have been nothing short of spectacular - and the creative writing is getting its fair bit of time, too.

    So I wonder if the difference between the times setting ambitious goals failed me and the times it has succeeded wildly is changes in me, or maybe a genuine desire to achieve the writing goals versus being something "I should do." It's interesting, that's for sure, although I think for whatever reason I'm now at the point where setting the "impossible" goals is really paying off big time for me, but I can also accept that if I fall short (but still do well) then I can still get that adrenaline rush from all the good work I did, even if it did fall short.

    22 days for a novel? Nice. You know, I think there's a yearly competition based out of Canada (but open to US writers) about writing the first draft of a novel in one month, and then the best one gets selected for a prize and possible work towards publication. Might be worth checking out since you've already proven you can hammer it out.

    Once again, appreciate your take on the setting goals. I had a suspicion that a lot of this is person to person regardless of the type of writing that is involved.

  10. Hello all,
    I read everything on this page and the comments but to be honest i can not find a reliable website where to find content writing jobs. I am a technical writer or airbus and would like to earn some money as a technical writer. Could some one list me some website to start from?
    Currently i found that i could use:
    and of course the http://www.elance.com but which one is the best to start with?

  11. Hi redcom,

    Technical writing jobs as opposed to normal content writing can be a little bit harder to find freelance work for online, although it's obviously higher paying once you get established. I'd say there are 3 likely candidates for online sources that come to mind for me that could be technical writing possibilities.

    I don't know much about rentacoder or odesk because I don't have very much experience with either, but Elance and Guru are two places that tend to offer a lot of decent paying technical writing jobs, but these sites do require paid memberships and it does take some time to build your reputation up. Once you do, it's definitely worth it, but early on you do need to be stubborn and willing to do some cheaper work to get that positive feedback. The other option would be writing highly technical articles for Constant-Content and placing a high selling price on them, but then you have the issue that there's never a complete guarantee the articles will sell since you're writing them "on spec." A good long term option would be to set up a blog or website where you can display writing samples and your credentials. If you go with a Guru.com account, you should definitely take advantage of those features in the profile by displaying some of your best technical writing in the samples. Technical freelance writing definitely isn't my specialty, so I'm not sure beyond that. Hopefully this helps you take a look at your options and I hope your find a website that works really well. Keep me up to date on how it's going.


    Master Dayton