SMART Goals and Objectives in Writing

An objective is clearly defined and uses action verbs, while a goal is focused on purpose.

Strong writing abilities are important in many situations, from school to work, from creativity to earning a living. SMART is a convenient acronym for the five qualities every goal or objective should have: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible. By applying these five qualities to writing objectives, almost anyone can become a more productive and effective writer.

1 Specific

Aspiring writers should keep goals and objectives strong, individualized and focused. Vague, unclear or overly broad ideas are often easy to ignore, or else produce only unclear and overly broad results. An example of a specific goal in writing is saying, "I'll become better at proofreading my essays before I submit them" versus "I'll become a better academic writer." A specific objective might be "I will spend 30 minutes proofreading each essay and making revisions."

2 Measurable

Productivity software can be helpful to measure your goals, but an old-fashioned notebook works, too.

When a writer is able to quantitatively measure her progress and see a visual representation, such as numbers, a graph or a chart, it can both boost motivation and increase productivity. For example a freelance writer might make her writing objective to write at least 25 articles a month, or to send out 25 percent more query letters than she currently does. A novelist's goal might be writing five or more pages of her current project each day.

3 Achievable

Writers need to set achievable goals and objectives to succeed. This means considering time, financial or other constraints that may interfere with a goal. For instance, if a writer is juggling family life and a full-time job, writing for four hours every day may become so frustrating that the writer stops trying. If a person starts out with the awareness that his goals require too many sacrifices, unachievable goals often fall by the wayside.

4 Realistic

Creating goals and objectives is more fun and simpler than fulfilling them, and it's tempting to become overambitious. The best objectives are realistic and take into account the writer's resources and abilities. Writers should challenge themselves, but too many unrealistic objectives can lead to burn out and discouragement. For example, instead of the objective of publication in a top magazine, a new writer might create several smaller, realistic objectives, such as being published in lesser-known, and often lower-paying, magazines.

5 Timely

Time-sensitive deadlines provide extra motivation to work hard at writing.

Time is a critical and precious commodity for many writers. Whether working on creative projects, writing reports for work, composing essays for school or making a living as a freelancer, every writer has a limited amount of time he can realistically utilize. Objectives and goals should take time limits into account. For instance, a writer might resolve to write for a certain number of hours each day or finish a book within six months.

Sally Murphy began writing professionally in 2000. She has worked as a writing instructor and written for various organizations and publications on topics ranging from history to hairstyles to television shows. Murphy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and also holds a Master of Fine Arts in writing.