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Good writing skills are becoming more critical, particularly in finding and maintaining a good job. As a writer, you are faced with several challenges. This has to do with your overall writing skills, not just with the profession in general.
A lack of vocabulary, issues with plagiarism, insufficient reasoning and cognitive skills, a lack of feedback, poor grammar and spelling, and a lack of research skills are problems you may face.
However, setting SMART goals is one thing that can help you significantly improve your writing skills. This article discusses SMART goals for writing skills.
SMART goals can help you set precise goals you can measure in realistic ways to monitor your progress over time.
What Are SMART Goals?
To set usable SMART goals, knowing what they are is crucial. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Attainable), Relevant, and Time-Bound (or Timely). These are five parts of a greater goal.
If you focus on the five letters of this acronym, setting and achieving goals becomes easier. So let’s look at the five letters of the SMART acronym and what they mean in setting SMART goals for writing skills.
If you would like more information on setting and achieving SMART goals, we recommend checking out Ultimate Guide to SMART Goals. In addition, a vision board can help you determine what your biggest goals are.
Why SMART Goals Are Important for Developing Writing Skills
SMART goals help you create structure in a way that makes them easier to achieve.
It’s about setting specific goals where you can measure the progress over a certain period, goals that are relevant to your overall end goal, which, in this case, is improving your writing skills.
There are a significant number of challenges that today’s writers face. One of the most common is dealing with complex and unfamiliar topics and lacking practical research skills. But, of course, to write, you first need to research, which is easier said than done.
Another big challenge, once resources have been found, is to organize them, so they are easily usable for your writing. Also related to research and sources is ensuring that your writing hasn’t been plagiarized, which can land you in serious trouble.
Moreover, perhaps one of the biggest writing challenges is forming a coherent argument that makes sense and is valid. It concerns using common sense, logical thought, and deductive skills within a solid writing structure to develop an argument that is accurate and easy to understand.
Another challenge writers face a simple lack of grammar and spelling skills, combined with an ineffective vocabulary. The cornerstone of assembling a good piece of writing is knowing the best words to use.
Other challenges you may face include a simple lack of feedback. To improve at something, you need constructive criticism. A lack of practice and experience are also issues.
We want to look at a series of SMART goals for writing skills to help you formulate a strategy that will help you improve.
We will help you set goals to tackle the challenges writers face, as laid out above. SMART goals are your plan of action.
11 Examples of SMART Goals for Writing Skills
Let’s go over a few examples of SMART goals that will help you tackle the challenges mentioned above faced by writers.
1. Read from Academic Sources
“To improve my vocabulary, I will spend at least 15 minutes reading from an academic source each day. All throughout, I will keep track of the number of words I do not know to judge my reading comprehension skills and vocabulary. My end goal is to fully comprehend any piece of writing within one year of the start date.”
S: This goal is specific as you aim to read from an academic source every day for a particular time to increase your vocabulary.
M: This goal is measurable because you can track how many words you are unfamiliar with over 15 minutes of reading.
A: This goal is achievable because spending 15 minutes per day reading is not very time-consuming, nor is making a list to keep track of unfamiliar words.
R: This goal is directly relevant to improving writing skills because having a good vocabulary is essential for writing well. Regularly reading is a great habit to have anyway.
T: This goal is time-bound to a certain degree because the aim is to engage in this practice for at least 15 minutes per day, every day, by the end of each day.
2. Learn New Words
“To help improve my vocabulary, I will spend 10 minutes each day making a list of words that I have heard but do not know the meaning of.
I will then use a dictionary and a thesaurus to learn what these words mean and their synonyms. I want to shorten my list of unfamiliar words by at least 5% each week.”
S: This goal is specific as the aim is to make a list of unfamiliar words and then learn their meanings. The objective is to improve your vocabulary.
M: This goal is measurable to a certain degree because you can easily see the length of your list of unfamiliar words.
A: This goal is easy to attain because you can write down unfamiliar words as you read them and then set aside a few minutes each day to look them up.
R: As established above, having a strong vocabulary is essential to becoming a proficient writer.
T: This process is time-bound, as you are setting aside a certain amount of time each day to complete this task. It’s also time-bound as you intend to shorten the list of unfamiliar words within a set timeframe.
3. Ask for Feedback
“Whenever I complete a piece of writing, I will immediately give it to a friend or family member and ask them to provide me with realistic and relevant feedback. I will ask for feedback within three days.
Then, I will examine the feedback immediately and make adjustments as needed by the end of the week (or within seven days of giving said person my piece of writing).”
S: This goal is specifically designed to seek feedback on your writing within a specific timeframe to have others tell you what needs improvement.
M: This goal is measurable to a certain degree, as you can use your judgment to determine how positive or negative the feedback is. The more positive feedback you get, the more you progress.
A: This goal is easy to attain because you simply have to find some people willing to engage in this feedback process. Here’s a good guide on how to motivate others to help you.
R: This is highly relevant because things sound different from somebody else’s perspective. You need to know how other people read and interpret your work.
T: This goal is time-based, as the aim is to get feedback and make adjustments within a specific time.
4. Join a Debate Club
“To improve my logical thought, deduction, and argument-formation skills, I will join a debate club within the next 14 days.
I will aim to have at least one debate per week, with the overall goal of winning at least two consecutive debates within six months of joining the debate team.”
S: This goal is specific in using a debate team to improve argument-formation skills over a particular time to win consecutive debates.
M: This goal is measurable because you can judge your progress by your performance and overall results in your weekly debates.
A: It’s a relatively easy goal because argument formation skills also improve by practicing debating skills.
R: It’s a relevant goal because good writing requires clear and coherent arguments to be formed.
T: It is a time-bound goal because it aims to win two consecutive debates within six months of joining the team.
5. Learn to Read Faster
“I will read at least one chapter of a book per day and write a summary of the main points within the said chapter. The overall goal is to first increase the speed at which I read, and second, to detail the main points more clearly and concisely within each chapter.
My aim is to read at least one word more per minute each day and be able to read at least 100 words per minute within 60 days of beginning this exercise. I will then go back through each chapter to examine my analysis' accuracy.”
S: This goal is specific because you intend to read a certain amount, be able to read faster, at least one word per minute more each day, and to better comprehend what you’ve read over a period.
M: This goal is measurable because you can keep track of how many words per minute you read and count the main points you could remember and comprehend.
A: This is an easy-to-attain goal because by practicing, your reading speed and comprehension skills will improve over time.
R: A crucial reading and writing skill is to disseminate essential facts quickly and efficiently from large writing pieces.
T: This is a timely goal as the objective is to read a certain number of words more each day, intending to read at least 100 words per minute within 60 days of starting. This could be a part of a daily morning routine.
6. Hone Writing Skills
“I will join a professional writing class by the end of the month and complete it by the end of the year. The overall goal is to hone my writing skills, precisely the style, and type of writing required for my profession.
My aim is to get at least a 90% score on all exams in this writing course.”
S: The specific goal is to first complete a particular writing class and, second, get a score of at least 90% on all exams.
M: This goal is easy to measure, as all of your work will be graded by the instructor.
A: This goal is attainable through hard work, practice, and studying.
R: It is a relevant goal because taking a course designed specifically for that end will improve my writing skills.
T: It is a time-bound goal, as writing classes only last for so long.
7. Identify Writers You Admire
“I will identify writers I admire whom I can learn from. By choosing one writer per month, I will have time to research that writer, identifying their trademark style, unique approach to topics, and literary style.
I will identify one to three aspects of each writer’s style that I can adapt to my own writing style, practicing these over the last two weeks of each month per writer. I will then track to see which style adaptation works for me and which feels out of place.”
S: This goal is specific in that you need to identify people who write in such a way that you admire. The task is specific and targeted at a predetermined outcome—finding writers you like.
M: You can measure your success here by how many great writers you’ve researched and considered as writers you admire.
A: Achieve this goal by reading up on one writer per month, which is achievable.
R: Build the relevance of this goal by focusing on a skill (other writers’ writing ability) that you can apply to your own writing career.
T: This goal has a time limit of one writer per month, which ensures you won’t get bored and will have enough time to research these writers, while still having time to write too.
8. Developing Writing Tricks
“Having achieved my goal of identifying writers I admire; I will now learn their tricks or the shortcuts that help them create great content and captivating manuscripts.
I will use the next month per writer, reading their best work and also their worst work, identifying what worked in the first while being missing in the latter.
From my notes, I will then apply the x-factor that helps these writers be so great to help me be a better writer. Having found each writer’s success formula, I will apply this to my writing too.”
S: Identify the specific traits or skills that a writer used to succeed that was missing from their poor work. This is a specific step.
M: Success can be measured by seeing whether you can identify what made a writer great in their work, while also spotting what made them not succeed, and then seeing if you have similar challenges. You can measure success by how many writers you can analyze in the given time.
A: Anybody can read what someone else wrote, but because you are a writer, you will be able to achieve a real analysis of their work and style through comparison.
R: This is a relevant goal as it will improve your writing ability if you can see what tricks work and what doesn’t. You write relevant content by learning from someone else’s mistakes.
T: There is a time limit to this goal because you have a month per writer, which is when you move on to a different writer.
9. Develop Brilliant Self-Editing Skills
“I know I am not perfect, so I will sharpen my self-editing skills. I will make it a requirement to read my content at least three times before letting it rest for a week and then reading it again, but this time reading it from the bottom up (not in reverse) so I can check each sentence independently, and also then read it from start to finish to catch any errors and inconsistencies that need to be edited.
I will also invest in a good grammatical tool such as Grammarly Premium for the next six months to suggest changes where necessary. By asking family members to check my writing, I can get an indication of my improvements and learning.”
S: This goal is about improving the quality of your writing, which is a specific goal.
M: You can measure this goal by looking at the grammar checking tool’s score, while also asking family members to report back on their perception of your writing improvement.
A: You can achieve this goal as it has smaller micro-goals, such as editing from the bottom up and investing in a grammar tool for six months.
R: As a writer, having quality content and captivating writing is vital to industry success, which means this goal is relevant to your career as a writer.
T: With a time limit of reading content three times, resting seven days, then reading it again, you create a healthy time habit that will help you review your work with fresh eyes.
10. Broaden My Knowledge Base
“To be a successful writer, I also need to be a great “reader” with a wide knowledge base, so I will read a new niche or topic each week. Instead of reading about things I am already familiar with, I need to read new and unusual topics that I know nothing about and possibly never even knew existed.
For each new topic, I will create a list of 10 terms or ideas that are unique to that area of expertise, which I will practice referring to in the last week of each month.”
S: The specifics of this goal are to broaden knowledge, which you can specifically do by reading a new topic each week and keeping notes on that topic.
M: You can measure your knowledge expansion by using industry-specific knowledge in daily discussions. Check off each term or idea each time you use them.
A: Reading a book or blog each week is achievable, and it’s interesting too, so you will likely keep up the knowledge habit.
R: Writing is about knowledge, so being informed about many different areas of interest means you will have a wide knowledge base, and this will keep you (and your written content) relevant.
T: The time limit on this task is specific, helping to keep you on track in your goal to read a new book (topic) each week.
11. Identify New Writing Markets
“To ensure I can earn a living from writing, I will explore different writing markets until I find one (or more) where I naturally thrive. A market can only be explored if you work in it, so I will choose a new writing market every three months, seeking out writing opportunities and clients in that market.
When I am satisfied that I know more about that particular writing market, I will move on to the next (while still maintaining activity in the previous markets). Finally, I will choose the markets where I can enjoy the most success and hone my skills there.”
S: The specific goal is to find new writing markets that may help you write successfully and earn a living.
M: Your success can be measured by the number of markets you explore and how you slot into each.
A: You can achieve this goal by applying for new writing jobs or projects online in markets where you haven’t previously written, such as content writing, SEO writing, copywriting, fiction, non-fiction, and more.
R: The goal is relevant as you want to build a successful writing career, but you may not yet know what market you and your writing abilities are best suited to.
T: With a time limit of three months per market, you have enough time to investigate a market without forcing yourself to drown in any particular one. You can easily dip your toes into a market in three months, so the goal is reachable and timebound.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Writing Skills
The best way to hone your writing skills is to set specific goals. The best way to do this is by making them SMART goals, which enable you to set concise goals, achieve those goals, and when they should be completed.
This kind of structure and organization always makes achieving any goal easier. So make five or six SMART goals and start improving your writing today!
And if you want more SMART goal ideas and examples, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 7 SMART Goals Examples for Administrative Assistants
- 6 SMART Goals Examples for Social Media Marketing
- 7 SMART Goals Examples for Creatives & Artistic People
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.