While people often use the terms interchangeably when talking about writing or anything creative, there’s a big difference between a dream and a goal. A dream is a fantasy, a mental picture of how we wish it could be. A goal is a tangible thing you can work toward in the real world.
The following is an adapted excerpt from Building a Writing Life: start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams available now in paperback and eBook.
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Goals vs Dreams
Even the word goal itself changes how you think about it. A dream feels like an ethereal picture in the distance, but a goal is a finish line you can walk toward right now. What would it take to turn your writing dream into a writing goal? Can you turn that daydream of where you want your writing life to go into a list of precisely what you’d need to do to make it a reality?
Goals > Dreams
Dreams are often vague and undefined, but the best goals are as specific as possible. For example, think about having the dream of writing a novel vs. setting a goal to write at least 300 words a day until you have a draft of at least 100,000 words (the typical length for a traditionally published adult novel). By setting a goal, you’d have a specific plan you could act on daily and a simple way of measuring your progress. And, if you stick with it, you’d have a finished first draft of your novel in a year or less. That’s the power of getting specific and turning your dreams into goals.