Skip to Main Content
OASIS Writing Skills

Writing a Paper:
How to Avoid Ineffective Writing Goals

This guide includes instructional pages on the writing process.

How to Avoid Ineffective Writing Goals

Interested in learning how to avoid ineffective writing goals? The SMART Goals Guide is a great start; however, you may also consider the following suggestions that are more specific to writing goals:

  • Focus writing goals on skills, not problems.
    When receiving writing feedback, it is easy to focus on what went wrong. Identifying areas for improvement is related to goal setting; however, it should not dictate how you define your goals. Problems are not as important as solutions. Therefore, we recommend identifying a set of skills that address your writing concerns, but, ultimately, are designed to grow your overall abilities and confidence as a writer.
  • Consider the sequence of your writing goals.
    Thinking big is part of the goal setting process. In fact, many writers have a tendency to jump right into setting some rather large goals (e.g., "My goal is to be a better scholarly writer"). Although these writing outcomes are excellent goals to set and work toward, you want to make sure you consider the path required to get there. You may need to start with a smaller set of writing goals and scaffold them to build toward your larger objectives as a writer and scholar professional. Keeping the SMART Goals Guide in mind is always a good reminder for how to establish timely, achievable writing goals.
  • Keep purpose and flexibility in mind.
    Writing is a hard task. Having the focus and energy to establish a regular writing practice can seem impossible after a full day of work and family time. Writing goals, therefore, need to be rooted in purpose—something that can push you the extra mile when you are tired or lack the confidence to go on. Moreover, it is important not to forget that writing takes time, patience, and, most importantly, practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do not see immediate change. Irwin (2014) reported that students typically don’t start to see change in their writing skills until after three writing center appointments. So allow yourself the time to practice those writing skills and the flexibility to make changes where necessary.

Irwin, L. L. (2014). What a difference three tutoring sessions make: Early reports of efficacy from a young writing center. Writing Lab Newsletter, 39(1–2), 1–5.

Related Resources

Webpage Feedback

Didn't find what you need? Email us at