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The Importance of Following Through by Irene S. Roth

From the SavvyAuthors Archives

Irene Roth is one of our long-time SavvyAuthors instructors. She is known for a positive outlook and the ability to help writers find and keep motivation. Now as we move into this last week of NaNoWriMo we are all looking for that extra boost to get us over the top and into that 50,000-word winner’s circle!  Take a moment and recharge with some great advice from Irene!



Leslie Dow, SavvyBlog Editor

Follow-through is everything

One of the most important things that writers can do for success is follow-through from their long-term to their short-term writing goals. This one practice alone divides the successful writers from the unsuccessful ones. If writers don’t follow-through, they won’t be as productive as ones who do because there is no real way for them to take stock of their writing goals. Following through requires that you step back from your writing goals and assess how you’re progressing in completing them.

If you get into the habit of following through often, you’ll be able to determine where in a particular manuscript you are and where you want to end up, successfully completing your writing goal. Ideally, it is important to follow-through on your writing goals every week to make sure that you’re still on track with your long and short-term writing goals, and that you stay on track as time goes on. So, reviewing your writing goals often and assessing how you’re progressing both on various writing projects and your writing career as a whole is critical to your overall success as a writer.

When you don’t take time to follow-through on your writing goals, you blindly flounder about in your writing career. This can be very unproductive, both in the short-term and long-term. So, to be productive, you have to consciously follow-through on your writing goals and then take stock to see how you are doing and to celebrate your accomplishments. Following-through need not be a bore or a chore but the process should fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Remember the overall purpose of following through is not to determine whether you failed in completing your writing goals as it is to assess your overall progress with your short-term and long-term writing goals. So, following through need not have a negative connotation at all. It should be an inspiring process in its own right. Thus, following-through is extremely beneficial for writers at any point in their writing career.

Definition of Following-Through

To follow-through is to regularly take stock of your writing goals and to routinely assess your progress on those writing goals. This process need not take a long time. It could take as few as ten or fifteen minutes at the end of every week. But the process is important because it can help you feel more successful and self-confident in your writing career because you’ll know how you are doing with your goals. And this feeling of self-confidence can help you feel more certain about your writing career and ability in completing projects over time.

Following-through consists of these six steps—Just follow them and you WILL be a much more successful writer:

1. Assess your progress on current writing projects

This requires that you write a list of your long and short-term writing goals and regularly check off which ones you have completed. Make sure these writing goals are in sight when you are writing so you feel like that you’re accomplishing a part of your goal every time you sit down and write.  See Appendix A for worksheets on creating long and short-term writing goals.

2. Reassess your long-term writing goals

Every month or two, it is important to reassess your long-term goals. Did you set out to do too much? Are you progressing towards your writing goals? Will you complete your writing goals in the timeline you originally thought you would? If not, change your target completion date and keep moving forward towards completing your writing goal.

For instance, as you examine how you are progressing on your goal in the short-term, estimate whether you’ll complete your goal in the timeline you originally set. If you are progressing well, continue on. If you’re not progressing well, set a new target date and keep moving the completion date back a bit.

3. Determine your progress every step of the way

At the end of the week, take a few minutes to evaluate your progress in your writing journal. This will help come to terms with where you are with your writing goals. This will also help you to complete your short-term writing goals that lead to completing those big long-term goals.  Following-through will also give you the self-confidence that you need to keep working on your writing goals.

4. Determine whether or not your writing goals are realistic

It can take a long time to learn how to set realistic writing goals. Many times you set goals which may be completely unrealistic because of a lack of experience in how long they take to complete. This can be very detrimental to your success and self-confidence in completing your writing projects. If you find that you are not completing your writing goals by Friday, or you are completing all of your writing goals by Wednesday, it is time to create new writing goals by revising the old ones.

For instance, if you decided to complete two chapters of your manuscript a week and you’re writing four or more hours a day and still you have not completed your first chapter by the end of Thursday, next week plan to only write one chapter instead of two. Then you’ll be more successful and less frustrated. Also, you will be much more productive in the long run.

5. Keep taking stock of your long-range writing goals

Every quarter, sit down and determine how each of your long-term writing goals is progressing. Are you completing your writing goals? Will you complete your long-term goals at the targeted time that you originally set? If you aren’t progressing as quickly, it is time to examine some of your writing habits and determine if you can make a few small changes so that you could be more each successful in the future.

For instance, many writers work on more than one writing goal at a time, and when they do so, one or more of their writing goals don’t get completed as quickly as one or two of the other writing goals.  That is because we usually focus on one goal more than on the others. So, it is best to commit to only ONE goal per quarter. Complete it, and then move on to the next writing goal. Taking stock will help you to achieve this evaluation more readily.

6. Do a micro and macro analysis of your writing goals at the end of the year.

A micro analysis of your writing goals is a short-term analysis of how you are progressing. This will tell you how you are doing on the short-term goal.  You should do a micro assessment of your writing goals once a week to determine how you are doing on your short-term goals.

A macro analysis of your writing goals is a long-term analysis of your goals and how you are progressing over each quarter with them. You could also do a quick macro assessment at the end of each month, in order to determine how you are progressing towards completing your writing goal at the end of the quarter. Then do a follow-up macro analysis at the end of every quarter.

By regularly performing both of these assessments, you’ll be able to clearly determine how you are doing on your long-term writing goals and change the goals which are not getting done in the short-term and keep doing the things that are working. These regular assessments are important to your success as a writer.

By doing these kinds of self-assessment, you will be able to assess your overall progress on writing projects. If you are not doing well you’ll be able to change your writing goals or some of your week-to-week habits to make sure that you are successful in the short-term so that you complete your writing goals in the long-term.

~ Irene S. Roth

Freelance Writer, Author, and Editor


Irene RothIrene S. Roth has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and Psychology from York University and is currently using her expertise to write for kids about empowerment and self-esteem. She has published articles for kids, tweens and teens in Encounter, Pockets, and Stories for Children Magazine. Irene Roth has been publishing academically for over twenty-five years and has a children’s book that was released in 2012 which will be part of the empowerment series for kids 3 to 8.  She is also an Editor for Halo Publishing and a Marketing Director for the National Writing for Children Center. Lastly she has been running workshops at Savvy Authors on many different topics for a few years now and moderates author chats. Check out all of Irene’s classes at SavvyAuthors.


The Seven Habits of Highly Committed Writers by Irene RothThis book outlines the seven habits of highly committed writers. Ms. Roth argues that a writer needs more than motivation to be a successful writer who completes writing projects. The writer must be committed by making a decision to complete a writing project through all the trials and tribulations that are inherent to the writing life.  Ms. Roth’s E-book will help writers to be their best by developing the key habits that they need to be successful.