“Come here, January,” we called out, fresh & exuberant. “You big, beautiful month of possibilities.” We pulled out our brand new planner, the oversized notebook with thick pages and a gorgeous cover, an unopened package of our favorite Sharpie pens, and we opened our word processor with a blank document. Our hearts sang:
How do I love thee, January?
Let me count the ways…
The start of a new year is lovely in our imagination, isn’t it? All the dreams, hopes and plans are stirring motivation to get our writing muscles moving, even in the coldest of winter months. This January on Quills, we’ve tackled goals for writers. If you haven’t read all the posts so far, you can check them out here:
As for me, I set my goals right around this time last month:
I have to admit, at the beginning of this month I listed a lot of goals. Excited and ready to work, I set about some of them quickly and achieved some clarity on things that were holding me back in my writing throughout the previous year.
Happy to make those small changes (and hopefully make some progress), I set to work. But…it wasn’t long before my daily responsibilities made those writing goals no more than a passing thought in between trips to school and home.
How about you? Where are you with your writing goals?
Did you set out to achieve great things only to get distracted along the way? Are you working hard, all while feeling like that dream inside you is going to waste? Maybe your manuscript isn’t published (or still isn’t finished). Why? It’s not ready to share with the world… or the judges of any writing contests… or anyone in the writing community or… you get the picture.
When goals become passing fantasies, it’s easy to feel defeated, discouraged and ready to give up. How do I know? Because I’ve been there. If you’re in this place right now, I only want to say one thing.
Instead, why not take these 5 steps after your goal setting to enjoy your writing year–remember that feeling? You’ve got a whole year in front of you and you can experience it all without worrying about what you’re doing wrong, without getting frustrated about trying to do everything right. It’s yours for the taking–Guilt-Free!
Here we go:
1. Revisit Your Goals.
Once you’ve set your goals, it helps to review them. Often.
Take time to step back, re-assess and make your goals bite-sized and achievable for your writing year. This is your writing plan and no one else’s. It’s a guilt-free start to achieve all that God has for you.
2. Take Baby Steps.
Now that you’ve invested time and effort into your writing goals, let’s make those goals achievable. Look at your list and begin to break them down into small, medium and large. What’s the easiest thing on your list to do first?
Just do that.
Shoot for writing a target amount of words or writing for a set amount of time–every single day. Your daily habit is going to make it happen.
3. Get Help.
Not sure what your daily habit is? Need to learn what works best for you?
No problem. It’s always smart to research and learn from the best. How? Take classes or just read up on the craft of writing:
Susan May Warren: The Story Equation, Conversations with a Writing Coach, How to Write a Brilliant Novel
Lisa Cron: Story Genius
William Zinnser: On Writing Well
4. Just Read.
This is one of the easiest, most organic ways for me to learn about writing. Reading great writing sharpens your skills, helps you decide what you like in a novel, gives you the tools to create great fiction.
5. Winning–One Day at a Time
When you have a daily goal, you can finish it and feel great about your writing. There is an awesome feeling that comes with recording your word count for the day or checking a box in your calendar. Done.
Ok, here’s my favorite part. You’re working your word count every day. Now look at your word count for one week. Add those days up, and look what you’ve got for a whole month.
It feels good to accomplish something, right?
This year, as you cultivate your writing career (free of guilt, right?), just remember–no amount of negative self-talk or comparison can give you the reward of just doing the next thing!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and resources that have helped me along my writing journey. Blessings on you and your writing this year! If you have a prayer request, make sure to leave it in the comments so we can pray with you in your writing.
Grace to you,