Goals are important for a writer. They provide motivation on days we’d rather leave the page empty. Goals also give us a yardstick to measure our progress. With only a few days left in 2013, how are you doing on your writing goals for the coming year?
Here are a few tips:
Be concrete. Give yourself clear, measurable goals that can be broken down to bite-size chunks. For example, replace “write a novel this year” with “Write a 90,000 word novel by September 1, 2014 with weekly word counts of 2572,” or “by completing a chapter a week.”
Write them down. A written goal carries more weight psychologically than an idea alone. Put your goals on paper. Put them where you can see them every day. Create a list of milestones and check them off when completed.
Build in rewards. Of course, these are highly personalized, but set up rewards for meeting specific goals…small rewards for smaller goals, big rewards for bigger goals. Use whatever motivates you to get words on paper and your budget allows. Rewards for me include story time with my grandson, a special flavored coffee, a pedicure, or fat quarters from the fabric store.
Seek accountability. Find someone such as a writing partner or trusted friend to check in with you and kick your arse when you need it. Better yet, tell a lot of people. For example, we meet my husband’s family for dinner a couple times a month at a small diner where the regulars are like extended family. Announcing my goal to finish a new novel buys me months of “how’s the book coming?”
Confess when you fall, not just to your accountability partner, but to your significant other, best friend, writers group, or critique partner. Not only does it help reinforce accountability and the value of the goals you set yourself, it may garner tips or encouragement as well. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for encouragement when you need it.
Set goals that honor your process and health because writing does require physicality since we sit for so long. If you write better in diners, schedule regular sessions there. Like writing with others? Make and keep writing dates with other writers, in person or on Skype.
Be realistic but push yourself. An experienced writer might easily meet goals of writing two first drafts and editing one in a year, but if you are just starting out or have serious time restrictions, that probably isn’t a realistic goal. Conversely, if you have an established daily writing routine and a good idea of your output, push yourself a bit. Increase your capacity. If you consistently put out 1000 words a day, push to 1250 through March and 1500 through June, and so on.
Though it isn’t a formal tip, don’t forget to set a few fun goals (or goals for fun) throughout the year. All writing and no living makes us each stale and causes burnout. Take yourself lightly, but take your goals seriously.
Happy New Year! May 2014 bring blessings, productivity, and writerly joy!