HAPPY NEW YEAR! Start of a new year, start of a new decade. Time to set those dreaded goals (I prefer this term to "resolutions") for the year. We've all done that, right? Made our list—only to not even finish half of it by December. So, here are 5 ways to set writing goals that you can actually complete.
1) Make them short - create a list of 3 - 5 goals rather than 20 goals. If you make too many, your goals will seem overwhelming. And what do we usually do when we're overwhelmed? Ignore, avoid, and make excuses for why we couldn't accomplish it.
2) Make them doable or actionable - in other words, be specific. Instead of "Finish my novel", create the goal of "Writing 3 chapters", "Edit Chapter 5" or "10,000 words" etc. These are more measurable, so you can assess your achievement a lot better. But what if your goal is to finish that novel, a longer-term project? Go to Tip #5.
3) Use or create an organizational tool to help keep you on track. This can be offline as with journals, planners etc. or online and digital tools. I'm a sucker for apps and online tools, so I'll show you some of my favorite tools and how to use them in later posts. Neuroscience research actually does show that the act of writing down one's tasks and goals can increase productivity.
4) Be a creature of habit. Set a daily or weekly writing goal. Set a scheduled time to write. I try to write daily but if every other day works better for you, so be it. The goal is consistency. Create a routine that gets you ready to write. This sometimes means breaking bad habits. I used to spend the first half hour of my "writing time" checking emails, browsing the internet—what a lot of wasted time. I could have written half a page in that time. When you think of the years I might have spent doing this, that could add up to a whole novel! Jessica Brody, author of Save the Cat Writes a Novel, has a great webinar she teaches called Productivity Hacks for Writers which literally rescued me from the writing doldrums, and provides tremendous tips about setting goals, creating good habits and increasing productivity.
5) Creating your writing goals at the beginning of the year doesn't mean your goals should last a year. For example, you can do quarterly goals or even monthly goals. Goals are more easily achieved if they are doable. So, your goal to "Write 3 chapters" may not seem like much, but if you write 3 chapters every other month, that's 18 chapters in a year! Creating a goal at the beginning of the year just gives you a visual road map of what you'd like to accomplish. You can even have a long-term goal list (like finishing your novel) and a short-term goal list (more actionable items to complete that goal). I like to do a yearly vision board (more on that on another post) and daily and weekly goals.
Let me know in the comments below what writing goals you've set for yourself. And also, what other tips and strategies on the writing and publishing process you'd like to see.
Happy Writing, Revising and Publishing in 2020!