Hey, everybody! New Year’s is only a couple days away and that means resolutions! Most of us make them, but how can we actually stick to our writing goals? Here’s some tips!
#1: Be Specific With Your Goals
You don’t just want to say, “I’ll get lots of writing done this year.” That sounds like one giant goal (which will make your brain go “nope!”) and it’s pretty hard to tell when it’s complete. Wouldn’t want it to blow up in your face.
Instead, think more along the lines of, “I’ll write 250 words everyday this year.” This gives you smaller tasks to do everyday, rather than one big, looming goal that seems impossible.
It doesn’t have to be based on word count, either. Maybe you’ll do a goal like, “I’ll get four chapters done per month,” and make a list/schedule for yourself describing how you’ll accomplish it. Just make sure your goal isn’t vague, because that blurs the lines of whether you completed it, and doesn’t really make you commit to anything.
#2: Use Numbers
You need to be able to tell how much work you’ve actually done, and how far you are from your goal. This ties in with being specific. If you can’t count your progress, it’s not going to be very motivating or effective.
Say your word-count goal for the year is 70, 000 words. Well if that isn’t massive and scary I don’t know what is. You need to do a bit of math and break it down for yourself. 70, 000 words a year means about 5833 words per month, which makes about 1458 words a week, which is only 208 words a day.
Now you can tell how far you’ve got to go, if you are ahead or behind, and you have a better idea of how much work you are doing.
#3: Be Realistic
An unrealistic goal can be super discouraging. The best goals challenge you, but you can still reach them.
But how will you be better?
A lot of people go really big on goals, and while ambition is great, you don’t want to fall flat. If you aren’t a full-time writer and have a hectic schedule, saying “I’m going to write 5000 words everyday” likely won’t be very attainable for you. This will demotivate you, and that means you probably won’t stick to writing everyday at all.
Choose a goal that based on your time, speed, and other factors won’t be impossible. If you are a full-time writer, maybe 5000 words daily is a good goal for you, but if you are part-time, maybe set for 250 or 500 words a day. It’s okay to move a bit slower, and it’s definitely better than being disappointed and not moving at all.
#4: Time Your Goals
As you’ve seen, the examples I’ve used all have timelines, due-dates. That’s what you need. Without a deadline, majority of people will never complete something. If you believe you’ve “got plenty of time” or “can do it later”, the procrastinating instincts will kick in. But, if you know that this goal has to be completed tonight to stay on track for the week, you’re more likely to get it done.
That’s one of the reasons why specific goals work best. Saying you’ll do it “this year” gives your brain plenty of time to procrastinate. It might work sometimes to do homework last-minute, but trying to write a 400 page novel with two days until the end of the year isn’t going to go well.
But, if your brain knows “I have to complete 250 words tonight”, then even if you put it off until the end of the day, it can still get done because it’s not as enormous a goal.
#5: Make the Smallest of Tasks Tinier
So, let’s say you have a goal of 250 words per night. Except: tonight you’re really tired. You had a long, long day and the last thing you want to think about is trying to write 250 words. Your bed is just waiting for you to sleep. It’s so tempting to just lay down and do it tomorrow.
But, if you can do it today, when you’re exhausted and don’t want to, that means you can do it any day.
But, how do you get yourself to do it?
Don’t even focus on 250 words. Tell yourself just to load your writing onto the computer (or get your notebooks set up, if that’s how you write), that’s all. One small task, and if you really can’t do anymore that’s okay.
More often than not, you’ll find that once you do one tiny bit, your able to do more. Maybe next you say, “Okay, well I’ll just write one sentence, and then I’ll go to sleep if I need to.”
I find once I get going, everything is easier. I’ll set out just to write one word, and before I know it there’s a whole paragraph. And even if you don’t meet your 250 words, at least you can honestly say you did something, you tried.
Even the smallest amount of progress is still progress, and it still gets you closer to finishing your story.
In short, make your goals realistic and set specific, timed goals for yourself in order to actually write more this year.
What are your writing goals this year? How do you plan to achieve them?
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With all of this in mind, go out and write your masterpiece!