As the new year nears, my guess is you’re thinking about goals. You’re setting resolutions for the next 365 days. We all somehow believe that those days are endless, and we will lose those extra pounds, exercise as much as we need, give gratitude for what we have, remember to visit our shut-in friends and family, write our novels and, wait, write our novels?
Are you one of those many people who say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book?” Is that one of your recurring resolutions? Maybe your resolution is to finish your novel or to publish the one that’s been languishing in your computer? What is that pesky writing goal that reappears each new year and brings guilt along with headaches? How can you achieve what you set out to do on January 1 of every new year?
If you truly are one of those people with writing goals, I have some tips for you.
If you have have thirty minutes a day to write, then don’t try and write 1000 words. Years ago I set a goal to work on Italian every day for 15 minutes. That sounds like a simple goal. Surely I have 15 minutes in each day? You’d be surprised how many days slip by without those 15 minutes. The way to make sure you accomplish your goal is to make it small and realistic. Instead of writing every day write on the weekends. Or every Wednesday morning. If you make your goal something that’s possible, you will do it.
I have an app on my phone that annoyingly beeps at me when I’ve not accomplished my 15-minute Italian goal. That keeps me on track. There is no app for writers (maybe there should be), so we must create some sort of reminder for ourselves. When I coach clients, I suggest a symbol that tells them, it’s time to find that 30-minute block of time to write. Do it now! That symbol can be a note on your computer, a picture of your favorite writing quote, a knick-knack that pokes your brain. It can be anything but it says, “Have you done your writing for today?”
This person could be another writer who also needs some prodding. It could be a writing coach. When I was 13 years old, I was a fat little thing and so was my sister. We both decided to go on a diet. Whenever I had the urge to go to the cookie cabinet (and I had that urge a lot), I’d find her there guarding it. Find yourself a guard, someone who will hold you accountable and make sure you meet your goals.
That means you must set some landmarks. Maybe yours is finishing the first 10,000 words or sticking to your writing goals for one week. Set those landmark goals and then give yourself some type of reward. (Your reward can be taking a bit of time away from writing.). Imagine if you stick to your goals and you have half a novel finished by this time next year. That’s one whole half more than you have this year, right?
If I had given up, I would never be able to speak a word of Italian. Okay, it’s taken me longer maybe, but I’m still further along than all those people who say but never do. When you falter–for example, go for a period of time ignoring your goals, pick right up and begin again. Don’t wait till the end of the year.
What tips do you have for writers who want to finish that novel this year? Oops there goes my beep. Gotta go do my 15 minutes of Italian…