I want to write more in 2013 than I did in 2012.
The new year is a time when many writers reassess their goals and take some time to make a plan for the year. Me, I’m not a planner. Don’t get me wrong. I try it almost every year, and fall off the wagon in a few weeks. I’d like to be one of those authors who can work off outlines, and keep to a set writing schedule, but something in my nature resists that.
But trust me, there is still hope for people like me, and all of you who are trying to figure out what your goals should be for the year. In that spirit, I thought I’d share a couple of the things that have worked for me:
1) Keep it simple – I have at least 5-7 projects in my head at any one time. It can be a temptation to create a plan that incorporates all of them. Trying to do too many things at once can spread us thin, and decrease the quality of our work in any one project. We all want to succeed tomorrow, and this self-publishing world seems to increase the pressure to keep putting something out there, but it’s a lot better to get one or two things done than to start 5-7.
2) Keep it concrete – Simply put, 1000 words a day is better than writing an hour a day. That can be more or less than an hour, but it is a set amount to shoot for each day. If we make our writing goals by time alone, then we risk squandering our hour with distractions, or cutting ourselves off when we’re on a roll.
3) You are not alone – Most of us try to have relationships with other people. It makes us better character writers, and just plain better people. There’s a somewhat romantic notion in devoting ourselves so fully to a thing to the exclusion of all else, but the else doesn’t tend to love us for it. I do believe there are some professions that might be better off not getting married, but writing isn’t one of them. Make sure to structure time with your loved ones into any plan you make. Otherwise, what was it all for?
4) Don’t be afraid to drop goals – I’m not saying give up, but rather, reallocate your time to things that are working and lose the things that aren’t. Or it may even just be a matter of reducing time spent in one thing, and increasing it in another. I used to write this blog four times a week (my “Daily Show” schedule). Ultimately at least one of those posts ended up being “filler” and I was feeling exhausted when I tried to work on my external writing projects. I’ve been writing three times a week for half a year now, and I think not only has it improved the quality of the blog, but the quality of my other projects. You have to be willing to reassess rather than just sticking hard nosed to a goal.
5) Pray about it – For me, faith comes into not only why I write, but how I write. Personally, I’ve never felt it was a good idea for me to make decisions about what I work on without God. I’m not saying that I don’t make my own decisions, but there is something about the reflective process that is necessary when making any important decision. And trust me, any serious writing project is an important, potentially life altering decision. Take it seriously.
6) Track it if you must – We all like ticking off the little boxes when we finish something. Just make sure you’re not spending more time making and serving the list than doing the actual work. That’s why I’m a fan of the concrete but lose goals of 1000 words a day. Easy to check, quantify, and get back to work.
7) Be patient – You probably aren’t going to write your bestseller tomorrow. If you’re a blogger, your first, your tenth or even your hundredth post might not be Freshly Pressed. Writing is a lot of hard work, refining your craft, and plain old output. Success will come to those who put the time in, and who don’t worry about it to much. Relax and just enjoy the writing. You already probably work for money, and maybe you want to make money off the writing too, but it’s not going to be any better than your workaday job if you don’t remember to have fun as well. While I don’t think we should trick ourselves into thinking the writing life is an easy one, I think we should enjoy the fruits it has to offer, independence, community, and the ability to create something new.
Good luck in the new year. What are some of your goals for the year?