Happy New Year, Writer Community!!
With the new year comes a new start and, probably a lot of new goals. When we’re feeling the excitement of it all, it can be easy to put all that ambition into HUGE goals. That’s fantastic! But, to make sure we can actually achieve them, here are a few things we can do.
1. Break it Down
If you’re setting a big/long-term goal like editing or writing a book, it can be really important to set smaller checkpoints for yourself along the way. When you make these checkpoints to help keep you on track, try to base them around clearly measurable goals, like finishing a round of edits, hitting a certain word count, or finishing the first draft of a particular scene. That way, you have clear markers to strive for at each step of the way. Writing a book takes a lot of work before you get to experience any real sense of accomplishment, so, these smaller goals will also give you some victories to celebrate along the way.
When laying out those smaller, stepping stone goals, set “due dates” for yourself that keep in mind what’s going on in your life outside of writing. For instance, a goal set around the holidays might allow for 7 days to be completed, while a goal with a similar workload that’s set in your normal routine may only allow for 3 days, to account for time with family and friends. Have a big due date coming up for work? Give your writing deadline an extra day. Most of us aren’t full-time writers. As much as you follow the tip coming up next, it can be disheartening to miss deadlines so it’s important to schedule your goals in a fashion that will be reasonably achievable for you!
Life happens. Things come up all the time that we can’t account for so it’s important with your goals, and their deadlines, to stay flexible. Maybe you’re in a rough spot with writing. You can’t focus. Lower the word count goal to something you can achieve reasonably every day, week, month, and so forth. As Luke always puts it so well, if the goal is 500 words a day and you write more, that’s great! But, if you only write 500 that day, you’ve reached your goal and you’ve gotten more done on your project than you had the day before. Progress is progress is progress, writers! (Especially when it’s consistent.)
For some, setting little rewards up is enough to get them motivated to put in that extra bit of effort to meet their goals every day. For others, it’s the goal itself that motivates them. So, as I tend to say with everything writing-related, find what works for you. If that’s a reward every quarter or a small thing every day, then that’s what you do! Get yourself in front of that page, laptop, or typewriter (if you’re the classically aesthetic writer type XD) and get that book done the way you know how. And if you don’t know how yet, take a look at what other writers do and experiment until you find something that works!
Finally, don’t compare yourself to other writers when you make your goals. What might be a great pace for one might be wholly unrealistic or too easy for someone else. Who knows what’s going on in that writer’s life. Maybe they’re on vacation, or they have twice the responsibilities in a day, or maybe they just have a different set of priorities. All that matters is that you get your story down on the page to share with the world. Writing does not have to be a competitive sport. Readers will always need and want more material. We can fill those shelves together without comparing ourselves to or competing with others. So, do what works for you, and don’t look back.
Sydney Alexis is a co-founder of The Writer Community and the author of the forthcoming YA High Fantasy novel, The Daughter of Dawn, written at just 18. Growing up in Southern California, Sydney had always been deeply invested in all things fantasy, storytelling, and music. Now, in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in French Horn Performance with an English minor, she hopes to inspire others the way the music and stories of her earlier youth inspired her.