In my previous article, I chatted a little about my creative writing resolutions for the new year. So, how did I come up with these goals?
How to Set Achievable Writing Goals
Set Small Writing Goals:
Smaller goals are more measurable than an overall plan. Writing a novel or any collection of work is a large undertaking. By splitting it into smaller, bite-sized chunks, you can feel like you’ve achieved more. Sit down at the end of each month and plan the goal for next month. It might be plotting out a story or completing a chapter. Joanne Harris (of many, many books but also Chocolat fame) writes 300 words a day, which is a tiny amount when you think about it. Set a goal you know you can achieve. It doesn’t have to be a word count, it could be ten minutes a day.
I started to keep a journal about six months ago. I use it to note down anything I’ve read, written or listened to on a daily basis. That way, when I feel like I haven’t achieved anything, I can look back and see that I listened to a podcast on writing, edited a short story or read a poem. It all counts.
Set Aside Time:
Create a schedule for your writing. It’s a bit of a myth that creative types have to wait for inspiration to hit in order to write something. Sometimes you sit there and nothing comes. Other times you can only write sentences which read like stage directions in a very bad play. Whether you write one word or one thousand, you’ve engaged the writing part of your brain. It’s been switched on and it will start to work, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
It would be nice to be able to send yourself off on a sunny holiday every time you reached a goal. In the real world, you could celebrate your milestones with something small. A chocolate bar or a cup of coffee when you reach your word count for the day. I’m toying with the idea of not allowing coffee until I reach my word count, but that might seriously hamper my process. With the bigger goals, pick something you’ve wanted to do for a while and set that as your aim. Maybe a show you’ve wanted to see or a book you’ve had your eye on.
Allow for Failure:
The main reason New Year’s resolutions fail is because people can’t cope when they slip up. If you miss a day’s writing or you fall short of your word count – just keep going. If you get to the end of the year and you haven’t achieved your goal, just keep going. Goals aren’t absolute. They are something to aim for and hope to achieve. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Share your Goals:
Tell someone about your resolution. That way you have someone to talk to it about. When you keep it secret, you are more likely to give up on it. Even better, find someone who has writing ambitions too and you can egg each other on.