So, you’ve made a goal to write more this year. You decided to dust off the keyboard and notebook and start something new. Or maybe you’ve made a goal to actually finish that book you started years ago.
The new year always brings a fresh mindset and a rejuvenated spirit to our goals. We start with incredible gusto, a desire to be better, and excitement that can’t be contained.
Inevitably, that momentum starts to fade. Before we know it, February hits and we’ve chucked our goals and resolutions out the window in favor of the comfort of certainty.
Writing is hard. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it and we wouldn’t be considered rare gems of creativity. A huge percentage of people fail at their yearly goals because they lack the willpower, they forget, or they are too lazy (interested in some statistics?).
But not you… right? Hey, we’ve all been there so we might as well accept it…
Or, we can take that as a challenge and actually follow through. How can we do it? By making our writing goal a priority. Here are 4 ways to prioritize your writing this year.
1 – Set achievable (and specific) writing goals
Haven’t written a word in years (or ever) but decide that a 100K word novel is your yearly goal? That might be a stretch.
Consider what you’re doing right now and what you think you’re capable of doing. Large goals are a huge de-motivator once you’re a month in and feel like you’ve barely made a dent in your goal.
Start with something you know you can accomplish right now and add about 5-10% to that goal. Can you write 500 words a day? Aim for 525 now. Can you write a short story a month? Try four stories every three months.
When you set something accomplishable, you’re more likely to stick with it. Writing an extra 25 words doesn’t take an enormous amount of willpower to accomplish. It’s easier to prioritize something that doesn’t require a large amount of energy.
What also helps is making a specific goal. Maybe you want to write for 30 minutes on a fiction project, make sure you specify which project you’re going to work on. It takes the decision-making out of the equation; a crucial elimination for those who are indecisive or have multiple projects. Use the next strategy to help you prioritize even further.
2 – Most Important Task
If you struggle remembering to write, setting your top three most important tasks for the day might help. Sit down the night before and determine what three things you must complete first thing after waking up, or more specifically, make writing the number one thing you do.
An example schedule might look like:
- Write (morning pages, journal, fiction project, non-fiction article, etc.)
- Make coffee while drinking a full glass of water
- Eat breakfast
When you’re setting your writing project, be specific about what you’re going to do in the morning. If you’re writing morning pages or journaling, you can have a loose structure. If you’re working on fiction, try to have an outline or an idea about what specifically you’re going to write in the morning. It makes it easier to sit down and start working right away. For non-fiction, you might pick an article title and have your bullet points listed out (or at least your research done). Writing means writing, not researching. Take the difficult steps out of the equation so you can sit down and write immediately.
3 – Make it a habit
Nothing fires me up more than a streak of writing. I have a daily habit of adding words to my word counter, no matter how big or small. Some days I write a sentence, others I write 10K words, but I always make a point to sit and make progress somewhere.
If you’ve set a yearly goal, find a way to break it apart into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. It’s easy to see those small goals as more achievable than trying to tackle something huge all at once. Create a habit out of those small goals.
For example, my 2021 goal is 1 million words written over multiple projects. That equates to a quarterly goal of 250K. Still pretty big… Monthly that looks like 83,334 words, weekly it translates to 19,231, and daily that’s a goal of 2,740 words. More manageable for me. Will I hit that number every day? No. Will I sometimes write more? Absolutely. Will I write every day? Yes, because I’ve made it a habit.
The more consistently you show up to your goal, the easier it is to continue. After a while, your mind and body will be so in tune with the habit that sitting down to write will become second nature.
4 – Set a schedule
Finally, it’s important to set a schedule. Sure, MITs are one form of this, but what about people who can’t get up in the morning? Maybe your best writing time is at night, between breaks at work, or during lunch.
No matter when you have the ability to sit down and write, setting that time in your schedule like a required meeting is a great way to make sure the writing gets done. Putting that time in your calendar, setting yourself as busy or turning off distractions, and protecting that time as writing time only will help you create a habit and stick with your goal.
Just like making habits, it’s important not to cancel. Some days you won’t feel it. Others you’ll be itching for the clock to slow down so you can get more in. Give that time to your writing and you’ll find that it’s easier to make your goals.
How are you going to prioritize your writing this year? What will you do to get your words in? Let us know in the comments.
Laura Winter is a self-published author dedicated to helping your authorpreneur journey. She has launched her books on little to no budget to prove you don’t have to invest an exorbitant amount of money to be successful. Find her fiction work on Amazon, Patreon, and join her tribe.