Writing Tip of the Week: Setting your 2022 Writing Goals – Part Two

Last time, we kicked off the final month of 2021 by exploring ways to set new writing goals in 2022.  Below are a few more ideas to get your head in the game this coming year.

Always Be Thinking

We are surrounded by people, places, and events that have the possibility of inspiring and evolving into stories.  As you go about your day, observe and later write down what you experienced that was noteworthy.  Did something happen to you at work or school that could be the basis of a storyline?  Did your kid say something funny that would work great in a script?

By being aware of the real world around us, we can create stronger and more grounded stories.   

Work To Write Every Day

To write more, write better, and write longer, you need to make it a habitual ritual in your daily routine.  Whether it’s for 30 minutes, an hour, or two hours, work to fit time into your daily schedule to write.  Even if you write about your day, an experience you had, or on your big writing project, you are still working to develop your skills as a writer.

Numerous websites offer hundreds of writing prompts that can help you focus on what to write if you need assistance.  The key is to commit to writing every day and stick to it.  With each daily writing session, you’ll be amazed at how your writing skills grow.

Here’s a link to an article featuring 100 creative writing prompts from Writer’s Digest.

Have Side Projects Just In Case

I always like to have another writing project or two on the side if I hit a brick wall with my current project.  The solution should never be closing the laptop and skimming through YouTube videos on your phone.  A more productive way to deal with this issue is to have another project you can focus on.

I prefer that the second project is in a different genre and even another medium.  For example, if I’m writing a novel that’s action-adventure, I’ll have a play that’s a comedy to work on as well.  This gives your brain a rest and can actually help you subconsciously resolve issues you’re having with the primary project as you work on the secondary one.

Stay Positive

You’re going to have tough writing days. You’re going to get writers’ block of some kind. You’re going to have personal things pop up that distract you.  But when you’re at the desk, the table, or wherever you write, you have to have a positive mindset.  You will get the writing done.  You will get something on the page.  Even if it’s not quality work, it; ’s still work you completed and can fix later.

Don’t get discouraged with the process.  If you have issues with a story, step back and figure out why.  Write down why you think the story or a character isn’t working (that still counts as writing).  

The key is to not allow negative self-talk and other internal forces to win the creative war.  Push yourself through the blocks, the doubt, and the problems, and you will come out the other side with work you can be proud of.

Stay Focused

It’s hard in 2021 – and soon 2022 – to disappear from the world and just focus on your writing.  It can be hard to shut the world out and focus with social media, the news, COVID, family, friends, work, and doom and gloom seemingly lurking around every corner.

I recommend finding a chaos-free zone where you have your phone off, your wi-fi off, and as few external distractions as possible when you sit down to write.  You can fact-check your story later if you need to.

This is your time to escape the real world and live in your fictional universe with your characters and story.  I can guarantee that you will not miss world peace being achieved or a cure for all illnesses being discovered while you’re hunkered down writing.

Give yourself the permission and the time to focus, and you will be glad you did.

Have Fun!

This is the most essential aspect of writing.  You have to have fun with it. You’re not writing 500-word essays for your high school literature class; you’re writing a novel, a screenplay, a play, short stories, poems, or non-fiction.  This is the fun stuff.  Enjoy the creative ride.

I believe that the passion, excitement, and joy you have while writing translates off the page to the reader or viewer.  Creative writing shouldn’t be a torturous affair; it should be fun, invigorating, energizing.  

While there is plenty of hard work involved, it’s work that should be approached from a positive place, not one of dread or resentment.  Go into each writing session open-minded, ready to write, and have a good time.

I hope these tips help you plan out your writing goals for 2022.  I know that I will make a concerted effort to write every day, complete multiple projects, and stay focused on creating fun, positive, creative writing experiences each time I start a new writing session.

Happy New Year, Happy Writing, and I’ll be back with more articles in 2022!

Writing Tip of the Week: Setting your 2022 Writing Goals – Part One

I know. These are usually the articles that pop up in January of 2022. Still, I thought I’d get a head start and allow you to start thinking about your writing goals for the new year.  Whether you have big writing goals or small, having a basic idea of what you want to do can help you achieve your goals over the next 365 days.

To reach those milestones with your writing, here are some tips to get you thinking and headed in the right direction.

Set Reasonable Writing Goals

Having a big goal is great. Write that novel.  Write that screenplay. Finish that play you outlined a couple years ago.  But diving in head-first into a project as big and complex as a novel or a screenplay can be daunting, even for the most seasoned writer.  

You can accomplish any of these major writing projects, but create reasonable goals for yourself to achieve them.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself I’m going to sit down over a weekend and hammer out the second act of a script, only to be so overwhelmed with the monumental task that I avoid it at all costs.

I suggest that you start small.  A chapter a day.  A scene a day.  If you feel you can do more, then do it.  Just keep the tasks small and manageable, and you will see that as you write, the work will grow into that novel or script you want to write.

Set Reasonable Writing Deadlines

Most of us have 9-to-5 jobs, go to school, have families, or have other obligations that prevent us from writing all day long. It’s important not to add to any stress in your life by stacking the deck against yourself in the creative realm by imposing unrealistic deadlines on your writing projects. 

If you have a big writing project in mind, set your deadline for a rough draft four to six months down the road.  Then work to write every day – using reasonable goals – and work toward completing the draft by that set deadline.

You may find that having a deadline creates a sense of urgency in your brain where you feel the need to get it done.  And, if you have been writing regularly, you should feel a need to meet the deadline out of an obligation to not only the project but also yourself.

There’s something satisfying about getting to the end of a story, even a rough draft.  Even though it is the first of several drafts, you now have a draft to work from and make better.  

Think about your life and what you have going on, then set a reasonable deadline for completing your writing project that best suits your situation.

Word Count vs. Page Count vs. Time Goals

Should you write 1,000 words a day?  Ten pages a day?  Two hours a day? It’s a conundrum that writers and writing books have debated.  What works best and makes you most productive?

I prefer setting Time Goals.  This gives you a set amount of time to sit down and write.  Start the times.  When it dings, you can decide to keep going or stop; your writing obligation has been met for the day.

With a Time Goal, you also aren’t tied down to a specific word count or page count. This can add unneeded stress to your writing day, especially if you’re having a tough time creatively that session.  Your goal was to sit and write for an hour, and you did it.  Whether you squeezed out 500 words or slammed out 10,000, you have met your writing goal for the day.

Which reminds me…

Accept That Some Days Will Be Tougher Than Others

Everyone has bad days, and everyone has distractions.  And not every writing session will feel like you’ve brought your A-game.  But you must make the time and do the work because you can always go back and edit and rewrite later whatever you felt was less than stellar work.  

It’s also essential to know that it’s okay to have bad days.  Out of 365 writing days, at least a handful will be duds.  But you have to shrug it off and keep going each day to reach your writing goals and deadlines. 

Even the greatest Olympian has rough training days. It’s okay for you to have them, too.

Prep Prep Prep

Preparation.  If you’re writing a novel, screenplay, or play, it’s important to go in with a game plan.  Know your story, characters, and the key moments of your story’s beginning, middle, and end.  This prep work will save you time and headaches along the writing journey.  

Prepping can be part of your writing day since you are doing the work needed to get your story off the ground and moving forward.  The last thing you want to do is jump into an idea without any direction and watch it fizzle out by page twenty.

Take the time, do the prep work, and help yourself and your creativity breathe easier.

Start thinking about your writing goals for 2022.  Happy Writing, and I’ll see you in two weeks with the rest of my 2022 Writing Tips!