Writing Tip of the Week:  Holidays as Writing Deadlines?

Every country has holidays, and most calendars have holidays printed on them.  And whether you celebrate them or not, these set-in-stone dates can be a valuable tool to help you set milestones and deadlines for your writing goals.  

While it’s easy to say, “I’ll finish my first draft in three months,” what if that date was tied to a holiday on the calendar?  So, if you set this goal on January 1, maybe you will have the first draft done by St. Patrick’s Day.  Now, you have a target date associated with a major holiday, and you have a built-in reason to celebrate your writing win!

If using holidays isn’t for you, maybe use birthdays or anniversaries of family and friends.  Now, you know that you’ll have a draft done on Aunt Trudy’s birthday or when your cousin celebrates their fifth wedding anniversary.  

If you want to get crazy, find a site that shows all the unofficial holidays and use one of those dates as a goal.  Maybe you National Donut Day, which is Friday, June 2, and grab yourself a donut in celebration of your creative accomplishment.

Here’s a list of unofficial holidays (it’s pretty extensive):  


I’m using official calendar holidays for writing milestones this year, and it’s allowed me to focus better since I know definitively when each writing project needs to be completed.  This year’s schedule is set like this:

•          April 7 (Good Friday) – Revised Draft of New Novel Completed

•          May 29 (Memorial Day) – Polished Draft of Screenplay #1

•          July 4 (Independence Day) – Revised Draft of Book #3 in YA Series

•          September 4 (Labor Day) – Polished Draft of Screenplay #2

This doesn’t mean these are 100% completed and ready to go out; by those dates, I’ll have a finished draft of each project that can be edited and worked on further.  It also means that, ideally, by Labor Day, four writing projects will be done, which is exciting!

Try it!  Set a holiday-based deadline for one of your writing goals this year and see if you can complete it by that date.  Make sure you give yourself time to work on it, so pick a holiday later in the year.  If you finish before then, great!  Keep writing and set a new goal.

Happy Goal Setting, and I’ll see you next time!

Writing Tip #5: Writing Goals

What are your writing goals? Do you have any?  Should you?  In my view, it’s always good to set some sort of goal for yourself when you sit down to write.  For example, I’m writing this article on Saturday evening and you’re reading it on a Friday.  I set a goal to write up all five posts and schedule them ahead of time to avoid panicking last minute because I forgot to post something.  I set a writing goal, and once I post and schedule this I will have achieved my goal for the day.  Yay me!

But along with the blog posts I’m also getting down to business with writing my second novel that follows my first novel, The Field.  Writing a novel is a much larger task than mere blog posts, but the basics of setting a writing goal for the day still apply.  I may set a goal of writing a big action sequence, or maybe an emotional scene, or maybe draft the ending or even the beginning of the novel.  Breaking it up into easily workable pieces is much easier than sitting down and thinking: “There’s no way I can write this novel in one sitting!”

You don’t have to.

A novel is made of chapters. Each chapter can be written on its own. Giving yourself a little perspective by breaking the magnitude of a novel into its smaller components can quell your anxiety and get you writing.  Even a screenplay is one scene at a time that build upon each other to create a full film script.

If page or chapter goals aren’t your thing, set a timer.  Sit down and write for 15 minutes.  Still going strong?  Go for 30. Still good?  Keep writing.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish and get on the page in 15 minutes, and will be motivated to keep going.  I’ve found that if I’ve still got half a blank page left I will keep going until I fill it.  Then I’ll have another idea and keep going. 

Just like running, the first few minutes are the hardest part.  Your body is still getting used to it.  Your mind is still getting engaged.  But after a few minutes, your endorphins kick in.  Your body becomes attuned to the rhythm of your stride.  And what was supposed to be a 30-minute run becomes a 45- or 60-minute run. 

Writing is the same way: the first few minutes can be hard, but once your mind and body find the right rhythm, and the creative endorphins kick in, you’ll be on a full sprint to the finish line before you know it.

Find a goal-setting mechanism that works best for you and don’t forget to reward yourself with something, even if it’s small.  Maybe treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant, or go to a movie you’ve wanted to see. 

Setting smaller goals with your writing can and will help you achieve your larger writing goals over time.  And you’ll be in a better creative place in the long run.