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.