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!