Struggling to make progress with your writing? Lacking motivation or find yourself procrastinating rather than doing the work? Sticking with writing goals can be challenging. Especially given that writers are often working in isolation with self-imposed goals and schedules. In this post, we look at 7 simple strategies to hit those writing goals.
1. Know your why
Ask yourself this important question. Do you want to write? Do you want to follow your writing dreams? Why? Knowing why you are writing and reminding yourself of what you are working towards is a powerful motivator. Try visualizing your end goal, perhaps it’s holding your book in your hands or signing that publishing deal, how does that goal make you feel? Hold onto that feeling and remind yourself of it. It can also help to put up some visual reminders, a vision board, a quote from an author you admire or a picture of your future novel.
2. Break it down into mini-goals
Once you know your why, it’s time to create some shorter-term goals. These are your more immediate goals, in line with achieving your vision. For example, your long-term vision is to become a full-time author. Your shorter-term goals might be to outline your next book or build your author platform. If you try to achieve too many goals at once you’ll feel overwhelmed and scattered so select a few key goals to focus on for the next three to six months, to make it manageable. For each of these goals look at the steps involved. For example, if your goal is to land a publishing deal, the steps will include finishing the first draft of your book, editing your book, researching agents, writing a query letter, submitting and following up. Start small. Set the bar low. A sense of achievement will encourage you to keep going.
3. Establish productive habits
It’s the little things we do regularly that produce results. You aren’t always going to feel motivated and creative. The key to staying on track is through building and sticking to productive habits. Be consistent in working towards your dreams. Schedule your writing time and commit to it. During this time ban yourself from multi-tasking and get rid of unwanted distractions, turn off your phone, put on the noise-canceling headphone and write.
4. Set deadlines
Get accountable by setting and sticking to deadlines. Mark your deadlines down on your calendar, put them in a visible location and review them regularly to ensure that you are on-track. Need some more external motivation? Let others know about your deadlines (declare them to your partner, your writing group or on social media) and encourage others to keep you accountable. As with any goal start small and work your way up. Set deadlines that are motivating rather than terrifying.
5. Track and reward
To make progress on your goals and meet your deadlines it helps to have a tracking system. First, work out what metrics you will use to measure your progress: word counts, chapters or daily writing time. Then think about how you want to track these metrics. You might write down your word count on a wall calendar or tick off your daily achievements using a productivity app. Tie your tracking system to your deadlines and as you reach each deadline celebrate with a reward. Make sure the rewards you choose are enticing enough to encourage you into action.
6. Support system
Writing is solitary by nature but you don’t have to do everything alone. Whether you use the help of a writing coach, join a writing group or just regularly check in with a writing friend it helps to have someone else encouraging you and cheering you on.
7. Be kind to yourself
As a writer you are not going to always feel 100% motivated to write. On some days the words will flow and other days they won’t. Rather than beat yourself up for not reaching your goals take a closer look at the reason why. Is it just an off-day? Are you tired and distracted or is it due to something deeper? Are you struggling with a part of the plot? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the other tasks you have to do? Are you afraid of putting out your writing for others to see? Only you can tell which days you need to push through and when you are better off stepping away from your desk for a while to reflect.