We’ve all been there, it’s the end of the year and you’re deciding what goals you want to set for yourself for a fresh start, hooray 2019! It’s a bit crazy that we’re already almost two weeks into March. Pretty soon you’re going to be celebrating Cinco De Mayo and then Halloween!
Time goes by really fast, especially when you have writing deadlines. I feel like authors tend to go from deadline to release then back to deadline. And there never seems to be enough time, especially if you’re trying to be a full-time human, whether that means balancing another job, being a stay-at-home parent, taking kids to games, college and/or making dinner. The list just goes on and on.
So how do you keep your writing goals or word count goals for 2019?
As an author, our goals change as our careers morph. Maybe when you first started writing your only goal was to write a chapter a week. Maybe now you want two chapters a week. Or maybe this is the year you FINALLY publish. Whatever it is, I hope the following seven suggestions help refresh and energize you for the next few months!
1. Re-establish your goal.
Mine was to write SOMETHING anything every day, which can sometimes be hard. So after talking to a few author friends I decided to stop the self-guilt if I didn’t get past two hundred words. Working is working. Learn to celebrate what you get down on paper, and don’t berate yourself for not doing more.
2. Don’t go back and edit.
Give yourself permission to re-read what you need to, but try to write straight through. This is such an easy trap to fall into. By the time Christmas comes you may have revised the same chapter a dozen times! Try to get through the entire book, and then come back and change what you think needs revising. A lot of times what we initially put down is the rawest version of itself, so it will need polishing anyway.
3. Write down your goals where you will see them.
Whether this is on an alarm on your phone, or a sticky note on your computer screen (guilty), make sure that you can SEE what your goal is. When you see it, you’ll want to do it.
4. Don’t burn out.
If you’re on a roll, than by all means keep writing, but that doesn’t mean the next day needs to be just as good or better. If you wrote two thousand words on Monday, and feel exhausted Tuesday, just make a note that you’ll write at least three hundred words and then see how you feel. Give yourself permission to get out of your chair, stretch, get a snack, and come back.
5. When you reach your goals regardless of how small, make sure that you take a moment and actually enjoy what just happened.
I think so often we focus on the big goals (i.e. getting published), we forget about the excitement of the process, (i.e. finishing a chapter or finishing multiple chapters). Celebrate all the small amazing moments that lead up to the big ones; I promise you’ll enjoy the process so much more.
6. If you aren’t feeling it for some reason, there isn’t any rule that says you can’t write out of order.
A lot of us have things we prefer to write. I call them the big dots, the big moments. I hate the details, so if I get stuck, I’ll write out of order and write a scene I’ve been dying to write. It usually refreshes me enough for me to get back in the manuscript and have another go at it.
7. Making a goal is like making a promise to yourself that you are going to achieve something regardless of outside influences.
Keep that promise. And to keep that promise, we start small, you can always build, but you can’t take away. Remember, small bites, turn into big bites 😉
Writing can be such as fun career, but it does have its ups and downs like any job. Breaking your writing goals down this way should help you not only avoid burnout, but also to keep them intact well through the new New Year!
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of Regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!
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