As another year drags itself across the finish line, many of us are starting to think about
our goals for next year. Sure, 2017 had its horrible moments. But if we all band together, we can make 2018 slightly less horrible. For starters, this is the year that you will finally make good on your threat to "write more next year." Whether you're a career writer struggling to finish your novel, or a writing novice interested in trying it out for the first time, here are a few time-tested tips for writing more, reaching your goals, and starting the new year off right.
Of course, any time of the year is a good time to decide you want to write more. But the symbolic re-birth of the new year offers you a prime opportunity to delete Candy Crush from your phone and invest in a notebook and pens. Plus, what else are you going to do in January? Go outside? Unlikely. So why not try writing?
Writing can be hard, lonely work, it's true. But if you stick with it,
writing can also be stress-reducing, emotionally cathartic, and even fun. Here are a few ideas to get you started and keep you writing all the way through 2018:
Schedule time to write. Don't plan on writing "when you're done with work" or "on the weekends" or "when you get the chance." Put a regular writing schedule in your calendar or planner. Set an alarm. Even if you have to re-schedule a writing session, or even if you don't get much actual writing done, forcing yourself to sit down regularly and
try will start to build a habit.
The Internet is an amazing tool for reading, researching, and connecting with other writers. But... it's not so helpful when you need to sit down and concentrate. Go offline when you're writing, or
download a self control app, if you know you're the type to reflexively check Facebook every three minutes.
Every writer is different. Some people like to write in coffee shops, or in bed. Others like to follow strangers around and jot down their overheard conversations in a notebook. Either way, keeping a notebook with you will make it easier to scribble down stray thoughts, or to keep working on that plot outline while you're stuck on public transit.
Yes, I know. You're a busy person, and "writing more" is already eating into your daily Netflix time. But reading more will fuel your creativity. It'll inspire you to keep going. And it's a great way to bust through writers' block, if you ever find yourself just undeniably stuck. Read more, and the writing will only get easier.
Make deadlines your friend
Deadlines are not scary! Deadlines are your friend! Deadlines are the only thing that will compel you to
actually finish the darn thing. Schedules are good and fine, but giving yourself a long-term deadline will keep you motivated. Promise yourself that you're going to share or submit a draft of your writing by a certain date, and try to resist the temptation to slack off.
Defend your writing time
Repeat after me, "I can't, I'm writing." Or, "I'm busy that night." Or, "Sorry, I would, but I don't want to." It will be very, very tempting to reschedule your writing sessions every time you get invited to happy hour or the movies or your friend's ex-boyfriend's improv show. But you must
defend your writing time. Make writing a priority, and don't worry if other people don't get it.
Writing doesn't have to be a solitary exercise. Find a buddy who wants to write with you, even if you're just sitting side by side in silence, typing away at your separate fantasy epics. Or find a buddy who'll bug you about meeting your deadlines, even if they're not a writer themselves. Having an extra pair of eyes on your writing never hurts, either.
Maybe you want to write a novel, or a book series, or a multi-million dollar book-comic-movie-musical-theme park franchise. That's great! But it's OK to start a little smaller than that! If you're new to writing, or coming back after a long hiatus, you might want to start with a shorter, more reasonable goal to ease yourself into it. Try to finish a few polished pages before you tackle your magnum opus.
Set (reasonable) daily goals and rewards
Figure out a
realistic daily or weekly goal for yourself. Is it 100 words a day? 1,000 words? A page every third day? Smaller goals within your grand plans will help that deadline feel a lot less threatening. Plus, you can come up with small rewards for yourself for every week you stay on task. Maybe you take a trip to the book store for every 5,000 words, or you eat an excellent cupcake at the end of every chapter.
Give yourself permission to write "badly." Let your first draft be the weird, sketchy under-painting before you add any of the colors or the nuanced shading. Don't stress about making every single word perfect. You don't literally have to "write drunk, edit sober," but you should take that spirit to heart: "write without judgment, you'll edit it later."
Have fun. Write what you want to write, not what you think you
should write. Sure, it can be a grind sometimes, but you shouldn't dedicate your time to writing unless you actually like to write. So allow yourself to have a good time. Write the book (or play, or poetry chapbook) you've always wanted to read, and have fun doing it.