In a post last week, I warned (complained about) how going into a writing session with no plan can be very unproductive if you’re not careful.
The way to prevent that is to set goals.
I always like to push the idea that, as writers, we need to set written, daily goals and commit to reaching them in order to achieve the level of success we desire.
Writing goals can be hard to keep up with for so many reasons, and that’s why we need to make sure our goals are not only realistic and achievable, but also specific and measurable.
For example, in 2013, one of my goals was to finish and submit one new story every month that year, with a couple of exceptions. That goal worked fairly well because it had a specific ending (submit a short story) and also because it has a firm deadline (the last day of the month).
There’s really only one way you can keep up with your writing goals, and that’s obviously to write. But it can’t be a general as that. If you simply say, “Hey, I’ll write this month,” you’ll put it off. And off. And off. And then the month is over. What you need to say instead is, “I’ll write three-hundred words tonight. And then three-hundred more tomorrow night. And then four-hundred the next night.” And just like that, you’ve already got a thousand words written.
If you break the goal down into smaller daily goals like that it’s really not too hard to finish a first draft with plenty of time to have your critique group look it over, do your revisions, and get it sent off to a publication.
But you have to stick with it. We all know that only thing getting in your way when you’re trying to write is every single distraction the world can possible think of. That’s why when you sit down to write, you have to sit down with that daily goal in mind and shut yourself off from those distractions. Up to and including disabling your wireless connection to avoid Facebook and Twitter.
So if you have kept up with your goals so far this year, awesome. But on the other hand, if you’re reading this thinking, “Well, it’s April, and I’ve already failed,” don’t beat yourself up over it; just start over. Nobody ever said you have to start everything you do on January 1.
Just pick up where you left off and get going.