It's just over a week into 2016. And, odds are, most people have either set goals and forgotten about them OR forgot to set goals. Regardless, there's still time to set yourself up for success in the new year.
Here are 10 things you can do to set and achieve writing goals in the new year. (Yes, this works for other types of goals, as well...)
1. Write down all of your writing goals for the year. Do you want to write a book, a screenplay, or novel? Would you like to create a certain number of songs, poems ,stories, or articles? Is starting a blog on the horizon? Or do you really need to develop a full-on marketing and social media plan to get your writing out there?
2. Chose two or three projects you want to accomplish by the end of the year.
3. Then on separate pages (one for each project), write down everything you need to do to get each one of them done. Brainstorm benchmarks and tasks in any order. So for a book or a screenplay, each draft might be a benchmark, while each chapter, act, or a certain number of page counts as a task. If your goal is to a book deal, perhaps your first benchmark is to find an agent, and then tasks would include researching agents, networking for recommendations, sending X number of queries a month.
4. Now, prioritize. Determine what more important: Starting a blog or finishing your book? Self-publishing that chap book of poems or finding a publisher for your novel? The reason you want to have more than one project going at one time is it's inevitable at some point (or at many points) you will get stuck. It's nice to have a secondary project to work on if you need to give your mind a break from the primary. Also, when you get moving on one project, it will likely inspire you to propell the other one forward.
5. Determine how much time you have each week to dedicate to your projects, and put appointments in the calendar as the time you work on them.
6. Set deadlines for your primary project. If you want to get a complete draft done by December, how much progress must you make each week and each month? Put the due dates for your benchmarks in your calendar and set reminders to keep you on track.
If you would like, set deadlines for your secondary project(s), as well. But be realistic. It's better to set and exceed realistic goals than to overwhelm yourself. It's common for people to just give up when they feel like they are falling too far behind. And no one wants that.
7. Put your goals in a place you look at every day. Also, create a visual representation of the finished product and display it where you write. For example, tack up the last page of your manuscript with the words "The End" or mock up a book cover. If you have a constant reminder of what you are working toward, you are more likely to achieve it.
8. Track your progress. Remember the appointments you set? Each day, after you complete your writing time, add what you did that day to your calendar. This way, if you ever feel like you are not progressing fast enough, you can look at the time spent and accomplishments and realize you are doing pretty well.
9. Don't give up. If life gets in the way and you get off track, take a second, catch your breath, forgive yourself, and move forward. Things happen. Adjust any deadlines and get back to work. It may take a little longer, but it's all good.
10. Celebrate the small and large wins. When you reach an benchmark, celebrate. When you reach a goal, really celebrate. Treat yourself to something to acknowledge and appreciate all of your hard work.
Remember, achieving goals is a snap if you look at your goals every day, constantly put in the time, and work toward the finish line. You can do it!
Let us know your goals for the year in the comments. You can also post and report on weekly goals on the Write On Online Facebook page.
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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group.
She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages.
Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.