2018 crept up on me this year, and I haven’t made any writing resolutions yet. I was on the home stretch of my latest book through the last few months of 2017, and I was completely focused on finishing that. I did (yay!) and now I’m sure revisions will have to go on my writing goals list, when I get around to making it! I’ve been seeing a lot of 2018 writing goals on Twitter, and it got me thinking about my best tips for some of the most common ones. And so, voila!
Goal: Write a book / Finish a Work-In-Progress
Maybe you’re always working on something, but some of your projects are stuck in limbo, half-finished but not forgotten. Or perhaps you’re a seasoned writer with a few completed books, but this particular WIP is dragging, or you have an ambitious deadline. These three tips might be helpful for either scenario.
Dedicate time to work on it
You know your schedule, so pick the best time for you to be productive and focused. It doesn’t need to be a long stretch; you might do better with 3 fifteen-minute sessions through the day than a single, long one. And yes, fifteen minutes is acceptable if it’s all you can do – every bit counts. I get the bulk of my writing done right before bed, because I like writing at night and I can focus better when everything else for the day is done. Mornings or lunch breaks might be better for you. Whatever time it is that you choose, focus on writing for that time. Even if you only write ten words, it’s still progress.
I joined a NaNoWriMo group last year, for the first time, and it was an amazing experience. We were more of a supportive than competitive group, but I loved it when I could share that I’d made my goal, rather than admitting I hadn’t. I had a fair share of both days, but overall November became an extremely productive month for me. It was comforting knowing that I wasn’t alone with my word count struggles.
If this appeals to you, join a year-round writing group – even a casual one, like Twitter’s #5AMWritersClub – or see if a couple of writing friends want to join. If your schedules match up, sometimes it’s fun to pair up with a friend and each focus intensely on writing for the same amount of time (probably just a half hour stretch) and see how many words you can get out. Then you can congratulate or commiserate with one another.
Set specific goals
It’s a lot easier to focus on a goal like, ‘draft cat disaster scene’ than it is to stay on track with one like, ‘finish the entire book before year end’. Plus, if you’re like me, you love checking things off your to-do list, and having a greater number of shorter goals means more of that great feeling of marking them complete. (I write my weekly writing goals on a white board behind my desk, mostly for the pure joy of checking them off). Keep them reasonable, too. Maybe you can only edit one chapter this week because of other ‘real life’ commitments, but the next week you can spare a bit more time for an extra 1,000 words.
If you’ve got multiple projects on the go, having specific goals can also help you keep track of them so you aren’t surprised by a half-forgotten deadline.
Goal: Challenge yourself to grow as a writer / Write something new or scary
No, I don’t mean you have to write a horror – although that could be fun! Maybe you’ve been writing secretly for years, but you never show your words to anyone. What if you changed that, at least once? Perhaps you’re safely ensconced in a writing routine with your favourite genre, and you’ve pretty much become an expert in it. What if you tried something new, even if it’s just a piece of flash fiction or a personal essay? I’d been writing so much historical that I fell in love with flash fiction last year – partly because of the challenge of keeping it short, but also because for some reason my flash fictions are almost never historical.
One of my writing challenges this year is to let go, at least partially, of my beloved first-person narrative and try something with third person. I also haven’t used multiple POV very much, and I think it’s about time I did.
To be honest, this post is a actually bit of a challenge. Even though I’ve been doing this blog for almost five years (!) and I’ve got a book published, I still sometimes feel like a fraud when I give writing advice. Imposter Syndrome is real, but also silly. If you write, you’re writer. There’s not a 17-step initiation full of dangerous trials (although that might be an interesting plot for a taut but nerdy thriller…)
Goal: Get published
This is a big goal for lots of writers, and there are lots of roads to success. Getting a book deal with a traditional publisher can take a while, especially if you need to find an agent first, but that makes it a perfect goal to break down into specific steps. And there are lots of roads to publication. Maybe you want to submit a short story to some fiction contests, or submit an article to your favourite online magazine. It doesn’t have to be straight to having a full-length book published.
Goal: Get rejected
This could be controversial as a goal and I have not seen anyone list this, but I think it’s important, especially for writers who are new to sharing their work. First, it ties into challenging yourself. It’s scary entering a contest – or what if that favourite online magazine passes on your pitch? The last one happened to me. It was fine. I’m still here, still writing. Having an editor or agent pass on your project, no matter what it is, is an unavoidable part of publishing that will happen to everyone more than once. It just proves that you’re trying new things and challenging yourself. Plus, this is probably the easiest goal on the list to achieve! Then you can pat yourself on the back and have a drink.
Lastly, this Writer Unboxed post has some more great writing lessons for 2018 if you’re feeling inspired or looking for writing ideas. Happy Writing in 2018!